September 8, 2012; Eugene, OR, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs quarterback Derek Carr (4) calls out the play against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

13 Quarterbacks to Watch in 2013: Derek Carr

Quarterbacks who threw for more touchdowns than Fresno State’s Derek Carr in 2012: 2 (Texas Tech’s Seth Doege, West Virginia’s Geno Smith)

Quarterbacks returning to college football who threw more touchdowns in 2012 than Derek Carr: 0

Indeed, no passer in 2013 is coming off a more prolific passing campaign than Carr. His 37 touchdowns via the air were more than Johnny Manziel, A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray, and well…everybody but Marshall’s Rakeem Cato.

Most impressive is that Carr accomplished these milestones playing through injury, according to Fresno’s ABC 30:

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Carr flew under the radar of national attention, despite his lofty contributions to the Bulldogs’ 37.9 point per game offense and a share of the Mountain West Conference championship. His efforts earned him MWC Offensive Player of the Year, but nationally? No All-America nominations. Even among the non-BCS conference crowd, Carr failed to command as much attention as Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch.

It’s a bit surprising, given he is the younger brother of 2001 Heisman Trophy finalist David Carr. David led the nation in touchdown passes, and a compelling case for him to win that season’s bronze statue could be made. Might Derek rectify the error of past voters’ ways?

The road from the Valley to Manhattan is a long one, especially with Carr taking the wheel in 2013 sans co-navigator Robbie Rouse. The Bulldogs’ Mighty Mouse is NFL bound after four years of contribution to the offense. Fresno State’s next most prolific rusher after Rouse with 1490 yards was Marteze Waller at just 174.

Reestablishing the run game with a new feature back presents unique challenges for head coach Tim DeRuyter and offensive coordinator Dave Schramm.

In a recent interview with The Sacramento Bee, Schramm said:

we felt Robbie being on the field we were a whole lot better with him on the field than without him on the field. There was, we felt, a big drop-off when he wasn’t out there.

He gets to start that process in one of the Bulldogs’ most high profile games next season, when they open against a Rutgers Scarlet Knight defense that ranked No. 6 against the rush in 2012.

Fresno State was successful in replacing one key contributor from 2011 in 2012, though. Wide receiver Jalen Saunders transferred to Oklahoma after a sophomore campaign of 1065 yards and 12 touchdowns. Carr established a rapport with Davante Adams that actually produced greater numbers than Carr with Saunders. Both Adams and Isiah Burse return from contributing over 2100 yards and 20 touchdowns.

That’s a lot of firepower, and promises to again have Derek Carr ranked among the nation’s very best quarterbacks.

Tags: Football Fresno State Bulldogs

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