Debate It: 2013 Big Ten passing TD leader?

If we had told you prior to last season that Matt McGloin, Taylor Martinez, Robert Marve, Braxton Miller and Cam Coffman would finish 1-5 in touchdown passes, you would have thought we were crazy. Point is, at this time of year, it’s difficult to predict a category like this.

One year ago, in fact, James Vandenberg was the popular pick to pace the Big Ten. He went on to throw a disappointing seven scores. See our guys’ picks in this post.

2012 leader: Matt McGloin, Penn State – 24
2013 returning leader: Taylor Martinez, Nebraska – 23

Tom: Taylor Martinez, Nebraska – He ranked second in the Big Ten last season with 23 touchdown tosses. That number will only get bigger this fall. Martinez has had a chance to mature in coordinator Tim Beck’s offense. The senior signal-caller knows what he’s doing. And while Martinez never will be confused with being Dan Marino, he has improved as a passer after working extensively with a personal tutor in California in recent years. Martinez also will benefit from working with the top receiving corps in the Big Ten. The Huskers will feature the likes of Kenny Bell, Jamal Turner and Quincy Enunwa. And redshirt freshmen Jordan Westerkamp and Alonzo Moore are promising. Sprinkle in the threat of a good running game led by Ameer Abdullah that often will draw the attention of defenses, and it’s easy to see why Martinez will excel and have myriad opening passing opportunities in 2013.
Dark horse: Andrew Maxwell, Michigan State

[ RELATED: View all of our preseason stat predictions ]

Brent: Devin Gardner, Michigan – Between the way Taylor Martinez has improved as a passer (62%, 2,871 yards, 23 TD in 2012) and the level of receivers at his disposal, Nebraska’s signal-caller is the easy pick. But, as I did Tuesday in my passing yards prediction, I find it hard to discount what Gardner accomplished late last season. I focused on some of the numbers in that post, but here’s another: 2.2, as in the TD passes Gardner averaged in five starts – Minnesota (2), Northwestern (2), Iowa (3), Ohio State (1) and South Carolina (3). Not bad, even if it is a small sample size. I also favor Gardner in this race because he doesn’t have, say, Ameer Abdullah and Imani Cross in his backfield. As a result, he should receive more opportunities to throw for scores, particularly in the red zone (hello, Devin Funchess), where others teams – Nebraska, for one – are confident pounding it in. Remember, no Michigan running back ran for more than five scores last season.
Dark horse: Christian Hackenberg, Penn State

Here are a few reader tweets:


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (6 Comments)
huskerfanbb on 6/5/2013 @ 11:23am EDT Said:

Good reasoning for both these guys. There will be more passing and scoring overall in the league, I think, than last year. Part of this is due to several really good running backs (Leveon Bell, anyone) departing and creating more opportunities for passers.

If Martinez stays healthy, he’ll definitely be in the mix. He has the experience and the weapons. That offense will be a scoring machine. Pretty much the same for Braxton Miller, although I think Braxton will run more in and doesn’t have the same caliber of weapons at receiver.

Gardner is not a bad pick, either, and if Big Blue’s running game isn’t any better than last year, he’ll get opportunities. Good reasoning on that by Brent.

I think Maxwell is a long shot. Someone will have to take up the scoring slack with Bell gone–I just don’t think they are going to score that much.

Whoever plays QB for Indiana will have a good chance. They like to sling it. I also wouldn’t rule out Hackenburg if he can get going early. He’ll need at least 10 or 12 TD passes before conference play starts, though, because I think it will take 30 TD’s to get the title this year, and some of the B1G defenses will shut him down due to his inexperience.

Sean on 6/6/2013 @ 8:48am EDT Said:

Ive seen a whole lot of predictions saying gardner will be a great passer based on what he did last season. But nobody mentions that he didnt have to play against the 2 best secondaries in the conference (Mich St and Nebraska) and was not impressive against the 3rd in Ohio State

Josh on 6/6/2013 @ 2:21pm EDT Said:

September comes after June, right?😥

Cornboy89 on 6/6/2013 @ 8:51pm EDT Said:

This is a tough question to answer really. Martinez is a good pick but with the rushing attack NU should bring to the field in 2013, the Huskers might not have to put many points up through the air. This is a bit off topic but the real question is this: Can Martinez (and the rest of NU for that matter) cut their turnovers in half? If they do that NU will be a tough team to beat.

Jimmy on 6/6/2013 @ 10:50pm EDT Said:

Devin Gardner threw a bunch of jump balls to his receivers, during broken plays for the most part. Congrats on him completing those passes but doesn’t equate to the love everyone is showing him in the preseason. As it was mentioned above, he didn’t play very well against OSU, I don’t think they got the ball across midfield in the 2nd half, and didn’t play against MSU or Nebraska.

Dan Revas on 6/7/2013 @ 11:38am EDT Said:

Wow, very good analysis by all. I also think Gardner may have protection problems up front. O-Line is not their strength if what I’ve been reading is correct. Of course he has good feet. He’s not the running threat Martinez or Miller can be, but he is more mobile than some of the other candidates.

In 85 days, 2 hours, and 23 minutes Husker fans will get their first look at what Martinez will do. Can’t wait. tired of just talking about CFB.