Disclaimer: This is 100% speculation with only anecdotal evidence, not actual stats, to back it up. If the data proves me wrong, that’s fine. If my thesis is wrong, tell me.
As per Avinash's request, here's a cleaned-up version of an earlier post, discussing a potential reason for our lack of QB success.
People have complained that we haven’t had a successful QB since Aaron Rodgers (or maybe since 2006 Longshore), which is odd for a head coach who built his reputation as a groomer of quarterbacks. And I was wondering if Tedford’s insistence on making QBs dropback passers plays some role in this.
Now, Longshore is built to be a prototypical dropback passer, so for this, I’m really looking at two QBs — Ayoob and Riley.
Ayoob was perhaps the most athletic QB we’ve had this decade, perhaps moreso than Boller. He had the ability to scramble (remember the “White Michael Vick” tag?) and make throws on the run. He most definitely was not a drop-back, stand in the pocket, type of passer. Looking at some of his game tape from his JC days, he really looked sharp in a spread offense. I personally am speculating that were he to be in a Florida-esque spread (even a more dumbed-down version), he could have succeded as a quarterback, because his talents were more suited to such a system.
On the flip side, Riley isn’t quite Ayoob, but it seems to me that he excels at the two-minute drill. When he overthinks, he overthrows. When the coach playcalls on the sideline, sends the signal in, Riley conveys it in the huddle, etc, then he doesn’t look too great. But when he runs a hurry-up offense, no-huddle, I personally think he’s actually looked good. Now I’m not a huge fan of Ludwig (I really think running Best up the middle too many times isn’t taking advantage of his talents) and I definitely don’t think he’s putting Riley into the right system.
I think the most clear evidence I can think of regarding Riley's talents have to be Oregon State 2007, on the final drive, or Maryland 2008, when down several touchdowns, Riley led to the team close to winning, or even Arizona State 2009, when Riley had a hot hand on the game-winning drive.
I hope I’m making sense here. The bottom line is something I’ve said for a while — just because it’s used in the NFL does not make a pro-style system better in college than any other system.