The UCLA Bruins are a mere six days away from opening their 2020 football schedule as they take on the Colorado Buffaloes at 7:00 pm on November 7.
The game opens up a seven-game season for the Pac-12 and pits a veteran, experienced quarterback in Dorian Thompson-Robinson against a quarterback in Sam Noyer, who was just named the starter by new Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell this weekend.
Here’s what we know about these two, as they are set to battle it out this coming Saturday:
Here’s what we know about Thompson-Robinson, from our quarterback preview a week or so ago:
DTR is in the UCLA record books in multiple areas, he’s one of just three quarterbacks to have multiple 400-yard games in his career, and he ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in 2019 with 263.5 yards of total offense per game. He’s played in 21 career games with 11 career starts. His 21 TD passes last season rank 10th on UCLA’s single-season list.
A native of Las Vegas, Nevada, DTR led Bishop Gorman to multiple high school national championships and since coming to Westwood, he’s garnered Athletic Director’s Honor Roll nominations in Spring 2020 and Winter 2019. In 2019, he threw for 2,701 yards and 21 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. He chipped in with another 198 yards on the ground and four touchdowns.
For his career, DTR has now thrown for 4,012 yards and 25 passing touchdowns with another 266 and four scores on the ground.
For his career, Thompson-Robinson has been relatively volatile against all sorts of scenarios. One of the more stable metrics in football is looking at a quarterback’s play when kept free from pressure as it’s stable from week to week and season to season.
Last year, DTR completed 168-251 passes for 1,938 yards, 15 touchdowns and just four interceptions, though he took three sacks on his own in those situations.
Those numbers sound decent, but not compared to top quarterbacks in the country, and mirrored his play from the previous season in 2018 when he went 83-125 for 991 yards and five touchdowns against three picks.
He’s struggled when pressured, something that is likely for quarterbacks to do, but his struggles have certainly been documented as he’s lost multiple fumbles and completed fewer than 45% of his passes when under duress. Fortunately, that’s extremely unstable from week to week.
What DTR adds is his scrambling ability as well as his impact on the ground in the designed run game that Chip Kelly employs. Last year, DTR ran the ball on 42 designed carries for 102 yards while he added 403 yards on 45 scrambles.
It’s that unknown when he tucks it that is perhaps his most impactful element.
A converted quarterback-to-safety-back-to-quarterback, making his first start at quarterback, after a shortened offseason program and a head-coaching change. Seems not too favorable for the Buffs when the chips are aligned like that but still, they’re comfortable enough to name Noyer the quarterback a week out.
Here’s what we know about Noyer:
Noyer needed convincing to return to Boulder after he entered the transfer portal this offseason, and apparently beat out Tyler Lytle in a close competition.
“Sam got the nod, but we are really, really impressed with what Tyler has done this camp and ... he’s going to get a chance to play some,” Dorrell said.
Noyer had previously played quarterback before last season when former head coach Mel Tucker had him switch to the defensive side of the ball. He recorded no stats and had just 24 snaps played last season on defense, but did have an impact on special teams.
Previously, he logged time at quarterback behind Sefo Liufau and Steven Montez, completing 21-41 passes for 179 yards and no touchdowns but two interceptions in his career. He last played quarterback in 2018, in Colorado’s 11th game of the season, in relief for Montez against Utah in which he went 4-of-6 for 23 yards.
“It’s hard to say,” Dorrell said. “But Sam has been here a while, he is a little older, which is helpful, and just that college game experience — even though it might not be a lot — might have been a factor in terms of why he was a little above where Tyler was.”
“Tyler’s going to be ready to play. We told him that … We feel Tyler has tremendous, tremendous upside. We’re going to continue to bring him along as we go forward this season.”
Here’s what else the locals are saying about the situation:
Sam Noyer named the starter for Colorado | ESPN
Dorrell names Noyer the starting quarterback | CUBuffs.com
Sam Hoyer named Colorado Buffaloes’ starting quarterback | OregonLive
As experienced as he may be within the program, I’d take the experienced quarterback any day in a Pac-12 opener, and DTR gets that big advantage in the QB-specific battle here.