After reviewing the accolades and stats of previous Boise State quarterbacks Bart Hendricks, Ryan Dinwiddie, Jared Zabransky, Taylor Tharp, Kellen Moore, and Joe Southwick, it has become clearer to me who comprises the top four. Determining what order the top four will be is clear as mud.
If we base on rankings on strictly stats, clearly Kellen Moore tops them all. That said, none of these quarterbacks had the same level of talent around them as what Moore had to work with. To support this statement, let’s look at the number of teammates drafted into the NFL during each QBs starting years. Hendricks had two, Dinwiddie had three, Zabransky five, Tharp two, and Southwick four. That’s a total of 16 players from 1999 to 2008 and 2013 to 2014. During Moore’s four years as the starter, ten players were drafted, including his top receivers, Austin Pettis and Titus Young. Could Dinwiddie put up Kellen Moore numbers if he had the same teams Moore had?
Some people will look at the fact that Moore played only three quarters of most games he played in. What kind of numbers could he put up if he played all four quarters? I’ll attempt to answer that question. Looking at the number of attempts by quarterbacks other than Moore during his four years, I estimated Moore would have approximately ten more touchdowns and 1,000 more yards. Tough part is though, those fourth quarters with Moore on the bench, were mostly handled by the running game. If Coach Pete keeps the foot on the gas and allows Moore to put the ball in air throughout the entirety of the games, he blows the touchdown mark out of the water. That record is currently held by Case Keenum at 155. Keenum also holds the record for the most career yards, 19,217. Is it possible Moore could have surpassed that number too if he played all four quarters of all 53 games? I believe so.
That said, what about pass attempts for the quarterbacks. Moore’s fewest pass attempts in a season was his junior year, when you threw the ball 383 times. Only twice during the years encompassing all six of these quarterbacks was this eclipsed. Dinwiddie attempted 446 passes his senior year and Tharp threw 423 times during his senior year. Moore attempted 1,658 passes during his career. The closest one to him, Hendricks, threw a total of 1,142. Obviously, if the others throw as much, their career numbers would be far more comparable. So, let’s look at averages per attempt. Moore averaged 8.8 yards per attempt and only Dinwiddie had a better average, 9.9. Moore threw an average of .086 touchdowns per attempt compared to Dinwiddie’s .083. No one was closer.
How about rushing? Many people don’t take this into consideration; however, when we look at the rushing numbers of Zabransky and Hendricks, we see they were far and away the best. Zabransky totaled 863 yards rushing and another 31 touchdowns on the ground. Hendricks had more rushing yards with 1,009 yards but couldn't match the touchdowns with 20. Dinwiddie ran for 12 touchdowns his senior year but only 43 yards. For his career, he managed only 105 yards. Moore was by far the worst runner of the bunch. He actually lost a total of 133 yards and ran for only 3 touchdowns.
How about the wins? Kellen set an NCAA record with 50 wins by a quarterback. This is only possible if you are a four year starter. None of the other quarterbacks started every game for four years. What if they did though? Would they have come close to that mark? It is certainly possible but that is what makes the 50 wins so impressive, four years without injury and remarkably consistent. This is a record that may never be touched by another starting quarterback. There are only three quarterbacks to achieve more than 40 wins. After that, there is several in the 30’s. Including college greats like Tim Tebow, Matt Leinhart, and even Peyton Manning. Kellen stands alone with 50.
We can compare BCS bowls as well. Only two of these quarterbacks have brought a BCS bowl win to Boise State, Jared Zabransky and Kellen Moore. What those two did for the football program at Boise outweighs that of the others. Zabransky’s win and Fiesta Bowl MVP put the university on the map. He landed the cover of EA Sports, NCAA video game. None of the other quarterbacks led the team to a top ten finish in the AP, only Zabransky and Moore.
Here is one last bit of trivia for you. Which of these quarterbacks is the only one to have a touchdown reception? The answer is Kellen Moore! He is also second in receiving yards with seven on one reception.
After careful thought and analysis of the numbers, awards, rosters, and rankings, I came to the conclusion the ranking of these six quarterbacks is as follows:
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1. Kellen Moore
1. Kellen Moore – Simply cannot compare the numbers and wins. Couple that with the fact he was the only quarterback to finish as a finalist for the Heisman trophy and there is no comparison.
2. Ryan Dinwiddie
2. Ryan Dinwiddie – He accomplished the most with the least. He didn’t have the level of talent around him that Moore had, yet his numbers were incredible and owned most passing records before Moore. Add to that, he was 2 – 0 in bowls games.
3. Jared Zabransky
3. Jared Zabransky – What Zabransky did for the Boise State program cannot be overstated. He led the team to 14 wins and one of only three teams, at that time, to accomplish this feat. Since then, two more teams have 14 games in a season.
4. Bart Hendricks
4. Bart Hendricks – He was part of the early years when the team was still playing in the Big West. He was also 2 – 0 in bowl wins but managed only ten wins during his first two years as the starter. It wasn’t until his junior year, that the team really began to take off.
5. Joe Southwick
5. Joe Southwick – He won his only bowl game but had a pretty talented team to work with and perhaps his ranking would be higher if the numbers were better. He never had more than 20 touchdowns in a season, even when included rushing touchdowns.
6. Taylor Tharp
6. Taylor Tharp – He lost his only bowl game and seemed to really struggle in the big games. Those three losses that year included the only game against a BCS team, a loss to Hawaii, which was essentially a conference title game, and the bowl game, the three biggest games of the year.