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CFF Targets - Emory Jones SZN in Cincy?
Scott Satterfield has found his next Malik Cunningham
The Bearcats are one of four teams moving to the Big 12 this upcoming season. While that’s exciting from a college football (CFB) perspective, there will be ramifications for the CFF profiles of its players.
Head coach Scott Satterfield joined the Cincinnati Bearcats this offseason after spending four seasons (2019-2022) with the Louisville Cardinals in the same role. Prior to that he spent six seasons (2013-2018) as the boss-man with App State.
One of his first moves with the Bearcats was to bring in dual threat QB Emory Jones by way of Arizona State and Florida. Jones has been somewhat of a journeyman in CFB. Despite never performing at an elite level on the field, he garnered some bizarre draft buzz in the 2021 offseason while with the Gators; being mocked as high as number six overall in a 2022 iteration of a PFF mock draft. We all know that PFF can be a bit dubious in their analyses at times (I know this from first hand experience working in their soccer analytics department for a short time). This might be exhibit A.
The move to Cincy was a curious one for Jones, as the Bearcats roster returned incumbent QB Ben Bryant at the time of his transfer. On April 20th, Bryant entered the transfer portal, providing clarity on the hierarchy of the room.
While Jones has yet to put together an elite CFF season so far in his career, and the Bearcats will be playing at a tougher level of competition in 2023, there is some sneaky upside to Jones.
Coaching & System
As mentioned, Satterfield spent the last four seasons (2019-2022) at Louisville. His starting QB each season while with the Cardinals was the same player — Malik Cunningham. Prior to joining the Cardinals he was the head coach at App State between 2013 and 2018, where he deployed a variety of dual-threat QBs in his offences.
His track record at QB is crystal clear by the numbers. Since 2014 (last nine seasons), his QB has rushed for an average of 615 yards and 6.5 TDs a season. His best QB statistically was in 2021, when Cunningham passed for 2941 yards, 19 TDs to 6 INTs and ran for an additional 1031 yards and 20(!) TDs (33.5 FPG). In the other three seasons under Satterfield, Cunningham averaged 22.9, 25.8 and 21.6 FPG.
Satterfield’s OC, Brad Glenn, also has a history of dual usage QBs in Darren Grainger at Georgia State during the 2021 season, where Grainger rushed for over 670 yards and 3 TDs (17.9 FPG). Glenn’s QB in 2020 — Cornelious Brown, rushed for over 300 yards and 7 TDs (~21.1 FPG).
Long story short, this is a staff that has a clear preference for the skill set of its QBs and how they want to use them. I guess it should come as no surprise then that Bryant is on his way out and (it appears) Jones has the inside track on the starting gig.
Could Satterfield recreate his 2021 version of Cunningham in Jones this season? Certainly it is probably wishful thinking. However, I am still mildly interested in monitoring this situation as Jones’ price in CFF drafts currently is low-to-nonexistent.
QB Emory Jones - 6’3, 210
Jones, as mentioned, has bounced around some in his career. He began playing CFB at the University of Florida in the 2018 season as a top-100 rated four-star prospect out of Franklin, GA. He played behind the starters between 2018 and 2020, before finally getting his chance to be the lead dog under Dan ‘it’s not recruiting season’ Mullen.
His 2021 season was statistically decent, as he would pass for over 2700 yards, a 19 to 13 TD/INT ratio, and rushed for an additional 758 yards and 4 TDs (22.7 FPG).
He and the Gators would part ways in 2022, however, as Florida ushered in a new regime with Bill ‘Sunbelt Billy’ Napier. The Gators staff likely informed Jones that they intended to role with AR for 2022, prompting a move to the portal. Jones played in eight games for the Sundevils in 2022, in which he passed for 1533 yards, 7 TDs to 4 INTs, and rushed for 31 yards and 4 TDs on 51 attempts (15.5 FPG).
At the very least, we know that the rushing upside is here and the staff in place will use his legs. It remains to be seen if Jones can hone in his passing ability and become a more efficient passer. That being said, if Satterfield can get the best out of Jones on the ground, that alone could make his CFF profile intriguing in leagues where passing TDs are valued at four points and rushing TDs score six.
There are a lot of concerns with regards to Jones. The first and foremost is that he has yet to produce an above average season let alone an elite season thus far in his career. His passing ability is concerning, and may limit his upside in CFF significantly if it is not developed this offseason.
The second main concern is that the Bearcats are jumping up a level in competition while ushering in a new regime in their staff, as well as (likely) a new starting QB. That’s a lot of change in one offseason and this program has the potential to struggle tremendously in 2023. That being said, Cincy has traditionally been one of the strongest Group of Five (G5) programs, and so they may transition smoother than I anticipate. Still, if this program struggles to score TDs, that will obviously cap the ceilings of its players in CFF.
It’s not yet official that Jones will be the starting QB. Though it seems likely.
Satterfield and Glenn’s track records suggest great dual usage for its QBs, however they do not have a long list of elite CFF players in their histories. Cunningham is the optimistic case when looking at Jones, and that’s probably a stretch. I suspect Jones will be more a value in a best-ball league than a standard CFF re-draft.
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