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2020 Northwestern football position reviews: Quarterbacks

It was a one-man show in Evanston this fall.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Auburn vs Northwestern Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

After a shortened season capped by a Citrus Bowl victory, it’s time to begin our postseason coverage by handing out grades and taking a look at what’s to come in the fall. We’ll evaluate each position group and discuss how well they performed, as well as what the future might hold. Up first are the quarterbacks.

Overall Grade: A-

After Pat Fitzgerald’s worst season as a head coach at Northwestern, there were a lot of questions that he would have to answer in the offseason, namely finding a quarterback who was capable of leading a competent passing offense. NU’s passing attack finished a dismal fourth-worst in yards per game in the FBS in 2019 en route to the team’s 3-9 season, while the quarterback room struggled with injuries and inconsistent play all season long.

Enter Indiana graduate transfer Peyton Ramsey, a proven Big Ten signal-caller with 6,581 career passing yards and 56 total touchdowns. Most importantly, Ramsey brought experience, a key trait that was missing from the position group in 2019.

As many expected, Ramsey was the uncontested starter. He began his Wildcat career with a solid night against Maryland and capped it with a career day in the Citrus Bowl against Auburn while earning Third Team All-Big Ten honors.

The veteran won’t be returning under center as he prepares for the NFL Draft, and with a returning position group that is largely unproven, many more question marks at the quarterback position remain going into the offseason.

Player Grades

Peyton Ramsey: A-

Stats: 61 percent completion, 1,733 passing yards, 263 rushing yards, 12 passing touchdowns, three rushing touchdowns, eight interceptions

Despite having a lower completion percentage and throwing for fewer yards and for fewer touchdowns than he did in 2019, Peyton Ramsey found the most success of his collegiate career during his first and final year with Northwestern in 2020.

The stats simply don’t do Ramsey justice. The stable captain of the offense, who didn’t have a true offseason to get acclimated to Evanston or a new offense for everyone with Mike Bajakian, brought poise and competence to lift the offense back from cellar dweller to perfunctory.

Ramsey started off the year with a bang, throwing for 212 yards and a touchdown while adding 67 rushing yards and another score on the ground in the first game of the season against Maryland. The veteran continued to be a positive difference maker for the improved offense, leading key scoring drives and limiting mistakes in big wins against Iowa, Nebraska, Purdue and Wisconsin.

He faltered a little bit toward the end of the year in losses to Michigan State and Ohio State, but those can’t be put solely on his shoulders. NU wouldn’t have been in those spots without him. The signal caller ended his short-lived career in purple with four total touchdowns in the Citrus Bowl to go along with 291 yards passing and 50 yards rushing.

Ramsey truly was the quarterback that Northwestern needed in order to be successful this year, and he will certainly be missed by the Wildcat faithful in 2021.

TJ Green: Incomplete

Stats: N/A

After suffering a season-ending injury in the 2019 opener against Stanford, Green decided to come back to Northwestern for a sixth-year. Although he only saw the field in victory formations against Illinois and Auburn, the senior out of Kansas was on the headset helping to run the offense from the sidelines week in and week out.

Green won’t be coming back for a seventh year in Evanston, but his impact on the program both on and off the field during his longtime tenure will certainly not be forgotten.

Andrew Marty: Incomplete

Stats: 24 rushing yards, one reception, 12 receiving yards

Marty did not complete a pass this year, but the junior did record a few other statistics while serving as the backup to Peyton Ramsey. The Cincinnati native saw the most playing time out of anyone else in the position group, as he appeared in four games.

Hunter Johnson: Incomplete

Stats: N/A

The Clemson transfer only saw the field in two games this year in garbage time. In Johnson’s limited action, he was relegated to delivering handoffs and did not record a stat. With no immediate successor to Ramsey, it will be interesting to see how Johnson fares in the upcoming quarterback battle in the preseason as we expect NU to bring in a transfer.