Last night, just before EJ ran the QB draw into the end zone for a much needed FSU touchdown, I said to my wife "If they run a QB draw, it will be a touchdown; but they won't because they never do." So, when EJ ran the QB draw in for six, I had the oddest concoction of emotions run through me. Part of me was ecstatic because the points were much needed. The other part of me wanted to throw the remote through the television.
This one moment from the 2013 Orange Bowl is the inspiration for this post. However, let me first start by saying that I am proud of the Noles for accomplishing two of their preseason goals. They are ACC Champions and Orange Bowl Champions. As a matter of fact, based on my preseason win share of 10-2, they finished the season right where I expected them to.
But, if any of you are like me, you know this team did not perform at the level that it was capable of. To me, the reason is pretty clear: we did not get consistent QB play. As a matter of fact, more times than not, the QB play was pretty poor.
As I watched EJ run into the end zone, I asked myself the same question I have asked throughout the season: "Why have we chosen to go to battle with only half our weapons?" In other words, why have we made the obvious conscious decision to not run EJ? And who has made that decision? Jimbo or EJ?
Ask yourself for a moment: How much more effective would this offense had been if EJ could run a simple read option? How many more running lanes would open up? How many more passing lanes? How about the times when the pocket broke down or the times when it was obvious that no receivers were open. It seems that a QB with EJ's athleticism would tuck the ball and run for a first down or at least positive yards( I know some of you hate the comparison, but kind of like Ponder....but with a timely slide, of course).
These are the things that good quarterbacks do (at least those who, like EJ, are not pure pocket passers) to keep the offense moving, develop offensive rhythm and keep the offense from stalling and looking lethargic.
Does anyone else remember the games EJ won for us when he came in for an injured Ponder? Typically, it was his legs and not his arms that led us to victory. So why not this year?
Did Jimbo decide that a running QB was too gimmicky? Did he have too much confidence in his ability to turn EJ into a pure pocket passer? If so, why would you want to force a good two dimensional player into a mediocre one dimensional player?
Did EJ simply refuse to run in order to protect his body for the draft? (Seriously, some of the missed opportunities with the read option make you wonder). Was he trying to prove that he's a pure pocket passer rather than a dual threat? (Seems to me that proving he is a dual threat would give him more leverage in the draft. hint: RGIII).
I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that this season was an opportunity missed.
I wish EJ the best of luck in the future and I thank him for being a great ambassador for FSU, but I am happy to see a changing of the guard at QB. Likewise, I am impressed with the way Jimbo has changed the culture at FSU, but he's going to have to do a better job of maximizing his player's talents (particularly QB) in the future. He's done it before, so hopefully this experience with EJ was an aberration.