In preparation for the 2023 season, we’re doing what any college football writer does in late spring: speculate and make lists. Our co-managing editor Eric Henry recently produced a list of the top five quarterbacks in Conference USA heading into the new season. You can read that article here.
Recently, we asked our readers to give their opinion by asking which of those five quarterbacks would have the best season. Western Kentucky’s Austin Reed was the top of Eric’s list as well as the top answer in the poll. It was actually an incredibly close race, with Reed taking 39% of the vote and FIU’s Grayson James taking 38%.
In a recent poll, we asked which C-USA quarterback would be top performer in the league this year.— Underdog Dynasty (@underdogdynasty) May 2, 2023
WKU fans and FIU fans made were the most prominent responders. #CUSAFB pic.twitter.com/CF8zHpp0uU
RELATED: Conference USA Football: Top Five Quarterbacks Entering 2023
Let’s Think About This
Austin Reed threw the ball 602 times in 2022 - the third highest total in all of FBS. The 2022 C-USA Newcomer of the Year had the most passing yards in all of FBS with 4,744 yards through the air. Given the way that WKU head coach Tyson Helton runs his offense, Reed is a pretty easy choice for the top QB in the league.
Do slumps and injuries happen? Absolutely. But the math says Reed is the safe choice.
That brings us to Grayson James. James’ play this year was a huge reason why the Panthers improved drastically as a team and got within shouting distance of a bowl berth. He’s gutsy. Nobody’s doubting that...but he’s got a ways to go, in terms of development. James threw 11 touchdowns, with 11 interceptions, and completed 59% of his passes.
We love how passionate and optimistic FIU fans are about this new era. If James continues to grow, things are going to get even better. However, Louisiana Tech has a guy with proven ability and a lot of experience coming in with Hank Bachmeier. If he stays healthy, the Boise State transfer can shine in Sonny Cumbie’s air-raid-adjacent offense. In my opinion, he’s the safer choice for a better individual performance in 2023 than James, Hardison, Pavia, or any other QB in C-USA not named Austin reed.
But, as it can definitely go with spring speculation, there’ plenty of room to be proven wrong.