I'm only going to give a brief review of the game based on the notes I took during the game at the present time, but I do plan on doing a full statistical breakdown of Luck's performance against Virginia Tech in the upcoming days after I've had some time to watch the game again. (What on earth would we do without DVR?)
The college bowl game that we were all waiting for was finally played last night, as the Stanford Cardinal faced the Virginia Tech Hokies in the Orange Bowl, and allowed many Panthers fans the opportunity to see Stanford QB Andrew Luck play for the first time. There was certainly plenty of hype surrounding Luck going into this game, as he has been the consensus #1 pick in the 2011 Draft if he were to declare himself eligible, and it's hard to argue against the fact that he would be the best player available if he decides to enter the draft.
More after the jump...
One of the biggest contentions against Luck has been the "he didn't play anybody" argument. Well, he certainly had the opportunity to defeat this argument tonight, as he faced a highly touted Virginia Tech defense, who ranked 8th in the NCAA in defensive pass efficiency (opposing QB's had a 105.66 rating against VT)*, and if you watched this game you would have to agree that Luck stepped up to the challenge and passed it with flying colors.
Don't believe me? Allow his stats to speak for themselves.
18/23, 287 YDS, 4 TD, 1 INT, 12.5 YPA, 78% COMP
You have to admit that it's a very impressive stat line.
Not only was the stat line impressive, but Luck looked solid in the pocket. He sells the play fake very well, and he throws a crisp ball that seems to have a honing device attached to it, making the job of his receivers almost effortless. Luck also does a great job rolling out of the pocket and throwing on the move, something that would benefit him greatly in the NFL, and he has the ability to gain yards on the ground if need be as he showed us on several plays throughout the course of the game.
As great as Luck played, of course he wasn't perfect. He did make a few terrible decisions, notably the pass that was tipped into the back of the end zone that ended up being a safety (though it could be argued that the RG made the most egregious error by catching the ball instead of batting it down). Luck also had one pass that was picked off by the defensive back who jumped the route, though it could be argued that the receiver wasn't fast enough to get to the ball before the defender could pick it off.
At the end of the day, there's no denying that Andrew Luck is the real deal. If he declares for the draft he will be drafted by the Carolina Panthers, and they will have made the perfect decision to draft him because he is far and away the best player available in this year's draft class (assuming he declares).
One other thing about Luck: he has a good head on his shoulders. He knows how to talk to the media, he's smart, and he's humble. He respects the media, and he shows that he's mentally prepared to play at the next level. I know one major concern for some Panthers fans is that he will refuse to declare for the draft because he doesn't want to play for us, but I honestly don't see that kind of attitude in him at all. He seems like the kind of guy who will be thankful that he's on an NFL roster, and he seems like the kind of guy that JR would love to have on his football team, regardless of his talent level.
So, we can now wait on pins and needles until January 15th, when Luck has to decide if he's going to declare for the draft or return to school, because it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that if he declares for the draft, he will be wearing a Panthers uniform next season. And, based on the game we witnessed tonight, that can't possibly be thought of as a bad thing.
Now, I know there's still a strong Clausen contingency here at CSR. I respect that, and I'm in no way trying to incite anger among the Clausen fans. If you are a Clausen fan, please respect this article and the thread that follows it and please do not start a QB fan war. This article is merely my opinion on Andrew Luck, and should not be taken in any way, shape, or form as an insult to Clausen's ability to play the quarterback position.
As I said earlier, I plan on doing a full breakdown of the game at a later time, but this analysis should be enough food for thought for the next few days.
So I ask you, CSR community: What are your thoughts on Luck's performance against Virginia Tech? Please feel free to discuss in the thread below, but once again, please play nice.
* - Hat tip to fellow CSR user David Threatt for this information.