Matt Barkley or Tate Forcier: Who's the Best True Freshman QB?

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Matt Barkley or Tate Forcier: Who's the Best True Freshman QB?
(Photo by Domenic Centofanti/Getty Images)

With USC hunkered down in the middle of the media capital of the world, it is no surprise that Matt Barkley has been getting all the press. That’s especially true when his image has been ideally sculpted by college football’s media master—Pete Carroll.

Meanwhile, another true freshman quarterback, Tate Forcier, back in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has gone by virtually unnoticed by the national media—until now.

With two games under their belts, however, Forcier has burst onto the scene as a true freshman quarterback, leading the Wolverines to a huge win against No. 18 Notre Dame today.   

In Columbus, Ohio, on the other hand, the No. 8 Buckeyes forced Matt Barkley to beat them by putting eight players in the box to stuff the run. And Barkley couldn’t—not without help, that is.

He got plenty of it, and just in time, from the tailback the Buckeyes had held in check most of the night, Joe McKnight. McKnight rushed for 33 yards and rattled off 21 more yards on a catch-and-run in the Trojans' 95-yard winning TD march.

While the Hollywood media masters fashion a legend out of that 95-yarder, which they will call "The Barkley Drive," it was certainly no more impressive than the final drive and score that Tate Forcier engineered for the Wolverines.

In fact, Forcier engineered several TD drives for Michigan and even scored a TD on a 31-yard burst up the middle.

Against the Irish, Forcier accounted for 310 yards, throwing for 240 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. He also ran 13 times for 70 yards and a score.

Altogether, in two games Forcier has led the Wolverines to a perfect 2-0 record and has amassed a total of 526 yards, 419 through the air and 107 on the ground. He has a 68 percent completion rate with five TDs and just one interception.  

His passer rating after his first game against Western Michigan was 189.68, and his rating against the Irish today was 144.73.

Barkley, on the other hand, had a whopping 199.32 rating against San Jose State. But after the Ohio State game, his rating dropped under a hundred to 94.77.

Except for the one interception, Forcier looked smooth and in control of his offense for most of the game against the Irish.

On the other hand, Barkley, who said he was ready, looked like a fish out of water in the Horseshoe. He was completely befuddled by the Buckeye defense and the 107,000 fans for most of the game.

He only looked in control of his offense twice the entire game. The first time was on the final one-minute drive of the first half, where he led the Trojans into field goal range to knot the score at 10-10 going into halftime. The other was on the winning 95-yard drive at the end of the game.

Barkley was 15-of-31 for 195 yards, one interception, and no TDs. He was sacked twice and had to hurry throws at least a half-dozen times.

Of course, two games does not a season make, and it is impossible to really know how good USC and Michigan or their opponents are.

But what we do know is that the unheralded Forcier appears every bit as good as Barkley at this point. He can even go Barkley one better with his 107 yards rushing. Forcier can hurt you with his legs as well as his arm. Barkley, on the other hand, is not nearly as mobile.

No doubt both of these young men have loads of talent, and both deserve an equal amount of hype. So, after today’s impressive drive against Notre Dame in the closing seconds, hopefully we will hear more about Forcier from the national media.  

Who knows? If he keeps playing like he has been, he could even get serious Heisman mention.

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