Evaluating the Mechanics of Big Ten Quarterbacks - Ben Chappell

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I am a huge fan of that Indiana offense from 2009. Sure, the talent level was pretty damn low besides the wide receiver corps, but Chappell and the Pistol offense racked up some yards against decent defenses. Of course they also lost by 40 to "didn't we used to have a football team" Virginia. Apparently, Chappell has been named to the Johnny Unitas Watch List for 2010. What will the Unitas Award voters see this year? I'll tell you after the break.

Big Ten Report Card:

1. Kirk Cousins (A-)

2. Scott Tolzien (B+)

3. Tate Forcier (C-)

4. Ricky Stanzi (B+)

5.
Dan Persa (B+/A-)

6.
Adam Weber (B-)

7. Terrelle Pryor (B-)

Snap (C):

  • Security/Ball Placement (D): Not so good. Didn't hold the ball close to his body and when he scrambled, didn't put two hands on the ball. Truly a cause for concern.
  • Retreat Speed (Incomplete): Ben's in the Pistol, which requires a quick turn and fake or a shorter retreat. Just not that much to grade here.
  • Footwork (B): Normally I would chide Chappell for having very active feet in the pocket, but it's how he gets into a rhythm, so I won't hate. When pressured early versus Iowa, Chappell put his body into position to make successful throws. Unfortunately (and this goes into adaptation issues), his slow lateral movement doesn't help his pocket presence.
  • The Fake (B+): Lots of fakes in the Pistol and early on in games, teams bite hard. Chappell does a good job selling the fakes; if the run game was better, his fakes would be even more effective.
  • Adaptation (C-): Comfortable in the pocket, not overly comfortable outside of it. Didn't ever see tape of his scrambling and then throwing effectively. Actually showed some toughness running later in the year. Being 240 lbs, tall, and not incredibly agile doesn't help.

Release (B-):

  • Survey (B-): Everyone has been impressed with Chappell's work ethic and his knowledge of the playbook. Although the Pistol doesn't require a long survey, Chappell did a great job finding receivers flashing to the middle of the field. He also lofted some pretty "over the shoulder" passes against one-on-one coverage. Negatives? Way too many ugly throws where Chappell zipped a ball to a spot instead of reading the changed route or just throwing the ball away. Tied for the Big Ten lead in interceptions in 2009.
  • Stance (B-): Doesn't keep his left hand on the ball long enough, which takes zip off his fastball. Does a little hop while in the pocket; while unorthodox, it seems to balance him. Does stand strong in the pocket, unlike say Tate Forcier.
  • Step (B-): He bends nicely to generate more oomph, but I would love to see a stronger step for deeper throws. Because the Spread doesn't demand bullets, Chappell doesn't really need a big step.
  • Wrist/Throw (B): And finally, my biggest complaint - drops the ball way too low when he's getting ready to unload. I understand that messing with a quarterback's mechanics is generally frowned upon, but Chappell's delivery is too loopy. I reiterate something I said before: Coaches always tell a jump shooter that less motion is better. It's the same way with QB's. Along with my biggest complaint comes my biggest compliment - Ben Chappell "slings" the ball instead of "throwing" it...and it seems to really work, especially on shorter throws. And although it's not the tightest spiral, Chappell most definitely throws a catchable ball.

How the Offense Affects Mechanics (A-):

  • Chappell couldn't have found a better offense for his positive traits. He's slow, so the quick hitting nature of the Pistol protects him. He doesn't have a rocket arm, but his accuracy (third best in the Big Ten during 2009) fits the Pistol perfectly. Finally, Chappell has earned the respect of everyone associated with the IU program because a) he's not Kellen Lewis and b) he's put in tremendous effort to gel with his wide receivers and push the offense forward.

Overall: B-

[Editors Note: I watched last years Purdue-IU game and the highlights from Iowa-Indiana 2009.]

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