NOTE: This is the seventh installment of a 15-part series on 2013′s most pivotal QBs in college football.
Ask any coach about the importance of the quarterback position and he is quick to throw out a tired cliché about quarterbacks getting too much credit and blame.
They will tell you there are 11 guys on the field at all times and each one of them must work together for the team to win.
Coaches know a lot about football. They also know about deflecting pressure from the most important pressure on the field.
How important is the quarterback position? Ask Texas A&M what Johnny Manziel meant to the team in 2012. Ask Auburn about Cam Newton’s worth in 2010. Ask Ohio State after Urban Meyer got a chance to turn around QB Braxton Miller in 2012.
A quarterback might not be everything, but a good one can mask a number of different deficiencies – be it a porous defense, a non-existent run game or erratic special teams.
Teams without a solid quarterback need virtually every other facet of the game to click in order to overcome poor play from the most important position.
This list is designed to spotlight 15 quarterbacks whose play will dictate their teams’ fates. With two exceptions, this list is made up exclusively of established QBs who have been starters for at least half a season.
The carefully chosen term “pivotal” is key here. This is to spotlight teams that could have significant swings based on the position. Players like Manziel and Miller are proven commodities at this point. Florida State has enough surrounding its yet-to-be-named starter – presumably Jameis Winston – to repeat as ACC champ even without great play from the position. Those appearing on this list are opined to have a wider swing.
9. Casey Pachall, TCU
It took one huge mistake for Pachall to go from potential breakout star during TCU’s first Big 12 season to send him spiraling into his likely last chance with the program.
Pachall’s year got off to an inauspicious start when he admitted in February to smoking marijuana and experimenting with cocaine after his roommate, LB Tanner Brock, was kicked off the team after being arrested in a police sting operation.
It surfaced later that Pachall had failed a drug test taken two weeks before the sting.
Off-the-field problems continued for Pachall in early October when he police arrested him for drunken driving.
Pachall left school to enroll in rehab, thus ending his season after just four games.
Those four games showed on-field progression for Pachall, though it should be noted that the Horned Frogs didn’t exactly play the meat of their Big 12 slate, facing only a Kansas team that finished 1-11.
Still, he threw for 948 yards, 10 TDs and one INT.
With Pachall gone, the Horned Frogs dropped six of their final nine contests.
Pachall’s early-season success came on the heels of a successful 2011 campaign in which he broke out as a potential star while replacing early second-round pick Andy Dalton. His big moment came in a 36-35 upset win at Boise State during which he threw for 473 yards and five TDs. He seemed poised to ease TCU into its new conference as a real contender.
Then the off-field problems started surfacing a stacking up.
All indications are that Pachall’s problems are behind him. He went through spring practice and, though coach Gary Patterson continues to insist it is so, local writers aren’t buying that Trevone Boykin is pushing Pachall for the starting position.
If he slips up again off the field, though, it could certainly make work uncomfortable for Patterson, who has given Pachall at least two second chances. Another betrayal of confidence certainly would not reflect well on a coach who had a pristine reputation on discipline before 2012. Patterson must already wear the fact that Pachall was not suspended for his failed drug test – that is, of course, unless you want to count the second half of TCU’s 56-0 season-opening win over Grambling.
Pachall has already proven he can succeed on the field – assuming he can keep himself on it.
The reason the rising junior has a spot on this list is because with Pachall, TCU – despite an unbelievably brutal road slate – can compete toward the top of the Big 12.
He could also help the Horned Frogs deliver a landscape-shifting upset win in a modified “neutral-field” season opener against LSU at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
Winning games has long been the most popular recipe for players to put mistakes out of fans’ minds. Pachall certainly has the skill to do so in a big way.