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Positional Recap and 2017 Preview: Quarterbacks

A quick look at the quarterback play in 2016 and what to expect in 2017

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Duke Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The quarterback position is without a doubt the most important position on the field, and unfortunately for Wake Forest, this position appeared to be a rotating door for much of the season. It started off with John Wolford and Kendall Hinton vying for the start, which eventually saw Hinton take the reigns. That was a short-lived victory, as Hinton went down for the season with a knee injury vs. Delaware, never to return again.

Wolford took back over for the Deacs, but had his fair share of ups and downs both from a performance and injury standpoint. This led to a third quarterback, Kyle Kearns, getting a decent amount of action over the final few games, especially in the bowl game against Temple.

I don’t want to get into arbitrary and subjective letter grades, but the inconsistency at the QB position led to the position being average at best.

Player Ht, Wt Year Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Rate Att.
John Wolford 6'1, 200 JR 166 299 1774 9 10 55.50% 33 9.90% 4.7
Kyle Kearns 6'2, 195 FR 13 35 206 0 2 37.10% 4 10.30% 4.5
Kendall Hinton 6'0, 200 SO 11 19 174 0 1 57.90% 2 9.50% 7.6

The table above demonstrates that none of the three quarterbacks were great at the position throughout the year. Wolford and Hinton both attacked the defense with their legs fairly effectively, running for 721 yards and 140 yards respectively (7.4 and 6.1 yards per carry).

There will be a lot of discussion over the off-season heading into next year as to who will be the starting quarterback. Wolford has led the offense, albeit with a fair amount of bumps, for the better part of three years, while Hinton has wowed fans with his elusiveness and arm strength.

Another candidate will likely emerge in the form of 6-4, 225 pound redshirt freshman Jamie Newman. He has received consistently high praise from the coaching staff for his work on the scout team, and boasts a frame that is much different from what the other three have to offer.

Newman was ranked as the No. 16 dual-threat quarterback in the country in his class by 247sports, and his skill set would seemingly fit in perfectly for what the staff likes to do.

Next year is a very big year for the offense and Coach Ruggiero. With the defense currently in flux with losses to Marquel Lee and Brad Watson, as well as Mike Elko taking the defensive coordinator spot at Notre Dame, the offense absolutely has to step up and perform at a better level than they have the past two years.

The offense actually regressed this season despite a pretty good bowl output, ranking 109th in S&P, down from 107th in S&P in 2015. The passing game continued to struggle, ranking in triple figures in all the pertinent advanced statistical categories.

With another year of experience under the belt of the offensive line, and returning nearly every single wide receiver on the team, there is no excuse for the continued futility next season.

It is way too early to call with any certainty who will be the starting quarterback, and it will be the number one story in Spring Football to see if anybody can take the bull by the horns and establish a true starter.

I would venture to guess that if Kendall Hinton is healthy he will be the starter, but I also expect Jamie Newman to push him for that starting spot as well.

I have been one of the biggest supporters of John Wolford this season, and believe he has performed admirably for Wake Forest over the past three years, but ultimately I think there needs to be a different starting quarterback if the Deacs are going to continue to take the next step forward as a team, especially on offense.

This isn’t a knock on him in any sense, but merely the reality of the big picture based on what we have seen out of him while at quarterback.

My guess to the positional depth chart will be:

  1. Kendall Hinton
  2. John Wolford
  3. Jamie Newman
  4. Kyle Kearns

I say this with a bit of a caveat, because I think Newman may actually be the most talented quarterback on the roster, but if he doesn’t secure the starting job then he will be the third quarterback on the roster behind two QB’s who have more experience.

There are a lot of reasons to be excited about the team next year, but establishing a clear starter and keeping him healthy is something that needs to occur for everything else on the offense to fall into place.