FSU football: Ranking the QBs the Noles will face in 2022
Schedule-makers have done Florida State no favors.
FSU’s 2022 agenda includes matchups against all of the ACC’s top quarterbacks, with the exception of Virginia’s Brennan Armstrong.
The schedule also includes the yearly rivalry game against Florida, led by much-hyped Anthony Richardson. FSU also has to travel to New Orleans to serve as the first game in LSU’s Brian Kelly era.
With all of that in mind, here’s our attempt at ranking the QBs the Seminoles will face this season:
Tyler Van Dyke – TVD for short – is the top NFL prospect among ACC passers, and it’s easy to see why.
TVD, rated by numerous scouting services as a first-round prospect for 2023, has the prototypical NFL size at 6-4 and 224 pounds. As a redshirt freshman in 2021, he was named the ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year, passing for 25 TDs with just 6 picks.
Because of D’Eriq King’s injury, TVD started Miami’s final nine games, going 6-3. In the three losses, Miami put up 28, 42 and 28 points. In other words, things would’ve been really interesting had he had a better support (including a missed would-be game-winning field goal).
TVD, who completed 62.3% of his passes last year, is learning the offense under new coach Mario Cristobal. TVD also has to improve his accuracy.
But he ended his season with six straight games with at least 300 passing yards and 3 TD passes, becoming the first Power-5 QB to do that since Joe Burrow won the Heisman in 2019. TVD’s 25 TD passes rank him seventh in Miami’s single-season history. Now let’s see what he can do with a full season of games.
2. Wake Forest
At 6-foot-1, Sam Hartman doesn’t rank with Van Dyke as a pro prospect. But Hartman already owns Wake’s career record with 72 TD passes.
Last season, Hartman passed for 4,228 yards – the sixth-most in ACC history. He also completed 58.9% of his passes for a school-record 39 TDs and 14 picks.
Better yet, Hartman led Wake Forest to an 11-3 record and its best final ranking in program history at No. 15.
Wake Forest did not play a tough schedule last year, beating just one Power Five school with a winning record (North Carolina State). In a 35-14 win against FSU, Hartman completed 22-of-31 passes for 259 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception. Hartman also ran for 37 yards.
3. North Carolina State
With better support, Devin Leary could be atop this list. It’s really close among the top three passers on FSU’s schedule. Leary failed to pull out wins when he went head-to-head with Wake Forest’s Hartman (45-42) and Miami’s Van Dyke (31-30). Leary, though, played well in both games, passing for a combined total of 718 yards with 6 TD passes and 2 picks.
Leary is a tremendous leader who does an incredible job protecting the football, throwing just 7 interceptions over the past 2 years, spanning 541 attempts and 16 games.
Last season, for example, Leary led the Wolfpack to a 9-3 record, completing 65.7% of his passes for 3,433 yards, 35 TDs and 5 picks. His 35 TD tosses broke Phillip Rivers’ school record.
Leary beat FSU 28-14 last year, completing 21 of 32 passes for 314 yards, 4 TDs and 1 interception.
Malik Cunningham returns after helping the Cardinals rank 21st in the nation in total offense.
Cunningham last year completed 62.0% of his passes for 19 TDs and just 6 picks. He also beat FSU 31-23 last year. In that game, he completed 25 of 39 passes for 264 yards, 2 TDs and no picks. He also ran 14 times for a team-high 56 yards and 2 scores.
This will be Cunningham’s fourth straight year as Louisville’s starting QB. Over the past three years, he has averaged 20.3 TDs and 7.7 picks, and his career completion rate is 62.6%.
On the ground, Cunningham is a menace with 2,619 career rushing yards, 38 TDs and a 5.2 average. Last year, he led Louisville in rushing with 1,031 yards and in rushing TDs (20).
As a redshirt freshman last season, Anthony Richardson came in off the bench to rally the Gators past FSU 24-21. Richardson completed 5 of 7 passes for 55 yards, 1 TD and no picks.
For the season, Richardson completed 59.1% of his passes for 7 TDs and 5 picks. He also rushed for 401 yards and 3 TDs.
The numbers aren’t overly impressive, but new Gators coach Billy Napier is confident in Richardson. The NFL apparently likes Richardson, too, as he is ranked as a second-round prospect (No. 43 overall) for the 2023 draft, according to CBS.com.
6. Boston College
Phil Jurkovec, who played his first 2 collegiate seasons as a Notre Dame backup, is set to begin his 3rd year as the Eagles’ starter.
However, he missed eight games last season because of a wrist injury and completed just 54.2% of his passes.
Perhaps a truer example of his talent was his 2020 season, when he completed 61% of his passes for 17 TDs and just 5 picks.
Jurkovec, a 6-5, 214-pounder, could be dangerous this season with the return of explosive wide receiver Zay Flowers and 1,000-yard running back Pat Garwo III.
Pocket passer Myles Brennan, who missed all of last season because of a broken arm, is back for his 6th season with the Tigers. His career numbers include a 60.2 completion rate, 13 TDs and 6 picks.
Brennan put his name into the transfer portal following last season, but new LSU coach Brian Kelly convinced him to stay.
After that, however, Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels showed up, and he is a roll-out option for Kelly. Daniels started 13 games last season for the Sun Devils, completing 65.4% of his passes for 10 TDs, although he suffered 10 picks. Daniels also has 1,288 career rushing yards, including 710 yards and a 5.1 average last year. In three years at Arizona State, Daniels played 29 games, giving him the experience to challenge Brennan.
LSU also has Walker Howard, a 5-star recruit who enrolled early and participated in spring drills; and Garrett Nussmeier, who completed 50.9% of his passes in 4 games for the Tigers last year. Nussmeier, who made some big plays during the spring, had 2 TD passes and 2 picks last year.
D.J. Uiagalelei is set to start his 3rd collegiate season, and he is the Tigers’ no-doubt starter, according to coach Dabo Swinney.
Even so, Uiagalelei has not been as good as advertised. He was one of the top 2 recruits in the nation in the Class of 2020, joined by Alabama QB and 2022 Heisman favorite Bryce Young.
Yet Uiagalelei, who is 6-foot-4 and played at about 260 pounds last year, completed just 55.6% of his passes last year. He tossed 9 TD passes and had 10 picks in 13 games as Clemson went 10-3.
This year, Uiagalelei is slimmer – down to 250 pounds – and he has so far held off the challenge of 5-star QB Cade Klubnik, a freshman rated the No. 13 overall recruit in the nation.
9. Georgia Tech
After 11 years of triple-option football at Yellow Jackets, this is the 4th season under coach Geoff Collins and his pro-style spread offense. There’s reason to believe the Yellow Jackets soon can be very dangerous.
For starters, Collins – an Atlanta native – has a rich area to recruit. And , he has a talented and experienced quarterback in Jeff Sims, a 6-4, 219-pounder who has made 16 starts in 2 years. Sims completed 60.1% of his passes for 12 touchdowns last year, getting intercepted 7 times. He also ranked 4th on the team with 372 rushing yards.
While Sims’ numbers look pedestrian, you just get the sense he is building up to something, and he has some talent around him, too. There are running backs Dontae Smith (6.9 average) and Hassan Hall, a Louisville transfer who averaged 7.2 per rush.
New offensive coordinator Chip Hall promises Georgia Tech will better use its receiving weapons, too, including Malachi Carter and the Jackets’ tight ends. Given all of that, don’t take Sims lightly.
Garrett Shrader, a 6-4, 228-pound Mississippi State transfer, enters his 2nd year as the Orange starter.
He’s a beast of a runner. In 2021, he led Syracuse with 14 rushing TDs, and he ranked 2nd in rushing yards (781).
As a thrower, however, he completed just 52.6% of his passes as Syracuse went 5-7 overall and 2-6 in the ACC. He had 9 TD passes and 4 picks.
This is Dino Babers’ 7th year as Syracuse’s coach, and the pressure is on the Orange. After going 10-3 in 2019, there have been 3 straight losing seasons (11-24 overall).
Louisiana became a mid-major power the past 3 years, going 11-3 in 2019, 10-1 in 2020 and 13-1 last year.
But coach Billy Napier is now with the Florida Gators, and quarterback Levi Lewis is gone, too. There’s now a quarterback battle between Chandler Fields, who had been Lewis’ backup; Ben Wooldridge, who transferred in from Fresno State; and Lance LeGendre, a Maryland transfer.
Fields’ career passing stats: 12-for-22 for 122 yards, 1 TD and no picks. Woolridge’s stats: 8-for-16 for 117 yards, 1 TD and no picks. LeGendre’s career stats: 12-for-17 for 98 yards, zero touchdowns and 2 picks.
Duquesne likely will use Joe Mischler or Darius Perrantes at quarterback. Mischler was a first-team All-Northeast Conference selection in 2020, but he suffered a season-ending injury in the 2021 opener.
That opened the door for Perrantes, who started 8 games and passed for 17 TDs with 7 picks. Perrantes also was the star of the 2022 spring game.
No matter who starts for Duquesne, the Dukes will open their 2022 schedule as a huge underdog at FSU.
Then again, the Dukes are no joke. They had two undrafted rookies sign with NFL teams this summer – 6-4, 205-pound wide receiver Cyrus Holder (Chicago Bears) and 6-6, 290-pound offensive lineman Jake Dixon (Pittsburgh Steelers). In addition, the Dukes went 7-3 last season, beating Ohio 28-26. The win against Ohio was the first victory by a Northeast Conference team against an FBS squad.