Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Davey O'Brien Award, given annually to the nation's top quarterback, announced its 16 semifinalists for the award today. The list is as follows, in alphabetical order:
- Matt Barkley (Soph.), USC
- Kirk Cousins (Jr.), Michigan State
- Andy Dalton (Sr.), TCU
- Blaine Gabbert (Jr.), Missouri
- Robert Griffin III (Soph.), Baylor
- Landry Jones (Soph.), Oklahoma
- Colin Kaepernick (Sr.), Nevada
- Andrew Luck (Jr.), Stanford
- Ryan Mallett (Jr.), Arkansas
- Taylor Martinez (Fr.), Nebraska
- Kellen Moore (Jr.), Boise State
- Cam Newton (Jr.), Auburn
- Terrelle Pryor (Jr.), Ohio State
- Denard Robinson (Soph.), Michigan
- Ricky Stanzi (Sr.), Iowa
- Darron Thomas (Soph.), Oregon
All in all, this is a pretty thorough list of the quarterbacks who might end up being the top quarterback in the nation once December rolls around, but it certainly does seem as if there was one glaring omission: Northwestern sophomore Dan Persa . Persa currently leads the nation in completion percentage, is eighth in passing efficiency and is fifth in total offense . Oh, and Persa also leads his team in rushing yards (341) and rushing touchdowns (six) -- each by pretty substantial margins over the nearest teammate.
Of course, it certainly merits mention that Northwestern is currently on a two-game losing streak, and that the Wildcats hadn't really beaten anyone of merit before the streak either. But in the Wildcats' losses to Michigan State and Purdue -- neither of whom have lost a Big Ten game yet, for what it's worth -- Persa was hardly "at fault" for the losses; he averaged 281 yards of total offense in the two games and scored four touchdowns to just one turnover.
It's hard to say who should be bumped for Persa's sake, though; every one of the top 16 semifinalists has a legitimate claim to deserving some sort of accolade. It's also worth pointing out, however, that until Missouri and Oklahoma faced each other this past weekend, Dalton, Gabbert, and Jones were all quarterbacking undefeated teams, and that's probably the only reason they're on the list; Jones and Gabbert, in particular, aren't even close to the top 16 of passing efficiency in the nation (34th and 39th, respectively). None of the three are terribly gifted runners, either, while Persa's been forced to anchor the woeful Northwestern ground game.
Of course, the O'Brien Award probably wants to avoid the embarrassment of not being able to even nominate a title contender's quarterback as a finalist, and with two conference losses, it's extremely unlikely that Northwestern will represent the Big Ten in Pasadena, much less make a run at a spot in the Top 10. Persa and his Wildcats aren't high-profile, and that's enough to leave him off this list. Inclusion's academic either way, since this is clearly Cam Newton's to lose, but it'd be nice to see a quarterback like Persa rewarded for putting together one hell of a season so far even when he doesn't have the supporting cast to win 11 games in a season.