Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Position Analysis: Quarterbacks

Like last year, this offseason I will roll out a series of position reports to give you my analysis, expectations and hopefully point out something you did not know. This installment covers the Quarterbacks. (Read Part I: WRs and TEs here, and Part II: Running Backs here, Part III: Defensive Line here, Part IV: Special Teams here, Part V: Linebackers here).



Projected Starter
QB -- Matt Ryan, JR, 6’5, 221 lbs

Other Guy who should see time
QB -- Chris Crane, SO, 6’5, 228 lbs


In case you couldn’t tell, I am really excited about Matt Ryan’s potential. As his bio on bceagles.com notes: “Ryan has attempted and completed more passes and thrown for more yards and touchdowns in his freshman and sophomore seasons combined than any BC quarterback since Mark Hartsell in 1993-94.”


But this combination of experience and youth doesn’t assure success. Hartsell struggled in his final year. Quinton Porter and Brian St. Pierre both had issues in their Senior seasons too.


Ryan's numbers don’t assure success either. Yes, he throws downfield more often than Porter, but if you look at his career stats, they are strikingly similar to Quinton Porter’s prior to last season.

QBAttsCmpsTDsRushing TDsINTsYards
Porter entering 2005 season27015414271846
Ryan entering 2006 season26615610571864


We know how Porter’s breakout year ended. Will Ryan’s number continue to mirror the Maine Man’s? I don’t think so. And this is where my confidence in him becomes much more subjective. There is an air about Matty "Ice". Peterson had it. St. Pierre and Porter did not. This doesn’t mean the "it" guys are always going to play the perfect game and not make mistakes. This intangible thing is a combination of toughness, confidence, athletic ability and personality that is vital for a quarterback. Exhibit A is the Clemson game. He went into a hostile building, took a beating (see the video clip) yet got up and did enough for us to win.



Exhibit B would be the Wake comeback. He pulled off a miracle comeback against a team that had stolen games from us the prior two seasons. Momentum shifts like that can carry a team.


Ryan's record as a starter now stands at 5-1. Call me crazy, but I feel like we have a chance every time he plays. I never felt that way with St. Pierre or Porter. I did with Peterson. Yet there is no way to measure this feeling or even really explain it. I like a good stat as much as I like a good story, so just take this little nugget for what it is worth: Ryan and Peterson are the only QBs to win at least five starts in a row under TOB. Peterson’s final record ended up at 12-2.


Now enough about what will happen and love letters to the Big Man on Campus. What do we need to know about Ryan the player? He is a big kid with a big arm. He can take a hit. He throws a nice deep ball. He has a good understanding of the offense and does not lock in on his primary target.


Things Ryan needs to work on: touch on the short routes and forcing things. It is a fine line between hero and goat. Ryan was heroic in the first half in Boise but nearly coughed up the ball on a scramble late in the game.


Chris Crane enters the year as the primary backup. We haven’t seen much of him on the field. Reports from practice have been good. He fits the TOB Bible model of big guy with a brain. Hopefully our early games won’t be close and he can get some quality playing time in case he is needed later in the season.


Upside


The new Eagle in Atlanta Ross Applegate is likely to redshirt meaning Billy Flutie will probably enter the season as the emergency quarterback. I know it is just a name, but it will be cool to see Flutie on the back of a quarterback’s jersey.


Final Prediction

I think this will be a big year for BC. Most of that is based on my faith in Matt Ryan. He has the potential and enough pieces around him. Let’s hope it all comes together.

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