Dylan McCaffrey chose Michigan. Younger brother Luke on Monday announced his commitment to Nebraska.
— Luke McCaffrey (@mccaffrey_luke) June 4, 2018
Dylan was a 4-star pro passing prospect in the Class of 2017; Luke is a 4-star dual-threat/athlete prospect from the Class of 2019 who chose the Cornhuskers, in part, because they projected him fitting into their system behind center. Two brothers, two different skill sets, two different Big Ten schools. Which got former Michigan and NFL running back Chris Howard and Land of 10 writer-columnist Sean Keeler thinking: If a stellar quarterback prospect had to choose between Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Nebraska’s Scott Frost, two of the more decorated offensive minds in college football, which would be the smartest one to sign with?
Q: IF YOU WERE A 4-STAR QUARTERBACK PROSPECT, WOULD YOU RATHER PLAY FOR JIM HARBAUGH AT MICHIGAN OR SCOTT FROST AT NEBRASKA RIGHT NOW?
SEAN KEELER: FROST, PLEASE
The short answer is Marcus Mariota, but the long answer swings a pretty mean stick, too. Because even if you include a 2016 transition year at Central Florida marked by injuries and McKenzie Milton as a true freshman, the last five FBS starting quarterbacks under Scott Frost as a coach or offensive coordinator averaged this season statistical line: 29 TD passes, 6 interceptions, 164.2 passing efficiency rating.
Among FBS quarterbacks since 1956, that would rank No. 9 all-time in career efficiency — just behind Baylor’s Bryce Petty (166.03) and just ahead of some cat named Johnny Manziel (164.05).
— Erik Chinander (@CoachChinander) May 18, 2016
You want to win? Those last five FBS starting quarterbacks led teams to a 52-15 record (.776), five postseason appearances and a berth in the College Football Playoff Championship Game.
You want to get prepared for the next level? Frost’s NFL ties run deep, with a line of tutors and confidants that include Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Mike Tomlin, Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy:
— Addicted To Quack (@AddictedToQuack) December 2, 2015
The NFL moves at a lightning pace, especially at positions where quick decision-making — quarterback, center, linebackers, safeties — is half the battle. The train’s always moving, and if you don’t keep up, it’ll leave you.
Former UCF quarterback Nick Patti said the feeling was similar when Frost and quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco first turned up in the winter of 2015-16.
“It’s a double-headed process,” Patti sad. “On one end, you have to throw everything that you knew [out] and then re-learn it. There are so many idiosyncrasies. There are so many little details that make it what it is.”
Checks. Reads. Enough repetition, enough rote, so that the first reaction, the quick reaction, is instinct. The half-second between acting and hesitating makes all the difference.
And while speed matters — which is why Tanner Lee and Patrick O’Brien saw the writing on the wall and cast their lots elsewhere — size doesn’t. Mariota stands 6-foot-4. Milton is 5-11. Tall or short, the system works, and the sample size isn’t so small anymore. The proof is when you take the act on the road, and what worked in Eugene worked like gangbusters in Orlando as well.
And in Nashville, now that you mention it:
— Stadium (@WatchStadium) January 6, 2018
How to seal an INCREDIBLE comeback playoff victory?
— NFL UK (@NFLUK) January 7, 2018
It’ll work in Lincoln, too. Eventually. The only questions are how quickly and to what degree.
Andrew Luck, the reclamation of Alex Smith and the emergence of Colin Kaepernick earned Jim Harbaugh the label of the guru’s guru, the Quarterback Whisperer. Although lately, you wonder if anyone’s been bothering to listen: Over the last 3 years at Michigan, the Wolverines’ quarterbacks have posted an average statistical season of 13 passing touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
Meanwhile, if you toss out UCF Year 1 and average the last four seasons of a starting quarterback in a Frost offense, the line reads like a Heisman Trophy pitch: 34 TD passes, 6 interceptions, 176.95 passing efficiency rating.
Among career efficiency records since 1956, that’s No. 1 — topping the careers of Sam Bradford (175.62), Baker Mayfield (175.37) and Mariota (171.75). And the numbers aren’t any less sexy when you break them down individually:
- Mariota, 2013: 31 TDs, 4 interceptions, and 281.9 passing yards per game.
- Mariota, 2014: 42 TDs, 4 interceptions, and 296.9 passing yards per game.
- Vernon Adams Jr., 2015: 26 TDs, 6 interceptions, and 264.3 passing yards per game.
- Milton, 2016: 10 TDs, 7 interceptions, and 198.3 passing yards per game.
- Milton, 2017: 37 TDs, 8 rushing TDs, 9 interceptions and 310.5 passing yards per game.
The names change.
The results don’t.