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Evaluating the Mechanics of Big Ten Quarterbacks - Mike Kafka

Northwestern's Athletic Department describes him as a "solid runner with a strong throwing arm," that gives the Wildcats a "one-two punch at quarterback"  I've previously written that Kafka is a "human pinball."  But can Bacher's backup step it up?  Let's take a look under the hood.

Mike Kafka (Northwestern)


Snap (B+):

  • Security/Ball Placement (B-): A quick glance at Northwestern's 2009 spring game highlights makes one thing clear: Mike will chair a run first, pass second attack.  Although his grip looks solid on quick slant dissections, his bread and butter pitch is loose, and sloppily coordinated.  Kafka flings the ball towards halfbacks like a deep sea fisherman tosses his catch onto deck.  Watch the tape, these are fumbles waiting to happen.  His non-throwing arm falls off throws.
  • Retreat Speed (B+): Northwestern's attack is primed towards direct snaps, so there's not a ton of tape to work with here.  Still, Mike slithers around just enough to get the job done.
  • Footwork (B-): Undoubtably, Kafka is a terrific athlete.  But he seems to rely far too much on natural impulse, and not enough on ingrained patterns.  To this end, Mike's footwork is soggy and stilted.  He feels a little wooden in the pocket.
  • The Fake (B-): Under the direction of Offensive Coordinator Mick Mccall, Kafka rarely waits around long enough to trick the defense.  He takes the snap, and moves the ball.  When he does fake, he slouches, but fails to commit the ball to within a foot of the back.
  • Adaptation (A+): Kafka is impressively versatile.  He plants his shoulders down field and flutters like a bat towards daylight.

Release (C+):

  • Survey (N/A): Again, not a lot to go off here.  The spread option keeps surveying to a minimum.
  • Stance (C): This is Kafka's greatest weakness.  Every other throw finds him skipping in flight -- his back leg bent at the knee.  More often than not, Mike is off balance when he prepares to release.
  • Step (C+): Kafka frequently jumps into his motion.  When he does step, it's more of a floating transfer of weight, as compared to a flex of power.
  • Wrist/Throw (B-): Kafka's release is bit overarching, leading to wobbly arcs, instead of sharp spirals.

Overall: B-

[Editor's Note: I used spring game footage to complete this evaluation.]

Big Ten Report Card:

  1. Ben Chappell (B/B+)
  2. Daryll Clark (B+)
  3. Tate Forcier (B-)
  4. Ricky Stanzi (A-)
  5. Terrelle Pryor (B+)
  6. Joey Elliot (B)
  7. Juice Williams (B/B+)
  8. Adam Weber (B)
  9. Mike Kafka (B-)