There are five quarterbacks on the Spartans current roster, FR Ryan Johnson, FR Terrell Carter, Jr Josh Love, SR Michael Carrillo, and returning starter SO Montel Aaron. To preview them we will first take a look at who might be backing up returning starter Montel Aaron and then we will look at Aaron might do this year.
A look at the backups: Freshman Ryan Johnson completed a redshirt season last year and will most likely be competing to suit up on game days. The former 3-star recruit Terrell Carter is interesting; he also took a redshirt season last year, but did get some playing time in the spring game. Spring game numbers do not tell you a whole lot especially with such a small sample size, but Carter did finish 4 of 5 with 77 yards.
If Aaron struggles during this season the Spartans may turn to the younger Carter instead of Josh Love to see what they have with him moving forward. Love was Aaron’s backup last season and did see plenty of action playing in 9 games and starting a couple games when Aaron was injured. He was mostly ineffective when he did play, he finished last year with 8 TDS to 10 INTS and a completion percentage of 54. The third-string quarterback last year, Michael Carrillo saw limited action in 3 games and I find it hard to see him getting any more playing time his senior year. With Aaron coming back, Love already ahead of Carrillo for the #2 spot and Freshman Terrell Carter who has 3 more years of eligibility remaining after this season, it is not looking too bright for the former JUCO transfer quarterback to find playing time.
A preview of returning starter Montel Aaron: Last year Aaron finished the year with 8 TDS to 5 INTS with a completion percentage of 56. He started the season off pretty well, establishing himself as deserving of the #1 spot. Aaron got hurt and missed a couple of games and when he returned he could not find the early season form he had previously shown. Bill Connelly showed an interesting comparison: Aaron’s first 6 games 60% completion rate, 12.5 yards per completion, 8 TD, 3 INT, 139.0 passer rating.
Aaron’s last 4 games: 51% completion rate, 11.6 yards per completion, 0 TD, 7 INT, 87.8 passer rating. For Montel to take the next step this year, he will have to improve his efficiency by completing more passes and continuing to convert on third downs to keep drives moving. Of course, it would also help if he had more support in the running game where San Jose State could also be better. With much of the receiving and running back production returning, I do not think it should be a stretch to say that the former 3-star QB has the talent and help around him to continue to take steps forward this year.
Ideal Scenario: In his sophomore season, Aaron shows for a full year what we saw from him in his first few games last year. His growth and improvement this year allows for him and San Jose State to continue to build up the football program with two seasons of eligibility still remaining.
Worst case Scenario: Aaron is great against UC Davis, but struggles against PAC 12 opponents, Washington State and Oregon. This allows him to keep his job for the next few games, but he ends up continuing to struggle throughout the season eventually making way for the freshman Carter. Carter uses a year of eligibility on only a couple of games at the end of another disappointing season and the Spartans have to start over finding stability at the quarterback position again.