BOZICH | Louisville's Petrino, Jackson bucking odds with freshma - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Louisville's Petrino, Jackson bucking odds with freshman quarterback

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Louisville's Lamar Jackson will be one of five true freshmen to start at quarterback for Power 5 program this weekend. (Photo by Mike DeZarn, special to WDRB.) Louisville's Lamar Jackson will be one of five true freshmen to start at quarterback for Power 5 program this weekend. (Photo by Mike DeZarn, special to WDRB.)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Starting a true freshman quarterback at a Power Five conference football program is A) bold; B) risky; C) inspired; D) desperate or E) all of the above.

You decide.

I’ve been working on numbers and comparisons to help you make your decision. Louisville coach Bobby Petrino has committed to starting Lamar Jackson, a true freshman, at quarterback against Houston Saturday.

Let’s get to my numbers:

*Jackson will not be alone Saturday. Coaches are asking for more, more, more from true freshmen at quarterback. Jackson is one of five true freshman quarterbacks scheduled to start this weekend for a Power Five program.

It’s time for you to learn the names of the others. One has already entered the Heisman Trophy discussion:

Josh Rosen passed his way into Heisman chatter by completing 28 of 35 throws for three touchdowns for UCLA, which is ranked 13th. Jake Browning wasn’t nearly as effective for Washington. He completed 20 of 35 throws with one interception and no touchdowns. The Huskies lost to Boise State.

Two others will move into the starting lineup this week: Eric Dungey replaces the injured Terrel Hunt at Syracuse and Seth Collins takes over at Oregon State. Hunt will miss the 2015 season with a torn Achilles’ tendon. Syracuse plays at U of L Nov. 7.

*Experience matters. Of the teams ranked in the current Associated Press Top 25, 19 have starting quarterbacks who are juniors or seniors. That's 76 percent of the Top 25.

The breakdown:

Seniors (10) – Alabama, TCU, Michigan State, Oregon, USC, Georgia, Florida State, Arkansas, Utah and Mississippi State.

Juniors (9) – Ohio State, Baylor, Auburn, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Missouri and Tennessee.

Sophomores (5) – Clemson, Louisiana State, Texas A&M, Boise State and Arizona.

Freshman (1) – UCLA.

*Over the last five seasons, three true freshmen quarterbacks have finished their first season ranked in the Top 40 nationally in quarterback efficiency rating.

The three players:

Brad Kaaya of Miami in 2014; P. J. Walker of Temple in 2013 and Jeff Godfrey at Central Florida in 2010. Godfrey later moved to receiver to make room for Blake Bortles.

*Over the last five NFL Drafts, 14 quarterbacks have been selected in the first round. How many of those talented guys played as true freshmen?

Four – Teddy Bridgewater at Louisville; Robert Griffin III at Baylor; Cam Newton, mostly as a backup at Florida (before he bolted for Auburn); and Blaine Gabbert at Missouri.

Jameis Winston (Florida State), Marcus Mariota (Oregon), Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), Andrew Luck (Stanford), Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M) and others all needed developmental time. (Or they were blocked by more experienced guys.)

*Of the top five career passing leaders at Louisville, three played as true freshmen.

That list starts with Bridgewater. He took over after Will Stein was injured in the season’s third game against Kentucky in 2011.

Brian Brohm completed 66 of 98 passes for six touchdowns as Stefan LeFors’ backup in 2004.

Jay Gruden primarily played behind Ed Rubbert’s for two seasons before Gruden took over in 1987. Gruden, the head coach of the Washington Redskins, was Schnellenberger’s first big quarterback recruit in 1985.

Chris Redman, still U of L’s all-time passing leader, and Dave Ragone, both sat out their first seasons at Louisville.

*If you need a reminder about how much time Bridgewater needed to adjust to the college game, I’m here to help.

Here are his touchdown to interception ratios, completion percentages and yardage totals each season at Louisville:

Freshman: 14 TDs to 12 interceptions; 64.5 percent; 2,219 yards.

Sophomore: 27 TDs to 8 interceptions; 68.5 percent; 3,718 yards.

Junior: 31 TDs to 4 interceptions; 71 percent; 3,970 yards.

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

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