PAC-12 Primer: 3 Must-Watch QB's On Opening Weekend
By Joe Kerrigan
The 2020 college football season is well underway despite huge initial delays back in September, with many of the first week games being cancelled. The PAC-12, however, will be starting play today, becoming the last power five conference to begin playing after initially deciding not to play a season at all.
The conference will play a reduced six-game schedule from the usual twelve, plus the conference title game slated for December 18th. The halved slate has been met with some criticism, with some claiming that a shorter season de-legitimises an undefeated PAC-12 team being in playoff contention, given other leagues are playing longer seasons.
Despite this, there is still plenty to get excited about, including a trio of quarterbacks that will be on NFL scout’s radars either this coming April or the next…
The season opener begins with two of the best NFL Quarterback prospects in the entire conference – Kedon Slovis leads USC against Jayden Daniels and Arizona State at 9am PT/5pm BST. My colleague Rory Joe Daniels does an excellent job previewing this battle in his Saturday Lookout piece here:
Jayden Daniels - Arizona State Sun Devils
Jayden Daniels is a true sophomore and at only 19 years old, his ability to perform is already incredible. And whilst it might be Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields dominating this year, Daniels might find his name at the top of the NFL Draft in 2021.
Arizona is looking to build on his amazing talents, trying to mould around him and what he already does so well. A particular game that piqued interest was his performance against Oregon last year where he had a 69% completion percentage on 22/32 attempts, 408 passing yards, 3 touchdowns and 12.75 yards per attempt. Numbers like those are just below your Burrow’s, your Tua’s and your Kyler Murray’s. Considering that was only one game from a fairly un-remarkable season, it does show massive potential.
Kedon Slovis - USC Trojans
Daniels is insanely talented, and while he may be setting his sights on best QB in the PAC-12, Kedon Slovis might just beat him to it. USC thought they were completely set for the future at the QB position with high school phenom JT Daniels. But in only his first game of his sophomore year against Fresno State, he suffered a terrible ACL injury, leaving backup and relatively unknown QB Kedon Slovis to take the reins of the USC offense.
One interesting aspect of Slovis’ game is that his high school coach was THE hall of fame QB, Kurt Warner. Warner is devoted to teaching his students everything, giving his players the opportunity to see how much they can absorb and learn. Slovis seems to work incredibly hard and has impressive accuracy, moves around well in the pocket and has a tonne of poise. Big game moments just don’t seem to affect him because he is so confident in his abilities – that self assurance will be needed if USC are to hit the ground running this evening.
Jayden De Laura - Washington State Cougars
Another fascinating can’t miss prospect is Washington State QB, Jayden de Laura, a true freshman out of Saint Louis high school, Hawaii. This is the same school famous for producing Quarterback names such as Marcus Mariota and Tua Tagovailoa…
Jayden was initially committed to Hawaii but followed head coach Nick Rolovich when he took the Washington State job this offseason. The Cougars are not expected to do very well this year, and with their first game of the season against Oregon State the decision to start true freshman de Laura and build around him looks to be a project with a few years in mind.
With a new Head Coach and new starting QB, the potential with this team being built around him is tantalizing. Jayden’s performance can only be speculated and no one is quite sure how he will perform in week one. Whilst he may only be 18 years old, he has an exciting future and college football fans should be very interested to see how he does at Reser Stadium.
Joe is a 22 year old Packers fan from London. He is studying a Masters in Sports Journalism and is the creator and host of The Overtime Show Podcast.