Taking a closer look at what quarterbacks end up doing under Rod Smith’s direction may provide
After Rich Rodriguez accepted the job as
Rod Smith played quarterback for Rich Rodriguez at Glenville State
Prior to joining Rodriguez’s staff at
South Florida's Jim Leavitt: "I should be able to apply and use this scowl in other professions".
Rod Smith played quarterback for Rich Rodriguez at
Often the first assumption seems to be that when
The statistics of Rod Smith-coached quarterbacks over the years bear out something quite surprising. During his career Smith has coached quarterbacks to both throw and run - a lot. And 400+ passing attempts and 3,000 yards passing in a season is not so foreign a concept as many would like to believe.
Since 1999 Smith has coached seven different quarterbacks. Only one of them was he fortunate enough to tutor a full 4 years: Marquel Blackwell at USF, 1999-2002. Below are the starting quarterbacks that Rod Smith has coached:
Marquel Blackwell, USF, '99
Marquel Blackwell, USF, '00
Marquel Blackwell, USF, '01
Marquel Blackwell, USF, '02
Ronnie Banks, USF, '03
Pat Julmiste, USF, '04
Pat Julmiste, USF, '05
Matt Grothe, USF, '06
Pat White, WVU, '07
Steven Threet, UM, '08
Tate Forcier, UM, '09
If we summarized the average season passing performance statistics of quarterbacks who have played under Rod Smith over these years, they would look something like this:
162 completions (56%)
13 TDs passing
And no, I don’t see a Tom Brady, Elvis Grbac, John Navarre or Chad Henne in these numbers either. But let’s remember that these are average numbers and from time to time Rod Smith has actually coached a few above-average quarterbacks:
South Florida Bulls Quarterback Marquel Blackwell 1999-2002
So yeah, not quite 3,000 yards per year a la John Navarre, but those are some pretty decent passing numbers from certain quarterbacks.
One of things we don’t witness with Rod Smith quarterbacks are major improvements in throwing accuracy. This is somewhat discouraging to see, as is an average completion percentage of 56% among all of Rod Smith’s students. But every quarterback has had different strengths and weaknesses. One must bear in mind that over the last 5 years, Smith has coached 4 different quarterbacks, so there hasn’t been a lot of continuity under his charge.
When we look at completions versus attempts, the smaller gaps are what we want to see. Matt Grothe, Pat White and Tate Forcier are noticeable here with smaller gaps compared to the rather mediocre completion successes of Marquel Blackwell, Ronnie Banks, Pat Julmiste. Steven Threet almost craters off this graph in terms of actual completions, but Threet was not the least accurate thrower that Smith had to cope with.
Touchdowns Versus Interceptions
Touchdowns good. Interceptions bad.
For whatever reason, interceptions have been a disturbing problem with quarterbacks under Rod Smith throughout his coaching career among underclassmen and veteran quarterbacks alike. Notice the regression under quarterback Pat Julmiste (2004-2006) below. We can also see some of the other "Interception Fiestas" going on under Marquel Blackwell, freshmen Matt Grothe and Tate Forcier. Between 2003 and 2005 Smith and USF struggled to find consistent play at quarterback.
NCAA Passing Efficiency Ratings
Sometimes when you accept a new job, you kind of wish you could take some of your good old colleagues and protégés with you. At Michigan, Rod Smith had to start from scratch....twice. Building an effective offense with an efficient quarterback takes time.
Quarterback efficiency is nice because it wraps up all of the attributable quarterback statistics into a neat measurement package that takes into consideration passing yardage, completion percentage, touchdowns thrown and interception thrown. The higher the efficiency rating, the better your quarterback is. This is not to say that a highly effective quarterback almost always wins more games. For everyTim Tebow (164.2) or Kellen Moore (161.7) being highly effective at quarterback statistically and winning tons of football games, there's plenty of Jimmy Clausens (161.7) going 6-6, or Terrelle Pryors (128.9) leading Ohio State to another Big Ten conference title and Rose Bowl win, or another Greg McElroy (140.5) leading an Alabama team to another national title.
USF Quarterback Pat Julmiste, Rod Smith's starter in 2004 and 2005 (Photo Scout.com)
Still, from a passing efficiency point of view and historically speaking, Smith's most successful football teams were led by the most effective signal callers. Marquel Blackwell may have played at the quarterback efficiency of a 2009 Adam Weber (Minnesota, 114.7), but the USF was 31-13 over the regular season with him under center. Matt Grothe led USF to a 9-4 season in 2006. Pat White led West Virginia to 10-3 in 2007. Both USF and West Virginia ran spread option style offenses. Conversely, Pat Julmiste's efficiency performance in 2004 correlates nicely with USF's 4-7 finish and 6-6 finish in 2005. For the first time Steven Threet passing efficiency and a 3-9 record somehow start make sense when used together in sentence.
Changing Nothing Can Also Be A Strategy
Other times when you arrive at the new job the best thing to do is leave things be. Rod Smith replaced Bill Stewart as
Freshman Pat White 2005 (Under WVU Quarterbacks Coach Bill Stewart)
65 completions (57%)
132.4 Efficiency Rating
Sophomore Pat White 2006 (Under WVU Quarterbacks Coach Bill Stewart)
118 completions (65.9%)
159.7 Efficiency Rating
Junior Pat White 2007 (Under new WVU Quarterbacks Coach Rod Smith)
144 completions (66.7%)
151.4 Efficiency Rating
It's interesting still that Pat Julmiste made Steve Threet look pretty decent, and how a 4-star recruit and true freshman Tate Forcier managed to hit the 128.1 mark in passing efficiency in 2009 while essentially scrambling around for dear life. Wisconsin Scott Tolzien (143.0), Daryl Clark (142.6), Kirk Cousins (142.6), where far more efficient than Forcier. Terrelle Pryor (128.9) and Ricky Stanzi (131.6) where only slightly more effective, yet won more games, including bowls. If young Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson as sophomores ever become comfortable back there, things could get mighty interesting for Rod Smith and
This is where we must leave the Tom Brady, John Navarre and Chad Henne placards at the door, because there’s no way they enter into the conversation about meaningful quarterback rushing yardage, unless we are enthralled with the study of negative integers. I am not. If we were to summarize the average rushing performance of quarterbacks under Rod Smith over his career, it would look something like this:
112 rushing attempts
What’s interesting about quarterback rushing statistics under Rod Smith's instruction is just how rare it is for a game-changing, ankle-breaking quarterback to ever emerge. Sure, Marquel Blackwell ran for 771 yards as a sophomore in 2000, but he never came close to repeating that feat during his remaining two seasons of eligibility at USF. Why not? If he had this ability, why not exploit it? Did Smith coach him away from running more?
With 178 rushing attempts in 2006 we also see how USF true freshman Matt Grothe, who was actually an insolent fullback in a quarterback’s uniform, racked up 802 yards on the ground. The next year at WVU, Pat White's jackrabbit-like elusiveness had him averaging a ridiculous 6.8 yards per carry.
None of the other quarterbacks coached by Rod Smith stand out very much as dangerous runners. Admittedly most quarterbacks in the country probably won’t don’t stand out much against a Matt Groethe or a Pat White, but some might have expected to find a little more Zak Kustok and Mike Kafka in there somewhere. To find the next great rushing performance at quarterback under Rod Smith would take us back to then senior Pat Julmiste in 2005 with only 483 rushing yards, 4 TDs and a 6-6 record at USF.
Northwestern's Zak Kustok, 1999-2001: 22 TDs, 1,293 yards, 3.0 YPC
So why did he frighten me so?
One of the things I’ve always thought was extremely cool when watching college football teams running spread offenses – not mention absolutely terrifying - was when these little quarterbacks like Northwestern’s Zak Kustok, Clemson's Woodrow Dantzler or Texas's Vince Young would go skirting around the end, or just take off on a ridiculous quarterback draw scampering dozens of yards untouched for a first down or six points while lumbering linebackers and NFL-bound defense ends could only look on in disbelief. There have been many Motorola headsets destroyed and plexiglass clipboards snapped in two on the sidelines over the years, but nothing has ripped out the aorta of defensive coordinators across this fine land quite like an opposing quarterback scoring touchdowns with their legs. Because, hey, they’re not supposed to do that.
USF Quarterback Matt Grothe: A threat with his feet....and his helmet.
Rod Smith’s quarterbacks were not all equal when it came to rushing talent, but opposing defenses definitely had to have a strategy in place to neutralize the threat of them scoring getting first downs or rushing for touchdowns.
It’s difficult to make to make too many conclusions as to how good or bad any coach is when he has only one year to work with a given student. The only true specimens of quarterback development under Rod Smith that we can consider so far are Marquel Blackwell and Pat Julmiste. Blackwell was a dangerous runner, a decent passer, but did not display a crescendo of improvement in terms of quarterback efficiency that one would like to see. Matt Groethe and Pat White were rare, but very talented quarterbacks under Smith’s charge, and both continued along similar trajectories of success when Rod Smith stopped coaching them. Pat Julmiste was a dangerous runner, a key scoring weapon, but a less accurate thrower, and actually showed regression in overall quarterback efficiency under Smith’s tutelage. The good news is that in 2010, Smith is finally coaching two talented returning quarterbacks for the first time since 2004 (Pat Julmiste, Ronnie Banks). Of course, the bad news is that the last time Smith was so blessed, his team, USF, experienced its only losing season in school history at 4-7.
Forcier, Robinson and Devin Gardner are arguably the most talented trio of students Rod Smith has ever coached at one time. This group is incredibly young. Smith is now guaranteed a strong level of competition that should promote greater improvement and growth each week of practice. And unlike 2008 and 2009 seasons, Rich Rodriguez will no longer be starved of choice as to which completely inexperienced freshman ends up with the keys to his supercharged, V8 powered offense on Saturday afternoons.
Certain information has come to light! Like hasn't that occurred to you....man?.....Sir?
Following the 2010 spring practice reports, it appears that Denard Robinson has made up some major ground on Tate Forcier and has an excellent chance to break the starting lineup for the opening game against
KISS Destroyer Album: "Flaming Youth Will Set The World on Fire"
Sophomore Denard Robinson, freshman Devin Gardner, sophomore Tate Forcier (Photo Tony Ding, AP)
While there remain some big questions for
The answer is Denard Robinson. Robinson’s running ability and speed should not questioned. He racked up 351 yards on a measly 69 carries last fall, a 5.1 yard per carry average and 5 rushing touchdowns.
Now. What college football pundits should be dying to find out now is this:
What happens when you take a specimen like Denard Robinson at quarterback in this offense and you suddenly triple those 69 carries in 2010? Does a 2007 Pat White emerge? A 2009 Terrelle Pryor? A 2002 Woodrow Dantzler? A 2008 Juice Williams? How about a 2003 Marquel Blackwell? Have Big Ten defenses seen running quarterbacks before? Sure. And most have done a fairly lousy job of bringing them under control.
Tate Forcier still has the best arm and throwing accuracy on the