We're bringing you an abbreviated film study on a backup quarterback. Feel free to bail now, but we think we've seen some pretty interesting things about Texas State's freshman quarterback. We take a look at Willie Jones afternoon in Laramie.
A few particulars first, Jones came in midway through the third, the game had already reached its final point tally at 45-10. Sorry, I should have said spoiler alert first. Jones went 1 of 4 passing for 36 yards. He led the Bobcats in rushing in abbreviated duty. His 36-yard pass was the longest of the day for the Bobcats. His 34-yard rush was the longest Bobcat rush as well.
We've got exactly one completion, so let's take a look at it.
It's 3rd and 12, inside Bobcat territory. Wyoming is running a cover two sticks, zone. You can't see the safeties in the frame because they're trying to keep everything in front of them. The linebackers and corners line up at the sticks and sit. Keep everything in front.
Hutch White, perhaps the greatest college football name of 2017 behind UTSA's Devin Rothrock, runs an out and up. The corners jump the out, Willie Jones throws a dart to a spot between the corner and the safety, in the perfect window. It's a scheme play in that Jones locks onto White, and if he's not there, he's probably instructed to pull it and run, but that's a great throw.
Jones is a raw thrower. Even down 35, you got the sense that Zak Kuhr and Everett Withers had a package for Jones and gave him things he was comfortable with - a lot of zone read, a lot of QB run, not a ton of throws.
Two plays give you a flash of what we assume, Withers and company see in Jones.
The first is a no-go read, Jones pulls the ball down and makes an athletic play that you just can't coach.
On the drop, the linebacker drops into the hook zone and takes away the stop/hook from White. The Safety take the out route, and Wyoming has a single high safety playing center field. Once the boundary side read is gone (I can't tell if he's throwing the stop or the out, I assume the stop) there is no progression, and Jones takes off. Taking off has probably been drilled into his head, if it's not there, make something happen with your legs. He's a real fluid athlete, who turns the corner at the sideline and makes a play out of nothing. He's also got the presence of mind to freeze the linebacker with a ball fake to get to the corner.
Here's a simple zone read that Texas State can build a run-pass option off of. Jones is reading the field side defensive end. Now bear in mind, these are 2nd and in some cases, 3rd string defenders, but the execution and read by Jones are both spots on.
The defensive end turns his pads and crashes the run. That's Jones' read on this play if he sits Jones gives if he crashes Jones takes. Not sure how Wyoming is playing this, but all afternoon they'd done a good job of bringing a linebacker over the top to "exchange" and fit where the defensive end vacated. Here the inside linebacker crashes down on the give as well. That gives Jones green grass to deal with, and he's very good in green grass. Watch the jets once he clears the numbers. He's the fastest dude on the field and gets flat-out fast.
Last one and this is a bust, but when you have an athlete the caliber of Jones a bust can be a break for the offense. The quarterback and running back fail to execute the exchange, Jones doesn't get the ball into the backs belly, and the mesh point or intersection of the back and Jones is off.
This is why coaches get gray hair and turn to the sauce, it's a simple operation, but two young players don't keep a good relationship with each other, and the ball is on the ground. What does Jones do? Probably not what you're coached, but his instincts take over. Rather than fall on the ball and mitigate damage, he picks it up, makes a man miss, and gets the first down. Just how you draw it up.
Jones will give his coaches a few gray hairs, but his overall playmaking ability is tantalizing. Look for Kuhr and Withers to create packages to get him on the field.