Big Ten Newsmakers: Can anyone in QB-challenged B1G even exploit John Reid’s loss?
Sure, losing elite cornerback John Reid to a possibly season-ending knee injury is a tough break for Penn State. But Nittany Lion fans should just be thankful their team doesn’t play in a conference where it would matter a lot more.
We open this week’s Big Ten Newsmakers with the reasons Reid’s apparent loss isn’t as catastrophic as it might seem.
Penn State cornerback John Reid (29) breaks up a pass intended for Maryland wide receiver D.J. Moore during third quarter at Beaver Stadium on Oct. 8.
That John Reid has suffered a knee injury that could end his 2017 season before it begins is, of course, some bad news for Penn State. The Philadelphia native is the Nittany Lions’ best cover corner and had the potential to be the best in the Big Ten this season.
But there is reason for Penn State fans to be thankful. And it’s not simply because cornerback happens to be a deep position for PSU.
Penn State cornerback Christian Campbell (1), here tackling Temple’s Jahad Thomas (5) in a 30-13 win in 2014, has played significant minutes for three seasons.
In any of the other Power Five conferences, losing the best coverage man in your secondary would be reason for major concern. In the B1G, well, you can hope to survive without too much damage.
That’s because the quarterback play in this conference has been – and promises to be – so sketchy that Reid’s replacement won’t be significantly exploited. In this league, experienced backups Christian Campbell or Amani Oruwariye might be just fine.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley (9), teammates and coach James Franklin (right) watch field goal drill during spring practice at Lasch complex on March 29.
One fact we can be sure of: Reid’s replacements won’t have to face the Big Ten’s most accomplished passing quarterback because he wears the same uniform. Trace McSorley was the only Big Ten quarterback either by eyeball or metrics whom you could really place on a national level last season.
If efficiency is your measuring stick, McSorley (13th) was the only Big Ten quarterback rated in the nation’s top 20. Three of the other Power Five conferences had at least two QBs in the top 20 in efficiency; the ACC (four), Big 12 (three) and Pac-12 (two) all were well represented.
The Big Ten had nobody else in the top 40 other than Maryland’s Perry Hills (39th).
Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke (14) prepares to hand off to running back Gerald Holmes (24) during MSU spring game on April 1.
It won’t hurt that, of the 10 Power Five opponents Penn State plays this season (including nine Big Ten teams and Pittsburgh), four are guaranteed to field quarterbacks who can be counted as rookie starters. Nathan Peterman (Pitt), C.J. Beathard (Iowa), Tommy Armstrong (Nebraska) and Hills (Maryland) are all graduated. Rutgers is probably going to replace second-half starter Giovanni Rescigno with a heralded freshman. And though senior Damion Terry is technically in the mix at Michigan State, he is a tenuous bet for November, too, with Brian Lewerke having looked good as the MSU spring game starter for the first-team offense.