Carson Strong throws arguably the best deep ball in the 2022 NFL Draft class, and certainly the best one into tight windows down the sideline on a consistent basis.
But what’s more important than this is that he’s made a strong case to be called the most resilient quarterback in all of college football and may be the best performer while playing through pain or injury right now as well.
Things didn’t go as Nevada had planned last Friday night against Air Force as the Wolf Pack faced heartbreak as they watched their Mountain West Conference Championship hopes go down the drain with a 41-39 loss to the Falcons in overtime. Much of the misfortune had to do with Air Force being able to do just about anything it wanted to offensively in the Falcons’ option scheme for the better part of the game. Nevada couldn’t stop the run as Air Force totaled some 481 yards on the ground, completing just one of five passing attempts for a measly 23 yards.
But Strong, still not appearing to be at full capacity, couldn’t have delivered much better than he did, completing 27-of-44 passes for 351 yards with four touchdowns and one interception, leading his team back from a point in which they trailed 17-3 at halftime. Strong’s passing efforts gave them a fighting chance and sent the game into overtime.
Strong comes in clutch practically every time he’s asked to—and who says a playmaker has to be a guy who has the mobility of a Lamar Jackson or the versatility of a Taysom Hill? Those qualities are nice and all, but I’ll take this deep ball (which he’s good for at any spot on the field) over that any day from a quarterback, who should first and foremost be an exceptional passer that can do it all in the air and have what’s necessary between the ears before anything else to begin with.
If this is how he is in a limited capacity, it’s hard not to like his chances at full force with an NFL team as he prepares to take the next step in his football career. Strong is currently fourth in the nation in total passing yardage for the 2021 season with 3,887 yards. While he does play in an offense that allows the quarterback to throw the ball several times per game, this success is plenty attributed to him and not just scheme—and even in a system like the Air Raid, it takes a solid quarterback with a high level of mental processing to execute it anyway. There have been plenty of quarterbacks to come through the Air Raid over the years who have underperformed and put up dismal numbers due to a lacking level of mental processing and not getting the ball out fast enough—two things Strong does at an elite level.
In what is expected to be the final regular-season game of his career, Strong and the rest of the Nevada team will face the Colorado State Rams on Saturday before going bowling next month.