Former Oregon quarterback Terry Shea, now a personal coach for NFL quarterbacks, wrote a book titled “Eyes Up,” that covered everything you should know about the most demanding position of quarterback.
He would have a good student in the Ducks’ current field general, Justin Herbert, who formerly was the most accurate (and acclaimed) quarterback in the Pac-12 but who's seen his effectiveness erode to the point that his offense has sputtered. Watch Herbert closely Saturday when he takes on one of the best defenses in the league in Utah. Does he look fundamentally sound?
Shea says, “the more accurate the quarterback, the more dynamic routes an offense can run … As a quarterback you must establish your fundamentals as your base. You must be fundamentally sound with the placement of your feet, your passing mechanics, and your …decision-making. Most times when a poor pass is thrown, it means the feet weren’t ready for the throw.”
Herbert has a bad habit when he is rolling out to pass of not getting his body square to the intended receiver. The result is a pass that loses velocity and fades into the sideline to his right, and back toward the field when throwing to his left.
Herbert should “run behind the ball” on roll-out passes. That is, as he throws, he should be running toward the receiver he’s throwing to, not toward the sideline (easier to his right than to his left). Keep your eyes on the quarterback after he throws to check this out.
“A ‘numbers high’ carriage of the football (in the center of the body at the top of your numbers) … helps lift your shoulders and arms. This action raises the throwing platform (shoulders and tops of the arms) to trigger a quicker release,” Shea observes. Watch to see how Herbert is holding the ball before his release.
At the beginning of the season, Herbert’s mechanics were excellent and it showed in his accuracy on long and short balls. But in the past three games, he has lost his touch with long passes and has forced the ball to covered receivers, often Dillon Mitchell.
Oregon coaches have failed to build a comprehensive pass offense that consistently forces opponents to cover the field and many different receivers. Putting so much emphasis on Mitchell as “the man” has Herbert making bad decisions and taking risks he shouldn’t be taking.
Deep passes, or “bombs”, are beautiful to watch, but the quarterback needs to keep his eyes on the target, not the ball. He should also remember that throwing to his right the ball is spinning toward the sideline. Do Herbert’s long throws end up out of bounds?
Former Oregon player Ken Woody coached college football for 18 years, including as an assistant at Oregon, Washington, Washington State and Utah State.