Louisville football: New transfer QB not a starter in 2021

It was a good day in the transfer portal for Louisville football landing an athletic quarterback through the portal that has some major NFL bloodlines.

Former four-star recruit and Nebraska quarterback Luke McCaffrey announced that he is joining the fold in the Louisville quarterback room on Monday.

The former four-star out of Valor Christian in Colorado is the son of former 13-year NFL wide receiver Ed and the younger brother of Carolina Panthers star running back, Christian. There’s some good bloodlines going on here.

Luke will have four seasons of eligibility remaining after redshirting as a freshman in 2019 and the ability to retain a season of eligibility after the Covid season in 2020.

How did he fare in 2020?

McCaffrey was the main backup option behind starter Adrian Martinez this past season at Nebraska.

In some duty in a pinch in 2020, he threw 48-of-76 for 466 yards, one touchdown, and six interceptions. McCaffrey did show to be a dangerous dual threat with 364 yards on 65 carries and three touchdowns as well.

He’s a very dynamic athlete for the position. He’s not an equal to Malik Cunningham athletically, but he’s not far off. That shouldn’t come as a shock to anybody given the family he comes from. On some occasions, the Huskers even motioned him into the backfield to take some carries at running back (see: Ohio State, 2020).

As a passer, McCaffrey has a lot to work on. He’s a very raw player as of right now who needs to further nuance his game as a quarterback from the ways he works the pocket to upper and lower body mechanics.

There’s a lot of athletic talent and natural playmaking ability to work with. He works rather well off script as a passer to create and his obvious running ability provides an immediate threat.

His arm is generally weak for the position. McCaffrey’s passes tend to die and dip before they make it to his intended target. Many times, that can be partially fixed with some work on mechanics and added strength in the weight room.

McCaffrey shouldn’t start in 2021

If McCaffrey starts in 2021, it probably means something went wrong. There’s no doubting that down the line, he very well could be a consistent starter for this team. But some of the same issues that reared their head with Malik Cunningham in 2020, McCaffrey also possesses at this time.

McCaffrey threw an interception every 13 passes he threw on average. Meanwhile, Malik Cunningham threw a pick once per every 25 attempts. If you were mad at the way Malik took care of the football, you aren’t going to like the way McCaffrey performs as a starter. At least for right now.

It’s a tremendous stash option for head coach Scott Satterfield who was in desperate need of quarterback depth. He now has a quarterback room consisting of Cunningham, Evan Conley, and McCaffrey with freshman TJ Lewis coming to campus in the summer as a developmental option. Former Georgia Southern quarterback Shai Werts is an emergency backup at the position as well, but certainly the staff would like to keep him in his recently transitioned receiver role.

Quarterbacks coach Pete Thomas has some work to do on McCaffrey, but with four years of eligibility still remaining, there’s plenty of time for him to continue to hone his skills while Cunningham leads the charge heading into this season.

History tells us that Cunningham will get dinged at one point or another this season. Having the option of either Conley or McCaffrey to feel semi-comfortable with means that Louisville has built the position the right way.

The competition is there but, as it stands, Luke McCaffrey should not be the day one starter in 2021.