H4: Hall of Harbaugh Quarterback, Part 2

H4: Hall of Harbaugh Quarterback, Part 2 Comment Count

Seth March 3rd, 2015 at 4:24 PM

Jim Harbaugh Andrew Luck Washington State DIytpfI_3yol


This is the second installment of a comprehensive look at quarterbacks whom Jim Harbaugh recruited and coached. Part 1 looked at his WKU recruits, his work with the Oakland Raiders, and his first head coaching job at San Diego. A few trends that came out:

  1. He recruits at least two QBs per class
  2. They tend to look like shooting guards: tall, athletic, gangly, on the border of dual-threat/pro-style. He scouts them at multiple sports.
  3. Their teams usually perform above or far above the usual for that program.
  4. He likes them smart.

We are now entering the Stanford phase, so it’s a good thing we could notice item #4 above before the sample was ruined.

We also got an idea of how Harbaugh coaches them. He likes his heady guys to memorize a million things they can think about pre-snap. When he has one of those guys, they go to the line with three plays called, and the quarterback decides which by defensive alignment. Conversely, post-snap reads are super-simplified and drilled mercilessly so that his QB barely has to think about his progressions during a play.

This week we get into his last two stops before Michigan.


Head coach and quarterbacks coach, 2007-'10

2007: Harbaugh took over at Stanford in December 2006 with Kellen Kiilsguaard, a high three-star dual-threat, and L.D. Crow, an early-recruited academic from the South, already committed. Crow was on a lot of 2007 early watch lists (I know because I was reading those religiously for Mallett news) and Stanford's first commit of that class, but he was passed by a lot of guys by Signing Day (not Nick Foles, Kellen Moore, or Ryan Lindley). Kiilsguaard would eventually switch to safety. Harbaugh couldn't lure another QB but did get a transfer from Michigan. MGoBlog's Brian Cook:

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jason Forcier can read the writing on the wall -- it says "Jesus Christ, that kid can throw eighty yards" -- and is transferring to Stanford effective at the end of the semester. Lloyd is not happy about it.

Forcier, like all Forciers, was an accurate Marinovich project with enough legs to be classified as a dual-threat but not enough to overshadow his passing.

On the roster were a pair of fliers in Alex Loukas, a 6'4/193 Purdue-al-threat (see: every other Purdue quarterback of the period), and Marcus Rance, a barely three-star guy from Washington whose next best offer was Idaho. Harbaugh also inherited a 5th year senior and on-and-off starter in T.C. Ostrander, an Elite 11 prospect who signed as a 4-star and two spots below Brady Quinn in a deep year for pro-style QBs. Ostrander split time with 2006 3rd round draft pick (and former 5-star) Trent Edwards for three seasons.

T.C. Ostrander Passing Rushing Total
Year Att Cmp% TD Int Yds Eff Att Yds YPP
2004-'06 351 48% 8 8 2361 107.04 96 -340 4.52
2007 (Harbaugh) 229 57% 7 3 1422 116.40 32 -171 4.79

Last among  inherited bullets was Tavita Pritchard, a 2005 3-star pro-style guy ranked just behind Colt McCoy. Pritchard had thrown one pass—that incomplete—and was sacked on three other career snaps before Harbaugh arrived.

Ostrander suffered a seizure the week Stanford would go into #1 USC as 41-point underdogs. Against a brutal defense, Pritchard wasn't doing too hot—he'd go 11/30 for 149 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT in that game. But then 20 of those yards were a laser to Richard Sherman, and another 10 were the fade to Mark Bradford to win it. Pete Carroll wanted to know what Harbaugh's deal was.

Harbaugh's deal was he was recruiting quarterbacks. Andrew Luck committed at the end of June 2007, before Stanford had played a game under Harbaugh. The interest in Stanford was already there for the academic Texan, and meeting Jim sealed it.

Jim continued to recruit a second QB for the class. Targets included Dayne Crist (Notre Dame), Jerome Tiller (ISU), Sean Renfree (Duke), Ted Stachitas (Wake Forest), Wayne Warren (Rutgers), B.R. Holbrook (New Mexico), and another Texas prospect, Robert Griffin III. RGIII turned down Harbaugh's offer because of Stanford's admissions policy:

“I was graduating early, and Stanford wasn’t allowing early graduates to enroll and that was the biggest issue,” Griffin said.

So Stanford wound up with just one quarterback for the class. Luck was the epitome of the Harbaugh quarterback recruit: valedictorian smart, extremely productive in high school, cool demeanor, and some wiggle. Under Harabaugh he would develop into the best pro prospect since Peyton Manning, whom Luck displaced.

Stanford Quarterbacks Passing Rushing Averages
Year W-L Player Att Cmp% Yds Rtg Att Yds YPP TD Rate Int Rt
2006 1-11 Trent Edwards 156 60.3 1027 120.6 59 37 4.95 2.8% 2.8%
T.C. Ostrander 158 45.6 918 94.3 39 -153 3.88 1.5% 2.5%
2007 4-8 T.C. Ostrander 229 56.8 1422 116.4 32 -171 4.79 2.7% 1.1%
Tavita Pritchard 194 50.0 1114 97.5 66 45 4.46 1.9% 3.5%
2008 5-7 Tavita Pritchard 254 57.9 1633 114.6 66 113 5.46 3.4% 4.1%
2009 8-5 Andrew Luck 288 56.3 2575 143.5 61 354 8.39 4.3% 1.1%
2010 12-1 Andrew Luck 372 70.7 3338 170.2 55 453 8.88 8.2% 1.9%
2011 11-2 Andrew Luck 404 71.3 3517 169.7 47 150 8.13 8.6% 2.2%
2012 12-2 Josh Nunes 235 52.8 1643 119.6 27 74 6.55 5.0% 2.7%
Kevin Hogan 152 71.7 1096 147.9 55 263 6.57 5.3% 1.4%

TD rate and INT rate on the right are percentages for all attempts (passing and rushing

The sophomore Luck won the job over the incumbent senior Pritchard in 2009, but it was his junior season, 2010, when he really became Andrew Luck.

[Jump for 2009-2010 targets and the San Francisco story]