Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Building the ideal college quarterback
By Gil Bransford, Sharon Katz and Toby Petitpas
Cam Newton dominated college football last season, winning the Heisman Trophy, a conference championship and a national championship. Newton displayed several traits that allowed him to excel as a quarterback:
• He was accurate, completing 67.4 percent of his passes in SEC play.
• He could throw it deep, going a combined 7-of-11 with four touchdowns on throws of 20 yards or more in the Iron Bowl and SEC Championship Game.
• And of course, he could run. His 22 rushes of 15 or more yards in SEC play were the most of any player in a single season in the past seven years.
Newton was as close to having the total package as anyone in college football last season. Which begs the question, “If you could construct the perfect quarterback combination, whose skills would you incorporate?” Here's our take.
A synonym of accuracy is precision, which is the perfect adjective to describe the passing game of Andrew Luck. Luck completed 70.7 percent of his passes last season, fifth-best in FBS. He only threw 109 incompletions in 372 attempts. Of those 109 incompletions, 25 were knocked down by defenders, seven were intentionally thrown away, 10 were dropped and just 67 were thrown off target. Which means that of Luck’s 372 passes last year, 82 percent were on target.
Luck is at his best in the pocket, where he completed 73.0 percent of his passes last season. That's a higher rate than any quarterback taken in the 2011 NFL Draft.
HE THROWS A GOOD DEEP BALL
Throwing the deep ball is an art. Quarterbacks need to judge the correct ball speed, trajectory and location in order to hit their target in stride.
Boise State’s Kellen Moore has mastered this art. Moore completed 58.3 percent of his throws of 25 yards or more last season, including 12 touchdowns and no interceptions. By comparison, the average FBS quarterback completes roughly 32 percent of his throws of this distance, and none of the first five quarterbacks taken in last year’s draft completed higher than 42.0 percent. Moore’s 12 touchdowns on such throws were the most of any quarterback from a team ranked in the final AP poll.
HE HAS A QUICK RELEASE
To get rid of the football quickly a quarterback must read the defense, plant his feet and throw before the defense arrives.
Landry Jones is one of the best in the nation at getting rid of the ball. Jones attempted 617 passes last season, the most of any player in FBS. He was only forced to throw the ball away 16 times. That's one in every 38.6 attempts. Jones was able to use his quick release to his advantage against aggressive defenses, completing 66.7 percent of his passes against the blitz, including 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
No one invented or created plays like Denard Robinson last season.
Robinson averaged 6.1 yards per carry on scrambles and was only sacked seven times in 311 dropbacks. His 25 rushing first downs on third down were 4th-most in FBS. “Shoelace” was always a threat to go the distance, as he led the nation with 55 rushes of 10 or more yards and he ran for 100 or more yards in nine of 13 games.