Micale Cunningham, the next great Louisville quarterback

Posted: March 7, 2020 in Football, New entries, NFL

I can’t post pictures, they’re all copyrighted :(. (Here are some highlights courtesy of watchstadium.com)

Cunningham took over at QB for the injured Jawon Pass, and while he’s demonstrated some scrambling ability, Cunningham chucks the ball for over ELEVEN AND A HALF yards per attempt. That’s more than Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, and Trevor Lawrence threw for last season. The interesting thing about this is Cunningham’s completion percentage was kind of low at 62.6%, which means his passes at 11.5 YPA were even deeper downfield than a Burrow or Tagovailoa who achieved 11+ yards per attempt at 70+% completion.

Here are some key stats for Cunningham in 2019:

62.6% completion percentage, 2065 yards passing, 11.5 yards per attempt, 22 (passing) TDs, 5 INTs, 122 carries, 482 yards rushing, 4.0 yards per carry, 6 TDs (rushing). 5 fumbles, 3 lost fumbles.

Cunningham did not throw as many passes as other QBs, we don’t know what Cunningham’s play will look like over a full season of games and starts. Cunningham had some ups and downs. Not every game was perfect. He played against Clemson (a stacked future NFL defense) and looked pretty bad in his limited work. Against Clemson, Cunningham threw eleven passes, completed four of them, and threw one interception (no TDs). Clearly his game has room for improvement against elite defenses.

Cunningham’s best game (in my opinion) came in Louisville’s bowl game against Mississippi State. Against Mississippi State, Cunningham played against NFL talent like Willie Gay Jr. (LB), Chauncey Rivers (DL) and Kobe Jones (DL). Cunningham went 16/23 for 279 yards, 2 TDs, 16 carries for 81 yards rushing. Cunningham did a great job of scrambling (5 yards per carry), tossed the ball consistently deep down field (12+ Yards Per Attempt). Trying to weed out Cunningham’s target share has been infuriatingly difficult as Louisville often starts Cunningham with another QB in the same game.

I know stats are boring, but they tell us a story of a young QB who can absolutely SLING it without tons of NFL talent in his receiving corps, whereas hotshot quarterbacks like Burrow, and Tagovailoa have NFL caliber receivers to throw to. Cunningham will be draft eligible in 2021, teams may be more willing to look at Louisville as a QB school with the success of Lamar Jackson with Baltimore. Cunningham’s name joins a growing list of names like Jamie Newman, Spencer Rattler, and Tyler Shough who could really take off in 2020 with new opportunities at Georgia, Oklahoma, and Oregon.

Song of the day is “Moon” by Kid Francescoli.

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