Like any good researcher, Mark Schofield despises a small sample size. Unfortunately, prospect evaluation is almost always too early, or without all the information necessary. Thus, we have our series: On Two, in which Inside The Pylon examines two plays from a quarterback that address traits that scouts are talking about.
The goal line fade has become a staple of offensive football everywhere, with teams running the play on Sunday afternoons, Saturday evenings, and Friday nights. With the ability and size of many wide receivers to win the battle off the line of scrimmage and gain just enough separation, teams rely on this play as a weapon in the red zone. But it requires the quarterback to make a very difficult throw. If you think about this concept, it is the one time in football where coaches ask a QB to throw into triple coverage. The passer needs to drop this throw behind the cornerback in coverage, while the defensive player is working the sideline and backline to act as third defenders to constrict the throwing window and target area. The passer tries to place this into an imaginary square on the field, right in the back corner of the end zone. It is a very difficult play to execute, which is why the ability and consistency of Trevone Boykin on this route is worth discussion.
On this play against Texas Tech from 2014, the Horned Frogs face a 1st and 10 on the Red Raiders’ 12-yard line. They line up with Boykin in the shotgun and 10 offensive personnel on the field in a 3X1 alignment. Freshman wide receiver Emanuel Porter (#1) is the single receiver split to the right, standing just to the top of the numbers. Texas Tech shows zero blitz here, with seven defenders on the line of scrimmage. The four defensive backs use varying alignments, with the defenders to the trips side of the field using off man alignment while Martin Hill (#28) aligns across Porter in press positioning:
The freshman WR runs the fade route to the back corner of the end zone and Boykin places the throw in perfect position for Porter to come down with the touchdown:
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This play gives a good view of the difficulty of ball placement on this route. The pattern takes Porter to the extreme back corner of the end zone, with both the sideline and backline serving as extra defenders to assist Hill in the coverage. Boykin needs to get enough on the throw to drop the football over the cornerback, yet keep Porter in position to make a play and remain in bounds. This is absolutely perfect placement on this pass from the quarterback.
Here is another example of Boykin’s touch on this route from TCU’s 2015 game against Iowa State. Early in the game the Horned Frogs face a 2nd and 8 on the Cyclones’ 20-yard line, and they put the quarterback in the pistol formation with 21 offensive personnel on the field. The defense counters with their 4-2-5 sub package, and they show man coverage on the outside over Josh Doctson (#9), who is split to the right in pro formation:
This time, it is Doctson who runs the fade route into the end zone, and Boykin drops in another perfectly-placed throw:
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A flag comes down, but is shortly picked up and the touchdown stands.
As for the play itself, the pass is placed well enough to the outside that the defensive back, redshirt freshman Brian Peavy (#10), cannot make a play on the football and is forced to make a play on the body. While getting enough on the throw to carry over the defensive back, Boykin keeps the pass inbounds, allowing Doctson enough space to go up for the football yet come down with possession for the score. Certainly it helps to have one of the top receivers in college football on the other end of the throw, but Boykin can’t execute this throw any better than he does here.
Trevone Boykin is an interesting, yet difficult, draft evaluation. Playing in Gary Patterson’s system, he produces huge numbers, yet runs the risk of being tagged with the “system quarterback” label. When you dive deeper into his film, some very positive traits stand out, including his ability to place the football in the right position for his receivers to make plays at the catch point – and after. As the Horned Frogs position themselves for a post-season berth, look for Boykin to position himself on draft boards this spring.
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.