Sophomore Slump: DEBUNKED!

bigmurph23 · July 1, 2024


By: Nate Murphy (@bigmurph23)

In Season 19 we were introduced to the generational talent archetypes for the first time. And while all GTs are created head and shoulders above those in their position groups, there is no position that is more important to a football team than the quarterback. North Carolina’s Kevin Price and West Virginia’s Gunner Rice became the CFSL’s first-ever generational talent quarterbacks.

Throughout Season 19 both quarterbacks experienced the growing pains of being a freshman quarterback in the CFSL. While both quarterbacks were able to find some success their seasons were marred by mistakes. The two combined to throw twenty-six interceptions, sixteen of them from Price and ten from Rice. Both West Virginia and North Carolina finished the season with 2-6 records. One of the Tar Heels’ wins came against the Mountaineers but Kevin Price was suspended for week one and running back Rocco Rambo stepped in and got the victory. So Kevin Price finished the season 1-6 as the starter. 

As I mentioned, it wasn’t all bad for Price and Rice in Season 19. Price threw for 2,351 yards and added another 542 yards on the ground. Price accounted for 21 Tar Heel touchdowns, 11 through the air, and 10 more on the ground. Gunner Rice threw for 3,286 yards for the Mountaineers, who used an air raid book for the first time in program history. That helped Rice toss 27 touchdowns as a Freshman. Rice was not a threat on the ground last season, rushing for only 160 yards and just four touchdowns. 

Now fast forward to Season 20. North Carolina is the ACC champions finishing 5-0 in conference and tallied a 6-2 overall mark. West Virginia found similar success in Season 20 also finishing the regular season at 6-2. They finished 4-1 in the Big XII with their only loss coming to conference champion Texas. While a lot goes into big improvements for any program the key has to be quarterback play. And both Price and Rice shrugged off disappointing freshman campaigns and avoided a sophomore slump. 

Kevin Price improved his completion percentage by exactly one percent (from 70.4% to 71.4%) and threw for nearly 1,000 more yards. Impressively his yards per game average skyrocketed from 293.9 to 404.1 and he tacked on another 15 touchdowns from Season 19 making his total 26 on the season. But by far the biggest, and most important, improvement comes in the form of throwing only four interceptions on the season. That is a staggering drop from last season. His QBR also jumped 21 points to 158.3 in season 20. Kevin Price also improved his rushing contribution. Price increased his yardage total (801 in S20) by 259 yards on only 12 extra carries. His yards per game went from 68 to 100 and he found the endzone two more times in S20. Explosive runs also became a huge part of his repertoire, amassing 11 runs of 20+ yards, up from just four in all of season 19. 

Gunner Rice had similar successes in his sophomore season. Though his yardage totals through the air took a hit, 3,286 in S19 and only 2,654 in S20, that can be attributed to the playbook and style change the Mountaineer coaching staff went with this season. Rice’s accuracy did improve, however, jumping nearly two percent to a 76.3 completion percentage. His yards per attempt also went up to 11.1 which was first in the CFSL. And Rice was still able to toss 23 touchdowns and cut his interceptions in half, throwing only five on the season. The biggest change for Rice in Season 20 came on the ground. Rice carried the ball a whopping 154 times for 1,115 yards. He averaged 7.2 yards per carry and 139.4 yards per game. Gunner Rice also found explosive runs to be a big part of his game, racking up 10 runs of 20+ yards, including a 75-yard TD carry on the first Mountaineer snap of the season. That was the first of his 13 rushing touchdowns. 

While there are now more GTs in the league, including GT quarterbacks like Cole Mantell, Gunner Rice, and Kevin Price will always be the OG GT QBs. While things may have started a little less than stellar for both men they avoided the dreaded sophomore slump and performed beyond expectations. Now we sit back and watch to see if one or both of these quarterbacks can lead their teams on a deep playoff run in Season 20. And can they duplicate their successes in seasons 21 and 22? And the bigger question…will one of them hoist the championship trophy at any point before they graduate? I for one can’t wait to watch and see just how far these two can go.


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