Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Weatherford Report

As reported yesterday on Tomahawknation, Drew Weatherford is slated to start for FSU according to Bobby Bowden. This is a cause for concern in Seminole Nation. Let's have a look at the career of the three-year starter. NOTE: ACC Rankings are calculated out of QB’s who threw at least 190 passes in the cited year.

YR

GAMES STARTED

ATTEMPTS

COMPLETIONS

%

YDS

YpA

ACC RANK

TD

INT

QB RATING

ACC RANK

‘07

10

318

181

56.9

2049

6.4

10th (of 12)

9

3

118.5

9th (of 12)

‘06

10

318

177

55.7

2154

6.8

6th (of 11)

12

11

118.1

7TH (of 11)

‘05

13

469

276

58.5

3220

6.8

8th (of 9)

18

18

121.3

7TH (of 9)


What Can we learn from this table? First, realize that 32 starts is an enormous body of evidence for a college quarterback. I sometimes hesitate to analyze college players because of their inherently small sample sets. Weatherford is the exception because of his extensive body of work. There are very few college quarterbacks with the track record that Drew has.

Second, Weatherford has never been an above average quarterback in the ACC, despite having a significantly better supporting cast than the majority of ACC schools. The highest he has ever rated as a passer in the ACC is 7th (of 11). Usually, one would expect to see improvement from a 4 year starting quarterback. We don’t see improvement from Weatherford, but we do see consistency from the grizzled veteran: consistently below average quarterbacking. Also present is a disturbing trend of beating up on bad teams and failing miserably against major conference teams, including the ACC. Weatherford’s poor play also stifles the running game, in turn heaping more pressure on his incapable shoulders. Since essentially winning the ACC freshman of the year award by default, he has shown little to no improvement.

Note, however, that I said he failed to improve and that he was consistently below average. I did not say that he hasn’t changed. Weatherford changed last season. He stopped taking risks. Not just large risks or unwise risks, but rather, any risks at all. To apply the Drew Weatherford approach in real life, simply avoid driving through green lights and don’t venture outside under overcast skies on the off chance it might rain. Notice how both of these analogies severely restrict movement. The same can be said of Weatherford’s stewardship of the Seminole offense.

How do we know that Weatherford changed his approach?

First, I watched every snap Drew threw last year and noticed the change. He stopped throwing intermediate and deep routes (except for jump balls, explained below). The numbers back it up and I’ll prove it to you throughout this article. Let’s go to his performance (aka the results). Scroll up to the chart. This is where the all important YPA (Yards per Attempt) comes in. YPA is an extremely important indicator of quarterback success. It is a measure of how many yards a team can expect to gain every time the quarterback passes the football. It is much better than Yards per Completion because it factors in accuracy, where Yards per Completion does not. Yards Per Attempt (or yards per pass) also relates to the running game: teams with high Yards per Attempt force defenses to respect the intermediate and deep pass and as a result those defenses play fewer men close to the line of scrimmage. With fewer opposing defenders crowding the line of scrimmage, the offense enjoys more space for their running game.


Weatherford’s YpA was 6.8 in both ’05 and ’06, good for 6th (out of 11 qualifying quarterbacks), and 8th (out of 9), respectively. Those numbers are pretty poor. To give some perspective, his 6.8 mark was worse than studs such as:

Kyle Wright- Miami (7.8);

Will Proctor- Clemson (7.7);

Sam Hollenbach- Maryland (8.1, and 7.2); and

Marques Hagans- Virginia (7.3).

If you do not know any of those guys, don’t worry. The NFL doesn’t know them either, nor do awards banquets, championship caliber football teams, or anyone else for that matter.

While his inability to push the ball down the field was always rather evident to most observers, last year he dropped to a ridiculous 6.4 yards per throw, good for 10th in the ACC, behind the likes of TJ Yates (UNC), Thaddeus Lewis (DUKE), Kyle Wright (MIA), and Chris Turner (MD). All of those quarterbacks has less talent around them than Weatherford did, yet still achieved better seasons. Yards per attempt measures the expected success a team will have when they drop back to throw. Last year with Weatherford under center, FSU fans could expect to be in the bottom quarter of the ACC.

How do we know that 6.4 yards per throw is really horrible? Maybe the ACC just has an unusual affinity for gaining yards on pass plays?

Let’s see where his performance would rank in the other 5 BCS conferences to make sure we don’t have an anomaly in the ACC..

Conf

Weatherford’s 6.4 Yards Per Attempt Rank

ACC

10th (Bottom quarter)

SEC

10th (Bottom quarter)

Big 10

9th (Bottom 20%)

Big 12

9th (Bottom 1/3rd)

Pac 10

9th (Bottom 20%)

Big East

Last. 8th of 8. (7th if P. Bostich included)

Well, okay, so the performance would be poor in any conference. Certainly unacceptable for a 22 year old 3rd year starter at Florida State University.

Did Weatherford choose to throw less intermediate and deep routes and thus drop his YPA?

Florida State did bring in National Champioship winning offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher last year, mercifully ending the “Nepotism Era.” Could it be that Jimbo hates the deep or intermediate route? Uh, no.

The YPA’s of Jimbo’s QB’s for the last 3 years he was at LSU:

9.2 (’06);

7.9 (’05); and

7.8 (’04).

Let’s go ahead and say that Jimbo didn’t decide to suddenly call all short stuff. This is a guy that likes to keep the safeties honest and stretch the field.

"I'm gon' try to throw the ball down the doggone field," Fisher says. "I know we can throw the quick stuff. We got to be able to change field position. ... That's the part I'm worried about." Jimbo Fisher, April 17, 2007 http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=maisel_ivan&id=2840275

I think that quote pretty much affirms that Jimbo wants to go down the field with the football.

Many fail to grasp the huge difference that a yard makes when measuring yards per pass. Let me show you: Excluding 2006 when #1 overall Pick Jamarcus Russel threw for an incredible 9.2 yards per pass, Drew’s 6.4 yards per pass (YpA) is 23% less than the 7.85 YpA Jimbo’s QB’s threw for in ’04 and ’05 at LSU. A one yard difference represents a 23% jump. That is very significant.

We can definitively say that it wasn’t Jimbo. If you want further proof, look at some YouTube videos of LSU from ’04-’06 and you will see that Jimbo lived off the 15 yard Out, square-in, and the seam route. In FSU’s offense these passes are not featured thrown because Weatherford can’t hit them consistently enough for them to be productive. This still looks like #11’s choice.

Are the stats deflated because of high sack totals?

NO. First, in college sacks count against rushing yardage, not passing. Second, FSU QB’s took the least sacks among ACC teams in ’07 (22 sacks). Compare that to Virginia Tech, whose QB’s were sacked 54 times yet still posted a 7.6 average.

What could have caused this dramatic change in approach?

Several theories work here.

“He was tired of being hit due to a poor offensive line.”

Weatherford has a history of happy feet in the pocket and may have decided to take the easy way out to save his body. Intense competition from Xavier Lee put a premium on Weatherford’s health. One tweak of the leg and he might have waived goodbye to his job. This theory has some merit, but Weatherford has always proven to be a tough kid. He does lack talent, but he is totally willing to play hurt and has done so several times.

“He is from the Tampa area and wanted to play Dilfer (Ravens edition ) & Brad Johnson (Bucs Edition) football.”

This theory has some merit. Anyone who watches ESPN long enough to get through the Brett Farve will hear the experts extol the virtues of playing low-risk turnover free football. Limiting turnovers at any level is important. Unfortunately, turnovers are much more costly in the NFL due to the conservative nature of play and the drastic change in field position they cause. In college football, turnovers are less important due to the wide open nature of the game. Teams go up and down the field with greater ease in college than the pro’s. A sudden change in field position isn’t worth as many expected points, when compared to a punt, as the NFL. While Weatherford may have seen two quarterbacks win super bowls playing "just don't mess it up ball" during his formative years (He would have been in his late teens when the Ravens and Bucs won), adopting this approach in college football is unwise. This is especially true given the players around Weatherford. He doesn't have a dominant running game and all world defense to rely on as the Raven's did (or like LSU did under Matt Flynn, even though their defense wasn’t as good as the media would lead many to believe).

It is very difficult to sit back and have the defense win games in college football. An approach should not be overhauled with the primary goal being limiting turnovers if the result is to stifle the offense. While his interceptions did decrease from 11 to 3 in 2007, his touchdowns, yards per pass (YpA), and quarterback rating all saw significant declines as well.

Further troubling is the revelation that Weatherford’s 1% Interception rate (1 pick per 100 passes) is not sustainable. We have yet to find a passer who had consecutive seasons under 1.75% as a starting quarterback with at least 310 attempts. Essentially, his approach was unwise and lucky. Employed in a similar fashion this year, one could expect a similar number of TD’s coupled with a significant uptick in interceptions. That said, I don’t think this is the primary reason Drew failed to take advantage of what the defense gave him.

Drew was roundly criticized for his turnovers in 2006 and adopted the defensive style of play to shield himself from criticism.

First, I need to credit a friend of mine for suggesting this theory. It is very plausible. Let’s take a look at quotes from articles that followed the 2006 season:

"Just got done reading the Weatherford report, tremendous. I hope people take note of your examples of risk, or lack there of. He pulled a 180 in his approach, I think in part due to the criticism he took after his 18 interception campaign and also because he realized he can't complete that pass. Must suck to know that one of your means of lessoning pressure is obsolete because you have a serious physical deficiency; arm strength. Imagine being a QB and coming to the startling realization that you can't THROW for shit. Hmmm, I guess I'll do what I can underneath and maybe nobody will notice."

__ Noted FSU Football Expert and former college football player.

“...he has continued to be plagued by interceptions.” Warchant.com Article, August 2007

“...after throwing as many touchdowns (11) last season as interceptions. ...” Bradenton Herald, August 9th, 2007.

“...No ACC team threw more interceptions (18) last season...” Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, February 25th, 2007.

Drew clearly took a lot of heat for a bad 2006 season. In part, this was justified because he clearly didn’t improve on his 2005 rookie campaign. On the other hand, he was working under the lame-duck Jeff Bowden, the lasting symbol of the “Nepotism Era.”

It’s easy to see why he wanted to duck criticism. Unfortunately for Seminole Nation, he did so by putting the brakes on the Seminole offense to the tune of 76 punts, only two less than Duke. Everyone wants to avoid criticism and Drew is not different. Changing your style of play to deflect criticism at the expense of the unit you are responsible for, however, is not the right way to go about it. It’s not like Drew had a lot of options though because...

The main reason Weatherford stayed on 12 with the dealer showing 8 is talent.

Over 32 games, we have watched Weatherford throw the football 1105 times. Scouts have as well. Flaws really reveal themselves over that many tosses. Every single coach in the ACC has now noticed #11’s weaknesses. What are his weaknesses?

Drew Weatherford is one of the worst in terms of arm strength among non-option quarterbacks in the BCS. There are some thows most college quarterbacks cannot make. Then there are the throws Weatherford has been unable to complete over 1105 passes. Oh sure, he can make them sometimes, but as we will see later on, those throws are usually against bad teams and typically aren’t made with his usual throwing motion. Every QB can throw the ball downfield once in a while when they really wind up. The ability to make the throws consistently enough within the time frame provided by average pass protection, with the normal throwing motion (not a windup of a crow-hop) separates the men from the boys at the quarterback position. Weatherford is horribly inaccurate on those deep passes. This is pretty obvious to anyone who watches multiple FSU games. His passes flutter, sail, and dive. Once in a while, he does step up and launch one. Some observers see this and believe that he would be just fine if he had average pass protection. This is incorrect He would need exceptional pass protection to be even average on those more difficult throws. I am not arguing that a college quarterback needs to be able to flick the ball 50 yards without stepping. I am arguing that he needs to be able to hit a 15 yard out simply by making a normal stride and firing. A good college quarterback doesn’t have to change his delivery and put everything he has into the throw just to get the ball to the target.

Weatherford also has average footwork at best, and does not read a defense exceptionally well. I personally think that his struggles in diagnosing coverage has contributed to his increased reliance on the dink and dunk. Further, given his preference for the short pass, he would need to have a much higher completion percentage to justify his approach. Weatherford is not the “pinpoint, surgical type” who carves up defenses in small chunks. His 56% completion percentage is not acceptable if he continues to throw predominantly short routes.

If Weatherford wants to find the first coach to expose these glaring weaknesses, he can walk directly to the defensive coaches’ office and speak with none other than FSU linebackers coach Chuck Amato.

Why coach Amato? Because as the defensive minded head coach of North Carolina state, he gave the book on Weatherford to the rest of the ACC. Up until the NC State game of 2005, #11 posted decent YpA’s for a freshman starter. Fast forward to NC State in ’05 and watch FSU lose 15-20. Look closer though, at the way NC state played him and the resulting trends the game set off.

Opponent (2005)

Weatherford’s YPA

FSU Yards per Carry

First 8 opponents

7.6

3.9

NC State

4.7

1.9

@ Clemson

4.3

3.2

@ UF

6.6

1.8

VT

6.4

2.0

Penn State

6

1.0

Avg of Last 5 games

5.6

1.9

After Amato

-2.0 YPA

-2.0 YPC.

Once Amato laid down the plans on how to dominate Weatherford, every team with average or above average personnel followed. How did this work? What was this magical game plan? Why did it also hurt the running game?

I’m not going to fully explain it in full detail here because it wouldn’t make sense to the majority of readers. Essentially though, he played press man, with safeties very close to the line (“crowd the box”), and dared the quarterback with the cap-gun arm to throw an accurate pass of over 10 yards. Knowing that he is totally incapable of consistently executing those passes helped his plan. Amato knew. His plan worked on many levels. First, by having so many guys close to the line of scrimmage, he forced Weatherford read more players for a short pass route than he would normally need to do. Second, he let his secondary bait Weatherford into interceptions. Since Weatherford couldn’t zip the ball downfield, his corners and safeties had ample recovery time to make the interception. #11 saw that his wide receivers were open on their intermediate out routes and deep in-cuts, but he couldn’t deliver the ball to them on a consistent basis due to his considerable physical limitations. When Weatherford attempted to make the throws, he was intercepted 3 times. Third, with so many men close to the line of scrimmage, NC State’s players were able to tackle the receiver as soon as Weatherford delivered the short pass. On the same token, having so many men in the “box” completely shut down the running game (23 rushes for 43 yards.) By daring the QB to do something he could not do, Amato was able to dominate the FSU running game and effectively limit whatever semblance of a passing game remained.

  • User Question & Feedback: User "AD" wrote "I think you can further validate your argument by looking at the rushing yards per game when XL was in. Lee had his own pitfalls but rushing numbers were better and sacks were down with him in the game. Great Analysis."
    • AD, thank you for commenting on FSUncensored! I hadn't considered this angle, but I went back and researched it as you suggested. To the chart!

Player

Rush

Yards

FSU’s Yards Per Carry

FSU rushing in Weatherford’s 21 games against BCS conference teams since “Amato Game” (18 starts)

547

1480

2.7

FSU rushing in Lee's 5 Starts against BCS conference teams

167

621

3.7

FSU rushing in Weatherford’s 21 games against BCS conference teams since “Amato Game”, with QB rushing REMOVED (18 starts)

442

1416

3.3





FSU rushing in Lee’s 5 starts against BCS conference teams with QB Rushing removed

101

440

4.4





As I suspected, teams had to respect Xavier's arm and his mobility. With Xavier Lee in the game Florida State rushed for 37% more yards per carry! The average carry with Xavier in the game was a full yard greater! Further, when you remove QB rushing yards, the difference between the rushing offenses under Weatherford versus Lee did not change. That means that the rushing numbers are not skewed by Lee’s running ability at all. This also casts some doubt on the idea that FSU was incapable of running because of their poor offensive line. While that line has played poorly, the running game was much more effective under Lee. Thank you AD for the suggestion.

A quick historical aside: Some will claim that Randy Shannon, Miami’s current head coach who was Miami’s defensive coordinator in 2005, really laid the plan. That is true in part, but most other teams believed that they would be unable to duplicate Miami’s success.

  • Commenter Interaction: User "Chad" wrote "Another thing - how do you know other teams felt they couldn't replicate Shannon's plan to beat DW? You seem very sure that the coaches didn't follow Shannon but did follow Amato. I'm just curious as to how you came to that conclusion."
    • Chad, that's a good question. Thank you for writing in. You have to go keep the time period in perspective. Miami went 5-7 last year, but in 2005 they still had what many considered to be the best defense in the nation. That defense had Bryan Pata (deceased), Baraka Atkins (NFL), Orien Harris (NFL, I think), Calaias Campbell, (situational pass rusher, and again, NFL), Tavares Gooden and Rocky McIntosh (one or both are NFL), Kelly Jennings and Devin Hester (NFL), Jon Beason (NFL), Brandon Merriweather (NFL), and Kenny Phillips (NFL). As you can see, the talent level on defense was insane. In 2005, a lot of coaches assumed that they lacked the personnel to execute Miami's game plan. Amato's plan wasn't unique as much as it was brave. We know that other coaches didn't use this strategy because we watched the 7 games between Miami and NC State. That was our junior year. Amato believed he had the athletes to copy the plan (he didn't), but as it turns out, great athletes weren't required. Decent athletes could do the job. The only real change to Shannon's plan that Amato made was to blitz less. Once other teams saw lowly NC State (spare me the Phillip Rivers stuff) use this technique, it was all over for our Drew.

Amato took Miami’s plan, used it with decent but not great athletes (the team had excellent defensive linemen and little else), and proved that it could work.

After the NC State game, the QB finished the season throwing by 4 Touchdowns and 8 interceptions, after throwing for 14 Touchdowns and 10 interceptions in the first 8 games. This strategy has been repeated against Weatherford in the 24 games since FSU lost to NC State in 2005 with varying levels of success. Generally, however, teams with average or better athletes have been able to duplicate the success using the Amato plan and teams with below average personnel have not been able to produce the same level of success. This is troubling and reveals a greater trend:

Weatherford beats up on bad teams and struggles mightily against everyone else.

Since the NC State game of 2005, Weatherford started 26 games for FSU. 6 of those games were against Non-BCS conference teams and Duke. He was pulled from the Alabama Game and knocked out of the last Va Tech game. As such, I didn't include those in the Win-Loss Record (1 win and 1 loss.) The remaining 18 show a record of ineptitude. Let’s go to the Chart:

Game (Amato game - Present)

W/L

Completions

Attempts

%

Yards

Yards-Per-Attempt

TD

INT

Passer Rating

NC State

LOSS

19

38

50%

181

4.8

1

3

82.9

@ Clemson

LOSS

12

27

44%

117

4.3

0

2

66.0

@ Florida

LOSS

24

41

57%

285

6.8

1

2

112.5

Va Tech (ACC-CG)

WIN

21

35

60%

225

6.4

1

0

123.4

Penn State (Bowl)

LOSS

24

43

56%

258

6.0

1

1

109.2

@ Miami

WIN

16

32

50

175

5.5

0

1

89.7

Clemson

LOSS

11

19

58%

102

8.5

1

0

103.0

@ NC State

LOSS

16

29

55%

249

8.5

2

1

141.1

Boston College

LOSS

32

48

67%

326

6.8

1

2

122.30

Virginia

Mop-up (not starter)

2

6

33%

41

6.8

0

0

90.12

Wake Forest

LOSS

4

15

27%

52

3.5

0

2

29.1

UF

LOSS

16

37

43%

181

4.9

1

3

76.3

UCLA (Bowl)

WIN

43

21

49%

325

7.6

1

1

115.3

@ Clemson

LOSS

17

35

49%

142

4.2

1

0

94.8

@ Colorado

WIN

8

18

44%

126

7.0

0

0

95.7

Alabama

PULLED

7

11

63%

42

3.8

0

0

95.7

@ Boston College

WIN

29

45

64%

354

7.9

2

0

145.2

@ Va Tech

KNOCKED OUT (LOSS)

5

15

33%

46

3.1

0

0

59.1

Maryland

WIN

16

26

61%

204

7.8

1

0

140.1

@ Florida

LOSS

20

37

54%

188

5.1

0

0

96.7

Kentucky (Bowl)

LOSS

22

50

44%

276

5.5

1

2

92.7

Vs. 18 BCS Opponents

6-12

364

628

58%

3895

6.2

15

20

111.6 (NFL 70.9)

Vs. 6 Non-BCS & Duke

6-0

116

171

68%

1374

8.1

11

2

154.2 (NFL 108.7)

That is horrific. He had a poor game in 16 of the 21 games listed above (defining bad game as having a QB Rating of less than 120.) The record above is pretty clear,

Last season one hundred quarterbacks had a better rating than Weatherford's 111.6 career mark against the ACC since the "Amato game."

While some (including # 11) are quick to cite the below average offensive line, this excuse fails to account for the above failures. The offensive line has only allowed 26 sacks on average, per year, under Weatherford’s tenure. This is a very good number. Quarterbacks deal with shaky line play in different ways. Some are able to make quick and intelligent reads and deliver the ball. Others are able to actually exploit the massive holes the defense gives them. Finally, others escape the pocket and run. Since he doesn’t read defenses exceptionally well, is unable to make throws that require an above average difficulty level, and is essentially immobile (182 career rushes for -61 yards), Weatherford does none of these things but rather has elected to deliver the ball prematurely. Note that he is not selecting the high percentage pass, but rather the first available option. We find further evidence of this by looking at his consistently average completion percentage (see first chart). If he elected to be smarter with the ball and take only the high percentage passes, as some suggested was the case, then that fact would be evidenced in his performance. As the first chart shows, upon electing to stop taking any risk, Weatherford did not achieve a spike in completion percentage. Rather, he “achieved” a miniscule 1.25% bump. The bottom line is that FSU can expect poor performance no matter the approach. As sad as it is for a major college program to have to pick their poison, that is the reality. Version 1 will bring more risk with slightly more reward and an improved running game, and version 2 will bring a lot of boredom, frustration, a record number of punts and very few turnovers.

FSU punted 76 times last year. No matter how you slice it, that is pathetic. No BCS championship team has ever had more than 60 punts in a season. A punt represents a failed drive, and really represents his career at FSU.

Where is the "Leadership"? Surely is would show up somewhere! Oh wait, Leadership is important, but when that's the first term used to describe an athlete, it is often code for "lacking talent", or "not very good." 6-12 against BCS teams since Amato laid down the gameplan on how to completely shut down Drew's game? That doesn't cut it at FSU. Or it won't under Jimbo, if he can actually make the call!

As a potential 4-year starter at Florida State, it is sad that Drew Weatherford isn’t even an average starter in his own below average conference. His potential for improvement at this point is negligible. Every snap he takes for this team which is not in contention for a National Title is a snap that is not helping to develop a more talented future FSU QB.

But what about the great win in Boston College?

When the Seminoles marched into Chestnut Hill and knocked off then #2 Boston College, people proclaimed that Weatherford finally was turning into the superstar that they expected him to be. He did play a good game. Several readers wondered why he plays well against Boston College.

Boston college’s defense is very conservative and vanilla. They play bend but don’t break (concede small chunks of yards and don’t allow big plays.) Their defensive line is usually big, strong, but slow and plodding. Their linebackers can usually hit, but they also lack speed. They play to keep everything in front of them. Despite Jamie Silva’s big performance last year, their secondary also suffers from a similar lack of speed. They play very little press, often opting for the a lot of cover 2 and 3. They try to force opponents to chip away and move down the field with long, methodical drives, with the expectation that the offense to get impatient and make mistakes rather than force them into mistakes with pressure. Boston College’s defensive scheme could not be designed to play FSU any worse. It is predicated on forcing an offense to do exactly what Weatherford is most comfortable doing, throwing short passes and attempting to lead long drives. This works against some teams, but Florida State’s wideouts have consistently beaten their defenders after the catch. Weatherford’s strengths align perfectly with Boston College’s plan and that is the primary reason that he has played well against them. Unfortunately for Weatherford, he can’t play against Boston College and Duke every week.

Despite his play against BC, he finished the year with terrible efforts against Virginia Tech (played poorly before being knocked out on a scramble), Florida, and Kentucky (see big chart above).

If a potential 4-year starter on a team that isn’t in contention for the National Championship isn’t head and shoulders above a redshirt sophomore (Christian Ponder), it’s pretty sad. It’s irrelevant whether he could be a good player on an absolutely loaded team that asked him to simply manage the game (possibly could). FSU isn’t that loaded at this point, and his skill set isn’t suited to lead this team to it’s maximum potential. Let’s move forward and allow Weatherford to provide his leadership from the sideline.


User Comments & Questions

  • Commenter "Mastergator Wrote "it would seem best to run more bunch formations and rub routes (because Drew is not suddenly going to be blessed with arm-strength). This is easier said than done though, because with so many people around the line of scrimmage bad throws will turn into interceptions more often. So, without a quarterback that can throw deep, or hit consistent timing routes or an offensive line that can take over in the running game, why stick with Drew?"
    • If you use Drew, the rub routes clearly are the answer. Coordinator's know this and thus play a bunched zone to counteract the strategy. You are also correct that interceptions are likely to result from rub routes and bunch formations simply due to the sheer amount of defenders around the ball. This is especially true on tipped or batted passes.
    • Drew doesn't need to be starting. He has fired the cap gun 1100 times in his FSU career with no evidence of success, development, or promise.


Addressing the concerns of those who feel that deep lobs to Greg Carr count as deep passes for the purposes of this evaluation. They do not and asserting that they do or should reveals the lack of football understanding this site hopes to cure. Many people can throw the jump ball, a lofted, slow moving pass that doesn't require arm strength.

11 comments:

MasterGator said...

So, is it more important to have the 9-12 win season with Weatherford or have a younger player, with more upside, get some experience?

I agree with the conclusions on Amato's textbook demonstration on how to shut down Weatherford. To run an effective offense a quarterback needs to either be able to have a threat of throwing deep to back the safeties up or be able to consistently hit timing patterns. With the safeties up and db's playing press-man, it would seem best to run more bunch formations and rub routes (because Drew is not suddenly going to be blessed with arm-strength). This is easier said than done though, because with so many people around the line of scrimmage bad throws will turn into interceptions more often. So, without a quarterback that can throw deep, or hit consistent timing routes or an offensive line that can take over in the running game, why stick with Drew?

On another note:

I am consistently astounded by the fact FSU brings in blue-chip high school athletes who fail to live up to their expectations. This, in itself is not unusual, often blue-chip recruits get complacent and under perform and are never heard from again. What confuses me is that FSU still turns out as many NFLers as anyone in the country. There has to be some explanation for it? It is the fault of the coaching staff? Is it poor recruiting? Poor motivation?

Ad said...

I think your analysis is spot on and what I have been saying for years. I think you can further validate your argument by looking at the rushing yards per game when XL was in. Lee had his own pitfalls but rushing numbers were better and sacks were down with him in the game. Great Analysis

Spencer said...

Great read. I appreciate your analysis. As a mouth breather, it helps to have simple charts for comprehension.

Scalper said...

Ad,
I will try to address next week in a mailbag sometime next week.

Spencer,
Thank you for the praise. If you made it through the whole article, you are certainly not a mouth breather. In fact, any reader who is willing to challenge conventional wisdom and disconnect themselves from the matrix-like propaganda tube that flow from Tallahassee is not a mouth breather.

Mastergator,
the plan, from our perspective, since we will have an average, not dominant running game, is to start Ponder. Regardless, I feel Christian will be VERY good as someone who had already graduated and will be a 21/22YO JR and 22/23 YO senior.

Chad said...

Great analysis and very revealing about DW's weaknesses. Question for you - could you compare him to other National Title QBs not known for their stellar arms - like Krensel and Dorsey? Another thing - how do you know other teams felt they couldn't replicate Shannon's plan to beat DW? You seem very sure that the coaches didn't follow Shannon but did follow Amato. I'm just curious as to how you came to that conclusion.

Scalper said...

Chad wrote: Great analysis and very revealing about DW's weaknesses.
Chad, thank you for your praise.

Question for you - could you compare him to other National Title QBs not known for their stellar arms - like Krensel and Dorsey?

I will look into this, but I am unsure if I will be successful or not. We may have a difficult time getting our hands on enough tape to analyze. As HinesWard86 (the co-founder) will attest, we quickly recognized what Amato had done. The original inspiration for this post came not from numbers, but from observation. If I can find tape on those guys I will be able to see what routes they threw. If not, I will still look at their performance on a results basis and get back with you.

Another thing - how do you know other teams felt they couldn't replicate Shannon's plan to beat DW? You seem very sure that the coaches didn't follow Shannon but did follow Amato. I'm just curious as to how you came to that conclusion.

You have to go keep the time period in perspective. Miami went 5-7 last year, but in 2005 they still had what many considered to be the best defense in the nation. That defense had Bryan Pata (deceased), Baraka Atkins (NFL), Orien Harris (NFL, I think), Calaias Campbell, (situational pass rusher, and again, NFL), Tavares Gooden and Rocky McIntosh (one or both are NFL), Kelly Jennings and Devin Hester (NFL), Jon Beason (NFL), Brandon Merriweather (NFL), and Kenny Phillips (NFL). As you can see, the talent level on defense was insane.

In 2005, a lot of coaches assumed that they lacked the personnel to execute Miami's game plan. Amato's plan wasn't unique as much as it was brave. We know that other coaches didn't use this strategy because we watched the 7 games between Miami and NC State. That was our junior year. Amato believed he had the athletes to copy the plan (he didn't), but as it turns out, great athletes weren't required. Decent athletes could do the job. The only real change to Shannon's plan that Amato made was to blitz less. Once other teams saw lowly NC State (spare me the Phillip Rivers stuff) use this technique, it was all over for our Drew.

Thanks for writing. Oh, and one last thing: how did you find us?

Chad said...

I found you through a post on the Tribal Council forum on www.warchant.com. I'm not sure which one, but it was obviously a discussion on the QB situation. I think you have a good point that DW could still be successful this year and probably come out looking like he was a success himself. If the team can get through WF and the D is as good as projected in key spots, he may not have to do much of anything. Plus, having a healthy Antone in his senior season and having Preston Parker a year older and bigger/stronger can't hurt. But, while I'm sold on Trickett, I'm not yet sold on this line...

What do you think about Ponder's capabilities based off of the small data set we have (only VT, unless you have spring tapes, which may not be relevant)? I only saw bits and pieces of that game because I was in a house full of WSU alums watching their team get destroyed.

The depth of your analysis was really good, so I definitely plan to come back here. If you were looking for ideas, some good posts could be:

Myron Rolle - liability in coverage or victim of scheme/teammates?

Antone Smith - why has his YPC gone down? Will he pull a Washington/Booker and be better at the next level than now? If so, why? Is the line that bad or can he just not hit the holes?

Anonymous said...

Now if you can see this and what you say is true, what is the reason the coaches are not making a change? Perhaps they see Drew's abilities differently, they place extreme value on his experience, or Christian and D'vo aren't quite as good yet as we all hope.

Ad said...

Keep up the good work and thanks for the analysis the numbers don't lie. For the naysayers that try to poke holes in your analysis. As flawed as Xavier is and with little to evaluate with him on. What does that say about Drew that a kid that did not know the playbook moved the ball with greater ease and was just as productive as a guy with all of those starts under his belt. What Lee's starts do not show on the other side is what kind of progress he would have made with the equal number of starts. Even with Ponder showing flashes, to me it highlights Drew's poor stewardship of the QB position. I don't think Ponder will be an All American but he is a servicable D-1 QB with D-1 tools and he will be able to really do what a lot of people give Drew credit for. Ponder for my money is a safer pick to start than Drew. Drew will give you 7-6 Ponder will give you solid building block for the future until we ARE FULLY RELOADED IN 2010.

marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!
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peace nole said...

very good analysis I quite agree that Wethurferd is not the as good option to the quarterback as FSU needs.