Saturday, August 9, 2008

Rookie tips for John David Booty

John David Booty was the 4th Vikings quarterback to enter the game on Friday night, but he played the majority of the second half. If you’re someone that watched Booty play at USC, you saw very little difference in his NFL debut. That relates to both the good and the bad.

Booty did complete 9 of 18 passes for 82 yards, but he was also sacked once, produced a fumble, and threw one final interception, assuring that no statistical category would go untouched. But if I’m the Minnesota Vikings, there is one major area of concern when it comes to their first year quarterback. Some areas can be improved on with time, but there is one particular statistic that has plagued J.D. since his playing days at Southern Cal, and it’s followed him to the purple city.

Booty had 3 passes tipped at the line of scrimmage, and surely tips are not a rare occurrence in football games. But Booty has a lot of passes tipped, and so many that USC’s Steve Sarkisian experimented with working him from the shotgun, looking to deflate those statistics. Watching Booty play, I came to a point where I would exhale, once the ball traveled beyond the line, knowing that he cleared defensive linemen.

And this isn’t something that took long to uncover, because tipping was immediate, in his replacement of Matt Leinart. The Trojans were riding winning streaks against the Pac 10 and regular season opponents in 2006, and looking to make a third straight appearance in the BCS National championship game. They were still talented and surging, but on Booty's watch they were derailed twice, first by Oregon State, and then by UCLA.

Booty passed for 406 yards and 3 touchdowns against the 2006 Beavers, as USC made a tremendous comeback on the road. With little time remaining, USC scores a touchdown to bring them within 2. The pass on the two point conversion, intended for the 6’5 Dwayne Jarrett, fell harmlessly to the turf, batted at the line of scrimmage.

On the final week of the regular season, USC still had a chance, ranked No. 2 in the polls and needed just a win against their crosstown rivals to make a championship game appearance. It was a defensive struggle, but USC roared down field with time quickly expiring. They were in striking distance, down 13-9 and in the red zone. Booty dropped back, threw forward, and had the pass batted in the air and intercepted.

Three more tipped balls in Booty’s first NFL game? That’s nothing new. In fact, it’s getting pretty old. Trojans fans were pretty forgiving, but it’s still something never fixed. USC managed to win the majority of their games and win their conference, despite the flaw. But as an NFL quarterback, your stay won't be very long, if clearing the line is problematic, consistent, and damaging to the franchise and future hopes of success.

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