Sun Oct 02 08:23am EDT
It was a very impressive play — but also a play that took about five years off the lives of every NFL general manager, especially those GMs in charge of 0-3 teams. You see, there's no question that as long as he stays healthy through the 2011 season, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck will be the top overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. We've seen too many "Suck for Luck" campaigns, in which fans actually want their teams to lose more games to be first in line for the quarterback, to believe any differently.
How do you stay healthy as a quarterback? Well, you throw out of the pocket with pinpoint timing, and you leave the pocket to throw perfect underneath stuff when the pressure comes. You don't generally stretch out for one-handed catches off of gadget plays, but that's what Luck did halfway through the Cardinal's first drive:
The one-handed catch was just one of the plays Luck made in Stanford's 45-19 walloping of UCLA, but people were going to take notice of this one. The ball went from Luck, to Tyler Gaffney, to Drew Terrell on a reverse, and then back to the acrobatic Luck.
"There's about five positions the guy can play," Stanford coach David Shaw said after the game. "We kind of like what he does at quarterback."
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Luck was allowed to call his own plays at one point in the game, yet another testament to his impressive understanding of the game. The trick play, however? That was a fluky event that gained 13 yards after an official review — it was originally ruled out of bounds, but the NCAA rules that allow receivers to gain possession with one foot coming down in bounds ruled the day.
"I'm sure it was incomplete at the next level," said Luck. "Glad we're playing with the one-foot in rule."
After that, Luck reverted to his preferred position, throwing an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight Coby Fleener that Fleener brought in with a great one-handed catch. He completed 23 passes in 27 attempts for 227 yards and three touchdowns. It's a unique inspiration when you feel that you have to outdo your own quarterback in catch difficulty!
This game was another step in Luck's inevitable drive to the top of the NFL's draft board next April, but you can be sure that NFL general managers would prefer that the kid stayed with the whole quarterback idea in future.
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