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Shirts Off: Redshirt Freshmen QBs
by Nick Parsons

This article was written by Nick Parsons' intern Myles Valentin.

Matt Barkley was recently named starting QB for the USC Trojans, but fellow PAC 10 freshmen Andrew Luck and Kevin Prince may have a bit of an edge on him.

Stanford’s Luck and UCLA’s Prince (pun intended on both) enter the year as redshirt freshmen. So while Barkley was taking snaps for Mater Dei high school and worrying about the prom, Luck and Prince were learning the playbook and getting accustomed to college life.

Regardless of talent, experience always plays a key factor at the quarterback position. In 2003 Brady Quinn played in all 12 games as a true freshman and Notre Dame struggled going 5-7 (4-8 ATS), and this coming off a 10-3 (9-4 ATS) season.

Compare that with Riley Skinner’s situation at Wake Forest. In 2005 Skinner sat out the year, but learned from the Demon Deacons’ 4-7 (5-6 ATS) season. The following year he led them to an 11-3 (8-5 ATS) record and an Orange Bowl appearance.

The following quarterbacks have all improved since their last high school snap and the extra year under their belts should help turn around their teams for the year.

Andrew Luck QB Stanford

Considered a top 5 QB out of high school, Luck could give Stanford their first winning season since 2001. Being a high school valedictorian and having a former NFL player as a father, Luck has the intelligence and pedigree to run a PAC 10 offense.

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh felt that he was good enough to play last year and almost took off his redshirt, but the extra year on the sidelines should help Luck’s development. He gained over 20 pounds since he enrolled on campus and has a veteran receiving core to work with. Talented RB Toby Gerhart will also help take off some of the attention from Luck.

Luck’s career starts off on the road against Washington State where they are 17 point favorites. The Cardinal blew them out 58-0 last year. This should warm him up for a big game on the road against Riley Skinner and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

Kevin Prince QB UCLA

If there is someone who needed a year to adjust to the pace of college ball it is Kevin Prince. Prince was injured early into his senior year of high school and actually missed a big playoff game against Mater Dei, which was led by then Junior Matt Barkley. With both players being named starters, this rivalry can now start fresh in college.

Last year was the first year of the Rick Neuheisel / Norm Chow era at UCLA and Prince was actually the third best QB that was recruited by the Bruins. Prince observed the 4-8 debut season from the sidelines and impressed the coaching staff enough during practices to earn the starting role by spring.

Prince may develop along the same lines as Steve Young, Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer, and Matt Leinart who were all under the offensive direction of Chow during their college years.

The Bruins open next week at home as 20 point favorites against San Diego State. After that it’s a tough game in Knoxville against Tennessee. They get Oregon and Cal at home which should prep the QB nicely for a big match up against USC in November.

While Prince vs. Barkley isn’t projected to be college football’s version of Magic vs Bird, UCLA under their new QB should be back amongst the conference’s top contenders.

Riley Dodge QB North Texas

Riley Dodge is the highest profile QB that the Sun Belt conference has ever had. His debut as starter should help North Texas turn around their dismissal 1-11 (4-8 ATS) record from last year. And also possibly save his father’s job. Todd Dodge has gone 3-21 in his two years as head coach.

It may sound odd but despite the paternal factor, there may actually be less pressure in college on the redshirt freshman than in high school. Riley starred at QB for Texas high school powerhouse Southlake Carroll and he was part of their amazing 58 game winning streak.

One moment straight out of Friday Night Lights or Varsity Blues came in the state championship game, where Dodge puked before the snap and then threw the game winning touchdown.

Video link of Puke and TD http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXMUj6cGZGM

Dodge will be working in a 4 to 5 WR system, which his father developed at Southlake Carroll before taking the job with North Texas, but so far this system has not been a success finishing last in the conference in offense in 2008.

Last year North Texas was double digit underdogs in all but one game, they will be getting the same type of numbers this year, but expect them to win more than 1 game as Coach Dodge finally has a QB to run his offense.

The Mean Green begin the season as 17.5 underdogs against Ball State, who themselves will most likely be starting a redshirt QB in Kelly Page.

Other Redshirt QBs to look at:

Curt Philips, Wisconsin - Listed as co-starter on most recent depth chart
Ebahn Feathers, Fresno State - Part of a three way battle
Kelly Page, Ball State - Tough task to replace Nate Davis (fade material?)
Mike Glennon, North Carolina State - won't start but will see some snaps alongside Russell Wilson

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