Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Position Breakdown 2011: Quarterbacks

Returners: Derek Carr, Greg Watson, Kelly O’Brien
Newcomers: Marcus McDade
Lost: Ryan Colburn

Derek Carr: New Carr Key to ‘Dogs Offense
R-So, 6-3, 205
Bakersfield (Bakersfield Christian HS)

Fresno State fans have been waiting for 2011 for a long time – for two years since another quarterback with the iconic Carr name landed on campus and hit the Bulldogs’ practice field. Even as a true freshman, it was clear Derek Carr was outperforming others at his position in practice (even if Pat Hill denied it back then). And he’s much more fine-tuned now than he was then. But there’s always something to say for actual game experience, which Carr doesn't have much of, completing 10 of 14 passes for 112 yards in limited action as a true freshman. He might surpass that total in the first half of his first start against cal on Sept. 3. It’s easy to see what makes Carr a special talent. Line him up next to a group of other QBs and watch the night-and-day difference in ball speed as he turns the entire field, sideline to sideline, into his personal playground. A quick sideline pass looks much easier than it actually is. It’s a dangerous pass that can be devastating if a defender jumps the route for a pick-six, which is why not every QB can throw those routes. But Carr excels at it with his velocity, and the decision-making should come with experience. Carr is the type of QB who can develop into a guy who carries teams on his back. And that’s what is needed at QB to win at the highest level. He’s got the maturity, game knowledge, leadership , respect of teammates and is the fastest starting QB in school history (4.6 40-yard dash). And believe this – if players are impressed and excited with a teammate’s ability, there’s a good reason why.

Greg Watson: Watson it for me?
R-Fr, 5-11, 200
Rancho Cucamonga (Rancho Cucamonga HS)

While the Bulldogs are stoked about the starting QB, developing a viable backup is a concern. Coaches recognized something in Greg Watson right away when the undersized newcomer arrived on campus last fall and decisively beat out junior college transfer Kelly O'Brien for the backup job as Carr was redshirting. But Watson still has a long ways to go. The good news is he showed progress toward the end of fall camp, completing some nice deep balls with touch in the first scrimmage. But he struggled to accurately hit open receivers in the early stages of camp, and also had too many passes batted down by taller defensive linemen. Watson has solid speed, and can scramble to make plays, but if he’s ever to be a starter for the Bulldogs he has to develop his passing game a great deal. And judging by his Twitter posts, the maturity level needs to rise as well. Read on to learn about the fierce competition he’ll have for the backup job come spring 2012.

Kelly O’Brien: Trying to Reach New Heights
R-So, 6-7, 200
Manhattan Beach (Foothill JC)

Kelly O’Brien faces a similar issue to Watson – he throws many more inaccurate passes than pretty completions. And O’Brien, with far less mobility and speed than Watson, will be third in line unless that changes. O’Brien has the arm to go deep, but gets into trouble with the short and mid-range passing game, often throwing with low velocity and little crispness. But his physical size, lineage (his dad Ken O'Brien is a former NFL starting QB) and flashes of ability make him a player worth developing. Unfortunately though, neither Watson nor O’Brien are ready to start now if need be. That means the 'Dogs desperately need Carr to stay healthy behind an inexperienced offensive line.

Marcus McDade: The Quarterback of the McFuture
Fr, 6-3, 190
Stockton (St. Mary’s HS)

From the first day of fall camp, it was painstakingly obvious who the second most talented QB on the roster is – and for now he’s taking fourth-string reps. But that won’t last long. Marcus McDade is poised with confidence in his cannon arm and is physically built as well as any freshman QB since Pat Hill has been head coach. Coming out of high school in 2010, McDade played a major role in "The Ride," an online reality show about high school QBs. He was ranked fifth nationally in arm strength, and signed with Fresno State. But he didn’t meet all the university requirements and had to go to prep school for a year. After interest from miami and virginia, McDade stuck to his original commitment and stayed in the Valley. And from everything we saw in fall camp, he’s got the tools to be the next Bulldogs starter in 2013 or 2014 after likely redshirting this year. McDade does still have a ways to go adjusting to the decision-making piece of the game, making a few questionable throws that resulted in interceptions in camp, but his tool set is similar to Carr’s as far as arm strength, velocity, speed and physique. Expect McDade to push for the No. 2 job next season.

Position Rating:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.