Matt Berry, a sophomore, is ranked No. 2 among all those quarterbacks in terms of quarterback passing efficiency against USC – despite the fact he threw three interceptions. Berry had 27 completions on 39 attempts and three interceptions for a total of 297 yards against USC in a losing effort.
USC quarterback Matt Leinart was 19 for 34 passing attempts with three interceptions and 235 yards against the Cougars.
It should be noted only four of these quarterbacks threw for more than 300 yards (compared with Berry's 297 yards) against the Trojans. However, three of them crossed the 300 mark after the game was well out of reach (Chang, Fife, Pickett). Only Washington State's Jason Gesser threw for more than 300 (315) with the game still on the line.
Berry's rating is even more impressive when you consider he had three regular freshmen protecting him in Eddie Keele, Jake Kuresa and Ofa Mohetau. With a more experienced offensive line, he would likely have thrown for more yards. He also had a freshman tight end in Daniel Coats and freshman fullback starting fullback in Taufui Vakapuna.
Even more impressive is Berry's accomplishments came against a Trojan defense widely considered the best USC defense since their famed "Wild Bunch" defense in the 1980s, then the toast of college football during their national championship runs. This year's Trojan defense is now being hailed as "Wild Bunch II."
Here are the passing efficiency ratings of all 24 quarterbacks against USC at home or on the road:
Fasani (Stanford) 127.6; Berry (BYU) 126.3; Gesser (Washington State) 122.9; Matter (Stanford) 118.5; Boller (California) 117.5; Smith (Oregon State) 116.2; Fife (Oregon) 112.9; Pickett (Washington) 112.6; Chang (Hawaii) 111.7; Harrington (Oregon) 108.0; Johnson (Arizona) 103.3; Roberson (Kansas State) 102.4; Rice (Utah) 102.0; Walter (Arizona State) 101.4; Olson (UCLA) 95.1; Cooper (Arizona State) 94.9; Banks (Iowa) 92.2; Arroyo (San Jose State) 91.6; Cobb (Auburn) 90.9; Campbell (Auburn) 77.6; Holiday (Notre Dame) 73.3; Anderson (Ore St) 49.1; Paus (UCLA) 45.2; Hodge (Colorado) 7.6.
To add a historical asterisk and additional perspective to Berry's performance, the last time BYU started a season with as grueling a schedule as this one was 1991 during quarterback Ty Detmer's senior year. The Cougars started that year with road games against Florida State, UCLA and Penn State. Detmer's stats for those three games were 56 completions on 104 attempts for 768 yards; four interceptions; five touchdowns; and overall QB rating of 124.05.
In two and half games (Berry did not play the second half of New Mexico game because of injury), he has completed 70 passes on 105 attempts for 675 yards; four interceptions; five touchdowns; and overall QB rating of 128.8.
It will be at least four weeks before Berry fully recovers from a broken bone in his throwing hand, but it is apparent Berry was on the verge of establishing himself as yet another good-to-great quarterback in a long line of great signal callers at Provo.
Meanwhile, true freshman quarterback John Beck gets a great opportunity to showcase his excellent skills and potential in the next few weeks. Budding quarterback controversies aside, the growing quality depth at the single most important player position at BYU points to great things for the Cougars in the future.
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