Here we're looking at the conventional assumption that young players (in this case, quarterbacks) naturally improve from their debut season to Year Two. Through parts one and two with the young passers of the ACC and Big 12 this decade, the trend shows that assumption is true – if the quarterback is so bad as a freshman he has nowhere to go but up. In that case he tends to improve to mediocrity, or just to "less bad," as a sophomore. Kids who succeed immediately are almost certain to level off quickly unless (like Philip Rivers or Vince Young) they're bound for a very bright future. The suggestion being that, for the majority, you are who you are from the beginning.
It's not much of a sample size, but the kid starters in the Big East since 2000 reinforce that interpretation:
What can he say? Teel's just a conventional thinking sort of guy.
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Teel, Cubit and McGann were truly, truly awful in their first years, but Teel may be the best example of the conventional wisdom of steady growth in any of the three conferences so far: he improved substantially as a sophomore and to about the same degree as a junior, again pushing every number upwards and finishing with an impressive efficiency rating of 145 – albeit with the aid of a strong power running game and some misleading eviscerations of bottom-feeders like Buffalo, Norfolk State, Syracuse and Army. He remains the exception, though: Cubit transferred to Western Michigan (following his dad, who was hired as head coach at WMU), McGann had an abysmal TD:INT as a senior of 3:13 for Temple and Grutza, who shared the job with Nick Davila his first two years anyway, sat behind Ben Mauk last year and will probably be the underdog to ex-Notre Damer Demetrius Jones this year.
As long as USF relies on him for everything, with no consistent running game whatsoever, I would expect a fringe recruit/prop prospect Matt Grothe to remain within the window of his first two years. That leaves the greatest improvement, again, to the best player of the lot: Pat White may not be anywhere near an NFL future, but if you think of his passing statistics as mainly a reflection of the respect defenses have to pay to his athleticism by sacrificing their position to defend the pass, it was quickly obvious what a special player White was going to be. But you didn't need the numbers to tell you that.
We'll move on next with the Big Ten, including Chad Henne, Bret Basanez and the immortal Zack Mills.