After an improved, albeit turnover-laden, Week 2 showing, we’re finally about to see how Taylor Cornelius performs against a legitimate defense, and how he stacks up against one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in the country.
Boise State’s senior signal caller, Brett Rypien, will stroll into Stillwater not only boasting a 2-0 record and the reins of the No. 5 scoring offense in America, he’s the FBS’ active leader in passing yards, now at 10,540 yards. Rypien also owns three-plus years of starting experience and a 29-9 record as the Broncos’ No. 1.
He might be the best passer the Cowboys face all season, and he’s definitely the most experienced and accomplished.
Juxtapose Rypien’s 38 starts since burning his redshirt due to an injury in 2015 (a la Mason Rudolph) with Cornelius, the career backup who we’re all still trying to figure out after two games.
Rypien obviously has the upper hand when it comes to experience over Cornelius, but let’s compare the two quarterbacks based on their 2018 efforts.
From an efficiency standpoint, the visiting QB has been stellar in 2018, even if Boise’s early slate is only marginally tougher than the cupcake appetizers Oklahoma State has enjoyed.
Currently, Rypien sits at No. 5 nationally in both passer rating and ESPN’s QBR. Cornelius comes in at Nos. 30 and 25, respectively.
His numbers will likely come back to earth as the competition level steps up, but he’s been accurate and efficient throughout his time at Boise, posting a career 63.2 percent completion rate. For reference that’s the exact same as Mason Rudolph’s over his collegiate career.
“He’s quick with his decisions and he makes the right decisions, I believe,” said senior linebacker Justin Phillips of Rypien. “When we get out there, we’re going to try to mess with his head a little bit and get him to throw us the ball a couple of times.”
A couple of interceptions would definitely help OSU’s cause, but there’s little evidence to suggest that Rypien will oblige. Not only have the Cowboys forced just one so far this year, Rypien has been ultra-stingy with the ball this year — zero arm punts. He only threw six picks last year and he boasts a career TD-to-interception ratio north of 3-to-1.
The Broncos offense provides plenty of challenges in its own right with its use of multiple looks and deception to keep a defense guessing. Add in the bonafide playmakers all around and an experienced quarterback like Rypien, and there’s plenty to keep Jim Knowles up at night.
Sophomore safety Malcolm Rodriguez understands the difference in talent between the likes of Missouri State and South Alabama and what Boise has in seasoned Rypien and his handful of dynamic weapons.
“They like to pass a lot, their splits and everything,” said Rodriguez. “These guys, they got a lot of speed. Their wide receivers are pretty fast. Their slot receivers are fast. They got some big tight ends, and they’re just physical.
“(Rypien has) got a good arm compared to the last two. The last two had very good arms too, but this one, he’s got a good arm, too. He’s got a strong arm.”
According to Phillips, success is all about pressuring the veteran gunslinger, something he doesn’t think Rypien has seen much of so far this season.
“They got 800 and something yards in their last game so they couldn’t have been pressuring him,” said Phillips. “But we’re going to get to him.”