A true clash of Titans... move over Lincoln and Douglas, Kennedy and Nixon, etc... Its Carter and Ford!!!
This week America is bracing for the Presidential Debates. But while CNN warms up their highly scientific debate performance tracker, we here in Cougar Country have our own debate to settle. A few weeks ago Jeff Tuel went down awkwardly and ended up with what Connor (Doc) Halladay later diagnosed as a sprained MCL. After missing some practices and watching from the sidelines for a couple of games, Tuel re-emerged late in the game against Oregon and promptly threw a touchdown pass (into double coverage). So what did we learn from that? Tuel is healthy enough to see the field and our QB controversy is back in full swing. Whoooopeee! Follow me after the jump where i’ll stir the pot...
I am going to break this whole controversy down into a few neat and simple categories, judge each candidate’s, errr uh, quarterback’s aptitude in those categories and at the end we will have a clear cut, controversy-free winner. Am I right? Lets do this...
Tuel is clearly more mobile and less likely to take a sack. Connor will never be a “running threat”, but perhaps more troubling is his inability to avoid the sack by either knowing when to throw the ball away, or make the small moves within the pocket that buy a QB that precious extra second or two. However, lets keep in mind that Tuel learned these skills by being sacked more than Rome in 2009 and 2010.
Halladay's passing numbers are gaudy thanks to a lethal combination of not just the ability to spread the field, but also the willingness. I don’t buy into the prevailing wisdom that Connor has SO MUCH more arm strength than Tuel. Both guys can make every throw on the field, but between the ears there is a huge difference in how each of them choose to use their live arms. Connor is still a bit wild, but at this point there is no denying that defensive backfields are under more pressure when he is the one with his finger on the trigger.
Tuel takes much better care of the ball... but at what cost? Its hard to say if Tuel’s caution, or Halladay’s recklessness costs us more at this point. That said, there is no doubt that Halladay has a tendency to turn the ball over more than Tuel. This is the downside to his aggressive style of play and in some cases these mistakes become more than the team can overcome.
Sean had a terrific post this week about Halladay’s displays of frustration against the Ducks. Even the TV announcer called him out saying, basically, if you are going to call out your teammates so publicly for drops, you better not be missing wide open receivers in the end zone. I will add to that... as a leader Halladay has a responsibility to help make his teammates better and despite being a sophomore, he is still the “veteran” to a lot of his young receivers. Now, given all that, is this category a run-away for Tuel? Not exactly. In the early part of the season Tuel wasn’t exactly showing off the most amazing leadership skills in the world either. It is hard to imagine Tuel ever calling out a teammate publically, but sometimes it is just as hard to imagine him really lighting a fire under a team in the huddle. I am going to make this category a push. Unfortunately not because both guys are great leaders, but because both have shown equal amounts of weakness here.
The Long View (whats best for the program)
As one of the most bowl-starved fan bases in college football, it is hard to stomach the idea of making sacrifices in the short term for benefits in the long term, but after losing to Colorado I think a lot of us have all but given up on a bowl game this year. With that in mind it makes sense that playing Halladay is the best thing for this team going forward. Tuel’s medical hardship waiver is, and always has been, a pipe dream, so this is Halladay’s show in 2013. Another thing to consider, however, is that any experience Halladay gains this year may be off-set by injury, or confidence crushing failure... both things that are possible when you have an offensive line that can’t block a two man pass rush. I am going to go ahead and call this one a push. Surprised? I know, the prevailing wisdom here is that a full season of starting for Halladay will have him well poised to lead the team in 2013 and 14. However, I think with the experience he already has, plus staying healthy, continuing to build on his slight frame and with a full Spring and Fall camp, he would emerge just as prepared in 2013, minus the risk of injury.
So we have a decision, right? Clear as mud? Well here is what I would do; I would re-insert Tuel in the lineup and ride him as far as he can take us. I would do this even though I believe that our offense has much more potential under Halladay. Unfortunately I would do this because of the current state of our offensive line. At this stage I think the one category that leaps off the page at me is mobility. Mobility, mobility, mobility. Folks, Oregon was rushing two at us for much of the game Saturday. That is just brutal and a stark illustration of how one dimensional we are right now. I think we can work with Tuel to get him to be more aggressive down field, more than we can work with Halladay to make him more mobile. I also think that this offense is positioned to blow up in 2013 and we really need a healthy and upright Doc Halladay for that. So lets sit him down, get him a full Spring and Fall camp and unleash him in 2013.
Of course, I am not the coach, so it doesn’t matter what I would do. What do I expect Leach to do? Well, our offense is finally moving the ball, putting pressure on the opposing defense and developing a bit of an attitude. I expect coach Leach will say...