We're a month into the 2011 college football season, and the Andrew Luck mania continues at the expected pace. Luck has not blown the doors off with his performance, but he's done enough to remain in the thick of the Heisman Trophy and number one overall picks discussions. Naturally that means the time has come for epic comparisons to some of the great players in college football.
Former Washington Huskies QB and six-year NFL pro Brock Huard provides college football analysis for ESPN on a part-time basis. Yesterday afternoon he put together a piece comparing Luck to Tennessee legend and future NFL Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning (Insider-protected). Luck has been described by many as one of the most pro ready quarterbacks to come along in a while, with many calling him the best since Manning.
In comparing Manning and Luck, Huard pointed specifically to their high football IQ. He believes their ability to excel in the mental side of the game is unmatched by most players at the collegiate level. Huard pointed to three specific steps that Luck and Manning followed to take their games to the next level:
1. Learning to call the plays in the playbook - Football playbooks feature an insane amount of information that initially is a matter of rote memorization. You've got a significant volume of plays to learn and be able to differentiate.
2. Ability to grasp everyone's assignment on every play - While a wide receiver simply needs to know what route to run or who to block, a quarterback has to know what just about everybody is doing on a given play since it could impact how is meant to perform. Even on a running play, the QB needs to know things like which way the line is blocking because if the defense gives away the way they're coming it might force an audible by the QB.
3. Knowing why things are called the way they are - Huard described his as a more cerebral level where a QB begins to figure out why certain plays are being called at certain times. A lot of times college QBs will call the play as told by the offensive coordinator. Then when they get to the line they'll look back to the sidelines for audibles. When a player knows specifically why certain plays are being called he can then know how to counter different looks from the defense.
While it is hard to compare any current college quarterback to one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, Huard is able to do so by focusing on the specific skills as opposed to just making bold predictions based on past performance.