Certain college offenses have the ability to turn out quarterbacks with similar numbers year after year with no real thought to personnel, like Mike Leach's passing attack, and that is why I have been so confused about the different treatment given to Louisville quarterbacks Stefan Lefors and Brian Brohm who have both played under Bobby Petrino.
Every year I adopt two or three college quarterbacks who I root for and wish to succeed and from 2003-2004, one of my adopted quarterbacks was Stefan LeFors. He was everything I was looking for in a college quarterback being left-handed, accurate, and having the ability to run effectively if need be and in no way was I disappointed in his performances.
In 2003, LeFors completed 61.3% of his passes, had 8.8 yards per pass attempt, and also averaged 5.7 yards per rush while throwing 17 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. He had even a better senior campaign, his second under Petrino, completing a sublime 73.5% of his passes, had a 20:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and also 10.7 yards per pass attempt as he was staving off the highly touted freshman Brian Brohm, whom everyone seems to think is a sure-fire NFL star.
Despite LeFors's success, he still had many of his passing attempts stolen by the freshman Brohm as Lefors threw one hundred fewer passes his senior year than his junior year. This is because Brohm was allowed to throw the ball 98 times while LeFors's back-up in 2003 only attempted 24 passes.
Also, interestingly enough, even with a resume like that, Lefors was only the eighth quarterback taken in the 2005 NFL draft and has since been cut by the Carolina Panthers.
Now, Brohm has played thirteen games as a starting quarterback as a Petrino quarterback and so far in his career has completed 67.2% of his throws, has 9.7 yards per passing attempt, and a 22:6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. None of those numbers is significantly better than the ones put up by LeFors. In fact, the only statistically significant differences between LeFors and Brohm are passing yards, rushing attempts, rushing yards, and yards per rush.
The difference in passing yards in Brohm's favor is easy to understand, simply because no one was eating into Brohm's passing yards the way he ate in LeFors's. When the back-up quarterback Hunter Cantwell was getting the majority of his pass attempts it was because Brohm was out with a torn ACL. The difference in rushing statistics is simply because LeFors is a better runner than Brohm is.
Because of the similarities in their numbers, the question is how much of their total success can be attributed to anything special about themselves or if it is all a result of playing in Petrino's system. The real test will be how well Hunter Cantwell plays while Brohm is out with a strained thumb. Cantwell has been similarly accurate except for the 2005 bowl game against Virginia Tech and the only negative on him is his tendency to throw interceptions, but the more success he has, the better answered the question will be. Right now, though, as much as I like Stefan LeFors, I am not sure he was as good as his numbers. Nor do I think Brohm is.