It's risky, it's a gamble and there are a plethora of learning moments tattooed on film for history to remember.
That's what you get when you start true freshmen quarterbacks. In a study of the nation's 10 true freshmen quarterbacks who are starting on major college football teams in 2010, there are common threads.
Two are playing for winning teams, while eight are playing for teams with break-even or losing records. They've thrown about as many touchdowns as interceptions.
And offensive production through the air is wobbly at best — so is their collective pass efficiency.
We'll see two of these freshmen go head-to-head on Saturday when Colorado State hosts BYU. The Rams' Pete Thomas and the Cougars' Jake Heaps ought to sit down and have a Friday night chat and compare notes. Thomas has started more games than any of the 10, and his team turns to the air more than the run; Heaps was part of a two-headed QB experiment early, and his coaches have turned to the run significantly this season.
Two rookies with the best win-loss records are Jeff Godfrey for No. 25-ranked Central Florida (7-2) and Rob Bolden, whose Penn State Nittany Lions are 6-3.
If you crunch the numbers, the 10 true freshmen are playing for teams with an average win-loss record of 3-6. The rookies, on average, have passed for 1,085 yards, six touchdowns and have six interceptions.
Here's a breakdown of the starting QBs who are playing without benefit of a redshirt year in 2010:
Rob Bolden, Penn State: He's started eight games and is 110-of-188 for 1,350 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions, with a pass efficiency rating of 120.16. His best game came in the opener against Youngstown State (now 3-7) when he completed 20-of-29 passes and threw for two touchdowns. The Nittany Lions are a respectable 6-3.
Tanner Price, Wake Forest: Had his best performance in a 28-27 loss to Navy when he threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns. After playing in every game but the Georgia Tech contest, he is 101-of-186 for 1,056 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. He got his first playing time Oct. 2 against Presbyterian. Wake is 2-7, having lost seven in a row.
Jeff Godfrey, Central Florida: Has been one of the most successful freshmen in the country, leading his team to a 7-2 record with a 152 pass efficiency rating. He's also a runner and has gained 449 yards on 96 carries. Through the air, he's 92-of-140 for 1,300 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions. He got his first playing time against South Dakota, a 4-7 lower division team. His rating is the highest of all 10 true freshmen.
Tarean Austin, New Mexico: Played in five games but has not appeared in the last four for the 1-8 Lobos. He has completed 43-of-85 passes for 394 yards, two touchdowns with four interceptions. He has rushed 40 times for a net gain of 100 yards. UNM started freshman Stump Godfrey last week in the team's only win of the season over Wyoming. He has not thrown enough passes to rate NCAA efficiency numbers.
Chase Rettig, Boston College: Got his first action in a 31-13 loss to Notre Dame on Oct. 2. His team is 4-5 on the season and he's seen action in five games but started the last four games. On the season, he is 53-of-99 for three touchdowns and three interceptions for 625 yards.
Ryan Williams, Memphis: His team is 1-8 and has lost the last six. Williams played in nine games before becoming the starter. He has a pass efficiency rating of 125.97 and has completed 114-of-193 passes for 1,374 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions He got one-third of his TDs (3) in his best game at East Carolina when he hit 18-of-25 passes for 293 yards.
Chas Dodd, Rutgers: His team is 4-4 and he got his first action in the opener against Norfolk State, a 31-0 win. He is 77-of-132 for 956 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. His best game came in a win over UConn 27-24 when he completed 18-of-30 passes for 251 yards, two touchdowns and one pick. He has a pass efficiency rating of 127.12.
Alex Zordich, Buffalo: Has played the last four games, all losses, to Northern Illinois, Temple, Miami-Ohio and Ohio. His team is 2-7 on the season and he's completed 37-of-88 passes for 411 yards, one touchdown and five interceptions. His best game came against Miami-Ohio when he completed 16-of-33 passes for 210 yards and no touchdown passes.
Jake Heaps, BYU: Got his first start against ranked Nevada (now 8-1) in Provo and completed 24-of-45 passes for 229 yards. On the season, BYU is 4-5 and Heaps has a passing efficiency rating of 96.8. He has completed 139-of-260 passes with seven interceptions and four touchdowns. His best game came last Saturday in a win over UNLV when he completed 19-of-31 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns. Heaps has surpassed BYU freshman records for passing attempts by 76, passing yards by 42, completions by 31, wins (3) and games started (6). All were formerly held by Matt Berry.
Pete Thomas, Colorado State: The rookie Thomas is the nation's only true freshman to start all of his team's games at quarterback this season. He got his first start against Colorado and his best game came in a 36-34 win over Idaho in which he completed 29-of-36 passes for 386 yards and three touchdowns. On the season, Thomas is 209-of-316 for 2273 yards, 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He has a pass efficiency rating of 130.67.