This is Part Two of a series by Seth Galina exploring Jalen Hurts’ mechanics and decision-making in the passing game. This breakdown is particularly obnoxious to read as an Alabama fan, because it shows the three things we thought were manifest by year’s end: 1. Lane Kiffin had sort of mailed it in on teaching Hurts’ 2. the playcalling put Hurts in far too many rollouts to help his mechanics, particularly since Jalen needed some help in learning to step into the pocket, and 3. Jalen was just was not comfortable in the pocket, and that was largely a product of guard play.
Anyway, Seth is a QB Coach as his day job, which is cool. And, he’s an LSU fan as a hobby, which just kind of makes him a jerk. Anyway, today’s theme is Hurts’ pocketphobia (partially induced by season-long iffy play on the interior, poor kid.) Here’s the first article in this series for reference: Jalen Hurts vs. Tennessee.
I’m back. Geaux Tigers and all that good stuff.
A couple things we can all agree on:
- Florida sucks.
- I imagine a pretty good % of you guys are Saints fans (like myself) so watching the Falcons lose in the Superbowl was very nice. Of course, I would also imagine that a lot of you are Falcons fans so loooooooooooooooooooooool.
Anyways, here’s your quarterback against Florida in the SEC Championship. I’m still not sure how LSU lost to these clowns but whatever. The camera angles CBS used for this game were atrocious especially for an exercise in grading quarterbacks. I only got a couple of good views of the whole field and often the camera would zoom in so much I couldn’t get a read on what the receivers were running. With that said, we can still see that Mr. Hurts is firmly entrenched as the new Brandon Harris — sorry, LSU GREATEST QUARTERBACK OF ALL TIME, BRANDON HARRIS. He’s just not a good passer. He is, however, a young kid. Young, athletic kids tend to look exactly how Jalen looks as a passer. Luckily for Jalen, his athletic ability is off the charts and [Offensive Coordinator who’s name will be redacted from the records] only has to call around 15 real pass plays for the offense to still be effective.
I can’t get a good read of what the routes were on this play, so we’ll talk about Jalen’s work in the pocket. Generally, you’d want him to step up and under the free d-lineman and then shuffle to his right and stay in the pocket. Not easy for a young quarterback and it’s not the end of the world. The main thing is that your guard cant be, you know, bad, lololol.
No read here. Hurts knows he’s going to throw the fade and that’s it. It’s a tough throw because you don’t have any leeway to the inside because of the safety. The only hole was outside and on the sideline, Jalen misses it, barely. I’ll give the Florida cornerback the benefit of the doubt and say that he didn’t actually get beat that cleanly, he actually was playing low shoulder technique by design because he knew he had safety help.
This is where not being comfortable in the pocket gets you in trouble. That wheel route is wide open very early. The dropback is probably 1 crossover and a hitch to throw the wheel. You see Hurts bail out right when he gets to the top of his drop but for what purpose? Because he rolls to his left, he has to bring his whole body around to throw the ball and then it’s too late. This should be an easy touchdown.
Hurts’ first read is Stewart on the out route but it’s outleveraged by the Florida DB. While rolling out, Hurts gets to his second read and throws a touchdown. You know what, this is pretty good. You can throw a lot quicker when you roll to your throwing arm side.
Back Foot Throw
Obviously, Florida’s defensive line is really good, but you’re starting to see a theme of Jalen not trusting his pocket. That outside rush by #13 is begging Hurts to step up into the pocket. Instead, it’s a back foot, inaccurate throw.
I put in this pass that looks like an RPO but I kinda feel like this was a designed pass. Hurts doesn’t really put the ball into the gut of the running back. It’s possible that he’s being taught that if the linebacker bites early then there’s no reason to really ride the handoff at all. If it’s an RPO, I think Hurts makes the right read and he throws it into a tight window. Really should be a catch even though it’s on the receivers back shoulder.
This is another RPO albeit a pre-snap one. There’s a a run play called but Jalen sees the corner off too much and he throws a quick out for a completion. An easy way to get 6 yards.
Bail Out (again)
Another time Jalen gets out of the pocket really early instead of stepping up in the pocket. For young “running” quarterbacks this isn’t an easy trait to learn. In high school, every time they bounced out of the pocket to the left or right, they ran for an easy touchdown. In college, the bigger plays are going to be when you step up in the pocket and keep your eyes downfield and then run if needed.
Excuse me while I praise the lord for this camera angle.
With the safety on the hash in front of Hurts, he knows he has to work that 2 man concept to the field side. I can’t exactly see the route combination. Jalen throw to the right guy he just pauses a split second too long after he hitches up and I think that allows the safety to get over the top.
It took a while but we finally have a really good quarterback throw. The one receiver split out to the left is running a deep route to the middle of the field, a post type route. The tight end is running a deep out route (sail route). Jalen is reading to see is someone caps that deep middle route before coming down to OJ Howard on the sail route. Good read, good timing, good accuracy.
Step. Up. In. The. Pocket.
Ok, so, he’s throwing on rhythm here so we should have a more accurate ball (even though the receiver is covered pretty well) right? You gotta be able to put it at least near the receiver if you’re throwing on rhythm. The problem with Hurts’ mechanics and why he throws the ball way too far left is in his feet. The left leg swings open too much when he pushes off his right leg to open his hips. This causes him to lean left and put a lot of weight on that left leg. He’s almost falling over.
GUESS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU STEP UP IN THE POCKET. I love the design of this concept. To the field side, we have a smash concept and on the backside we have something hitting the middle of the field. During Jalen’s dropback he sees it’s Cover 4 to the strong side so he can’t throw the corner route. What does that mean for the middle of the field — it’s open. Florida is playing Cover 6, meaning Cover 4 to one side and Cover 2. It’s a split safety coverage and we love posts against split safeties. Obviously the throw could be better but it’s a fine read nonetheless.