QB Evaluation Continues For WVU Coaching Staff
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It’s not something you think of often, perhaps because it is so obvious, but it is something that must be understood by every coach if he hopes to win and by every fan if he is trying figure if his team is going to have a good season or not.
“Quarterback is the hardest position to play in football,” WVU’s QB coach Sean Reagan said on the fifth day of the first camp of the Neal Brown era.
All eyes — and ears — are on Reagan and his position, which is a rare situation at WVU, which pretty much over the years this century was solid at the position, be it Pat White or Clint Trickett or Skyler Howard or Will Grier.
Reagan has a quarterback competition going on between Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall, Miami transfer Jack Allison, redshirt freshman Trey Lowe III and Bowling Green transfer Jarret Doege, whose eligibility this season has not yet been determined.
He, along with Brown, who obviously has the final word, are trying to work through all the possibilities to come up with the right man, for the quarterback is the man who carries the fate of any football team on his arm.
So, what is that makes quarterback so hard to play?
“There’s so many things that can go wrong at that position. Think about it, teams like to throw the football but there’s only one thing that is good. The ball is completed. The ball can be dropped, it can be overthrown, it can be intercepted or it can be completed. Only one of those things is good,” Reagan said.
It’s like a baseball hitter. You get three hits every 10 times up and you’re a star. In football you want to complete six passes for every 10 you throw and sometimes there are things totally out of your control that enter in, such as the above noted glitches, or a breakdown in protection, or a receiver running the wrong route.
But it’s more than just the passing.
“The quarterback runs the show,” Reagan continued. “They have to make all the decisions in the pass game, run game, combos whatever it may be. They make decisions every play. They are the only player who touches the ball every play.”
And it isn’t like an offensive guard missing a block or defender getting blocked on the line of scrimmage or a catcher putting down the wrong sign.
The quarterback is the spotlighted performer.
“Everyone is looking at them,” Reagan said. “There’s a lot of people out there and a team loses a football game, but to them it’s the quarterbacks fault.”
They have it coming at them from all angles.
“There’s a lot of pressure,” Reagan said. “You got outside media always critiquing what they do. You got fans critiquing what they do. Only they know what is right or wrong with their call within the game plan, whatever that might be.
“They have to block all that out and execute.”
It is, Reagan agreed, a lot like a pitcher in baseball in that he usually dictates how the game is played.
“That’s fair. In any offense, the offense clicks at least because of the quarterback being part of it. You need all 11 on offense to make things work, but if the quarterback isn’t playing well you are going to struggle,” Reagan said.
Like a pitcher, the quarterback has to be a different breed.
He is an artist, a creator, a leader and so much more.
“First,” said Reagan, “a quarterback has to be confident in what you are doing and being decisive in the decisions you have to make. Arm talent is great, and all, but the quarterback has to be an accurate passer.
“If you are making decisions and making accurate passes, you will be a great quarterback.”
The truth is more difficult than what you see on Saturday.
The quarterback studies his play in the last game, studies his opponent, studies the game plan and has to put it all together as the week goes on.
“We have to carry what we meet on from the classroom to the drill work to the 11-on-11 stuff,’ he said.
The day is going to come when they must pick a quarterback. What factors will be used for that determination?
“It will be a combination,” he said. “Who has the most of all that? Who’s the most confident? Who’s the most accurate?”
Sounds simple enough, but Reagan isn’t through.
“The fourth thing is, who does the team follow?” he said.
In this case, Jack Allison has been at WVU for more than a year, has started a bowl game. He is extremely popular with his teammates.
That means Kendall came in at a disadvantage, but he has worked to overcome it.
“Austin has done a really, really good job of hanging around the guys all summer, been through the player practices, worked on his leadership. He’s done it the right way. He didn’t he was the quarterback brought in here to do whatever.
“He just started slowly getting to know the guys, hanging with them and it’s showing practice, too. I think the guys are starting to respect Austin. He’s closed the gap in that area,” Reagan said.
So bottom line … how do you choose?
“When it comes down to it, if it’s really, really tight, it probably comes down to that decision making and the player’s completion percentage as we track it in practice,” Reagan answered. “In this league, you have to be an accurate passer. You can have all that other stuff, but if we can’t complete the football it’s pretty hard to win games.”