Film Room: The Quarterback’s View

So far, 2018 has been a bit of roller coaster ride for the Notre Dame offense. At times, they’ve looked very good and at other times, they’ve looked dreadful. Typically, when the offense isn’t producing, there is a lot of scrutiny placed on the quarterback. This has certainly been the case for Brandon Wimbush in 2018. So far, he has proven to be a dynamic runner and an inconsistent passer. This week in the film room, we’re going to look at a play that in many ways illustrates both of those points. As an added bonus, you’ll get a chance to see the play from Wimbush’s point of view and go through the decision making process with him. Let’s take a look at the film and I’ll show you what I mean.

Late in the 1st quarter, 3rd down and 10 with a chance to score. You are Brandon Wimbush. Coach Long has called a pass play where you will have 5 receivers to choose from (yellow lines).

From the film work you’ve done this week, you know that Vanderbilt likes to play cover 1 (man coverage with a free safety) in this situation. As you survey the defense, you note the pre-snap alignment is consistent with cover 1. At this point, you feel pretty confident regarding what the defense is going to do after the ball is snapped. If you are correct and it is cover 1, you should have a bit of time to make your reads as Vanderbilt will have 5 defenders available to rush and you will have 5 players available to block. This will leave 5 defenders to cover your 5 receivers and a free safety.

The key to this play will be the free safety (red circle). Where he moves from this pre–snap alignment (black line) will determine where you throw the ball. If he comes up to cover the crossing tight end, you’re throwing to Boykin. If he slides towards Boykin, you will need to make a great throw or go to another option.

You’re at the top of your drop, it’s decision time. Miles Boykin (# 81, orange circle) is your primary receiver and is about to make his break to the inside. The free safety is following your eyes (red circle) and has moved from his original pre-snap alignment (black line) towards Boykin.

At this point, it looks like a big throwing window (yellow lines). However, it’s important to remember that when Boykin makes his break he will be moving towards the free safety so the window will close very rapidly. If you are going to make this throw, you must do it now. You’re also going to need to put some zip on the ball. Oh and you’ll need to be accurate. Of course, you can always throw to one of the other receivers or tuck the ball and run. What will you do?

The decision is made, you’re running. This appears to be a good choice as the offensive line has done an excellent job stonewalling the Vanderbilt defensive line (green line) and there is a lot of open space to your right (black circle).

What would have happened if you threw the ball? Boykin beat his man to the inside (orange circle), an on time, accurate throw, with some velocity, likely would have resulted in a touchdown. However, anything less than a perfect throw and the safety either intercepts the ball or decapitates your best receiver.

Yup, that was a good decision.

Final Thoughts

This play illustrates both sides of the Brandon Wimbush debate. A more accomplished quarterback wouldn’t have locked on Boykin right away, he would have held the safety for a moment with his eyes and then came back and fired an on-time, accurate pass, into a tight window. On the other side of the debate, a less mobile quarterback likely wouldn’t have been able to run into the end zone.

In the end, this was the correct decision for Brandon Wimbush. He could have made a risky throw into a tight window, but with all that running room, why risk it? The play ended in a touchdown, which is obviously good.  Here’s the problem though. Deep down most Notre Dame fans want to see Wimbush throw on time, into a tight window at least some of the time. If he can make that type of throw and be a dynamic runner, he would be very difficult to stop.

By |2018-09-18T00:24:39+00:00September 18th, 2018|18S Reads|32 Comments

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IrishSprings
IrishSprings

Thanks Larz, these are really interesting posts. As a spirited fan but neither a student nor a veteran of the game, they are educational. Your work is appreciated.

spider-man
spider-man

As usual, great work Larz! Am I to assume that if there was a large bear waiting off on the right side, that the correct decision would have been to throw to Boykin? Or is running almost always going to be the choice for BW?

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

Sampson had Wimbush at 7 for 9 for 112 yards vs Vandy with throws between 6 and 20 yards. (Granted, 2 were big pickups by Jones post-catch, but still well thrown balls by Wimbush to give him the chance to get YAC). Just figured I’d shoehorn this stat in since all you hear about is how Wimbush stinks at throwing the ball when he did pretty well with intermediate passes. Perhaps more of those and less hopeful downfield routes (0 for 5 vs Vandy 20+ yards).

This was a great film study. I’m glad he picked using his legs. Any time this QB is unaccounted for and has a whole open side of the field to run to it should pretty much be a no-brainer to take off.

Russell Knox
Russell Knox

Great write up Larz. I’m fix with Brandon just being Brandon. Not perfect for sure, but probably the best option for us.

Clearwall
Clearwall

Im fine with Wimbush being wimbush too, so long as our playcalling maximizes those assets. And when necessary, Wimbush being Wimbush actually makes accurate throws. Vandy, he did very well, BSU he was horrible.

IllinIrish20
IllinIrish20

“In the end, this was the correct decision for Brandon Wimbush.”

Exactly right. I’d love to see him develop the timing, accuracy, and consistency to hit Boykin on that play, but we have enough evidence that that’s not going to be the case. Knowing his strength as a runner and taking that option puts the team in the best position to win, which is what you need out of a quarterback. This is also why I think it’s important for BW to be on the field inside the 5-yard line…the defense has to commit a guy to stopping him, whereas they don’t necessarily have to do that with Ian Book.

DCIrish84
DCIrish84

If Brandon could both make that throw and run the ball like he does, he would win the Heisman.

The fact is our current receivers don’t get the separation they need (and in that short field wouldn’t anyway), and without that Wimbush does not put the ball into those spaces. He can throw jump balls. He can lead a receiver on a deep pass (no d-backs to read) and he can apparently throw the wheel route. I don’t think I have ever seen him throw an out route on timing. He can throw 8 yard crossing routes (which he couldn’t last year). He seems to have abandoned the TE seam route.

He hesitates to see if a window opens, so that by the time the ball gets there the window will be closed.

This puts significant stress on the offense by removing a huge chunk of potential passing plays, and, even if they are in the playbook, he probably does not even check the routes on certain plays that would require him to throw on timing or into tight windows.

I would love to know if he runs his progressions before throwing or not. My impression is that he doesn’t. On the 4 or 5 jump balls he threw to Boykin against Vandy, I don’t think he looked off Boykin. All of them were terrible. If that was his best read, he should have run or thrown it out of bounds.

Despite those limitations, he does give us the best chance of winning most of our games. Stanford and Va. Tech will be key tests.

Concrete Charlie
Concrete Charlie

OT…OT…OT
Eagles just bumped Josh Adams up to active roster from practice squad.
We now return to our regularly scheduled film room.

DrIck
DrIck

Just saw over at OFD that Clearwall did a similar post, but dealing with calls/non-calls of the officiating crew: https://www.onefootdown.com/2018/9/18/17876464/notre-dame-football-reviewing-the-officials-calls-from-the-vanderbilt-game-brian-kelly

Aside from his Purge-esque feelings on calling holding, it’s very well done.

Clearwall
Clearwall

Lol, great take on the Purge thought to holding. It’s a philosophy thing. There are a number of those that we use to determine whether to throw.

juicebox
juicebox

clearwall, holding is the easiest call in the world to make. Here is what you have to look for next time you ref.

Offensive Holding: Anytime a player on the good guy team is obstructed on his quest to tackle the man with the ball.

Defense Holding: Anytime a player on the good guy team is obstructed on his quest to run a perfect route.

Blatant Holding (the kind fans should be outraged by even if it gets called): If either of the above happen and the bad guy’s hands are involved in the obstruction.

Clearwall
Clearwall

Why wont this site let me upvote this more than once?

KG
KG

To upvote it more than once, you’ve got to route your login through a server in Smolensk.