As a famous chemist eloquently put it, the backup QB is everyone's savior until he isn't. (HT carp) Let's take a closer look at the Brock Mansion Party Yacht on its maiden voyage. Was this a proud display of our colors, a three-hour cruise (a three-hour cruise), or was it sad when the great ship went down to the bottom of the sea?
1st Throw: 1st quarter, 14:20 to go, 2nd and 2.
Recap: 1st read (Jarrett Sparks) is covered, quickly checks down to RB (Shane Vereen). Ball is batted down by DE (Long).
Analysis: Quick and decisive. Patting the ball telegraphs the pass. (quibble) Great athletic play by the DE.
2nd Throw: 1st quarter, 14:10 to go, 3rd and 2.
Recap: Quick out to Michael Calvin for the 1st down.
Analysis: Keeps coverage at home by looking downfield first, delivers on time and on the money. Huge completion to prevent a 3 and out on the opening drive.
3rd Throw: 1st quarter, 12:26 to go, 1st and 10
Recap: Fake end-around, play-action fake handoff to weakside rollout. Combo route with Jeremy Ross shallow, Marvin Jones deep, and Anthony Miller dragging across the middle. Throw goes way over Miller's head incomplete.
Analysis: A bit quick on the play-fake. Nice mobility on the rollout. Forced that throw. Jones and Ross were both covered, Miller had one guy shallow, one guy trailing, and a safety deep. Probably a good thing that the throw was uncatchable.
4th Throw: 1st quarter, 12:22 to go, 2nd and 10
Recap: Quick drop, skinny post to Jones. Ball is overthrown. Jones gets one hand on it and tips it...and the ball falls incomplete.
Analysis: Good play call takes advantage of press man and only one deep safety. Perhaps a good pre-snap read, too - he stares Jones down the whole way, so he definitely knew where he wanted to go. Pats the ball again. In real-time, 'thought that Jones could have laid out for that one...On replay, not so sure.
5th "Throw": 1st quarter, 12:20 to go, 3rd and 10
Recap: Shotgun + 3 WR. Makes the right read and is about to throw to Jones who is open for the 1st down. Doesn't get the chance because a Wazzu blitzer comes in untouched for the sack.
Analysis: Three rushers. Three Bears to block. But the RG (Brian Schwenke) turns outside to help w/ the DE and lets the stunting LB run free to the inside. To make matters worse, Vereen also jumps outside to help with the edge rushers. Someone blew an assignment. Good job by Mansion to hold onto the ball.
5th Throw: 1st quarter, 9:18 to go, 1st and 10
Recap: Play-action, deep post to Jones. Ball goes off Jones' hands.
Analysis: Not much of a play fake. Good protection. Well-thrown ball. Jones needs to make that catch.
6th Throw: 1st quarter, 6:23 to go, 1st and 10
Recap: Play-action, Miller runs a skinny post. Ball hits Miller in the hands and he drops it.
Analysis: Good timing - I like how he threw before Miller broke open instead of waiting. Perhaps a tad high, but Miller should have caught it.
7th Throw: 1st quarter, 6:05 to go, 3rd and 8
Recap: Short completion to Miller in the flat. Tackled well short of the 1st Down.
Analysis: Stared down Miller the whole way, but made an accurate throw on a swing pass. (Is that allowed?) Weird play call for 3rd and long. Miller was the only receiving option - Calvin was already getting in position to block downfield. So, you're counting on a TE without great speed to catch a short ball and run 7 yards?
8th Throw: 2nd Quarter, 13:24 to go, 1st and 10
Recap: Offset I, but it's a pass. Over-throws Calvin who looks like he ran a 15 yard hitch.
Analysis: Not sure if he was supposed to play fake, but he didn't. Waited too long on this throw - Calvin was initially open, but the delay let the defender recover. Not sure if the high throw is due to footwork or adrenaline. Ballsy playcall from Ludwig to dial up a pass from our 5 yardline.
*Bonus Coverage*: 2nd Quarter, 13:20 to go, 2nd and 10
Recap: Pistol-like Action!!! Not a throw, but I loved this play. Mansion fakes the handoff to Vereen and takes it outside for 27 yards.
Analysis: Please sir, may I have some more?
9th Throw: 2nd Quarter, 12:43 to go, 1st and 10
Recap: Play-action, rolls out right and hits the TE Spencer Ladner on an underneath route.
Analysis: Might have been an audible at the line? Nice execution and an accurate throw on the run.
10th Throw: 2nd Quarter, 11:30 to go, 1st and 10
Recap: Play-action, deep drop, uncorks a 40 yard bomb and Jones hauls it in at the 5 yard line.
Analysis: Better play fake, good feet, great throw. (Woo!)
11th Throw: 2nd Quarter, 3:40 to go, 3rd and 7
Recap: Throws behind Calvin who was tightly covered. DB knocks it down.
Analysis: Stared down Calvin, poor throw, and got lucky it wasn't picked. Too bad he didn't come off Calvin and look to Jones who was open.
12th Throw: 2nd Quarter, 1:20 to go. 1st and 10
Recap: Throws to Ross on the bubble screen.
Analysis: The throw is high. The delay from jumping for the ball allows the D to recover and limits this play to a short gain.
13th Throw: 2nd Quarter, :50 to go. 2nd and 6.
Recap: Tries to hit Calvin on the sidelines at the 45 yard line. DB reads him all the way, is sitting on the route, and picks it off.
Analysis: Looks hesitant from the beginning. Stares down receiver. Pats the ball. Really bad decision. Unfortunately, this particular throw is not high.
14th Throw: 3rd Quarter, 11:53 to go, 1st and 10
Recap: Playaction pass. Pump fakes and then hits Jones down the middle.
Analysis: Not much of a play fake. Overthrows Jones badly, but Jones makes up for his earlier drop with a spectacular one-handed catch.
15th Throw: 3rd Quarter, 4:22 to go, 2nd and 11
Recap: Vereen splits out wide as a receiver. Mansion underthrows him on the fade route and it gets picked off instead.
Analysis: Stares him down the whole way. The DB has Vereen blanketed. He has plenty of time - it's just a poor throw. *Edit - per Hydro, this was a mis-communication between QB and RB. Mansion was throwing back shoulder, Vereen was expecting a deep fade. Interesting.* Dear Mr. Ludwig, At this point, everyone knows you're throwing it to Vereen when you split him out wide as a receiver. This is no longer a clever mis-match. Thank you.
16th Throw: 4th Quarter, 14:26 to go, 1st and 10
Recap: Play-action roll out right. Hesitates and throws wide of Jones out of bounds.
Analysis: He had Ross open underneath, held the ball too long and missed Jones. At least this was a safe throw where no one else was going to get it.
(Technical difficulties prevented a screen pic. Can you imagine a missed pass? I thought you could.)
17th Throw: 4th Quarter, 13:10 to go, 3rd and 16 (After a delay of game penalty on the QB)
Recap: Quick, short underneath throw to Calvin for a 4-yd gain.
Analysis: Looked like that was a check down. Miller and Ross were well-covered downfield. Unfortunately, he had Vereen open to the left, but I think the clock in his head said "throw!" Accurate throw.
18th Throw: 4th Quarter, 9:53 to go, 2nd and 9
Recap: Quick drop, surveys, delivers a strike to Ross for an 18 yard gain
Analysis: Really nice play. He reads Jones 1st on the outside, sees he's covered, then comes back and hits Ross in stride. Accurate throw, great timing, slips it between two defenders. Looked very poised and composed.
19th Throw: 4th Quarter, 8:44 to go, 2nd and 20 (just took a sack - CB blitz not picked up)
Recap: Quick drop, one hops it to Calvin
Analysis: Ugly looking throw. Might have been tipped? I like that he threw it before Calvin made his break.
20th Throw: 4th Quarter, 8:34 to go, 3rd and 20
Recap: Quick set-up, throws a slip screen to Ross who Beast Modes for the 1st down.
Analysis: Nice execution. Good touch throw over a leaping defender. Made it look easy.
21th Throw: 4th Quarter, 7:21 to go, 2nd and 9
Recap: Quick set-up, delivers to Jones on the sidelines for the 1st down.
Analysis: Nice read. He comes off Calvin(covered) down the seam and finds Jones open. Throw is on the money and lets Jones run the last few yards to move the chains.
22nd Throw: 4th Quarter, 6:47 to go, 1st and 10
Recap: Bubble screen to Vereen for a short gain
Analysis: Quick throw. On target.
23rd Throw: 4th Quarter, 3:43 to go, 2nd and 15
Recap: Play action with roll-out to the right. Hits Jones for a nice gain.
Analysis: Odd-looking play fake, but a nice, accurate throw on the run. Good decision.
24th Throw: 4th Quarter, 2:50 to go, 3rd and 5.
Recap: Starts to throw, pulls it down, ends up throwing it away.
Analysis: Ross hadn't turned his head around yet on the arrow route which is why he had to pull it down. Ran out of time from the pass rush and made a good decision to throw it away.
Final Stats: 12/24 for 171, 2 picks.
One delay of game penalty
One false start with a fumbled snap
Two sacks (Neither of them his fault)
Two interceptions (one bad decision and one bad throw)
One long bomb to Jones completed and another that should have been.
TD pass to Miller was dropped.
QB Keeper runs for 28 and 11 yards.
Nice strikes to Ross & Jones on key drives in the 4th.
Overall: The stats don't look great, but this wasn't a horrible debut. (See Ayoob, Joe) He did a pretty good job running the offense and generally looked poised. It helped that the Cougars played pretty vanilla on defense and rarely brought pressure. His short throws were all on the money and he really does throw a nice deep ball. Considering how well he runs with the ball (And how inept Wazzu was at defending it), I'm surprised that Ludwig didn't dial up more zone-read plays. Reading coverages is clearly going to be a work in progress - however, he seemed to get better at not locking on and staring down his primary receiver as the game went on. What I liked is that he shook off the early drops and his mid-game struggles. (high throws + interceptions) When we needed to move the ball in the 4th, he came through with some of his best throws. There's plenty of room for improvement, but he showed enough glimpses here and there to offer some semblance of hope. I hope he's a fast learner - the training wheels officially come off next week.