A few weeks ago, I profiled East Carolina receiver Lance Lewis and demonstrated how his fade routes often appear identical to Patriots receiver Brandon Lloyd. In that post, I mentioned that University of Tennessee-Chattanooga QB B.J. Coleman’s drop, play fake, and release of the football is no different than Peyton Manning. Coleman voraciously studied Peyton Manning’s game as a redshirt freshman at Tennessee before transferring to Chattanooga and it has paid huge dividends with his fundamentals.
I had a chance to watch Coleman again this weekend with my Footballguys.com pals Cecil Lammey, Sigmund Bloom, and David Dodds (Jene Bramel would pop in, see one bad throw, and then mock us before returning to the NCAA tourney). I’m not going to detail how Coleman looks like Manning here. It’s pretty obvious once you see it. So, here’s highlights of the Shrine Game:
You have to admire a young player like Coleman to copy the best fundamental physical skills of a great like Manning. I bet coaches and GMs wish more players would take this initiative to do the same with the same level of detail. As much as Coleman demonstrates basic promise as a player, the difference between a fundamentally sound young quarterback with skill and technique and a grizzled pro is experience and perspective. And these two “intangible” qualities produce wisdom and that’s something quarterbacks sorely need in the NFL.
Decision-Making is Also Fundamental: But First, A Gutsy Throw
The play below is in the fourth quarter of the UTC – Appalachian State game where Coleman throws three touchdowns in the first half to build a 21-point lead. However, after UTC allows Appalachian State to score a rushing touchdown, induce UTC to fumble away a kick return, and then generate a second rushing touchdown, Coleman’s team has seen its lead cut to seven points in less than ten plays.
One of the problems the manifests in the fourth quarter is the play of Coleman’s left tackle, who is wearing down and getting beat by the rush off the edge. After getting sacked on 1st and 10, Coleman attempts a deep pass on 2nd and 16 with 11:30 left from a 2×1 receiver, 11-personnel set.
At the snap, Coleman drops five steps, uses a pump fake that was more of a slow motion movement, and then delivers a pass with the defensive tackle hitting him in the legs as he lets it fly from his own five.
Watching Coleman execute a pump fake as he finishes his initial drop. The timing helps him take fewer steps, but at the same time makes the pump look more believable.
Coleman did an excellent job of lofting the ball down the left hash despite taking the hit below.
Although this isn’t a pinpoint throw, Coleman’s deep post under heavy pressure is placed down field and lofted for his receiver to turn back and catch the ball like an outfielder. Coleman gives his receiver an easy opportunity to make the play, while still limiting his opponents from getting into the area to make the play. That’s an aggressive type of move.
The receiver is five yards behind the nearest defender and has a chance to turn backwards and catch it like an out fielder. However, he trips trying to move towards the outside to catch the ball and I think he lost it in the sun. It was an excellent throw under pressure because he read the coverage and the pump set up this slant and go so he could place the ball where he did. This should have been a 35-yard completion on a 40-yard throw while getting hit. Gutsy, aggressive play that should have resulted in a first down and cutting the field in half.
This sets up a 3rd and 16 with 11:17 left and Coleman takes the snap from a weak side trips, 11-personnel shotgun set versus a 3-man rush. This situation should be one of heightened awareness for Coleman:
- 3rd and 16
- Early fourth quarter
- Seven-point lead
- Inside my own 10
- Left tackle has sprung a leak
None of these details should say “take your time with the football.” With a seven-point lead inside my own 10 yard-line, it’s time to make a quick, safe play and if not comes open immediately, throw the the ball away and punt.That of course, is not the outcome.Coleman is 16-24 for 253 yards with three passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown on the day. He actually calls timeout and then when the play resumes, Coleman comes to the line in an 11-personel, weak side trips versus a 3-3-5 with the DE No.54 at a wide-nine position outside the LT in a three-point stance.
The position of the DE is one of the reasons why Coleman has the TE alongside the LT.
After the snap, Coleman drops to his own two and as he looks down field the TE is overwhelmed by the DE and the LT stops and stares to his outside to watch the entire strip/sack in a few frames.
The result of Coleman trying to be a hero was a sack and a fumble. The backside DEgot around the end fast enough to strip the ball from Coleman’s hand before he could deliver the ball to his right side.
I can’t say Coleman was in the pocket too long, but holding onto a ball in this situation on the field is reckless. If you can’t spot one of two progressions in your end zone, looking for a third as the pocket collapsing is reckless rather than aggressive. They were deep in their own territory inside the 15 and Coleman is dropping inside the five and up by seven on a third down in the early fourth quarter with all the momentum on the opponent’s side. He should have played his snap more conservatively. Take the sack or throw it away early rather than hand back the momentum on a silver platter.
It’s lessons like these that will teach Coleman the hard way to adjust his decision-making to down and distance. Bill Belichick calls it situational football and he coaches to it. Coleman may mimic Manning’s physical play, but it’s the brain that makes the difference. It may see like an intangible skill, but the turnover was touchy-feel.
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