The 2023 quarterback class looks like a buffet compared to the school lunch that was the 2022 class. One of the big names that have folks excited is C.J. Stroud. The Ohio State quarterback had to earn the job last spring, and he has run away with it upon earning it.
The former four-star recruit in the 2020 class had to beat out Jack Miller and, more notably, Kyle McCord. He then fought off the arrival of Quinn Ewers on campus last season. Now in 2022, he retains his role as the starter with Heisman-level expectations.
Heading into the season opener in 2022, many people expected the game against Notre Dame to be a showcase. Stroud took a while before he could turn it into such an event, but he eventually did nonetheless.
Stories and Headlines Heading Into the Game
As mentioned above, Stroud had many expectations heading into the 2022 season. After head coach Brian Kelly’s departure, Notre Dame was in a unique situation, and familiar faces stepped up. Defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman became head coach and retained most of the staff.
This seamless transition of power in South Bend allowed Notre Dame to earn a top-five ranking this Spring. The Notre Dame defense brought in some new additions, including highly touted safety Brandon Joseph from Northwestern. Stroud entered this game against Notre Dame as the first true test for the 2023 quarterback class.
Positive Takeaways from the Film
When watching back the film from this game, one thing continuously stands out, ball placement. Nothing can make or break a relationship between a receiver and his quarterback. Whether short routes or big chances downfield, Stroud demonstrated excellent ball placement.
Another thing that stood out, as it did last year, was the calmness Stroud portrays. No one else in this 2023 quarterback class shows the level of calm under pressure, as does Stroud. He looks similar to Joe Burrow in this sense, where he never flinches under pressure and constantly keeps his eyes downfield. Both of these things allow him to keep making plays even when a play breaks down; NFL teams will love this about his game.
Negative Takeaways from Film
There isn’t much to not like with what he did against Notre Dame. One thing that could be better, and should be expected to get better as the year goes, is his accuracy when under pressure.
It was eluded to above how his calmness shines in his film, but that doesn’t mean he was accurate. He was taking chances downfield and missing at times, even the short to intermediate passing attempts. Again, this shouldn’t be a long-term issue. The first game of the year against a tough defense can make quarterbacks miss even the simplest throws.
Stroud’s performance against Notre Dame was the first big win for the 2023 quarterback class. It showed Stroud could still handle the spotlight and make big plays when needed, all of which came under a national focus. Stroud, at this point, may not be the top quarterback in the class, but he is keeping the race close after this performance.
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