Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Rick Cleveland compares Patterson's debut to Favre

You start a true freshman quarterback in college football, you can only guess what you will get.

Ole Miss and Southern Miss both did it last Saturday with decidedly mixed results:

• For Ole Miss, five-star recruit Shea Patterson completed 25 of 42 passes for 338 yards and two touchdowns in a 29-28 victory over Texas A&M at College Station. Patterson directed four second-half scoring drives and helped the Rebels overcome a nine-point fourth quarter deficit.

• For Southern Miss, three-star recruit Keon Howard completed 12 of 24 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown and ran for 98 yards and a touchdown in his debut. BUT, Howard lost four fumbles and threw an interception, leading to 28 points in Old Dominion's 51-35 victory over USM.

Both Patterson and Howard made their college football debuts on the road in their team's 10th game of the season because of injuries to accomplished senior quarterbacks.

Patterson is 19 years old, Howard 18. Compare that to the most famous quarterback in Mississippi history who played as a true freshman. Brett Favre was 17 years young on Sept. 19, 1987, when he first played for Southern Miss. The story is worth re-telling.

Favre had begun the fall training camp as the sixth string quarterback on a roster with six quarterbacks. He was a last-day recruit, signed only after USM lost a committed quarterback to Alabama. The thinking was Favre was a big, strong kid who could play safety or perhaps linebacker if he didn't pan out at quarterback.

USM opened at Alabama and got hammered 38-6. Favre did not get off the bench.

In fact, Favre assumed he was going sit out that freshman season. USM had an open date the week following Alabama before a home game with Tulane. Jim Carmody, the Golden Eagles' head coach, couldn't help noticing Favre's phenomenally strong arm. For the first time in his long football life, Carmody later said, he “heard” passes.

Nevertheless, Favre didn't expect to play that day against Tulane. He and his roommate Chris Ryals spent the night before the game drinking copious amounts of beer. Legend has it when Favre took the field that hot, muggy day, he promptly went to the sidelines and threw up.

Things were not going at all well for USM, who trailed Tulane by 10 points in the third quarter when Carmody decided he had nothing to lose (except a year of eligibility for Favre) by putting the 17-year-old in the game with 5:49 left in the third quarter.

Favre's first pass was a short route to wide receiver Chris McGee. It was a fastball, which was really the only pitch Favre knew how to throw at that point in his career. The ball sort of embedded in McGee's gut.

The crowd, which had been booing, came alive. Favre kept throwing darts. USM kept moving the ball and scoring touchdowns. The end result: a 31-24 victory over a good Mack Brown-coached Tulane team that defeated Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Virginia Tech and Iowa State that season.

Favre made his first start the next week against Jackie Sherrill and Texas A&M in Jackson. The Aggies won 27-14 but Favre played well. The job was his.

But here's what we need to remember about freshman quarterbacks. As great at Favre became – which quite obviously was one of the greatest in history of the sport – he was hit and miss as a true freshman. He completed only 41 percent of his passes. Yes, he threw 15 touchdowns, but he also threw 13 interceptions. USM averaged all of 6.5 yards per Favre passing attempt in 1987. When USM defeated Jackson State 17-7 in the first meeting ever between the two schools, Alrick Young, whom Favre had replaced as a starter, came off the bench to help the Eagles win.

More than anything else, Favre showed in 1987 he had the “it” factor, that intangible great quarterbacks must have and can't be taught.

Interestingly, that's what Hugh Freeze talked about Saturday night after Patterson's performance against Texas A & M.

“I've known all along he had that 'it' quality about him,” Freeze said.

“It” could take him a long way. “It” did Favre.

Rick Cleveland is a Jackson based syndicated columnist. His email address is


Anonymous said...

Now that is a legend story. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Brace yourself for the NCAA accusations comments. The little brother syndrome is strong in some...

Post Pattern said...

I heard a goofball sports radio talking head yesterday proclaim Patterson the Best of the Best among SEC quarterbacks scheduled to start next year. That's nuts. One damned game and he's anointed.

Anonymous said...

So if Patterson only has five years in the NFL then he will be a failure?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like 9:51 is so scared of the NCAA hammer that he can't enjoy a nice debut.

Anonymous said...

Barney was released today, they are coming!

Anonymous said...

It's a bit early to anoint Patterson. Impressive, but one game does not mean a stellar career. Anyone can have a good day.

I'm an Ole Miss fan and I'm optimistic, but we've done this before...gotten ahead of ourselves only to be let down. Anyone remember Jevan Snead and the Heisman slogans? ("I feel the need, the need for Snead!" Ugh!!)

I'll wait until Patterson has a few more performances under his belt before I start believing he's Archie Manning or Brett Favre (both of which I have heard).

Anonymous said...

@11:20....see and point.

Say It With Me... said...

Meanwhile....thanks for the deflection, Kingfish. Freeze's ass is still under the heat of the NCAA microscope. Any junior angler can win a fishing tournament. A blind hog can find an acorn. Freezus can escape scrutiny...but only for a little while.

Anonymous said...

@11:20....see @3:40...little bro syndrome is right. Case made.

Anonymous said...

They are coming.

Anonymous said...

@7:16 so is the "tree man from Vicksburg" wanting his Jeffery Simmon's money back. See how silly accusations work?

Bear Meat Is Turrble.. said...

Shea, already anointed as the third coming (Hugh is the second), will be mighty disappointed when he hears there will be a bowl ban and loss of seven scholarships next year. How will he survive? Can he manage the team by himself without an offensive or defensive line? Will he allow Hugh to call plays from the sideline or brush Hugh off like Wallace did. This is 'bout to get deep!

Anonymous said...

@10:19 but still add on to the Rebs' win streak against Moo U. Bowl ban, loss of scholarships, or whatever (might) happens won't save the hunchback nor Cow Pie Central.

Oh The Pitiful Bears.. said...

12:28....what 'win streak'? Do your research and tell me which team has won three egg bowls in a row in the past ten years and then come back. And while you're fondling the lower member, tell us which team has beaten Alabama three years in a row, twice. Clue: It ain't the
Bears. lol............

Anonymous said...

Coach Mullens says the dogs are only a few plays away from being 7-3. He doesn't mention that they are only a few plays away from being 1-9. That comes to $4 million per win. That's what I call agrenomics at its best. Maybe we can get a farm bill to subsidize Coach Mullens.

Anonymous said...

They are coming.

Spots A Grove Bandwagoner said...

9:02...where did you matriculate? Learn to spell the man's name. And what is 'agrenomics'? And how is it possible to finish at 1-9 with more wins than that already. Are you sure you meant to hit the 'enter' key?

Anonymous said...

SEC is on Ole Miss side @6:27...sorry. Someone will get fired, a few more loss in scholarships...but that's it. If NCAA can turn a blind eye at Baylor's sick sh!t, I only see a very light slap on the wrist for OM. Luckily for the Bears, they bring in a lot of money these days for SEC, they don't want to lose that.

Anonymous said...

They are coming, and are pissed!

Spiraling Downward.. said...

What will Ricky-Dick Cleveland have to say about Patterson this fine, crisp Sunday morning as the sun begins to peak over the eastern shore? The Patterson era lasted every bit of one week.

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