Signal Caller Throwdown: Dalton Sturm

Frank Wilson has named a starter, sort of. Wilson listed incumbent Dalton Sturm above transfer Jared Johnson with the dreaded "or" between their names. We're sure both will play against Alabama State on Saturday, beyond that it'll be up to whomever performs better in live action and whomever can stay healthy. 

What do we know about Dalton Sturm? Well, he wasn't so much lightly recruited out of Goliad, as he was not recruited out of Goliad. Sturm wasn't a stiff in high school, he was a very productive player, yet his productivity didn't yield a single FBS offer. He went to UTSA as a preferred walk-on and played in one game in 2014 as a freshman. The Roadrunners quarterback of the future was Blake Bogenshutz out of Carthage, his career was cut short due to concussions in 2015. With Austin Robinson moving from quarterback to safety then leaving the program altogether, followed by the transfer of Russell Bellomy and freshman Jaylon Henderson's inexperience Sturm, considered the fourth string quarterback in August, stepped into the starting role.

Starting with Louisiana Tech, Sturm made seven straight starts to end 2015. The results weren't terrible, there's actually quite a bit to build on here. The Roadrunners went 2-5 and, with the exception of a disaster in Hattiesburg, Sturm was a capable starter.

Let's take a look at his area chart. The area map takes five of the most telling quarterback/offensive success statistics and ranks quarterbacks with more than 100 attempts by percentile. The higher the percentile, the more efficient and elite the quarterback is at a certain skill. The areas we look at are completion percentage, yards per attempt, yards per play, sack rate, and interception rate. Do those things well and your team is in a position to win. An efficient quarterback will have a nice, full area map and the more efficient the quarterback, the larger the area. 

For comparison let's take a look Tech's Patrick Mahomes. No, we're not comparing Mahomes to Sturm, the two ran vastly different offenses with two coaches on opposite ends of the offensive spectrum and more importantly Mahomes is a Heisman candidate with two years of starting experience. Could Sturm develop into that? Dare to dream. Mahomes' area graph is what efficiency and play making ability looks like, solid in almost all key areas. 

Storm's area graph is interesting for two reasons: First Sturm was almost dead freaking last among all qualifying FBS quarterback in sack rate. Oddly, Jerrod Heard from UT was worse. Sturm was sacked 32 times in his ten appearances. Sacks aren't entirely Sturm's fault, though a quarterback does have some responsibility. We subscribe to the Belichikian philosophy that there's nothing wrong with an incompletion, especially when compared to sacks. Young quarterbacks have to learn the skill of throwing the ball away and keeping your team in manageable down and distances. 

Sturm was a young, inexperienced player in 2015, the game moves faster for young players. Sturm took some sacks trying to extend plays that cost his team which was already offensively handicapped down and distance issues. He'll learn from that, he's got a very good quarterback whisperer working with him, more on him later. 

The bigger problem was an offensive line replacing five starters from 2014. They were leaky to say the least. Each of Sturm's opponents in 2015 doubled and some tripled their average sack output against the Roadrunners. That's just the sacks, not the hits that Sturm took. Safe to say Sturm was beaten up in 2015, he bears some responsibility but he was forced to run for his life play after play. 

The second interesting component of Sturm's 2015 efficiency graph is that if we take away a total stinker, 6-22 performance at Souther Miss, a dangerous statistical practice, Sturm's completion percentage actually jumps from 59% or right at average from a percentile standpoint to 63% and into the 77th percentile rank. Sturm demonstrated well above average accuracy as a young player with constant pressure in his face. 

Another positive is that Sturm, though not the prettiest runner (he's got a very Ichabod Crain looking gait) is a effective breaking the pocket and making plays with his legs. His running is an above average tool and it shows that Sturm is a pretty good athlete which gives his coaches more to work with from a scheme perspective.  

Sturm's yards per completion, yards per attempt, yards per play were well down in the percentile rankings. Sturm's ability to challenge a defense and stretch plays vertically is a question. Sturm made great use of David Morgan, a player the Roundup had a football crush on for the past two seasons, by targeting him downfield. Morgan, with superior size and better athleticism was an ideal target. Other than finding Morgan on occasion, Sturm didn't really test defenses vertically. UTSA's zone read option attack takes most of the blame here and of course to throw deep one needs time in the pocket, but on tape there were issues with arm strength beyond 20 yards. When asked to deliver intermediate routes, Sturm was again, fairly accurate, but defenses weren't concerned with UTSA going over the top when he was in the pocket.  

Frank Wilson's offense is a mystery. His two-deep actually lists the offense as "Pro-Style/Multiple." That's what we call vague. He could have done worse than Frank Scelfo at offensive coordinator. Sceflo is at least partly responsible for guys like Patrick Ramsey, J.P. Losman, and Nick Foles. That's a pretty good stable. Even the guys who didn't make it to the next level were usually very effective passers. He's coached at every level of collegiate football and tutored Blake Bortles in the NFL. Scelfo has coached dynamic passing attacks throughout his career, his quarterbacks tend to improve the longer they are in the system. Ramsey and Losman are exhibits A and B of his development history. Sturm and the rest of the quarterback room will undoubtedly benefit from Scelfo. 

The second half of the Oklahoma State game is a great watch to get a feel for Dalton Sturm. The broadcasters literally didn't know who Dalton Sturm was. He wasn't listed on the depth chart. I doubt Oklahoma State knew who he was either. So, coming in cold, three career pass attempts to his name, against a Big 12 opponent on the road, Sturm didn't blink. The moment didn't overwhelm him. He played well against the number two team in the Big 12. That performance sums up Dalton Sturm, not recruited out of a tiny south Texas high school, fourth on the depth chart, constantly in a position battle, transfers coming in to challenge him, a porous offensive line and yet he doesn't blink. I suspect he's got a pretty nice sized chip on his shoulder and or a firm belief in his ability. I also suspect he's a gym rat who makes the most of his abilities. I think that bodes well for him in 2016.

Posted on August 30, 2016 and filed under Southwest Round-Up.