Quarterback is the most difficult position to play in sports.
As a QB breaks the huddle, he must walk up to the line of scrimmage, visualize the play call, read the opponent's defence pre-snap, read what they've done post-snap, go through his progression of receivers, read where the receiver will be when the ball gets there, then deliver a catchable football without fear of interception.
All that happens in about three seconds with a dozen big, strong, fast human beings on the other team trying to hit you as hard as they can.
Playing the position is insanely hard, but ranking the OUA's starting quarterbacks isn't easy either.
There are several factors to take into account when compiling such an arbitrary ranking. Team success, passing skills, mobility and the ability to avoid key mistakes all contribute to success at the position.
Here, for discussion purposes, is "In The Huddle's" ranking of OUA quarterbacks.
1. Asher Hastings – McMaster
A surprise atop the list, mostly because at the beginning of the season he was unproven at the CIS level. The Regina native – a star in junior football out west - also had the burden of replacing Marshall Ferguson, who had just led the team to within a blocked field goal of winning the Vanier Cup.
Hastings also had the heavy weight of great expectations on his shoulders. McMaster is a quality team with a plethora of talented receivers and running backs. The first-year starter has been able to work with head coach Stefan Ptaszek and offensive coordinator Jon Behie to run a crisp offence, utilizing the depth of talent available.
The results? Through six games Hastings leads all CIS quarterbacks with 25 TDs, already establishing a single-season OUA record with two more games yet to play. He's also thrown just two interceptions. Hastings has not shown he's a threat to run and fumbled in three straight games to begin the season. His report card grade would be no worse than an A.
2. Will Finch – Western
The fact that a player with this much talent ranks second on the list is a testament to how much talent there is at this position in OUA.
Finch is recovering from a pretty nasty concussion suffered at the end of the 2014 season and has put to bed any concerns that may have arisen. He's led Western to a 6-0 record and is second in the country in yards and completion percentage, third in TD passes.
These numbers have been posted with Finch on the bench for much of the season, ceding the field to his backups after the Mustangs have built an insurmountable lead, which has usually been by halftime. Perhaps the most impressive part of Finch's game has been the reduction in the number of interceptions he's thrown, just three in 191 passing attempts.
3. Derek Wendel – Ottawa
It's almost criminal to place Wendel third on this list, but again, the depth in the conference is significant.
The Gee-Gees signal caller leads the country with an average of just under 400 passing yards per game. His 19 touchdown passes ranks second in CIS to Hastings. His 266 passing attempts is by far the most in the country. He's fun to watch because he simply attacks opposing defences.
Wendel's most memorable performance of the season came in the Panda Game where he passed for 542 yards and four touchdowns.
4. Nate Hobbs – Queen's
Another first-year starter, Hobbs has led the Gaels to a playoff spot, something that wasn't a certainty at the start of the season.
He threw for over 400 yards against Toronto and is among the more mobile QBs in the conference, he's not afraid to run when the opportunity presents itself.
Hobbs has only thrown two interceptions against a dozen TD passes but has only completed 57 percent of his passes, a low mark for a playoff team.
5. Jesse Mills – Carleton
Mills would probably love to pass the ball more, but no team in the country has rushed the football more times that the Ravens.
He's been consistent, throwing for between 200-300 yards in each game and possesses a strong arm.
He showed that he is very cool under pressure and doesn't flinch when the game is on the line as witnessed in the Panda Game. Whil Mills has thrown eight TD passes in his last two games, he's not particularly mobile when attempting to run the football.
6. James Roberts – Guelph
Roberts has given the Gryphons a different look than we've seen for several years.
He doesn't have the mobility of his predecessor, Jazz Lindsay, but he does have a bigger arm and has developed great chemistry with Jacob Scarfone and A'dre Fraser.
His biggest problem this year has been turning the ball over. His nine interceptions leads the country and he's been sacked 12 times, also near the top of the list nationally.
7. Simon Nassar – Toronto
Think of what Drew Brees is having to go through this year with the New Orleans Saints. He lost his favourite target when Jimmy Graham was sent to Seattle and the results have reflected that.
For Nassar, he lost two of the conference's top receivers when Kevin Bradfield unexpectedly stayed with the Toronto Argonauts and Llevi Noel left school.
After leading OUA with 2280 passing yards in 2014, it appears as though he will fall well short of that total this year. Nassar has proven to be super competitive, but sometimes that gets the best of him as he has thrown twice as many interceptions as touchdowns this year. Never runs with the ball.
8. "Jamic Fracelli" – Laurier
Fracas is the Hawks starting QB, but he's been hurt for much of the season. Morelli has moved into the starter's role and looked okay for the most part, yet was spectacular in Laurier's blowout win over Ottawa last Friday, throwing six TD passes.
The term 'systems quarterback' has taken a negative turn in the sport's lexicon. These two are an example why it shouldn't be. They execute what is asked of them, which is anything but being a knock. With Fracas and Morelli under centre, the Hawks have averaged 32 points per game.
9. Lucas McConnell – Waterloo
New coach Chris Bertoia wants to establish the Warriors as a tough, run-oriented team.
However, McConnell's play at times has made the passing game a better option.
The young quarterback threw for 423 yards at Queen's and 313 more the following week against York.
But in the next game, he was held to a 7/32, 76-yard performance against Laurier and has CIS-low 40-percent completion rate.
10. Liam Putt – Windsor
His personal success has mirrored that of his team. The Lancers are just 1-6 this year, while Putt, who took over from Casey Wright early in the season, has also experienced growing pains.
The freshman has completed a mere 43 percent of his passes, throwing four TDs and four interceptions.
While he has shown the ability to run with the ball, the Lancers have had a tough schedule, so the quality of competition should help him long-term. There's definitely a promising future here, but the present has been pretty rough.
11. Brett Hunchak – York
Like Putt, Hunchak has had a pretty rough freshman campaign.
He's got the size and the raw skills to be very good, but the Lions certainly need some help on the offensive line, which would make life a lot easier for Hunchak.
Hunchak has the benefit of having brother Colton as one of his receivers.
The numbers just aren't there yet, completing less than 50 percent of his attempts and throwing six picks against just a pair of touchdowns. Check back in a couple of years.
Hastings set the passing mark in a 55-7 win over Waterloo. The other major story in that game was the return of running back Chris Pezzetta, who played in his first game of the season. He had torn his left ACL twice in his Marauder career, then tore his right ACL in the national semifinal against Mount Allison. Pezzetta carried the ball nine times for 74 yards and caught a touchdown pass. Dan Petermann caught two TD passes.
Finch flirted with the 500-yard passing mark against the Varsity Blues in a 58-2 romp. George Johnson caught six passes for 171 yards, while Alex Taylor rushed for 203 yards on 16 carries. Lukas Gavac had a hard-earned 80 yards on 13 carries for Toronto. The Mustangs rolled up 764 yards in total offence and did not allow a sack.
A week after Michael Faulds called out his team's passing game in 'In The Huddle', Morelli had the game of his life in Laurier's shocking 65-30 win over Ottawa. He threw six touchdown passes, going 20-24 in the process, and would be named OUA and CIS offensive player of the week. Dillon Campbell had an incredible first half, carrying the ball 30 times for 203 yards in the first 30 minutes. He finished with 37 carries for 246 yards. Highly-touted freshman Kurleigh Kittens Jr. had his best game by far with seven catches for 141 yards. Derek Wendel was held to just 290 yards, his lowest total of the season.