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Evaluating the Mechanics of Big Ten Quarterbacks - Kevin Newsome


Kevin Newsome, the former Michigan recruit turned probable Penn State starting quarterback, is one of the best athletes in the Big Ten period. And judging from the way PSU found ways to showcase the various tools of Michael Robinson and Daryll Clark, I've got to assume Paterno and co. will tweak the Spread HD in a way that allows Newsome to succeed.

Big Ten Report Card:

1. Kirk Cousins (A-)

2. Scott Tolzien (B+)

3. Tate Forcier (C-)

4. Ricky Stanzi (B+)

Dan Persa (B+/A-)

Adam Weber (B-)

7. Terrelle Pryor (B-)

8. Ben Chappell (B-)

Snap (B-):

  • Security/Ball Placement (D): Fumbled a few times last year, fumbled a few times in the Spring Game. Definitely a weakness.
  • Retreat Speed (A-): Retreats quite well from under center, taking measured steps yet getting distance from his line relatively quickly. It helps that he's so damn nimble.
  • Footwork (B-): In high school, he looked like an athlete playing quarterback, which he was. Has grown more confident in setting his feet to throw, but cannot reset his stance after his initial receiver isn't open. Once he loses that first read, he gets happy feet (aka he scrambles).
  • The Fake (B): If his high school fakes were so good, and they were, than his college level fakes could only improve. Play fakes quite well, but I didn't see any ball fakes to judge.
  • Adaptation (B): A dynamic scrambler in high school and generally has all the tools to be a dynamic scrambler in 2010. BSD readers and editors don't want him throwing all the time, instead they want 15 throws a game and an offense tailored to his athleticism. Because of his high delivery, he can get throws off when being hit. Newsome is also exceptionally fast laterally and keeps his head up when scrambling. One negative - he doesn't hold the ball in good throwing position when flushed out of the pocket.

Release (D+):

  • Survey (C-): Two Spring Game picks mean little, but locking onto receivers is a problem. Young QB's always struggle with this though; it takes a lot of confidence to see a couple covered receivers and check down or wait for a route to open up.
  • Stance (C): Has a wide stance (...yup), instead of a nicely balanced one. This somewhat explains the lack of zip he gets on throws.
  • Step (B-): Didn't take a step in high school, instead relying on a quick, high release and letting his wide receivers make plays. Has improved, but still doesn't drive into his throws.
  • Wrist/Throw (D-): Newsome has a nice high release point. That's the extent of positives for his delivery. Unfortunately, their is a laundry list of negatives. Despite claims that his piano playing helps him grip the ball well, Kevin does not grip the ball hard enough with both hands. Despite his improved retreat into the pocket, Kevin reverts a bit back to high school form and drops the ball low, making his delivery take too long. Because of these issues, Newsome makes a lot of high throws that lack zip. You know those jump balls thrown typically around the goal line in the NFL to tall receivers? That's what a lot of his normal throws look like.

How the Offense Affects Mechanics (Incomplete):

  • I have confidence that if Newsome starts, PSU will find ways to use him effectively...unlike say Jim Tressel, who let Pryor wilt in a confusing Shotgun Spread for way too long before simplifying his gameplan ("Oh damn, you're telling me that's not Troy Smith back there? Whoops..."). Newsome can run like TP, but it remains to be seen whether he can make the 8 yard throws that keep secondaries honest and make the (I presume) run-focused Spread HD that much more effective.

Overall: C-

[Editors Note: I watched Kevin play the piano here. I watched him play football here...and here in the Spring Game.]