Big Sky QBs are sizzling
By CRAIG HALEY
(STATS) - Imagine discussing the top two quarterbacks in the Big Sky Conference and leaving Northern Arizona's Case Cookus, Eastern Washington's Eric Barriere or UC Davis' Jake Maier out of the conversation.
That's how good Montana's Dalton Sneed and Sacramento State's Kevin Thomson have been this season.
Of course, it's unrealistic to omit any of them because they combine to give the Big Sky the strongest quarterback contingent in the FCS this season.
The five mentioned rank in the top 12 nationally in total offensive yards per game. Idaho State's Matt Struck gives the Big Sky a sixth QB in the top 20 in passing yards per game. Add in Portland State's Davis Alexander and the Big Sky has seven with at least 14 touchdown passes. The next-closest conference is the Southland with three.
It's obvious why coaches can't stop shaking their heads.
"Every week, you're going against a great one, it's ridiculous," Idaho State coach Rob Phenicie said on the "This Week in Big Sky Football" podcast. "You'd think you'd have a chance to have the Big Sky player of the week once in a while, but you've got Sneed and you've got Thomson. Shoot, our guy I think's playing pretty well, but those other guys are doing just as well if not better.
"Just looking up and down, and you've got Cookus. I saw him at the Big Sky meetings this summer and I said, 'Boy, aren't you gone yet?' It seems like he's been around forever. Kevin Thomson, we were at UNLV when he was there. We recruited him there, and Dalton Sneed as well. You just keep going on and on, there's a bunch of good ones in this conference. Every week, you're playing a powerful offense."
The accomplishments run deep. Cookus is No. 1 among active FCS quarterbacks with 10,043 career passing yards and 92 touchdown passes , while Maier, the 2018 Big Sky offensive player of the year, ranks second with 9,843 and 78, respectively. Barriere guided Eastern Washington to the national championship game last January.
Sneed may be having the best season in the Big Sky, earning the offensive player of the week award an unprecedented three straight times before Montana went on a bye last weekend and Thomson claimed it. Those two QBs will square off Saturday night in arguably the FCS game of the week at Sacramento State.
Updated October 16, 2019