As is the case with almost any list or ranking ever compiled, people are never happy. There’s always someone, usually a lot of someones, who will disagree and explain why the list sucks and how it should be changed.
I am that someone.
For the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) to name Valdosta State quarterback Rogan Wells as the first-team All-American quarterback over Slippery Rock quarterback Roland Rivers III is downright wrong.
Wells just completed a good season with Valdosta State, a great season even, but it pales in comparison to Rivers’ season.
I’m going to compare the regular season numbers between the two this season: 72.1 completion percentage, 3,409 yards, 40 touchdowns and six interceptions or 71.7 completion percentage, 2,315 yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Two fine seasons for quarterbacks that led their respective teams to unbeaten regular seasons and No. 1 seeds in the NCAA playoffs. But one of those stat sets is clearly better.
This is in no way disrespecting the season Wells put together, but Rivers is clearly the best quarterback in the NCAA Division II this season.
In the regular season, Rivers led Division II football in passing efficiency (192.7), passing touchdowns (40), points responsible for (278) and ranked third in completion percentage (72.1%) and passing yards (3,409).
He was the only quarterback in Division II with 4,000 yards of total offense and one of just five players in all of college football. You may have heard of the others: Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, LSU’s Joe Burrow and Washington State’s Anthony Gordon.
Wells had just two games of 300 yards passing and zero games of tossing at least four touchdowns. On the other hand, Rivers had seven of each such games.
While both were strong runners this season, Wells just edged out Rivers in yards (680-538). Wells had two games of at least 100 rushing yards and three games over 80 yards, but Rivers had two games over 100 yards and three over 60 yards. They both rushed for six touchdowns this season.
Currently, Rivers is first in passing efficiency (189.7); passing touchdowns (44); points responsible for (308); points responsible for per game (25.7); third in passing yards (3,825); passing yards per game (318.8); fourth in completion percentage (71.4); and sixth in completions per game (22.83). That’s in all of Division II football.
He’s in the top six in every single quarterback stat in Division II football. Where does Wells stack up?
Wells is third in completion percentage (71.7); 10th in passing efficiency (165.1); 20th in completions per game (19.36); 23rd in passing yards (19); 26th in passing yards per game (240.9); tied for 32nd in points responsible for (156); tied for 35th in points responsible for per game (14.2); and tied for 40th in passing touchdowns (19).
Stats aren’t the be-all-end-all of the debate. A lot of factors go into determining the best quarterback in the country. A team’s success is often directly correlated to the play of its quarterback.
Wells and Rivers led their teams to nearly identical regular seasons. 12-0 for Slippery Rock and 11-0 for Valdosta State. Wells and the Blazers lost in the second round of the NCAA playoffs. Rivers and The Rock advanced past Shepherd in the second round.
Team success and statistics? The advantage goes to Rivers in both.
Valdosta State rushed for almost 2,900 yards this season compared to Slippery Rock’s 1,900 yards. With more of a focus on the run game, Wells took somewhat of a backseat to the running offense. However, the Valdosta State offense took a step back compared to last season’s national championship-winning team.
The rushing offense still averaged over 260 yards per game, but Wells’ passing numbers dipped. It was an efficiently great season from Wells, but he took a step back.
Rivers took a massive leap forward and became the best quarterback in Division II football. The AFCA All-American team should have reflected this.
With Rivers and Wells nominated as finalists for the Harlon Hill Award, the Division II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, the choice is clear.
But like any list or ranking, someone will be mad about the result.
Hopefully that someone isn’t me.