It’s not a perfect mission every time out, but even as a first-year starting quarterback, Saint Louis’ Jayden de Laura is truly producing at an extraordinary level.
The young de Laura occasionally forces plays, but with 2,117 passing yards, 19 TDs and a modest eight picks, he is having an brilliant season with the best completion rate (68.8 percent) and passer rating (191.55). Those numbers are easily comparable to the first-starting season statistics of Chevan Cordeiro (2017), Tua Tagovailoa (’14) and Marcus Mariota (’10). Two QBs who were impeccable as one-year starters. However, those historic QBs did so as seniors, and de Laura is only a junior.
The shifty de Laura has also rushed for 291 yards and nine TDs on 70 carries. How does he compare to other mobile Saint Louis QBs as a first-year starter?
Jayden de Laura
(10 games to date) 126-for-183, 2,117 yards, 19 TDs, 8 INT; rush 70-291, 9 TDs
> Completion rate: 68.8%
> YPA: 11.6
> QBR: 191.55
> Rushing YPC: 7.0
Team rush attempts: 284
Team pass attempts: 241
Team run-pass ratio: 54% run, 46% pass
(10 games) 195-for-289, 3,150 yards, 29 TDs, 8 INT; rush 100-456, 10 TDs.
> Completion rate: 67.5%
> YPA: 10.8
> QBR 186.03
> Rushing YPC: 4.6
Team rush attempts: 235
Team pass attempts: 326
Team run-pass ratio: 42% run, 58% pass
(10 games) 163-for-236, 2,571 yards, 33 TDs, 3 INT; rush 89-553, 8 TD
> Completion rate: 69.1%
> YPA: 10.9
> QBR: 204.18
> Rushing YPC: 6.2
Team rush attempts: 275
Team pass attempts: 322
Team run-pass ratio: 46% run, 54% pass
(10 games) 165-for-252, 2,597 yards, 32 TDs, 5 INT; rush 60-455, 7 TD
> Completion rate: 65.5%
> YPA: 10.3
> QBR: 189.98
> Rushing YPC: 8.6
Team rush attempts:
Team pass attempts:
Team run-pass ratio:
So, in the past decade, no first-year starting QB at Saint Louis had a higher QBR than Tua Tagovailoa, a whopping 204.18 in ’14, who also had an unmatched completion rate (69.1 percent) that season. No first-year starting QB had a better average on the ground than Mariota (8.6), who also was a state-qualifying sprinter. Cordeiro and Tagovailoa led their teams in rushing attempts as first-time starters; de Laura is tied for second on this season’s team in attempts. de Laura also has an 11.6 yards-per-attempt average. Cordeiro, Tagovailoa and Mariota didn’t crack the 11-yard mark in their first seasons as starters.
In some ways, Mariota’s season stands out among these incredible performances. Saint Louis didn’t have a long history of first-year starters as seniors. But he was effective out of the box, bursting for a 53-yard TD in a preseason game at Kahuku.
Tagovailoa, as a sophomore, was unparalleled. Has there ever been a sophomore season as productive AND efficient? Forty-one total TDs with only three picks, and a historically superior completion rate. This was Year 1 of the Lee brothers return to Saint Louis, and Tagovailoa blended into the system without a hitch.
Cordeiro was sensational in his one season as a starter, and though his numbers were gaudy, they actually seem more in line with Tagovailoa and Mariota: 39 total TDs with just eight picks. The emergence of one-time reserve WR Mitchell Quinn was a godsend. Did Cordeiro’s arm strength and trust in Quinn prove that the QB’s instincts were right? Or did Quinn’s magical and equally amazing performance as a first-time senior starter accent Cordeiro’s production. The answer is there is no answer. If anything, what Cordeiro did in an offense that ran the ball only 42 percent of the time with a completion rate that is close to Tagovailoa ’14 is almost impossible to digest. But it happened. We saw it.
And de Laura? His season isn’t quite over, and his development has continued, particularly after struggling some in a close win over Punahou. The highest YPA among this group, and nearly as accurate as Tagovailoa ’14. True, the run game helps, but he is a major force in it. He has the highest yards per rush average since Mariota, but much that can be attributed to the protection of his elite O-line.
Pick one? Why bother. Each season told a different tale. Tagovailoa ’14 didn’t have the kind of defensive support that de Laura ’18 has. Cordeiro ’17 had a similar flavor to Mariota ’10, two seniors, both mobile, and a very small sample size to compare with going into fall camp.
de Laura ’19? That’s going to be something unprecedented among second-year QB starters in Saint Louis history. As a junior in ’15, Tagovailoa saw his receiving corps depleted immensely by graduation. His overall numbers plummeted somewhat even as he showed the IQ and leadership that would eventually propel the Crusaders to a state crown during his senior year.
It isn’t a matter of which of these players were the greatest in their first year as starters. There is a residual effect, program wide, and the merits of de Laura were built partly on the knowledge gained as a team from the Cordeiro ’17 season. The performance of Cordeiro was informed by the three seasons at QB by Tagovailoa with Ron Lee back as OC, as well as tutelage from June Jones. The early-season competition with incumbent QB Ryder Kuhns also pushed Tagovailoa, who eventually became the starter and had 495 total yards against Pac-Five.
Even Mariota benefited from watching Jeremy Higgins start for two seasons, and Higgins took the position after two outstanding seasons by Micah Mamiya, who was a read-option master and had a 21-1 record as a starter.
So, while the Crusaders figure out how to get past OIA champion Mililani on Saturday night in the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Open Division state final, de Laura has a chance to finish his inaugural season with the highest yards-per-attempt average, and he has an outside shot at the highest completion rate among this group. His total passing yards don’t really match up because he hasn’t been asked to throw as often as his predecessors.
But in terms of efficiency and playmaking ability, there’s one word and one word only to describe de Laura: dynamic.