ESPN: Arizona has one of the best quarterback situations in 2024

Jun 15, 2024, 7:10 AM

ESPN has Arizona's quarterback situation as of the best tiers in college football while Arizona Sta...

Quarterback Noah Fifita #11 of the Arizona Wildcats drops back to pass during the second half of the NCAAF game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Mountain America Stadium on November 25, 2023 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona State Devils and Arizona Wildcats will look to make an impact in their first season in the Big 12 in 2024. As it is in college football, a team goes only as far as its quarterback situation takes it.

ESPN’s David Hale bucketed every college football team’s quarterback room into tiers to determine where everyone stands. He has Arizona’s Noah Fifita and the Wildcats’ quarterback room in the second tier. Arizona is joined by Miami and three Big 12 teams: Colorado, Kansas and Utah.

Numbers-wise, you could make a compelling case for any of these starting quarterbacks to reside in our top tier. Frankly, you could flip this group with the one above, and it would only garner a few ugly looks. But if we’re jotting down our list of pros and cons, this group has perhaps one or two extra lines on the negative side of the ledger — items, it should be noted, almost entirely out of their control — that we can’t overlook.

Fifita and (Cam) Ward have new head coaches. (Jalon) Daniels and (Cam) Rising are coming off serious injuries. (Shadeur) Sanders played behind an offensive line that more often resembled a subway turnstile than an effective pass-blocking unit.

Hale had Arizona State’s room with Jeff Sims, Trenton Bourguet and Sam Leavitt ranked much lower, in tier 16 along with BYU, Northwestern, Rutgers, Stanford and Washington. The ESPN writer is judging ASU based on Sims taking over as a starter, though it was Leavitt who was leading the first team in spring ball before Sims committed.

Sims threw 47 passes last year before being benched. Six of them were intercepted. He averaged just 4.8 yards per dropback. In fairness, he was better in past years at Georgia Tech. Also in fairness, that is a very low bar. Arizona State coach Kenny Dillingham worked wonders with Jordan Travis and Bo Nix earlier in his career, but if he can get Sims anywhere close to the potential folks saw when he was a blue-chip recruit, he should go directly to the Hall of Fame.

How does Fifita and Arizona look going into 2024?

In 2023, Fifita threw for 2,869 yards and 25 touchdowns. He also completed 72.4% of his passes as the Wildcats finished with a 9-3 record in their final season in the Pac-12, including a 38-24 win over Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl.

This will be Fifita’s first season playing under new head coach Brett Brennan after previous head coach Jedd Fisch left the team to coach for Washington.

How does Arizona State’s quarterback room look going into 2024?

Leavitt transferred from Michigan State where he threw for 139 yards and two touchdowns in limited playing time in 2023.

Sims transferred to ASU after spending his 2023 season at Nebraska. Sims played five games for the Cornhuskers, starting in two games, throwing for 282 yards and one touchdown with six interceptions.

The Sun Devils’ quarterback situation in 2023 saw three signal callers start for the team throughout the season.

Jaden Rashada entered 2023 as the starting quarterback but started only two games after suffering a leg injury.

Drew Pyne would start for just one game on Sept. 23 versus USC in a 42-28 loss. Pyne threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns in his only start of the season.

In the seven games Bourguet started, he threw for 1,486 yards for one touchdown with four interceptions. He also ran for two touchdowns and completed 60.9% of his passes.

Bourguet is the only quarterback returning from the 2023 team after Rashada transferred to Georgia and Pyne transferred to Missouri.

ASU will look to improve in 2024 after finishing with a 3-9 record in their final season in the Pac-12 in 2023.

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ESPN: Arizona has one of the best quarterback situations in 2024