Colin Kaepernick has blossomed into a great NFL quarterback under Jim Harbaugh’s tutelage, but Fresno State’s Derek Carr is the quarterback Taysom Hill should be emulating.
Jon Gruden recently had Carr on Gruden's QB Camp (ESPN) where he grills quarterbacks about everything on and off the field as they prepare for the NFL Draft. Carr led the nation in 2013 with 5,082 passing yards and 50 TD passes.
Gruden and viewers came away impressed with the Fresno State product’s high football IQ. Gruden voiced his belief in the QB by saying, “I think you could make a case for him going number one (in the NFL draft) overall.”
Carr demonstrated a superior knowledge of defensive fronts, coverages, protections, pressures, blitzes and how to make intelligent audibles. He did all this while calling nearly 90 percent of the plays while running an uptempo, no-huddle attack at Fresno State that averaged more than 40 points a game in 2013 (sixth overall in FBS).
With almost identical size (Carr 6-feet 3-inches, 218 pounds and Hill 6-feet 2-inches, 221 pounds) and a similar team situation, Hill should be studying the former fifth-year senior's game tape to take BYU to the next level in 2014.
Carr emphasized that while Fresno State was a no-huddle offense and would sprint to the ball after every down, he always made sure he was looking at the defense to read what was coming before a play would ever be run. His preparation showed in his play.
While running to the ball, the play’s routes and formations would be called through hand signals or Carr would wait to get to the line, read the defense, and an audible would be made to adjust to the look the defense was showing. Often “dummy signals” would be thrown in to confuse the defense and keep it on its toes.
Execution was more important than tempo to Carr. He loved acting like the team was going fast, but made sure he knew the coverage to make sure the best look for the team on each play.
Carr was the CEO of Fresno State’s offense. This required complete trust from the head coach and offensive coördinator, as well as an extensive knowledge of the game. What will it take for Hill to gain that same kind of trust?
Carr would anticipate his receivers and throw the ball before they were open. He would make sure his pass protection was solid before running the play. Gruden gave the advice to “overkill his protection plan.” Hill can learn here.
Both Hill and Carr have extremely strong arms — the difference is Carr has more accuracy, touch, and timing on his throws, relying on his arm talent to move the ball downfield instead of his legs. Carr often operated outside the pocket and threw on the run effectively.
Carr was a great college quarterback. Taysom Hill would be smart to study and model his game after Carr if BYU wants to get back to a strong passing attack and Hill wants to give himself a chance at the next level.
Hill appears to have all the physical and mental attributes to be one of the great quarterbacks in college football. To get there, Hill needs to have better control of the offense, improve at reading the defense, and learn to make quality adjustments at the line of scrimmage. Watching Carr will help.
Jake Hadlock is a senior at Brigham Young University, a Utah native, and a diehard sports fan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jakubhadlock