The Choice Of A New Generation
Who should Fresno State go with at quarterback the rest of the season
Marcus McMaryion or Chason Virgil?
As Fresno State begin Mountain West play against the Nevada Wolf Pack this weekend, new head coach Jeff Tedford is left with a tough choice. The offense has struggled to find its rhythm with quarterback Chason Virgil as the team’s signal caller and that caused Tedford to give Marcus McMaryion the second half of the Washington loss. Though the game was already out of Fresno’s reach by the time he was given the keys to the offense, McMaryion threw for 96 yards and completed 62.5% of his passes.
On the season, McMaryion is sitting at a 70% completion percentage, 235 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Virgil is riding a 57.8% completion percentage, 524 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. Then again, he’s also played Incarnate Word, Alabama, and Washington. Two of those teams are boasting Top 20 scoring defenses, and none of them are named Incarnate Word. It’s hard to look good when your team is playing stifling defenses.
The Bulldogs haven’t quite had the start they were hoping for, even if their record jibes with their schedule. The ‘Dogs have allowed large amounts of points to be scored on them, totals the ‘Dog defense hadn’t given up in a half all last year (42). Whatever adjustment period the ‘Dogs are having under Tedford, the coaching staff will hope is nearing its conclusion as they enter Mountain West play. Solidifying the quarterback position will go a long way toward a consensus offensive lineup, quarterback included.
As it presently stands, fans might be leaning toward starting the McMaryion era. After several seasons of Virgil showing flashes, lack of consistent play and recurring injuries have made it hard for fans to truly get invested in him. McMaryion represents the new, which inherently means better when you’re talking about college football fans. Whether or not that actually plays out immaterial, it’s all about shiny, new toys.
It’s hard to argue with the idea that McMaryion shouldn’t get a prolonged look, however. Just about every quarterback in Fresno has seen some action in the last couple years, whether by coaching choice or by necessity. McMaryion has the talent to be successful in offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer’s system, even if Fresno’s recent track record of transfer quarterbacks leaves something to be desired. It’s truly on Tedford to own the quarterback guru tag if he does opt to go with McMaryion, though.
Moving away from Virgil represents a change in what Fresno State aim to do. To that end, McMaryion didn’t transfer from Oregon State to sit behind someone who has never had a single season with a completion percentage above 57.8%, and a career long of 40 yards. McMaryion came here to be coached up by Tedford, known throughout the media as a quarterback whisperer. Now is the time to earn his paycheck.
This Fresno State squad is a far cry from competing with San Diego State for a conference championship, but winning six games and going to a bowl isn’t out of the question. It will require the ‘Dogs to showcase a little moxie on the road, but there are nine games remaining and it’s hard to argue that six of them are beyond Fresno’s reach, five if they petition for an NCAA waiver. If they don’t situate the quarterback position, though, it will all be for naught.
San Diego State, BYU, and Boise State are the only games that seem beyond this Fresno team and you could make an argument that Boise could be a winnable game by the time all is said and done. Wyoming seems like a tough ask on the road, but the Cowboys aren’t exactly lighting the college football world on fire during Josh Allen’s supposed Heisman campaign. If the ‘Dogs find their groove prior to November, they could be in a prime position to steal a march on the favored Mountain division.
This is all putting the cart before the horse. The Bulldogs need to get past the ‘Pack next Saturday. They have the game at home and Nevada is 0-3, but they’ve been competitive in their losses. Oddly enough, the Wolfpacks’ quarterback play is worse than anything Fresno could entertain as a possibility. Both Ty Gangi and Kaymen Cureton are struggling to get off the ground in a Nevada offense that is tied for 96th in the nation in scoring. If ever there was a chance to right the ship, a wounded Wolfpack team was it.
Can Tedford prove his worth at developing talent? Will the Bulldogs be able to start out conference play with a convincing win? Will McMaryion get the nod over Virgil? If the answer to all three of these questions isn’t yes, Fresno may be in serious trouble by the time they hit the heart of their Mountain West schedule. This was supposed to the start of something new. Instead it’s been more of the same.