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Which Pac-12 QB will have the better 2018: JT Daniels or Khalil Tate?

With a lot hype heading into the season, both QBs look to assert their dominance Saturday night, but who will come out on top?

USC v Stanford Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

In what will likely be the most different quarterbacks we compare this season, a Saturday night showdown between Arizona’s Khalil Tate and USC’s JT Daniels can be one of the most exciting games we’ll witness in the Pac-12 all season long—as their comps will indicate.

We’ll look at both QBs’ overall physical attributes as far as stature and athleticism. Both arm strength and accuracy will be weighed together in one category as well as their ability to make critical plays in a separate category.

We’ll take these comparisons and attempt to come up with an idea of which signal-caller provides their team the best opportunity to win merited on their talents. Let’s find out which popular Pac-12 QB comes out on top.

NCAA Football: Arizona at Houston
Khalil Tate is one the most dynamic players in the Pac-12 and his improvement trajectory has pointing up since the arrival of Coach Sumlin
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Believe it or not but both those young QBs are almost identical in size—Tate stands at 6’2” and 215 pounds while Daniels is 6’3” and 209 pounds. I know, this Is cheating—but the comparable builds on paper give Tate’s overall athleticism more depth.

One of the most dynamic players in all of college football, Tate ran for 1,411 yards in 2017 and held the highest per-carry average in NCAA that season with 9.7 yards-per-carry. Tate is remarkable running the football—he shows balance and power to dodge defenders and keeps moving for additional yards. And yeah, let’s not forget power….

With an ankle injury slowing Tate this season, he hasn’t looked the part he did last year, but in due time, Khalil Tate will go “Full Khalil Tate.”

Daniels is a good athlete in his own right, showing enough lateral quickness to slide in and out of the pocket to avoid the pass rush. Even though he hasn’t shown much mobility in college, Daniels is just one year removed from his final year at Mater Dei where he rushed 561 yards and nine touchdowns.

As the ideal dual-threat QB, Tate simply can’t be matched athletically with Daniels. However, the edge Tate has in mobility he looks to surrender in overall arm talent.

Under the tutelage of new Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin, Tate has improved as a passer—already on pace to surpass his 2017 stats in all major passing categories, Tate has already thrown 1,039 yards, eight touchdowns and only two interceptions.

This includes an absolute gem of a game he had Week 3 in a 62-31 victory over Southern Utah where he threw for 329 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions on 65-percent passing. This has been a process for Tate, but his process seems almost natural to JT Daniels.

USC v Texas
With a mixed 2018 season so far, JT Daniels has given his critics pause his a big victory over Washington State last week.
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Daniels’ collegiate career got off to a rough start, beginning the year 1-2 completing only 56-percent of his passes and having only one touchdown pass to three interceptions.

His fortunes seemed to have revered after last week, as he had his best game as Trojan throwing for 241 yards and three scores, but more importantly—he looked to be the playmaker he was in high school. Daniels’ ball placement is impressive, especially considering he’s only 18 and should be a senior at Mater Dei.

In his final two seasons in high school, Daniels was the best quarterback in the country. Even at that, his high school seasons as whole were remarkable as he threw for over 12’000 yards, 152 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and completed 69-percent of his passes in three years.

His elite placement and accuracy was very clear on tape, as the tightly-spiraled ball only came into his receiver's range.

He throws a tight spiral and a big enough arm to get throw it deep and just outside the range of defenders. His comfort level with his supporting cast and not just fellow Mater Dei alumnus Amon-Ra St.Brown is showing—especially with Tyler Vaughns, who is quickly becoming his go-to receiver.

The Pac-12 is full of talented QBs and these two are towards the top of the bunch. Tate is a natural playmaker on the ground and his improvements in the passing game are very clear. However, Tate’s inability to put those parts together at the same time limit his overall upside in 2018.

For Daniels, his innate playmaking and game management with one of the best supporting casts in college football gives Trojan fans optimism for improvement in 2018 and beyond.

With the playbook opening up more for Daniels, look for him to take down Tate in their first, and potentially last matchup.