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Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday …Matt Leinart

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Welcome to this week’s Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday. Today we are going to look at the careers of two quarterbacks who were big stars in college and a lot was expected in the pros and yet for one reason or another they didn’t shine as brightly as they did in college. First , let’s consider Matt Leinart.
Leinart was a Heisman Trophy winner (2004) and won the National Championship with the USC Trojans twice (2003, 2004) , And He was considered one of the top prospects coming out of the draft in 2006. He was the tenth pick overall by the Arizona Cardinals.

In 2004, USC went wire-to-wire at No. 1 in the polls and earned a bid to the BCS title game at the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma, which was also 12–0. A dream matchup on paper (including White vs. Leinart, which was to be the first time two Heisman winners would play against each other), the Orange Bowl turned out to be a rout, as Leinart threw for five touchdown passes on 18-for-35 passing and 332 yards to lead the Trojans to a 55–19 victory. Leinart received Orange Bowl MVP honors and the Trojans claimed their first BCS national championship and second straight No. 1 finish in the AP, extending their winning streak to 22 games. This victory and BCS championship was later vacated as a result of the Reggie Bush scandal (though the AP national championship still stands).

The 2005 Trojans again had a perfect 12–0 regular season. Against Notre Dame, Leinart threw for a career-high 400 yards. After an incomplete pass and a sack led to a fourth-and-nine situation with 1:36 left—at the Trojans’ own 26-yard line, Leinart called an audible “slant and go” route at the line of scrimmage and threw deep against the Irish’s man-to-man coverage, where Dwayne Jarrett caught the ball and raced to the Irish’ 13-yard line, a 61-yard gain. Leinart moved the ball to the goal line as time dwindled and scored on a quarterback sneak that gave the Trojans a 34–31 lead with three seconds to go, giving the Trojans their 28th straight victory and one of the most memorable and dramatic finishes in the history of the Notre Dame–USC rivalry. Leinart was again invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony along with teammate Reggie Bush and Texas quarterback Vince Young. As a former Heisman winner, Leinart cast his first-place vote for Bush, and ended up third in the voting behind Bush (since vacated) and runner-up Young.

The Trojans advanced to the Rose Bowl to face Vince Young and No. 2 Texas in the BCS title game. The title game was considered another “dream matchup.” Leinart himself had a great game, going 29-of-40 for a touchdown and 365 yards, but was overshadowed by Young, who piled up 467 yards of total offense and rushed for three touchdowns, including a score with 19 seconds remaining and two-point conversion to put the Longhorns ahead, 41–38. The Trojans lost for the first time in 35 games, and Leinart for just the second time in his 39 career starts. After graduation, Leinart’s No. 11 jersey was retired at USC.

Leinart finished his college career with 807 completions on 1,245 attempts (64.8% completion percentage) for 10,693 yards and 99 touchdowns with just 23 interceptions. He is USC’s all-time leader in career touchdown passes and completion percentage, and is second at USC behind Carson Palmer in completions and yardage. He averaged nearly 8.6 yards per attempt, and averaged only one interception every 54 attempts. He was 37–2 as a starter.

Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday spotlights…Matt Leinart.

 

Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Pass attempts: 644
Pass completions: 366
Percentage: 57.1
TDINT: 15–21
Passing yards: 4,064
Passer rating: 70.2
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3 Comments

  1. Heisman Trophy winners between 2003 to 2012 have been as riveting in the NFL as watching an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians . It just gets worse and worse .

    • bklynboy59 says:

      Best college player doesn’t always make best pro…in any sport…basketball is just as stocked with misses

      • All the Heisman has ever done over the past decade , is to inflate the price of many these players’ actual worth by way of a contract. Now while I don’t disagree with Lamar Jackson having won this year’s award . It’s not as if Louisville was anywhere near being thought of as a national championship contender throughout much of the season.

        I am really looking forward to seeing what DeShaun Watson is capable of doing against Alabama, when he leads Clemson against the nation’s top-ranked team.

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