David Igonos’s RSP Film Room examines an example of effective and ineffective processing from 2019 NFL Draft prospect, Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello.
Playing quarterback is a challenging proposition. It’s a lot like driving a car in a foreign country during rush hour. You know how to drive. You know where you want to go. You just have seemingly little control of what’s going on around you.
Fear, or uncertainty, usually manifests itself in a quarterback’s footwork. No quarterback is immune from having their spacing and timing disrupted. What separates the consistent performers from the rest of the pack is the implementation of their speed of thought.
In the clip below KJ Costello of Stanford seems to have an easy pitch and catch with his receiver to open up the game against USC.
The cornerback takes an inside shade in his coverage which would make an on-time throw to the curl route a likely interception or pass break up. Costello correctly sees this. On the close-up angle, we get to see two distinct things play out. First, Costello locks into his receiver which makes his footwork beholden to that outcome. He has to reset and wait for the spacing to be right to attempt what turns out to be a forced, miss-timed throw.
Second, Costello misses the safety vacating the middle of the field. The slot receiver beats his man and is open running up the seam. That’s the ideal matchup to exploit. This feels more like first snap adrenaline than fear but the effect is similar. Costello’s focus is narrowed and he’s all but put a Forever Stamp and hand-delivered this letter to the receiver.
Playing with confidence opens up an awareness of opportunities to be seized. Knowing where you want to go is the first step. Knowing how to get there without checking the GPS and tapping the brakes constantly is the skilled part that takes experience and repetition to polish.
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