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Evaluating the Mechanics of Big Ten Quarterbacks - Tate Forcier


Everyone agrees that Tate Forcier is not fast enough to run the RichRod Spread to its maximum efficiency. Let me rephrase that - everyone agrees that Forcier will never run the RR Spread like Pat White did. But I believe that great players make great plays. So it's true - Little Man Tate fits better in a Texas Spread than a RichRod Spread. But maybe with the 15 lbs he gained this season, Tate can play effective, injury free ball at a high level. OR maybe Denard Robinson will take over the starting job eventually.

So take what we see here with a grain of salt. He's bigger, he'll be healthier (at least for the first few games), and someone is sure to tell him to please, Tate, keep the ball closer to your body. Please. Do it for the kids.

(This was a joint collaboration between Greg and I. Enjoy.)

Big Ten Report Card:

1. Kirk Cousins (A-)

2. Scott Tolzien (B+)

Snap (C-):

  • Security/Ball Placement (D): Does not hold the ball close enough to his body. Duh. But also doesn't grip the ball hard enough when taking it from center and faking or handing off to the RB. Instead of creating a consistent "V" angle with his elbows and the ball, holds the ball a bit low. I'll discuss this more in "Release." Perhaps the most frustrating thing about Tate's performance last year is that he did not improve during the season in term of correcting his freshman mistakes. Ball security was Tate's biggest issue from day one, as he hung the ball out like a loaf of bread while scrambling. Hangs onto the ball way too long also.
  • Retreat Speed (B): Gets out from under center quickly, but lacks the measured and controlled steps we look for.
  • Footwork (D): Pocket footwork is just bad. After reading through his first option, he "breaks down" in the pocket, legs flailing out all over the place. This lack of a strong center base takes miles off his fastball, so to say, and his arm strength suffers accordingly.
  • The Fake (A): Freezes LB's well with the ball or shoulder fakes. Squares himself quickly after a fake, always a good attribute for a Spread QB. Tate understands the zone-read offense, having played a west-coast shotgun-based offense in high school as well. His mesh point fakes, a critical component to the zone read offense, were often decent, with several being very very good. About once a game you'd see a defensive end get his head totally twisted, not knowing if Tate or the RB had the ball.
  • Adaptation (B+): The coaches roll Tate out a lot both because of his size (short) and his ability to improvise and make plays. Rarely last season did Tate stand tall in the pocket and deliver. He was much more comfortable pulling the ball down, stepping up into the pocket and then moving laterally down the line of scrimmage. One thing Tate does unusually well for a young QB: He always keeps his eyes downfield while scrambling and always squares his shoulders. You can tell he's gotten a lot of instruction in this facet of QB'ing. However, as the season progressed, you could tell he was over reliant on this ability throughout high school, where you can get away with this kind of thing. Just watch the ND highlights and you'll see a lot of that. Tate is at his best when the play breaks down and he is able to get outside the pocket.

Release (C):

  • Survey (B+): On the run, uncannily surveys the field. In the pocket, surveys better than the average quarterback until...
  • Stance (C): Tate wants to be a fundamentally sound quarterback. But sure enough, his footwork breaks down and his stance gets all muddled.
  • Step (B-): Kicks out his feet pretty well, but that's because he's a small man who needs to generate as much oomph behind his throws. After injury, he was sometimes using his whole damn body to throw deep balls.
  • Wrist/Throw (D+): This is a major weakness. Instead of putting the ball high in his stance, he holds it at a medium height. So when Tate's mind says "throw," his body has to move the ball from the middle of his chest up all the way to the back of his delivery, and finally to a release point. There are too many moving parts here to make it an effective delivery. Think about a jump shot or a baseball swing - More motion usually needs to worse results. The same comes true in throwing a football.

How the Offense Affects Mechanics (C-):

  • RichRod Spread + Injuries + Youth = Bad mechanics. It takes simple analysis to figure out why not. When Healthy, Forcier could make big-time throws, throwing into tight spots and faking effectively. But when his tiny body began to wear down and the hits which a QB takes in the Spread continued, Forcier could no longer make those throws anymore. His deep ball came out as a fluttery duck and his pocket movement broke down.

Overall: C-

[Editors Note: I looked here, and here)]