Monday, November 29, 2010
Who has the better quarterbacks historically? Huskies or Cougars?
When the Washington Huskies(5-6,4-4) travel to Pullman to take on cross state rival Washington State Cougars(2-9,1-7) this Saturday there will be a ton of focus on quarterbacks Jake Locker and Jeff Tuel. Now if you talk to Cougar fans they'll have you believe Tuel is better than Locker but that simply isn't the case at least not now. Tuel has a bright future ahead of him for the Cougars who have produced some good quarterbacks in their time period. While Jake Locker will most likely be the first Husky quarterback drafted in the first round of the NFL draft.
With all this talk about quarterbacks that started up a friendly debate on which school has the better quarterbacks? Now I'll admit when it comes to stats WSU wins as their quarterbacks have put up some great statistics. As I know from watching Locker or Cody Pickett statistics don't always tell the story for a quarterback. Like 15 of the last 17 starting quarterbacks for the Huskies have played professionally. The Cougars just can't compete with the Huskies depth and quantity of good quarterbacks. In this following blog post I'll debate with Tory Johnson who is an avid Coug fan who you might see post on Seattle PI's Jim Moores page quite often. Now don't be afraid he is a classy Cougar who loves his Cougars while remaining respectful to the Huskies. I'll let him make his points first then I'll give you reasons why the Huskies have better quarterbacks.
Many people nowadays would say that, if you look at their recent history, Washington State is no longer Quarterback U. It cannot be argued, however, that Washington State earned that title by having a vast array of talent at that position through the years.
Even though I’m showing why Washington State has had the better quarterbacks historically I am, in no way , saying that Washington quarterbacks have been bad (because they’re not). I will just state why Washington State quarterbacks, historically, have been better.
Here is my list of the top 5 Washington State quarterbacks since 1975:
5. Mark Rypien
The first Canadian born quarterback to start in the NFL, Rypien was best known for his accuracy as a deep passer. Rypien may not have had the best pass you’ve ever seen, but he could throw a 50 yard pass more accurately than any quarterback.. He was a two time All-American (1984 & 1985) and was named the PAC-10 best quarterback in 1985. He finished his career at Washington State with 4,573 yards, 28 touchdowns, and a 53.2% completion percentage. His completion percentage ranks 10th all-time.
Rypien was the perfect example of hard work, determination, and strong will.
4. Jack Thompson
Named “The Throwin’ Samoan” by the Spokesman-Review, Thompson racked up 7,818 yards and set PAC-10 records (at the time) for attempts, completions, and touchdowns. When he left for the NFL in 1978 he was deemed the most prolific passer in NCAA history and arguably still is. His senior season he finished ninth in Heisman voting.
In my opinion Thompson is the face of Washington State football and is the bar every quarterback there strives towards.
3. Jason Gesser
His passion to come play at Washington State was so strong he signed his letter of intent without even visiting the campus or seeing the stadium.
Although he wasn’t drafted Gesser finished his college career breaking Jack Thompson’s illustrious records and had the most wins of any quarterback in Washington State history. In 2002 he finished seventh in Heisman voting and was named Co-Offensive Player of the Year.
Jason Gesser and Washington State is one of only two teams to beat Boise State in Boise in the last decade. He played through more injuries than any athlete I have seen in a long time.
2. Ryan Leaf
Leaf was the first quarterback in 67 years to lead the Cougars to a Rose Bowl and helped them win the first PAC-10 championship in school history. That same year he averaged 330 yards per game, was third in Heisman Trophy voting (behind Charles Woodson and Peyton Manning), was selected PAC-10 Player of the Year, named first-team All-American, and finished second in the nation in passer efficiency rating.
Leaf was the #2 pick in the draft (behind Manning) and, although he was a bust in the NFL, his legacy at Washington State will live on forever.
1. Drew Bledsoe
My favorite quarterback of all-time, Bledsoe was best known for his bullet pass. I would swear that a receiver gained five yards just from the ball knocking him back that far. Bledsoe racked up 7,373 yards and 46 touchdowns in only three years. In ‘92 he led the team to a #15 ranking in the AP poll and an invitation to the Copper bowl, where they beat Utah. He set WSU records in single-game passing yards (476), single-season pass completions (241), and single-season passing yards (3,246). He also was named PAC-10 Player of the Year in 1992.
He was drafted first in the 1993 NFL draft and, with the impressive career he had, leaves Seahawk fans to wonder what would have been if the Patriots let him fall to second.
My honorable mention would have to be Collin Henderson. While this is tongue-in-cheek, Collin had a passer rating and completion percentage that most quarterbacks would be envious of. He finished 11-12 with 6 touchdown passes.
I'm here to convince you that the Huskies have the better quarterbacks. When you look at my top Husky quarterbacks list since 1975 you'll notice one thing about them. They were all winners and four of my five guys won Rose Bowl MVP's. You see at Washington going to the Rose Bowl isn't good enough but winning the Rose Bowl is what truly matters. I'll also show off the depth in my honorable mention list at the names who didn't crack the top five.
Here is my top five Husky quarterbacks since 1975 that I'm sure will get some fans to disagree with me.
5. Chris Chandler
Don James once called Chris Chandler the greatest athlete he had ever coached. James also said there is no one player he regrets most by not putting enough talent around him than Chris Chandler. Chandler is the only guy on my list who never won a Rose Bowl MVP. Chandler played at Washington from 1984-87 and as a sophomore beat out Senior starter Hugh Millen in the middle of the season.
In Chandlers first career start he led the Huskies down the field on a 98 yard drive to defeat the USC Trojans 20-17. Chandler in his career at Washington finished third all-time in total yardage at 4,442 yards. He also threw for 32 touchdowns in his career at Washington where he won the 1988 Senior Bowl MVP in his last game as a student athlete. Chandler finished his career with 4,360 yards passing with 32 touchdowns and also ran for seven touchdowns. Don't think Chandler was a loser either because he didn't go to a Rose Bowl Chandler finished his career with a record of 17-8-2 with a 2-1 record in bowl games. Chandler is also the only Husky quarterback to ever start a Super Bowl when he led the lowly Atlanta Falcons to their first ever Super Bowl in the 1998 season when they upset 15-1 Minnesota Vikings.
4. Mark Brunell
If it wasn't for a tragic injury in a spring game Brunell could possibly be #1 on this list as is he'll have to settle for #4. Brunell took over as starting quarterback as a Sophomore on a loaded 1990 team. All Brunell did was guide the team to a 10-2 record and a 5th national ranking. Brunell was also Rose Bowl MVP as a Sophomore defeating Iowa 46-34. During his Sophomore year Brunell threw for 16 touchdown passes to 9 interceptions.
Heading into the 1991 season Brunell and everyone else was coming back so it was expected the Huskies would contend for a National Championship. Then in the spring game Brunell went down with a knee injury and many felt his season was over. Not many schools could overcome losing a Rose Bowl MVP at quarterback but James was a great recruiter had highly touted backup Billy Joe Hobert waiting in the wings. Hobert who I'll talk about later took over the starting job and won the National Championship in 1991. As for Brunell in a miracle he would return for the third game. It was so emotional players were crying in the huddle. Brunell would have the signature moment in the 1992 Rose Bowl 34-14 win over Michigan hitting Mario Bailey for a touchdown pass.
In 1992 many people would forget before the Billy Joe Hobert scandal had broken out Brunell had beat out Hobert for the starting job after the fifth game. Brunell would finish his career in his third straight Rose Bowl this time a loss to Michigan 38-31. If the Huskies had won Brunell would have won another Rose Bowl MVP as he threw for 308 yards on the day. Brunell would become the all-time leading passer in Rose Bowl history. Brunell would finish with a 14-5(.736%) record in games he started while at the University of Washington. He threw for 3,734 with 25 touchdowns to 16 interceptions. He also ran for 710 yards with 19 rushing touchdowns in his career.
Brunell would later enjoy a lengthy NFL career that is still going on as he is the backup quarterback for the Jets. For his NFL career he has thrown for 31,935 yards, 182 touchdowns to 107 interceptions. He has made three pro bowls including the 1997 MVP and led the expansion Jaguars to the AFC Championship game in their second year of existence and fifth year of existence. Brunell will always go down as a great Husky and before that knee injury he was like Michael Vick on the field with his running. If not for that knee injury he possibly could have been a three time Rose Bowl MVP and a first round pick.
3. Billy Joe Hobert
My most controversial pick so far. Remember just like with Tory picking Ryan Leaf this list is about what you did on the field for that school. When you think of Billy Joe Hobert you think of winner and it's that simple. Billy Joe Hobert went 17-0 as starting quarterback for the Huskies. It does seem a bit weird how I don't have Hobert #1 with a 17-0 record as starting quarterback.
When the Huskies landed Hobert he was a highly touted recruit from Puyallup, Washington. It also appeared with Brunell being one year older than him that Hobert would never see the field. In fact Hobert thought about transferring after the 1990 season when Brunell cemented himself as the starting quarterback. After a tragic injury happened in the 1991 spring game Hobert took over as starting quarterback. He led the Huskies to a 12-0 season and a National Championship where he won the Rose Bowl MVP along with Steve Emtman.
I put Hobert third because he was on the greatest collection of talent the Huskies have ever had. He was allowed to have bad games like against USC where the Huskies only won 14-3. No other quarterback had as much support as Hobert did. Now Hobert is in the top three because he had the fire and passion while at Washington. His signature game was in 1991 in his second career start at Nebraska in Lincoln. With the Huskies trailing 21-9 a young sophomore quarterback screamed at his teammates "WE WILL NOT LOSE THIS F***ING GAME!" that is when Hobert made his legend. He put on a passing clinic and hit a crucial fourth and nine pass to Orlando McKay. Hobert would throw a touchdown pass, run for two touchdown passes that game.
I can't talk about Hobert without talking about 1992. Hobert was benched after five games to Mark Brunell. Hobert was playing poorly possibly because he got a big head in the offseason, maybe he knew a storm was coming but either way he wasn't playing well. After the Huskies had defeated Stanford 41-7 in which Hobert busted a 42 yard touchdown run he was kicked off the team. Hobert was an underrated athlete by the way as he could run, had a rocket arm and was the teams punter early in the 1991 season. Once Hobert was dismissed from the team the Huskies finished the year 1-3 after winning 22 games in a row. The Huskies would be placed on probation, two year bowl ban, loss of 10 scholarships for two seasons, and worst of all Don James retired out of protest.
It it wasn't for those unfortunate sanctions Hobert would be a legend. He is often the fall guy for why Washington football fell apart and that simply isn't the case. Blame the adults in this situation not a 21 year old kid. Hobert would be drafted in the third round after being forced to leave a Junior. Hobert could never find success in the NFL but I rank him third. In his Huskies career he finished with 3,028 yards passing with 27 touchdowns to only 13 interceptions. He also ran for 290 yards with eight touchdowns. He won the only National Championship that most fans recognize. He was the MVP of the bowl game that won the Huskies a national title that has to count for something.
2. Warren Moon
The most successful quarterback for either school is Warren Moon. He is the only quarterback in pro football's hall of fame and if not for racism would be the all-time passing leader in NFL history. Since this is a list about what they did at Washington though he is ranked 2nd as the NFL stats are nice but don't go a whole ways on this list.
Warren Moon thanked Don James at his Hall of Fame speech because James believed in him when nobody else did. You see Moon wasn't a polished quarterback in the 1970's and back then the belief was black people weren't smart enough to be quarterback. James was the only coach who gave Moon a shot at quarterback. Moon wasn't successful his first two years going 11-11 and started off his Senior year 1-3. The fans were booing Moon and wanted him and James out of town ASAP. You think Sarkisian and Locker take heat now? That was nothing compared to the stories I've heard back then.
Then everything changed for the Huskies as they finished the year Pac-10 champions. Moon had led the Huskies to their first Rose Bowl in 13 seasons. He was trying to win their first Rose Bowl in 16 seasons. In that Rose Bowl against heavy favorite Michigan who was ranked fourth in the nation Moon threw for a touchdown and ran for two more in the stunning 27-20 upset of the Wolverines. Warren Moon just like the previous two guys on my list was named Rose Bowl MVP. That win cemented Don James was the right man for the job and under James the Huskies would win six Pac-10 championship, four Rose Bowls, one Orange Bowl and one National Championship. Moon was the man who started it all and he was reward was being not drafted by the NFL.
Moon would have to wait for the NFL but would go to the CFL where he would win five Grey Cups including two Grey Cup MVPs, one CFL MVP and throw for 21,228 yards with 144 touchdowns to just 77 interceptions. To prove that wasn't a fluke when he finally got a chance to play in the NFL where he mostly starred for the Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings he threw for 49,325 yards and 350 touchdowns. He was selected to nine Pro Bowls winning the Pro Bowl MVP with the Seattle Seahawks at 41 years old in 1998 becoming oldest player to win the games MVP. Moon was also a three time all-pro quarterback in 1988-90.
Yes Moon was a great pro and is the symbol of Don James football. Without Moon breaking out in 1977 good chance James is fired and the Huskies never go on their 25 year run of excellence which saw them win five Rose Bowls and eight Pac-10 titles. Warren Moon never forgets where he came from either always thanking Don James and the Huskies for believing in him when nobody else did.
1. Marques Tuiasosopo
He didn't put up the greatest stats in his college career only passing for 14 touchdowns to 11 interceptions his Senior year. So you must be asking with average stats like that why is he is number one out of all these great quarterbacks?
He is number one because he willed an average team to an 11-1 record finished ranked third in the nation. Tuiasosopo nicknamed the "warrior" by Keith Jackson was the ultimate team leader. Tuiasosopo during his Senior year at Washington led seven fourth quarter wins. He wouldn't let his team quit ever. During the Stanford game when Curtis Williams was in the hospitital and nobody had any clue if he was going to survive Tuiasosopo was there to bark orders. He led the team on an 80 yard drive in just three plays in under 40 seconds for the win.
Tuiasosopo made his name as a true freshman when he threw 270 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-14 loss to eventual National Champions Nebraska Cornhuskers. The following year Tuiasosopo filled in for the injured Brock Huard and was 2-0 as a starter which was huge as the Huskies went just 6-6 on the year. As a Junior Tuiasosopo led the team to a Holiday Bowl appearance taking second place in the Pac-10. Against Pac-10 champion Stanford, he threw for over 300 yards and ran for over 200 yards becoming the first and so far to date only player to ever do that in a single game. Then his Senior year he beat future Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees in the Rose Bowl and won Rose Bowl MVP in a 34-24 win over Purdue.
When I think of Tuiasosopo I think of winner as he went 20-7(.740%) in his career as a starter. He was also a good player as well finishing eighth in the heisman his Senior year and was named Pac-10 offensive player of the year in 2000. Tuiasosopo when he graduated was the all-time yardage leader in Husky history, second in passing yards behind Brock Huard and led all quarterbacks in rushing yards which was later broken by Jake Locker. Tuiasosopo would later be a second round pick in the NFL draft but wouldn't enjoy much success. He finished his career with 5,501 yards passing, 31 touchdowns. He also ran for 1,379 yards with 20 touchdowns. He is my number one Husky quarterback because he took an average team who would have zero future pro bowlers on the roster to the third national ranking. He defeated Miami Hurricans and Oregon State that year giving them their only losses. When I think of Tuiasosopo I think of winner and that is what Husky football is all about.
HB: Cody Picket- All-time passing leader in Husky history with 10,220 yards and 55 touchdown passes. Went 3-0 in the apple cup
HB: Brock Huard- When he left Washington was the All-time passing leader in yards. Is currently second in passing touchdowns all-time with 53. Went 19-11 as a starting quarterback. Was a third round draft pick.
HB: Damon Haurd- When he graduated he was the All-time passing leader in yards. Went 21-12-1 as a starting quarterback. Went 2-1 in Apple Cups.
HB: Jake Locker- Statistically one of the great Husky quarterbacks. Due to lack of wins he makes honorable mention. As a PASSER he needs four touchdown passes to become the all-time leader in Husky history. As a rusher he already has the most combined touchdowns in Washington history
At the end of the day the Huskies have the depth. I'm also leaving out such guys like Steve Pelluer, Tom Flick, Cary Conklin, and Hugh Millen. All guys who played in a Rose Bowl or Orange Bowl and enjoyed some time in the NFL. The Huskies quarterbacks have another thing over Cougar quarterbacks which is Rose Bowl wins and Apple Cup wins. On Tory's list the Cougars quarterbacks combined won three applecups as starting quarterbacks while the Huskies quarterbacks won nine apple cups to just two losses. Both schools have had great tradition in producing quarterbacks though and this Saturday features another pair that both schools can be proud of. This is why rivalry week is so special so we can debate on which school is better at what. I won't attempt to debate who parties the best though we all know WSU is ranked first at that. Hey gotta be number one at something right?