John O'Korn is the man of the hour. He was terrific against Purdue. We are busily considering how far he can take the team as the starter, trying to understand his strengths and weaknesses.
One of the potential weaknesses: does John O'Korn lock on to receivers, neglecting to progress through reads? It was a worry after Indiana. It has been observed by fans this week. Speight's continued hold on the job suggested that it might still be an issue. How'd he do Saturday?
Let's look at the tape.
This is taken from the WD highlight video. We are analyzing the key drive of the game, the go-ahead drive in the third quarter, the drive in which O'Korn miraculously avoided a sack to hit Perry in stride. I am not overly concerned with that play, however; I'm interested in his pocket passes. The important plays begin at 10:53 of the video, and the plays are listed by video time (I will embed the video in comments). Note: I disclaim any actual knowledge or expertise.
It is 1st and 17 at the Michigan 7, midway through the third quarter. From a heavy set Michigan snaps the ball and O'Korn looks to the right, where the TE is releasing to an out route. There is zone coverage and the TE has three guys surrounding him. O'Korn then looks to the center of the field where Gentry is crossing underneath the zone, wide open thanks to a Wheatley clearout. He fires and Gentry turns upfield for an 11 yard gain.
2nd and 6 from the Michigan 18. O'Korn throws on the first read, a quick out to Gentry. It's the first read, but he fires as Gentry makes his cut, before the defender can respond. It's not a perfect pass but Gentry has a good opportunity and drops it. This was not a progression but it was a correct read and a decisive throw.
The escape. O'Korn is locked in on Perry here, waiting for him to come open, a bit of a lock on. It's not actually that relevant to this analysis but we all want to watch this play again anyway because it's awesome.
3rd and 7 from the Michigan 34. Michigan is 5 wide. At the snap O'Korn looks right towards Evans wide right and the slot receiver. Evans is running a vertical and the slot receiver is crossing with man coverage. O'Korn then looks center, sees Mckeon crossing beyond the slot and nails him instantly for a huge gain.
I'm no expert, but I doubt that Chris Evans running a fly is the first read, so either O'Korn was looking right to read the coverage (the slot man may have been the primary target if Purdue had dropped to zone) or that was a designed lookoff. But he clearly didn't turn to Mckeon until the moment it was time to pass, and his execution was perfect.
The Eubanks targeting play. It's playaction with Perry split wide left running a deep out, which appears to be the primary read. O'Korn appears to hesitate a bit, waiting on Perry to get open, before looking to Eubanks and throwing instantly. Eubanks was open in a space in the zone, but it wasn't a great throw.
This is a very encouraging play. 1st and 10 from the Purdue 22. O'Korn looks first downfield left to a TE running what I believe to be a seam route into the endzone, then right to either a TE running a post or the WR in the corner (both covered). He checks down from these reads to Evans, who is open for a short gain. Not a huge gain but a very impressive job of quickly and decisively making the correct reads and checking to an open man, gaining some yards and giving a playmaker a chance to move with the ball in space.
First, the negative: O'Korn can occasionally wait too long for a primary receiver to get open, and he has some rough edges. And I believe his decisiveness could allow clever defenses to bait him into errors with disguised coverages.