Reads Listens Views 3/2/2012

Hurricanes QB Jacory Harris had an uneven college career and Miami, but he did play in a pro style offense and his arm strength is pretty good. Accuracy? The hips tell the story, see below. Photo by Greg Hartmann.

For more analysis like this at every skill position, purchase the Rookie Scouting Portfolio available here on April 1, 2012.

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Friday’s Quick-Hitter: Miami QB Jacory Harris’ Delivery

Here are two glaring examples of a mechanical flaw in a quarterback’s delivery that contributes to inaccurate passing. These are plays during the same drive in the first quarter from Harris’ 2010 performance in a 31-3 victory over the Pitt Panthers.The first play is from a 21-personnel, 1×1 receiver, I-formation set with 8:20 in the first quarter. Harris targets the flanker on the far side of the field.

Easy single coverage read: the safety is at CB depth and the CB is shaded inside the WR and giving a seven-yard cushion. This is a great time for an underneath route breaking back to the QB.

Harris sets up the pass with a play action fake to the RB.

Harris extends the ball briefly towards the RB with his back turned to the line, which forces the safety to stay in the shallow area of the field.

Although the video shows that Harris’ ball fakes need some refinement, his execution gets the job done on this play. As he retracts the ball and finishes his drop, he’s looking to the right side of the field to hold the safety and the far side corner from breaking to the far side of the field where he intends to deliver the ball.

Harris takes a brief look to his right and a slightly longer glance down the middle. When he finishes his drop, the Miami QB will go to his left and fire the ball to his flanker.

When his back foot hits in the ground to end the drop, he turns to the far side to deliver a nine-yard comeback.

The head, shoulders, knees, and (maybe not) the toes are pointed towards Harris' eventual target.

The result of the play is a high-pointed pass by the WR at the first down marker with the CB three yards to his back. What you don’t see on film is the lack of strong velocity on the throw. However, the reason is clear even in still shots. Harris tends to lean towards his left hip as he begins his follow through.

The way Harris leans to the left early in his delivery may not seem like a big deal, but it makes it more difficult for him to torque his hips to generate power.

Harris’ back leg comes off the ground but his hips never have a chance to fully rotate with this early lean to the left. This impacts the trajectory of the throw, aiding to create a higher arcing throw that takes more time to reach the receiver. When a quarterback can torque his hips fully, the release creates a flatter trajectory with more velocity.

My freehand mouse-aided drawing of lines stink, but you get the point about trajectory.

If Harris were throwing a deeper pass that required a lot of arc then a partial torque of the hips is probably fine. I’ve seen a excerpt of a practice of Jon Gruden instructing Rich Gannon to throw the ball in this manner on a specific down field route. He wasn’t talking about the hips with Gruden, but the motion clearly limited the hip torque.

Two plays later, Harris’ certain touchdown-turned-interception is an even more dramatic example of his delivery issue.  The play is a 1st and 10 from the Pitt 33 yard line with 7:20 in the first quarter. Miami comes to the line in an 11-personnel, 1×2 receiver set versus a 4-3 with the SLB over the TE on the near side wing.

This is a five-step drop with play action with the deep post as the desired target down field.

Harris takes the snap, extends the ball with a straight arm towards the RB, and sells this play fake a little better than the last by bending his back and turning his body more thoroughly to the line of scrimmage during the fake exchange.

Harris' fake leaves pause with the defense and gives his receiver Travis Benjamin a chance to get behind the secondary.

The Miami QB finishes his five-step drop and delivers a deep post 41 yards down field from release point to interception. Once again Harris’ body leans toward his plant foot.

It's pretty much common sense, if you throw an object leaning in a direction the ball is to take a similar trajectory.

The result was a 41-yard throw with a nice arc, but veers to the WR’s inside shoulder when the desired placement was to the outside shoulder and leading the Benjamin to the open area.

WR Travis Benjamin is breaking open to the right flat of the end zone, but the ball isn't heading that direction. This will be more apparent int the stills below.

Benjamin discovers late in his route that has must adjust to the ball and turn to his opposite shoulder while on the run. The inaccurate throw causes Benjamin to lose track of the ball while making the adjustment. It also brings the trailing safety back into the play.

Harris had a certain touchdown if the pass head to the correct breaking point (orange arrow), but now Benjamin is trying to relocate the ball with a safety that is now in better position.

Here’s a closeup:

If you thought No.31 was a FB, you'd say he has his coverage beat.
Perfect position to high-point the ball in the end zone for an interception that should have been a certain touchdown.

Reason No.8,342 that it’s all in the hips.

If you’re gonna get hit by a plane it might as well be in paradise, right?

I had the good fortune to move to Montego Bay, Jamaica in August of 2000. There are an island full of memories I could share, but my first was actually landing on the island 90 miles south of Cuba. The Mo’Bay airport is on the coast and my first memory was looking out the window as the pilot made his approach and wondering if commercial jets to the islands were equipped to make water landings. At least Jamaica had the good sense to build an airport that didn’t make its final approach over a public beach. As you can see in St. Maarten, playing chicken with jumbo jets is a sport.


Google’s New Glasses – We’re just steps away from a zombie apocalypse and apparently it’s not biotechnology that we should be worrying about.

Failing Up – the working title: Why Mediocre Workers Keep Getting Promoted. Author’s not so private title: The Matthew McConaughey Career Theory.

I occasionally walk to work. I need the exercise and it also gives me the chance to read fiction. Here are some recent novels I read this month and recommend. I’ve been on a mystery/crime kick:

Paris Trout by Pete Dexter: The plot centers on the shooting of a young black girl by a well to-do shop owner in a small Georgia town in the `50s. I thought the girl’s life was rough until I got to the part about the wife of the shop owner. Excellent writing that does a fine job of delving into the mind of a man suffering from extreme paranoia.

Freaky Deaky by Elmore Leonard: I thoroughly enjoy the movie Out of Sight, and Be Cool has its charms so I looked forward to reading Leonard’s novels. Leonard’s writing is effortless to read and he’s renown for his humor and dialogue. It’s the kind of read that’s perfect for a hammock and a beer, but with more substance than you think.

Black Betty by Walter Moseley: Another writer I’ve been wanting to read for years. I’m only a third of the way through the book, but love Moseley’s penchant for drawing rich characters that reveal worlds some people should pay more attention to.


Straight Out of Flint: Girl Boxer Aims For Olympics – 16 year-old Clarissa Shields is 19-0 and a favorite to land spot in London Olympics. Her audio diary is well-produced and a good, short listen.


Cam Newton vs. Andrew Luck vs. Robert Griffin in the 40


3 responses to “Reads Listens Views 3/2/2012”

  1. Hi Matt
    Enjoy these immensely… Do you read while you are walking or are you listening to books on audio files? I don’t think I could read and walk at the same time- chewing gum and walking I have down cold, lol

    • Thanks Mike, I read while walking. I’d probably trip if I hadn’t walked these paths for years. I’m like that old, blind dog that knows every nook of the house as long as you don’t move the furniture. If I ever disappear, have them comb the river under the College Station Road bridge because I probably forgot to stop reading as I cross it.

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