Breaking down the quarterbacks: ACC Coastal

 We looked at the ACC Atlantic quarterbacks yesterday. Today we will break down and rank the quarterbacks in the ACC’s Coastal division.

Remember that these rankings have absolutely nothing to do with the player’s NFL potential. This is about success and/or potential success in college football.

Here we go. Feel free to disagree:

1. Joshua Nesbitt, Georgia Tech: I’m going to be accused of being a homer here but just look at the facts: He was the first-team All-ACC quarterback. He rushed for 1,037 yards and passed for 1,701 yards. He became only the 49th player in NCAA history pass and run for over 1,000 yards in a single season. He was involved in 37 plays that went 20 yards or more. He was the starting quarterback on a team that won the ACC championship. I’m really not sure how much more the native of Greene County could have done for his team in 2009.

Coach Paul Johnson told me that he has asked Nesbitt to focus on becoming a more consistent passer in 2010. Because when Nesbitt does throw the ball against a defense totally preoccupied by the run, he can make big plays. Yeah, he’ll miss wide receiver Bay-Bay Thomas who could absolutely catch everything. But that just opens the door for future stars like Stephen Hill and Tyler Melton.

The good news for Tech is that during the spring Johnson found a No. 2 quarterback in Tevin Washington, who can give Nesbitt a break if he’s dinged up a little and needs to sit out a series.

2. Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech: I know my Hokie friends think Taylor should be No. 1 on this list and, based on what I’ve heard, the senior is going to have a huge year. Last season he threw for 2,311 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was the ACC’s most efficient passer. The last time I talked to coach Frank Beamer he was raving about how far Taylor had come since this time last season.

Taylor can, however, improve in his decision making. At times last season he just held on to the ball too long. That was one reason the Hokies gave up 31 quarterback sacks. I’m anxious to see how Taylor will play against Boise State in the opener on Sept. 6 in Landover, Md. Taylor is going to feel some pressure to keep pace with Kellen Moore, Boise’s big time quarterback.

3. Jacory Harris, Miami:  If there is a Pied Piper in college football it is Harris because the entire Miami team, both offense and defense, take their cue from him. If Harris is playing well the Hurricanes seem to be infused with this incredible energy. If Harris is struggling, which he did at times last season due to a thumb injury, the Miami team tends to play flat. In fairness to Harris, the thumb injury was more painful than anybody knew but the kid still went out there and played.

Harris has one of the best offensive coordinators around in Mark Whipple and last season Harris led the ACC in passing yards with 3,352. But he also led the ACC in interceptions with 17. He did not take part in spring drills after having surgery to repair the thumb. The Miami coaches are expecting a hungry Jacory Harris to return to action and be better than ever which means the Hurricanes are good enough to win the Coastal. We’ll know a lot more after Sept. 11, when Miami goes to Ohio State.

4. T.J. Yates, North Carolina: For a quarterback who has started 31 college football games and has a chance to become the school’s all-time leading passer, the Marietta native sure does get beat up by his fan base. Yates threw for 2,655 yards as a redshirt freshman in 2007, the single best season ever for a Tar Heel quarterback. But Yates has three problems: Interceptions, interceptions, interceptions. He threw 18 in 2007, four in an injury-shortened season in 2008, and 15 last season. And a bunch of those interceptions in 2009 came at the worst possible times. 

Yates is talented but he sometimes tries to do too much and forces the ball into coverage. If he’ll just relax and take what the defense gives him, I think he can have a good senior season. And if he does, North Carolina can win the ACC Coastal. If Yates struggles in preseason drills talented redshirt freshman Bryn Renner is waiting in the wings. Coach Butch Davis told me last week that Yates has earned the right to be the guy as a senior. But Davis also knows he has one of the best defenses in college football and that quarterback play must improve if the Tar Heels are going to contend.

5. Mark Verica, Virginia: Verica started nine games for the Cavaliers in 2008 but found himself on the bench in 2009 when Virginia went to the spread offense and Jameel Sewell returned from academic suspension to run it. Now Verica gets another shot and has been named a team captain by new head coach Mike London. Verica’s career totals aren’t bad: 2,193 yards, 60.9 completion percentage, and eight touchdowns. But he also has 17 interceptions. I was impressed with Verica during ACC media days. He sounded like a pretty tough kid who wants to do something with this final opportunity. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the supporting cast to do it.

6. Sean Renfree, Duke: Thaddeus Lewis started 46 games for Duke and left as one of only two quarterbacks in ACC history to throw for over 10,000 yards (N.C. State’s Philip Rivers threw for 13,484). Renfree, a redshirt sophomore from Scottsdale, Ariz., put up decent numbers in spot action last season, completing 68 percent of his passes (34 of 50) for 330 yards and four touchdowns. Renfree wasn’t able to do a whole lot in the spring as he recovered from knee surgery. Coach David Cutcliffe told me that he is excited about two other young quarterbacks he’ll have in camp. Brandon Connette (6-2, 210), a true freshman from Corona, Calif., enrolled in school early and just blew everybody away in spring drills with his ability to run and throw the ball. Redshirt freshman Sean Schroeder is more of a classic drop back passer. He had mixed results in the spring. Cutcliffe told me that he really likes the athleticism of this group and feels really good about the position. Cutcliffe knows quarterbacks. Keep your eye on Duke. The Blue Devils are going to beat somebody this season they are not supposed to beat.

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236 comments Add your comment

Brian

August 5th, 2010
8:05 am

Brian

August 5th, 2010
8:08 am

Nice article TB. And, by the way, we don’t think you are a homer, you are just stating fact.

Atlanta Jackets

August 5th, 2010
8:09 am

Yes. I told you all!

destin dawg

August 5th, 2010
8:26 am

I’d rather have Tyrod Taylor or Jacory Harris…. unless I could have Arron Murray…

destin dawg

August 5th, 2010
8:28 am

Aaron sorry, too much coffee !

lucky21

August 5th, 2010
8:29 am

I clicked on this blog thinking that josh nesbitt was going to get shafted in the rankings here even though he is definetly the most consistent QB on the list here all the others have gone through some serious ups and downs throughout their years, but thanks for being nice and objective Tony.

Burdell

August 5th, 2010
8:29 am

I agree with TB. I will also say that all 3 of the top QBs on this list are exceptional players. They have different styles and you could argue the point for each to be #1. But they all have their weaknesses….obviously Nesbitt’s accuracy, Tyrod’s leadership and JH12’s decision making/arm strength (he throws an accurate floater…very catchable for both receivers and DBs alike).

There are some very good, experienced QBs in the ACC this year folks. Can’t wait to battle it out in the Coastal.

GO JACKETS!!!

tuck fech

August 5th, 2010
8:32 am

Yea bay bay Thomas could catch everything (except a 10 yd out route against no coverage) list is messed up. Harris is a legitimate heisman candidate in the Almost Competitive Conference. Taylor is number 2 and nesbitt 3.

david

August 5th, 2010
8:36 am

Your not a homer, Tony; you are a SEC blue blood who doesn’t like Miami. Harris is the best QB in the ACC. Like you just said, his thumb injury was much worse that what was reported during the season. Miami defense shut down Nesbitt with their best defensive lineman out for the season. This is Miami year to return as a top 5 team.

RambleOn84

August 5th, 2010
8:42 am

Harris looked unbeatable against Tech when he wasn’t getting touched.

But go back and watch the games in which he got hit a few times. The guy crawled in his shell like a turtle. He is not very tough, thumb injury heroics aside.

Tyrod is very dangerous, but makes some bad decisions.

Yates is a headcase, plain and simple. I’ve never seen a guy who has played as many games as him who still makes awful mistakes so much (with the exception of the legendary Reggie Ball of course).

Nesbitt is as tough as they come, and people who bash his low completion percentage forget how many easy dropped passes he had to deal with. When you’re only throwing 10-15 passes a game, every dropped pass hurts a lot more.

He does need to work more on his accuracy, but if he can get improved pass protection and better hands from his receivers (particularly the A-backs), he will have a much better season passing the ball.

Paul in RDU

August 5th, 2010
8:42 am

I agree with Burdell. There is a big gap betwen the top 3 and Yates at #4 and you could argue the point for any of the 3. Columns discussing preseason rankings are good for arguments but they pretty much just fill up newspaper and blog space. Harris, Taylor and Nesbitt will be able to compare themselves head to head.

RambleOn84

August 5th, 2010
8:44 am

I think Renfree may be undervalued here…he looked pretty impressive to me in limited action last year. I think he is at least a little better than Yates.

Besides, Cutcliffe will get good play out of his QBs, bank on it.

Atlanta Jackets

August 5th, 2010
8:54 am

Robot! Robot! Robot! Robot!

dagnabit

August 5th, 2010
8:59 am

The top four are all excellent qbs. But they all have their piccadillos.

cuttysark

August 5th, 2010
9:02 am

Thanks for the insight on the ACC Coastal Tony. We are looking forward to another great football season for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Hopefully if the team stays healthy and keeps up the hard work both on the field and in the classroom, the Yellow Jackets will have another tremendous year. For more Georgia Tech Football articles go to http://isportsweb.com. Go Jackets!

Tyler

August 5th, 2010
9:03 am

Not a homer. Look at the facts. Someone who they say can’t throw passed for 1700 yards. That was just 600 yards less than Taylor. He deserves every bit of it.

Thursday Nights are for JV

August 5th, 2010
9:04 am

Gimmick Offense = tainted stats, like an A-Rod HR ball

Atlanta Jackets

August 5th, 2010
9:09 am

Robot! Robot! Robot! Robot!

Robot.

David

August 5th, 2010
9:10 am

The only thing I’d change is rank T-Rod over Nesbot. I think Nesbot benefits from a system while T-Rod is pure skill.

Sam

August 5th, 2010
9:11 am

I watched Harris play and he’s not the best. Not even close. No excuses with the thumb either. His thumb isn’t his brain. Your rankings are pretty much accurate.

Ted

August 5th, 2010
9:13 am

Hey david
All qb’s play under a system idiot.

Erin Andrews' Landing Strip

August 5th, 2010
9:13 am

Tony, I just got off the phone with the folks at the Mirage sports book in Vegas. They have set the over-under on how many times this season you will mention that Nesbitt is from Greene County at 42.5.

I’m taking the over. Easy money.

Gtax

August 5th, 2010
9:14 am

*** Nesbitt for Heismen ***

(((( 45 – 42 ))))

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

August 5th, 2010
9:23 am

i would say it would be a tie for taylor/nesbitt, both equally good but taylor is the more natural QB. gt’s offensive style is the only reason nesbitt racked up so many rushing yards. still don’t understand the robot thing/

kevin

August 5th, 2010
9:29 am

Nesbitt is a wonderful runner and a fierce competitor. But seriously, I have seen better arms on chairs. Last year against Clemson he completed only 2 less passes to the Tigers than he did his own team. Despite being a wonderful runner, he is a pitiful throwing QB.

Brian

August 5th, 2010
9:30 am

No argument here on Nesbitt being the top QB. I wouldn’t trade him for any player in the NCAA to run this offense. His athleticism combines with his toughness and leadership to make him an exemplary QB for the Jackets.

Brett

August 5th, 2010
9:35 am

I agree that Nesbitt is the best in the division. That being said Tech fans that quote a Georgia score from two years ago are morons.

kevin

August 5th, 2010
9:36 am

Brian,

I agree that Nesbitt is a good fit for the GT offense and no question the guy is tough as nails.

ArkyTech

August 5th, 2010
9:36 am

Is there a better, deeper group of QBs in any other division in football?

Jacket Backer

August 5th, 2010
9:38 am

I would put Nesbitt at the top too. Also, I will not be shocked at all to see him on an NFL roster next year. He’s a great athlete who could play safety on defense or a slot receiver that could be used as a QB in an option package on goal line situations, etc. Too tough and too good an athlete not to be in the league next year.

Go Jackets!!!

Ormewood

August 5th, 2010
9:40 am

ArkyTech, The top three are all good. Then there’s a steep drop to Yates. The other two are unproven. ACC does have six proven QB’s though: Nesbitt, Tyrod, Harris, Ponder, Parker, Wilson. Six out of 12 is pretty good.

kevin

August 5th, 2010
9:40 am

Jacket Backer,

I could not agree more. Nesbitt will play pro ball–too athletic not to.

ArkyTech,

Contingent on how some of the youngsters do, the SEC has a pretty good group.

Alabama Jack

August 5th, 2010
9:47 am

dumb delusional dawgs – go play with your red panties.

SEC SEC SEC

August 5th, 2010
9:49 am

Hey Tony,

ACC football = SNOOZEFEST!! I know you’ve got to give the ACC (and the Bug Engineers) some love. But seriously, what’s web traffic like on days you write about the ACC compared to the days that you write about the SEC? There has to be a large variance between the two. Will you reveal those numbers? If anything, it will just be another measure supporting the theory that the SEC dominates the ACC in every way, shape, and form in regards to football.

SEC! SEC! SEC!

BirdDog

August 5th, 2010
9:50 am

Nesbitt takes a pounding every game in that offense but he is a big, tough dude. Who was the skinny white kid that backed him up last year? He would never last in this offense, he would have gotten killed.

r

August 5th, 2010
9:52 am

you got it right Tony!

RambleOn84

August 5th, 2010
9:53 am

Yes, more fans means better product, right?

“You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” made more money than “The Big Lebowski,” so it has to be better, right?

hate to say it...

August 5th, 2010
9:54 am

I agree with Brett; I am a Tech fan and GTax you need to stop with scores from years past, Only the current year counts in these blogs

Steve

August 5th, 2010
9:57 am

“GTAX” you are such a typical pathetic dork. You post a score from TWO years ago? Really? Are you that obsessed with beating UGA once every eight years? Wow what a loser.

hello

August 5th, 2010
9:58 am

Anyone who has watched Nesbitt play realizes that he is the most important player on GT’s roster….and one of the most important players to our 20-7 mark over the last two seasons. No other single player has had as big of an impact on our win/loss record. If Nesbitt goes for 2000 and 1000 this year he should be a legitimate Heisman candidate. The only thing I disagree with is TJ Yates…he should be ranked 6th….he is honestly terrible. Tyrod is over hyped but he should have a good senior season and his RBs will make his job easier.

Nesbitt for Heisman

August 5th, 2010
9:59 am

Mr. College Football knows quarterbacks.
.
——————————
NESBITT for HEISMAN
——————————
.

Steve

August 5th, 2010
10:00 am

And one other thing to all Tech fans, we could care less about the “red panties” comments. If it were Richt, that would be one thing, but we could care less about Evans. The program is still strong and always will be. Plus, don’t be mad at Evans for having a girl. We know you dorks have no women on campus and don’t ever get any action.

RambleOn84

August 5th, 2010
10:01 am

Yep, no women in Atlanta…not like the metropolis that is Athens…

George Stein

August 5th, 2010
10:02 am

GTax, You have got to knock it off with the game from two years ago.

Nesbitt is the best QB in this division. Only the simple-minded who believe that QBs should be primarily throwers can disagree.

Steve

August 5th, 2010
10:04 am

RambleOn84 it’s fine for you to hate UGA but at least stick with facts. It is a fact that GT has very few women and it is also a fact that UGA has a TON of hot women all over town. Don’t be jealous.

test

August 5th, 2010
10:05 am

Enter your comments here

George Stein

August 5th, 2010
10:05 am

The fact that you took time out to say you don’t care, Steve, suggests you do. You’re like the guy who just got dumped by his girlfriend then keeps talking about how much better you are without her. But the more you talk about it, the more it appears you can’t get her out of your head.

The fact is Tech fans should have some fun with the Damon Evans thing. I find the “Party in the UGA” video much funnier but you just need to go ahead and sit tight because the Damon Evans stuff isn’t going to stop for a while.

Brock

August 5th, 2010
10:07 am

It’s actually “we couldn’t care less” not “could care less”. “could care less” means you still have feelings of care. “couldn’t care less” means you have no care at all.

Brock

August 5th, 2010
10:09 am

I guess going from 4th party school to number one means evans little escapade must have shot you guys to the top. You should be thanking him.

How2fish

August 5th, 2010
10:10 am

RambleOn84 no one who has ever lived in the ATL would complain of the quality or the quantity of beautiful women here. Just very very few that will have anything to do with a Bug..it has to be a constant torment for the Bug boys..sort of like dying of thirst while surrounded by water.