The quirky throwing motion--a quick, sometimes sidearm release--originated on the dusty Little League diamonds of Delray Beach, Fla. At age nine Omar Jacobs couldn't play peewee football because he was above the maximum weight, so he focused on pitching. "I threw sidearm back then," Jacobs recalls. "I had a nice little slider that looked like it was going to hit you, but it came back over the plate. I always hit my spots." Twelve years later Jacobs, Bowling Green's junior quarterback, still has that sidearm action and still hits his spots, so much so that he's become one of the most prolific passers in college.
Nicknamed Cruise Control for his easygoing off-the-field manner, Jacobs went into overdrive last season in his first year as a starter. He led the nation with 41 touchdown passes and ranked third in passing yards, with 4,002, while throwing just four interceptions in a spread offense that ranked second in the country in total yards (506.3 per game). So how does a quarterback throw 462 passes but only four picks? "Being smart," Jacobs answers. "Just throw the ball out-of-bounds [if no receiver is open] and come back for the next down. Live to fight another day."
Jacobs's smarts are only one reason why he's sure to attract the interest of the NFL. He has size (6'4", 224), decent mobility (300 rushing yards in 2004) and that gifted, if unorthodox, arm. "He can make all the throws," says coach Gregg Brandon. "The deep throw, the touch ball, the throw off-balance under pressure, the throw on the move--he's the total package."
Jacobs says going pro after the season is a possibility, but he's focused on helping the Falcons win their first MAC title since 1992. The offense--with senior running back P.J. Pope plus senior receivers Charles Sharon and Steve Sanders--could be the nation's most productive. "We're doing a lot of pretty things with stats, but we're not winning championships," Jacobs says. "We have to win a championship this year to accomplish our goal." --G.M.
2004 RECORD 9-3 (6-2, 3rd in MAC West)
FINAL AP RANK NR
RETURNING STARTERS 13
KEY RETURNEES (2004 stats)
QB Omar Jacobs (Jr.) Ranked fourth in nation in passing efficiency
RB P.J. Pope (Sr.) Fourth in nation with 10.5 points per game
WR Charles Sharon (Sr.) School's career leader with 28 TD catches
T Rob Warren (Sr.) Anchored line that allowed one sack per game
TD-to-interception ratio (41-4) for Omar Jacobs last season, by far the best in the nation. Utah's Alex Smith was second (32-4).
Coach Gregg Brandon says quarterback Omar Jacobs isn't the Falcons' only gamebreaker. They also have 5'9", 212-pound running back P.J. Pope, whose power rushing and good receiving skills make him the most versatile weapon in the spread attack. Last year Pope racked up 1,098 yards and 15 TDs rushing, plus 490 yards and six scores receiving; his 21 TDs were third in the nation.
Sept. 3 at Wisconsin
10 at Ball State
21 at Boise State
Oct. 1 TEMPLE
15 at Buffalo
22 WESTERN MICHIGAN
Nov. 5 at Kent State
15 at Miami (Ohio)
Avoiding picks is a priority for Jacobs, who has the smarts to take off or throw the ball away when pressed.