After subbing into the opener last week, Gresch Jensen got his first starting nod on Saturday as Texas State met Wyoming in San Marcos. I took a look at the game, a 23-14 loss, and Jensen’s performance and a few things stand out, but first a little background.
Jensen started his career at Montana, for Bob Stitt, the Texas State offensive coordinator. He earned Freshman All-American honors. He left Montana after a season and went to Fullerton Junior College in California. He signed with Texas State after the hiring of Stitt and new head coach Jake Spavital. He’s 6-2, 225 from Auburn, Washington.
Onto Saturday night, the pertinent numbers are Jensen threw for 394 yards on 54 attempts with 33 completions. He threw a touchdown, threw two picks, lost a fumble and took five sacks. He suffered four drops and threw the ball away five times. One of his picks, Wyoming returned 72 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
I had him for two other passes that Wyoming should’ve intercepted and an incompletion that resulted from a missed pass interference call.
A few quick observations.
Jensen isn’t a great athlete; he’s a plodder with stiff hips.
He doesn’t have good feet, his lower torso works against his arm, or he throws off his back foot a lot.
He did most of his yardage damage via the run after the catch. 201 of his yards came on passes either behind the line or within nine yards of the line of scrimmage.
Jah’Marae Sheread is a player. The redshirt from Cy Springs is a big-play threat.
Hutch White is a great security blanket; he’s who Jensen looks to the majority of the time.
Spavital abandoned the running game in the second half, almost completely. Wyoming certainly wasn’t worried about it.
The Cowboys pressured Jensen, moved him off his spot, on 26 of 60 dropbacks.
Fourteen of those pressure came with four men rushing. Four of the five sacks came against four-man rushes, both picks and the fumble came against four-man rush packages.
Neither pick came when the Cowboys pressured Jensen.
On each attempt or drop back I score Jensen with either a 1, as in he executed properly or well, or a zero where he was deficient. I scored him, on 60 dropbacks, as successful on 66.7% of his drop back.
Here’s a little film on Gresch.
Let’s start with a big play that set up Texas State’s first score.
This play illustrates how the quick game can set up a chunk play. Texas State runs a lot of hitches, bubbles, and tunnels. Wyoming here, doesn’t trust their eyes and jumps a route by Jeremiah Haydel and assume the tight end Micah Hilts is going to stalk block for either Haydel or the quick game to Hutch White. Hilts is a big-time freshman; I think he’s a massive find for this staff out of Colorado.
Hilts runs a stalk route, faking the block and then releasing through the secondary. Wyoming has all eleven players within eight yards of the line of scrimmage. Jensen makes a solid adjustment up the field from Haydel and find Hilts running like he’s the first guy out to practice. If there’s a criticism here, it’s that Jensen needs to get this ball to the upfield shoulder so Hilts can catch it in stride and go score, but the adjustment creates a big play.
Here’s something concerning that highlights the mechanical issues Jensen suffers from at times.
Wyoming did an excellent job getting tricky, disguising coverage, and moving players. Here they transition into a single high safety to close the middle of the field and roll their coverage before bringing a blitz. Texas State’s offensive line does a great job picking up the blitz with help from the back. There’s a pocket to throw from here. The throw isn’t great, and it’s into coverage. The real issue is the mechanics. Jensen throws with very little lower body involvement; it’s all arm. That means his throws are going to trend towards a lack of velocity and he’ll put a lot of air under throws, giving the defense a lot of time to adjust.
Jensen makes a lot throws off his back foot as well; he made a few throws off no feet. Those mechanical issues are a bad indicator for me. His interception pick-six came on a floater, not unlike this pass. He doesn’t drive the ball, especially if he moves off his spot.
Patrick Mahomes famously has footwork issues, but he’s also got an arm that God filled with a lightening bolt. Most quarterbacks, not touched by a deity, must rely on solid mechanics to make accurate throws with velocity. It’s easier said than done while you’re trying to survive in a space the size of a guest bathroom as 300-pound men try to remove your vital organs through your facemask.
The other significant issue is his sack avoidance technique. Twice on Saturday night, while taking a sack, he threw the ball wildly to avoid a negative play. The problem is that those wild throws will create more significant issues. He connected with his center on one throw away resulting in a grounding call and loss of down. On the other, if Wyoming had anyone in the same zip code, they would’ve enjoyed a gift-wrapped interception.
Jensen might be adjusting to the speed of the game, and some of these mechanical can work themselves out with tuning to his internal clock, but he’s inefficient throwing the ball in two games so far. The other factor that will help Jensen is a running game or at least one that the coaching staff relies on.