College Football Betting: How To Handicap First-Year Starters



Early on during the NCAA football season, there are numerous issues that can cause headaches for sports bettors and need to be addressed. One of the most challenging issue is determining whether a new starting quarterback is ready to be a strong contributor right out of the gate or whether it’s a better option to bet against him. Here are some questions that NCAA football handicappers should ask to evaluate how strong a quarterback will likely be at the start of the season.

#1 – Are They True Freshmen?

It’s important to know how old a quarterback is. The longer a quarterback has been with the program, the more time he’ll have had to get comfortable with the team, the coach, and the plays. While this certainly does not mean he’ll be a better quarterback over the long-run, it does make it more likely that he’ll come out of the gates more effectively. For a true freshman, someone playing in his first-ever NCAA football game, he may need some time to get up to speed as the game at the college level moves much faster than high school.

#2 – When Did They Join The Program?

Players who are serious about contributing will often graduate high school around Christmas time and enroll in college at the beginning of the new year. This means that they’ll be able to spend the spring working out with the team and participating in practices, which will provide a huge advantage compared to someone joining at a more traditional time.

#3 – Does The System Suit Them Well?

The system can be conducive to a player’s development or hinder it. If a run-first quarterback is trying to play in a pass-first system, there’ll be an adjustment period for both the player and the coaching staff. If the system is perfectly in line with his strengths, this is a more-than-ideal situation. The more unnatural a system is for a quarterback, the more time he’ll need to adjust.

#4 – Chosen Or Default?

Sometimes, an individual becomes the starting quarterback simply because he’s the best one left standing as opposed to beating out other talented players. If a quarterback was the chosen starter from the onset, he’ll likely be more prepared and the team along with the coaching staff will be more confident around him.

#5 – How Highly Touted Were They In High School?

There were countless examples of quarterbacks who weren’t rated that highly in high school but turned into stars at the college level and beyond. Since high school players haven’t been coached as much or are not as thoroughly prepared, natural ability and athleticism is going to shine.

#5 – What Do They Have To Work With?

Since a quarterback is just one player on a team, if he does not have much to work with, he can only do so much. If a quarterback is surrounded by very lackluster players, his play will likely worsen. If he doesn’t have an experience offensive line in front of him to provide him with breathing room, watch out for the sacks.

#6 – Is The Coaching Stable?

The more established a coaching staff, the less important it is that the quarterback is also established. If a coach and his offensive coordinator know each other well and have a working system in place, they can make adjustments and minimize the negative impact of a young and inexperienced quarterback.