Previous posts: Part I, Part II, Part III
Here are the highlights of Luck's performance against Oregon, and a snippet of his overall worth.
2:44: 2nd and 5, Stanford 39, 11:02 2nd quarter.
If you want an idea of why Andrew Luck is the number one pick, it's plays like this one.
Stanford is in I-formation strongside, Oregon with five men at the line. Looks like a 3-4/5-2 front here, with the inside linebackers covering the underneath stuff and everyone else. Oregon will end up rushing four of the five, with the fifth man coming back and covering the Ryan Hewitt peeling out of the backfield.
Luck gets playaction to Taylor, then stands back and surveys the field. His first look is to his left wideout Ty Montgomery, but the Oregon corner plays him close up. When the tight end starts cutting toward the left, Luck starts leaning that way and steps up to get ready to deliver the throw, but then the Duck CB (who's passed Luck's original read along to the safety) now can come up and play tight double coverage on the Cardinal tight end.
So Luck abandons the left and comes back to the right. Thanks to excellent pass protection against minimal Oregon pass rush, Luck is able to scramble the other way, avoid a Duck who'd already been put on the ground once by the Stanford RB turned pass protector, and survey his options toward the backside. When two Oregon defenders come inside to watch Luck and the short read, and two Oregon backliners take on the outside receiver, Luck goes for the intermediate read, Hewitt. Tough grab, but Luck makes up for Stanford's lack of overall speed compared to Oregon by continuing to look guys off.
3:14: 3rd and 6, Oregon 48, 9:20 2nd. Stanford goes into shotgun, two wide receivers left, one RB, TE and WR right. Oregon has six defenders at the line and one of them comes unblocked on the edge. The RB takes out the outside rusher, but it impedes Luck from getting off a clean throw and stepping into it with confidence. That football sails to the outside of his intended target.
3:21: 1st and 10, Oregon 45, 7:09 2nd. Stanford is in I-formation, TE right, 2 WR left. Oregon with five defenders at the line, two linebackers behind.
The tight end gets bumped off by one of the five lineman, who drops right into coverage with him. Again the edge rusher goes unblocked, although this time the Stanford RB does make a better block and clear the pocket up one way. The rest of the line is area blocking to the left, opening up a passing lane right down the middle. Thus Luck is better able to see Griff Whalen (running an in route to the inside) and hit the hole in the middle of the zone.
3:28: 1st and 10, Oregon 21, 6:46 2nd. Stanford in a similar formation as the previous play, with the H-back aligned toward the right. Oregon with five defenders at the line and eight in the box. Seven (HB and TE) stay into protect Luck. Five Ducks rush.
Luck is looking deep from the outset. The Stanford H-back Hewitt has to plug in the gap when DeCastro's man tries to come on the inside, then the Oregon linebacker comes in on a delayed blitz and again forces Luck into an awkward throw and release. Luck does get it off and deserves a lot of credit for making the football catchable for his receiver.
3:49: 3rd and 6, Oregon 17, 5:55 2nd. Luck again probably has the option to run when Oregon defenders drop back, but he settles for a short throw and a field goal.