Kevin Sumlin gave us our first chance to second guess him, naming redshirt freshmen Johnny Manziel starting QB for week 1 against a sneaky good Louisiana Tech team. Much to the surprise of just about everyone, Sumlin chose the freshman over redshirt sophomore Jameill Showers, who saw limited action in mop up duty last year.
The words “freshman QB” always sound better to the opposing fanbase, but Manziel does have the benefit of being on campus for over 18 months now, benefitting from an early enrollment in December 2010 and a redshirt year in 2011. Unfortunately, half of that time was spent learning Mike Sherman’s west coast offense, giving him just 8 months to pick up all the reads and progressions of Sumlin & Kingsbury’s air raid attack.
So does naming a 2nd year QB guarantee doomed offense? Or can a young guy survive against SEC defenses?
Since 2003, 18 QBs 2 (or less) years removed from graduating high school have seen significant playing time (75+ PA). Here's a chart of the numbers put up by each QB (click to enlarge)
Average stat line: 205 pass attempts, 57% comp, 11 TD, 7 INT, 7.2 YPA….not too bad.
Here’s a breakdown of all 18 QBs.
|True Sophomore: 7|
|Redshirt Freshmen: 4|
|True Freshmen: 7|
|Yards Per Pass Attempt|
|Yards per Rush Attempt|
|Offensive Rank in SEC|
|Top 1/3: 3|
|Mid 1/3: 9|
|Bottom 1/3: 6|
|5 or more: 7|
|2 or less: 6|
|Role the following year|
|Split snaps: 5|
|Move Positions: 2|
What can we learn?
I think the bottom 3 categories are the most telling.
- Only 3/18 were able to lead top-4 offenses, and a third resulted in bottom-4 offenses. The Air Raid is meant to put up huge yards, so Manziel has a great opportunity to end up near the top.
- 7/18 were able to reach 5 wins, while 6/18 couldn’t get more than 2. While .500 in the SEC seems like a tough task for an inexperienced QB, it is doable. But Manziel is going to need a big assist from the defense to help him through inevitable growing pains.
- Just 7/18 QBs ended up seizing the starting spot the following year. The second Sumlin named Manziel the starter, speculation began about the future of Showers (and true freshmen Matt Davis and 2013 commits Kohl Stewart and Kenny Hill). Well, this should show just how premature those prognostications are. More QBs ended up splitting snaps or becoming the clear backup the following year than did become the primary starter.