Week after week fans and media praise the 19-year old Cali kid from Chaminade High School. "What poise he has, what maturity he has, what intelligence he has." These compliments are now regularities in Coral Gables. It's already known that Brad Kaaya is the best QB Miami has seen since Ken Dorsey, but how good is he in the grand scheme?
The words "true freshman" are constantly thrown around in pure disbelief when mentioning Kaaya. So it got me wondering how he compares to past quarterbacks who started their first year in college. For the sake of brevity I only chose to compare him to the best of the best true freshman starters of the past. Those names are Matthew Stafford, Robert Griffin iii, Matt Barkley, Teddy Bridgewater, Terrelle Pryor and Braxton Miller.
(These stats exclude bowl games)
1) Wins-Losses-Opponents Record:
Before delving into the more "significant" numbers, let's look at the first row in a stat sheet: "Wins and Losses."
As you all know, the Canes have had the 2nd toughest schedule in the NCAA this year. The combined record of the Canes past opponents are 50-30. Kaaya, however, has managed to win six of nine games so far.
Robert Griffin is closest to Kaaya in this category. Not in wins, but in opponents record. Through nine games the teams he faced had a combined record of 51-30. Griffin only went 3-6 through his first nine games though.
Here are the rest of the combined opponents records and how the QBs handled it:
- Teddy Bridgewater:
- Combined Opponents Record: 45-36
- Wins/Losses: 5-4
- Matt Barkley:
- Combined Opponents Record: 41-40
- Wins/Losses: 7-2
- Granted, Barkley had a better record, but he played a few below average games where his defense bailed him out, Kaaya didn't have that luxury early in the season. But we'll get to thiat later.
- Terrelle Pryor (Didn't start until fourth game)
- Combined Opponents Record: 43-38
- Wins/Losses: 7-2
- Matt Stafford and Braxton Miller (Didn't start until fourth game) both finished 6-3 against teams 35-46 and 41-40 through nine games.
So Kaaya is currently on top of that list.
Wins and losses don't necessarily perceive the performance of a quarterback.
The way a 19-year old handles Division 1 competition is difficult regardless of who they play for and go against. The uncertainty that comes with starting in college after being crowned prom king is something all fans and coaches deal with when a true frosh is playing. "Will they take risks? Will they fluster?" Let's look at how these QBs actually performed.
- Brad Kaaya:
- Through nine games, Kaaya is 144 of 233 averaging 231 yards completing 60.9% of his passes per game.The only category where Kaaya doesn't lead within the list is percentage, where Teddy Bridgewater has the upper hand. The Miami native and current Minnesota Viking completed 61.42% of his passes through nine games. However, within those nine games, Bridgewater didn't start the first two.
- Another note with Bridgewater, he threw almost 60 less passes than Kaaya.
- Bridgewater is also the only QB on the list to finish the season throwing above 60%, so we'll have to see how it plays out with Trinidad Brad.
Here's how the other QB's averaged through their first 9 games and how they finished:
- First nine: 80-158, 112 yds. 51.20%
- Total: 126-235, 135 yds. 53.60%
- First nine: 129-210, 187 yds. 60.40%
- Total: 160-267, 174 yds. 59.30%
- First nine: 75-115, 97 yds. 59.40%
- Total: 95-152, 103 yds. 58.25%
- First nine: 125-221, 229 yds. 57%
- Total: 184-315, 216 yds. 58.82%
- First nine: 38-74, 68 yds. 49.56%
- Total: 59-134, 90 yds. 48.91%
3) Touchdowns-INTS-Long Throws-QB Ratings
When it comes to execution, sometimes it takes true freshmen a while to get adjusted. Mistakes will be made, obviously. Sometimes players get flustered after a mistake and play conservatively. Or if a coach still doesn't have faith in his young QB, he'll call less pass plays; as was the case of the Louisville game, where it clearly was a mistake.
- In touchdowns Kaaya leads the group with 20 touchdowns, leading every player on the list by at least nine.
- Kaaya is also the only true freshman to go each of his first nine games throwing a touchdown. All the other quarterbacks on the list had multiple games without throwing a touchdown.
- Kaaya has thrown the most amount of interceptions on the list with 9 along with Matthew Stafford. Stafford, however, threw 6 interceptions in the five games following his first four (stay with me.) Kaaya has only thrown 2 picks in his last 5 games.
- In long throws, Kaaya is averaging a 44-yard pass per game. He doesn't lead in this category though. Through his first nine games, Barkley averaged a 47-yard pass per game, but he finished the season dropping that average to 43.Within this category though, Kaaya leads with the farthest pass out of any of those quarterbacks with a 79-yard touchdown against Cincinnati.
- In QB Rating, Kaaya is the clear leader with an average rating of 160.4 per game. Second on the list is RG3 who averaged a 146.4 rating.
Here's how the other QB's averaged through their first 9 games and how they finished
- First nine: 3 TDs 9 INTS 24 LNG 100.9 QBR
- Total: 6 TDs 12 INTS 27 LNG 109.9 QBR
- First nine: 11 TDs 1 INTS 38 LNG 146.1 QBR
- Total: 15 TDs 3 INTS 39 LNG 142 QBR
- First nine: 8 TDs 7 INTS 28 LNG 138.3 QBR
- Total: 12 TDs 9 INTS 29 LNG 139.06 QBR
- First nine: 6 TDs 3 INTS 27 LNG 127.2 QBR
- Total: 12 TDs 4 INTS 30 LNG 140.3 QBR
- First nine: 10 TDs 7 INTS 47 LNG 139.4 QBR
- Total: 13 TDs 12 INTS 43 LNG 136.63 QBR
- First nine: 6 TDs 3 INTS 28 LNG 126.92 QBR
- Total: 11 TDs 4 INTS 32 LNG 128.46 QBR
4) Draft status
Three of the QB's mentioned above were drafted in the first round (Stafford, RG3, Bridgewater,) and Barkley would've been drafted in the first round if he had left a year before.
All of these quarterbacks got better as their collegiate careers progressed. The fact that Kaaya is having a better first season than any of them with multiple years of college left is insane. Is it stunning? No.
Coaches, especially Offensive Coordinator James Coley have been bragging about Kaaya since training camp began in early August. I asked Coley on Monday what he can attain Kaaya's superior season to. His answer:
"His overall preparation, the way he prepares is second to none on this team and that's the reason he's ahead of the game right now, and he has to."
Kaaya's teammate WR Phillip Dorsett was asked if he was at all surprised with Kaaya's season. His answer:
"Nah, no surprise at all, I spent a lot of time with him in the summer and knew he was gonna be alright."
There you have it.