The Impossible Task: Ranking Pac-10 Quarterbacks

Hey, it's a passing league. If you don't believe it, just ask the Ducks defensive backs. We've decided to look briefly at the league's quarterbacks and list them in order of our favorites. Like any ranking, this ought to serve, more than anything else, as a starting place for discussion about the pros and cons of the players, and even about the criteria of the list itself.

The Best

Some quarterback mavens have suggested that the best passers are those with the most yards, and by that yardstick, Cody Pickett is the Pac-10's best. Pickett has passed for 400 yards in consecutive games for the first time in Washington history, and also had four consecutive 300 yard games, another UW record, coming into last week's game against Oregon State . This season he has already passed for over3500 yards,the secondbest mark in the country.

It's been a record setting year for Pickett, and he hasn't even faced Oregon 's weak secondary yet. But you didn't really think we'd rank him first, did you? Pickett's not our pick. He's been picked (intercepted) too many times-more than any other quarterback in the league, and his total yards reflect a team that's trying to pick up the pieces after realizing that, well, they're pretty one-dimensional. Put almost any of the conference's other quarterbacks in a system that passes as much as the Huskies and chances are they'd have over 3,000 yards, too. They also might have a few more wins.

When we look to the commentators' favorite stat, pass efficiency, Pickett trails half the conference. This stat is led by Jason "Grain Silo" Gesser, who also leads the conference's top team. Washington State also happens to have a run offense, unlike their partners across the Apple State. Gesser has well over one hundred less attempts than Pickett, but the same number of touchdowns, and fewer interceptions. He has the fortune of playing behind a pretty good line, too. That and his somewhat reckless mobility have made WSU the least sacked team in the conference.

Slightly trailing Gesser in pass efficiency, Jason Fife has the same number of touchdowns, two fewer interceptions, and two hundred fewer yards on slightly fewer attempts than Gesser. Fife is close enough in pass efficiency that his team's pass efficiency is actually first in the conference. Fife also has the distinction of playing for a team without a pass defense, so we might take another look at these categories after Gesser, Pickett, and Anderson have a crack at Oregon's young secondary, and the chance at record-setting nights that Palmer and Walter have already experienced.

Speaking of the perennial underachiever, Palmer is fifth in pass efficiency, and also fifth in touchdowns. As usual, he's looked like the golden-armed prospect he was supposed to be at times , and at other times has looked like, well, Carson Palmer , the engine that almost could. This year at least he didn't have a chance to blow the Oregon game the way he has in years past, and he finishes 1-3 against his turf-encroaching northern opponents. Our thoughts about Palmer? Still potentially the best quarterback in the conference, but then, after four years you don't really get a prize for being potentially anything, unless the NFL scouts want to give you another shot.

Speaking of potential, Andrew Walter is third in pass efficiency as a sophomore, leads the conference in touchdowns, and is second in passing yards. He's thrown nine interceptions, a litter higher than Fife and Gesser, but still not bad. He also has a great receiving corps, but then, so do UCLA , Washington, Oregon, Arizona State , Arizona , and, well, every team in the league.

The Best of the Rest

UCLA is just now realizing how good of a quarterback Cory Paus was. Now it looks like he'll be watching another mediocre year for UCLA from the sidelines (sound familiar, Bob Toledo?).

Derek Anderson hasn't been what OSU fans had hoped, but neither has his group of receivers. He's looked frustrated and nervous a lot this year, but he's young, his line has struggled, and the run game is emerging. He'd be doing much better in Washington's, or even Arizona State's, system, where there's less emphasis on the run. He's ninth in pass efficiency this year, but he'll be near the top of the conference in most of these stats by the time he's a senior.

Cal's Kyle Boller has led this year's surprise team, and he's been pretty solid. The Bears actually aren't much improved in yardage this year, but under Tedford they've managed to vastly improve their turnover margin, and Boller has been a big part of that.

Jason Johnson 's numbers are pretty good. In most conferences he would be considered one of the better quarterbacks, but this isn't most conferences. We place the Kyle Matter /Chris Lewis combo last.

Our Ranking

1. Jason Gesser

2. Andrew Walter

3. Jason Fife

4. Carson Palmer

5. Cody Pickett

6. Jason Johnson

7. Kyle Boller

8. Derek Anderson

9. Kyle Matter/Chris Lewis


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