Recently, I was wondering why people are still lukewarm about Danny Etling’s quarterbacking for the Tigers. We wanted a stable quarterback to compliment our running game and now that we have one, it’s still not good enough. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side. I’ve been wondering why other quarterbacks put up bigger numbers even though Etling is actually pretty good. For one, he doesn’t have that natural athletic ability. Danny moves very well in the pocket but can’t escape and turn a bad play in a good play. His arm strength is also nothing to write home about. The other thing is that Danny doesn’t get the benefit of all these screen passes and jet sweeps (that are passed forward) to inflate his numbers. You have these big time quarterbacks who go 8/8 on screens and jet sweeps in 1 game. Those passes would turn a Danny Etling 14/22 (63% completion percentage) into a Mitch Trubisky 22/30 (73% completion percentage). The numbers are going to look better.
Anyways, I decided I was going to look at the top quarterbacks from around college football in 2016 and try to compare Danny to these other guys but then, in looking at Baker Mayfield, I found the Oklahoma @ Texas Tech game where Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes passed for a combined 1279 yards and all I want to do is talk about this game.
The funny thing about Mahomes 734 yards is that he only completed 59% of his passes at 8.22 yards per attempt. Their passing success rate was 49% (national average is 40%) so the gaudy numbers aren’t totally an effect of throwing the ball 88 times. 88!
I love watching Patrick Mahomes play quarterback. He’s just a baaaaad man out there. His technique is pretty bad but his arm strength is nuts and he can escape the pocket and make plays anywhere on the field. This ability accounted for a huge percentage of the over 700 yards.
Throwing back across the field for a completion.
Back foot toss after double clutching the ball.
3rd and 20, step up in the pocket deliver a strike while moving forward.
He’s not touching the floor when he throws this touchdown pass.
Back foot dime throw on the fade.
I would let this guy be my flag football quarterback any day.
Next are the easy completions I was talking about earlier:
Again, they just inflate the quarterbacks numbers without him actually having to make any reads. Of course, we all remember Brandon Harris’ inability to make these types of plays consistently so there is some talent in making these throws.
He’s also fine in the pocket when he has to go through his reads.
I like the way he manipulates the flat defender by staring at the bubble route. He opens up the window the throw the slant.
Here he throws a really accurate ball on 3rd and 10 when he reads the cornerback before throwing the corner route.
Of course, Oklahoma’s pass defense isn’t “lock down” and Texas Tech exploited the bad play of inside linebacker Jordan Evans (#26) in coverage a lot. One of the problems is that Oklahoma doesn’t pattern match that much so their linebackers are often covering dirt and get lost.
Here he is playing flat footed and not covering either receiver. Easy completion.
Flat footed again (this will become a theme) and he’s late to cover the out route.
Here he never once looks at a receiver to understand the route distribution and gets lost.
This is a small sampling of how you throw for 734 yards but the real juicy stuff is how Baker Mayfield threw for 545 yards on 75% passing, 15.14 yards per attempt and a 64% passing success rate. Texas Tech’s defense is SHOCKING.
You can call this whatever coverage you want from a defensive perspective but all I see is Cover 0 pre-snap. Texas Tech was in this defense A LOT. It would be one thing is sometimes they disguised it and rolled back into Cover 1 or 3 but they didn’t. Ok fine, you want to play basically Cover 0, you gotta send heat right? Naw, it’s cool, we’re just gonna send 4 or 5 guys mostly. Ugh.
Mayfield knows he’s going to have Mixon 1v1 against a linebacker because the cornerback has to play everything vertical. There is no safety for the cornerback to pass routes off to and then fall back into the vertical route of Mixon. “Here have 7 points.”
TTU is going to rotate down into the aforementioned Cover 0, so they disguise it a little bit, but again, they don’t send pressure and after the run fake, Mayfield can load up and throw a touchdown. Look at the technique by the near side cornerback. That’s basically Cover 3 technique but played without a middle of the field safety! There is no way he can cover a post route.
Ok but he can cover other routes right? Uhh, not really.
Deep comeback/ out route. Against Cover 3, the player that tries to take this way is the flat defender getting underneath the route and making the throw a little harder. A cornerback in Cover 3 technique alone can’t play this. Such an easy completion. He’s looking inside the whole time and has to protect any vertical route, there’s no way he can flip his hips and drive on an out route.
I don’t blame the players for almost any of this.
Ok, but what else did Texas Tech run in this game? They actually ran some Cover 3 and this matched up the their scheme with the technique they were playing their cornerbacks in. Did it work? No. It was such a basic spot-dropping Cover 3 that Mayfield had no problem picking it apart.
The 6 yard hitch is available all day against Cover 3. That’s not the issue. I just don’t like how the flat defender is staring at the quarterback the whole time. How are you gonna know what route concept is happening without looking at the routes ever?
The play action sucks the linebackers in but why is no one rerouting the slotback. His free release scares the safety in jumping that route and then the post is wide open.
Linebackers getting sucked up again.
Ok, so here we are with the deep comeback/out route against a Cover 3 corner. Like I said, the only guy who can protect the cornerback is the flat defender. This is why offenses put someone in the flats to control said flat defender. This is what Oklahoma is doing with Mixon here. What bothers me is the flat defender has no reason to come down on a bubble route. If you see a bubble, you have to know that something else is happening deeper. Go find that deeper route and if the ball is thrown to the bubble behind the line of scrimmage, go rally to the ball and make a tackle.
It’s just horrible defense all around. Danny Etling would have looked FINE if he was playing quarterback instead of Mahomes or Mayfield in this game.