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'Coach' grades Dayne Crist's performance against TCU
For this blog, I have consulted a Div. II offensive assistant coach, someone we'll just call "Coach."
After hearing so many different opinions about Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist's performance against TCU, I thought this would be a good week to take a broader view and have Coach look over the film to see how he would grade Crist's play.
I went back and cut up video of every KU passing play against TCU, including the ones that turned into sacks or rushes.
I then told Coach to watch the film like he was scouting an opponent and make notes about what he saw from Crist.
Here are Coach's notes.
• "Obviously, he has a big arm. He's very accurate, for the most part. I think he makes pretty good decisions with where to go with the ball. Some of the clips, it's hard to see the receivers, if they're separating downfield or not.
"For the most part, he has good ball fundamentals. When they run play-action, he does a good job faking the football and then making sure he's back with the proper throwing angle."
Coach says some of Crist's good fundamentals can be seen on the first play of the video above.
"Even though he's on the move, he does a nice job of whipping that left shoulder around and getting it pointed to his target," Coach said. "He has a high ball. The ball is above his right ear.
"That's a great throwing motion, and the ball, therefore, is right on target."
• "He's making pretty good decisions. Some of the times when it looks like he's holding onto the ball too long, that could just be a coverage sack (where) TCU had the receivers covered up. He doesn't necessarily have any place to go with the ball, so he takes the sack."
• "He really has that kind of arm and accuracy to make all the throws (needed of a quarterback).
• "He uses good footwork in the pocket for the most part. And, without scrambling, he knows how to get away from the rush by moving his feet and staying in a good throwing position."
• "Sometimes, I think he looks like he forces it, tries to rely on that big arm and accuracy and forces the ball in there. For instance, the interception. He tried to force that one into a window where he probably should have made a better decision on that play."
Speaking of the interception, notice that KU finished with two receivers close to each other.
"We used to run a play that was similar to that, and I never really liked it because you're bringing two receivers into one area," Coach said. "That means you're bringing more defenders into that area as well.
"It looks like they're trying to run it off play-action and get a nice rollout there and get two guys on different levels on the outside of the field, but I've never really liked that type of play right there because you've got teams that run combo coverage, like TCU does right here. They've got a guy over the top, they've got a guy in the intermediate, and they've got a guy underneath. It's going to be tough to find an open receiver right there."
Coach said the play call still doesn't excuse Crist's poor pass in this instance.
"That's the thing with guys that can 'make all the throws' is sometimes they rely on their arm strength and accuracy and really fire it in there when they really should make a better decision," Coach said. " ... Sometimes, (Crist) relies on his arm strength a little too much and tries to force it into small windows."
• "Sometimes he makes a bad decision when he should maybe scramble or throw the ball away. He can run pretty decent. He's not RG3 or anything like that, but he can definitely get out of the pocket and gain positive yards.
"A couple of times when he took the sack, it looked like he might have been locked on a receiver for quite a while during a play. Maybe, instead of looking at that receiver for so long, just go ahead and take off and try to get a few yards out of it."
I asked Coach for his overall assessment of Crist.
"If I were grading him right here, I'd say he had a pretty decent ball game," Coach said. "I'd say, for the most part, he was getting the ball to the receivers when they were open and made pretty good decisions. He could just use a little bit more help around him.
"It seems like he's holding onto the ball a little bit too long at times, but then again, that could mean the DBs downfield have got the wide receivers covered up pretty good, and they're not getting a whole lot of separation."
Coach said the numbers — Crist finished 19-for-39 for 303 yards with no touchdowns, an interception and a lost fumble — probably don't reflect how well KU's QB played Saturday.
"He obviously had a few drops in there that could have upped his accuracy," Coach said. "Of course, he did throw a few away when he was getting pressured and didn't have an open receiver. Sometimes that low completion percentage can be a little bit skewed."
When I asked Coach about Crist's best throws, he didn't hesitate.
"The one I really love ... it's right at three minutes," Coach said.
"They're backed up in their own territory. They run a little play-action pass. He steps up. The pocket is pretty good. He gets rushed a little bit from his right, but he steps up into the pocket behind the center and the guard and just makes an absolutely great throw to a receiver that doesn't really have a whole lot of separation right there.
"He puts the ball on a line. It's a throw where only his guy is going to catch it. It's either going to be a catch or an incomplete pass — definitely not going to get intercepted. But just an absolutely great throw. That's pretty good."
Coach said one other throw stood out most: the deep ball down the sideline to Andrew Turzilli on KU's final possession (5:40 mark of video).
"The receiver doesn't even really do that great of a job. See how the receiver is very close to the sideline right there?" Coach said.
"That's not necessarily a great route by the receiver, because Crist really only has one place where he can throw the ball. It has to be a perfect throw. It has to be over the defender, not out of bounds, high enough so the receiver can run underneath it.
"What we tell our receivers is, when we run these go routes like this, we try to do the best we can to be close to the bottom of the numbers. That way, the quarterback can lead you directly up the bottom of the numbers or, if you have to fade out any, you're fading out, but you're still not fading out so far that you're running out of bounds (red arrow instead of blue arrow).
"In this situation, the receiver is so close to the sideline, he has no room to fade out. Crist only has one place to throw the ball, and he puts it right on the money. That's an absolute great throw right there."
Because I've heard a lot of opinions about Crist from fans, I ended by asking Coach if — based on the film — he would consider Crist to be a Big 12-caliber quarterback.
"I think he's definitely a Big 12-level quarterback," Coach said. "He's a big kid. He's got good feet. He's got a good arm. For the most part, he makes good decisions.
"I think this is a quarterback who can win games for you. You just have to put him in position to make the best plays possible."