Film Study: Rice's Newest Transfer Quarterback, Tom Stewart

Leave it to Rice to mine the other elite academic institutions for football talent. The Owls have brought in guys from Stanford, Vandy, and now Harvard with the addition of former Crimson quarterback Tom Stewart. We took a quick look at Stewart to get a feel for what Rice is getting in their newest signal caller.

Stewart went up north from Dallas Episcopal High School. At Episcopal, Stewart completed 68% of his throws for over 2,800 yards, 35 touchdowns, and just two interceptions. At Harvard, Stewart played parts of two seasons, earning Honorable All-Ivy recognition in 2018. For his career with the Crimson, Stewart completed 54% of his 251 attempts with 15 touchdowns compared to just five interceptions. He led the Ivies with 15.3 yards per completion.

He checks in at 6-3, 215 pounds. I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t weigh in a bit heavier. He might be a shade under 6-3.

Before we look at the film, here are some quick impressions:

Stewart possesses excellent pocket presence. He hangs in even with pressure in his face, keeping his eyes downfield.

He has a great feel and touch downfield. Stewart drops dimes and likes to go over the top of the defense, especially to beat man coverage.

The Crimson ran from a spread with a little wildcat and heavy package mixed in. I didn’t see Stewart go under center much.

Harvard finished the year 6-4, more importantly, they beat Yale.

Stewart isn’t a dual-threat quarterback. He’s going to look to make plays downfield when moving around the pocket.

He values to football; he hasn’t thrown many picks as a prep or collegiate player.

Let’s take a look at a little film of Mr. Stewart.

Here he is vs. those bastards from Cornell.

Stewart sees a single high safety and knows he’s getting man, the receiver runs a simple nine route and beats the corner off the snap. The Big Red bring two backers on what I assume are dog blitzes after the Harvard back stays in to protect, and Stewart puts this ball on a rope.

Arm strength doesn’t seem to be an issue for Stewart, he’s a big, strong kid, who isn’t afraid to challenge defenses downfield. He’s not a dink and dunker.

Here’s Stewart moving in the pocket to make a throw downfield.

This play is a variation on a sluggo out of trips set. Some folks call this a 7-in concept, the outside receivers run double ins, while the inside receiver runs a flag or corner route. Against a single high safety, with the middle of the field closed, this concept forces the safety to cover a lot of ground, and a nickel or safety to hold up in coverage. Stewart puts this ball on the money again and makes a subtle move to climb the pocket and avoid an outside rusher.

Notice Stewart’s eyes, they are always downfield, even amid pressure. His presence of mind to step up shows excellent poise and buys him the time and space to make an accurate throw. Stewart’s an experienced looking player in the pocket; not much rattles him. A lot of quarterbacks will instinctually try to escape to the right or boundary side, but that movement would take Stewart away from his route tree.

This is a real simple cross/rub route. If you’re a defender, it’s a pick, but they’ll never call this where the pick comes between the hashes. Not much to this, but it illustrates Stewart’s pocket presence once again.

Stewart TD vs. Yale.gif

We often talk about quiet feet, and Stewart’s are silent here. He doesn’t waste any motion or effort with his trunk, sets in a throwing motion and delivers the ball on time and in a location where his receiver can get into the open space and the endzone.

Here’s a compilation of throws from Stewart, again, I love his pocket presence. If there’s a question mark, it’s his mechanics on short to intermediate throws. At times he seems to shotput the ball, other times he has a bit more of a wind-up. It almost seems like he’s between throws if that makes sense. His accuracy is also a concern. He’ll need to complete better than 54% of his throws for the efficiency that Rice’s offense will need.

Physically Stewart gives us a Bryce Petty vibe. Maybe it’s that #14, but he similarly carries himself.

We think what Stewart brings to the table will mesh well with what Rice wants to be offensively. He’s a smart guy with great pocket presence who’ll get Aaron Cephus and Austin Trammell plenty of opportunities to make plays down the field.

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