We are now entering Week 3 of the 2022 college football season, and there has been a lot to process so far. Why did Notre Dame lose to Marshall? Why did Alabama almost lose to Texas? Is Georgia the only safe bet to make the College Football Playoffs at the moment? The easy take with literally anything that has happened so far is that it is way too early to make any bold predictions, but here me out: it could be that Drake Maye ends up being one of the best quarterbacks in college football by the time the season is over. Let me explain.
As we all know, Drake Maye won the starting quarterback job for the Tar Heels over Jacolby Criswell, and Mack Brown made it sound like it was a really close competition. I’m sure to some extent that is true, but what Maye has been able to do on the football field in his three games makes me wonder if what Brown said wasn’t just hyperbole. Maye has been outstanding, and I would argue that there are things about him that are just flat-out better than the guy he is replacing from last season, Sam Howell. While that sounds like a knock on Howell, what that truly means is that Maye is just that good, and once star receiver Josh Downs returns, he can be even better.
For those that would rather not take my word for how good he’s been so far, let’s go over the stats: right now Drake Maye is leading the nation in passing yards (930) as well as passing touchdowns (11). His 190.1 passer rating according to ESPN is the eight-best in the country, with the one lone ACC quarterback rating higher than him being Syracuse’s Garrett Shrader. To put these numbers into context: last season Sam Howell threw for 867 yards and eight touchdowns last season, and had thrown four interceptions while Maye so far has only thrown one. Needless to say, it seems like Brown picked the right guy to take over the Heels offense.
Some would argue that Drake Maye has had a light schedule so far, especially compared to Howell, and it’s hard to argue against that. Howell playing Virginia Tech and Virginia in the first three games makes for a bit more of a difficult situation, one that Maye hasn’t had to face going against App State and FAMU (both players played Georgia State). However, the numbers do not tell the entire story, as Maye has passed the eye test in most metrics. He has been mostly calm in the pocket, goes through his reads extremely well, has spread the ball out to many different receivers, and he knows when to tuck the ball in and run. If I had one huge knock on what I’ve seen so far it is that he is bad at sliding when defenders are coming, which is an issue we experienced with Howell as well. I also think he tried doing a little too much himself when fighting off Georgia State, but ultimately the Heels won the game anyway. It has been really fun watching Maye to this point, and there’s a really good chance that he has caught the eye of a number of NFL scouts already in his young college career.
Of course the obvious question is whether or not he will be able to keep up his stellar play, or will things take a turn once ACC play begins? It’s hard to know the answer to that question, and what’s really interesting is Notre Dame’s defense is ranked slightly lower than App State’s, who UNC scored 63 points against. Getting an idea of where Maye truly ranks among college football quarterbacks may be a long process, but one thing is for certain: he has more than enough talent to make Carolina’s offense one of the most dangerous in the ACC.