Zach Shaw's analytic case for John O'Korn

Submitted by Communist Football on September 25th, 2017 at 11:16 PM

I liked the way he describes "on-target rate" and "improvisation plays." Beats a superficial look at completion percentage, which can underrate how a QB performs under duress. An excerpt below. Full article here: http://michigan.247sports.com/Article/Replay-Takeaways-No-8-Michigan-28-Purdue-10-football-film-review-107984685

First, O’Korn was exceptionally accurate for a backup quarterback. His on-target rate (see previous versions of this story for more on this) was 22 for 29 (75.9 percent), and he targeted 10 different receivers. While a couple throws waffled, both figures are better than Speight has done this season, and show that O’Korn has the ability to play like a starter beyond potential beginner’s luck.

But as I watched, another development arose that could bode well for Michigan. I pegged O’Korn as 7 for 8 on-target in what I will call “improvisation plays.” These are when the play broke down, the pocket collapsed or something else happened that forced O’Korn to work on his feet. That’s an incredible rate at which he can find someone open under duress, and might not be sustainable. But O’Korn’s improvisation kept Purdue’s defense honest, got more players involved in the passing game, and allowed the Wolverines to solidify momentum in the second half.

While this story is not meant to focus on intangibles, O’Korn’s dodgy approach may have rallied the offense around him. Having seen the previous games on film as well, a rewatch of Saturday looked like a sports movie after the coach tells his struggling team to just have fun or return to their roots in the championship game.

Comments

DairyQueen

September 26th, 2017 at 2:48 AM ^

100%

He's forcing plays, not throwing the ball away, fumbling hand-offs, yelling at Harbaugh to go for two-point conversion in the 1st quarter of the first game of the season against Harbaugh, then subsequently threw 2 pick-6's...

I'm not totally sure why, but something does seem off. His injury was his non-throwing shoulder, so that seems unlikely.

My initial guess, after Florida, was that he just doesn't have the MASSIVE seniority that the team had last year, in Smith, Butt, Chesson, Darboh, Kalis, Braden, Magnuson, etc. and then on the other side of the ball, it's even greater, Clark, Wormley, Glasgow, Godin, Stribling, Thomas, Lewis, Charlton, Gedeon, D. Hill, and Peppers.

My only guess is that when that amount of leadership and seniority departs, there's no way you can avoid feeling that absence. And with all the Fr. and So. being in so many and several key positions, I can't help but feel that a) there simply is a leadership gap by comparison (how can there not be?), and b) Speight is trying to make up for it all on his own, by NEVER throwing the ball away, NEVER taking a clean sack (a factor in why he got injured, in addition to it being a cheap-shot AND late), and for some reason, struggling to throw very easy, makeable, passes to wide-open receivers.

Which seems sort of out of character as I remember Speight spelling Rudock @ Minnesota, after Rudock went down, and he was cool as a cucumber, and Harbaugh specifically praised his ability to be level-headed at all times.

Only time will tell. 

But I am super excited to see what O'Korn can do! 

Especially as teams now have MUCH less tape when scouting our current starting QB!

Cereal Killer

September 26th, 2017 at 1:06 PM ^

I seem him refusing, afraid, whatever, to pull the trigger.  Before he was hurt on Saturday, there were at least three times where he looked right at an open receiver, wouldn't let the ball go, and then had to scramble or get sacked.  My son and I rewound the Tivo and watched over and over, and in slow-mo.  That's why I upvoted the "mentally broken" comment.  I am convinced that Speight's problems are between his ears.  It's like he got caught in the jetwash, spun out, Goose died, and now he can't engage.

Ghost of Fritz…

September 26th, 2017 at 6:32 AM ^

the offensive play calling in the 2nd half was very different in the 2nd half than in the 1st half. 

A lot more passing on 1st and 2d down, empty sets, intermediate instead of over the top pass targets in the 2nd half. 

O'Korn played really well.  But it is also true that there were some serious half time adjustments in the offensive play calling.

I for one hope that Drevno/Hamilton/Harbaugh will use that approach from the start against Sparty. 

Blue_by_U

September 26th, 2017 at 7:49 AM ^

and now entering game five...why suddenly was there a different set of plays for O'Korn that suddenly worked, when we couldn't seem to hit a receiver to save our lives with Speight under center? It's big time Big Ten football at a primier University...it's time to spare feelings and play for the win. If Speight has some demons, issues, whatever...step aside for THE TEAM THE TEAM THE TEAM. Get it done.

Ghost of Fritz…

September 28th, 2017 at 12:20 PM ^

I did not insinuate anything. 

What I am saying is that two things changed.  The QB and the offensive play calling. 

I did not say anything or insinuate anything about Speight.

But I will say that O'Korn played very well.  I'll also say that the play calling on offense against UC, AF, and the first half against Purdue was terrible. 

No matter who the QB may be, they won't perform to their top ability if M returns to that sort of play calling.

The willingness to pass on 1st and 2nd down, use more emply sets, intermediate passing to TE and crossing routes was crucial in the 2nd half offensive production.

tasnyder01

September 26th, 2017 at 2:05 AM ^

If a QB doesn't throw to middle, does that mean no middle routes are run?

I think he is scared of throwing ints.
A.) No throws over the middle
B.) all fades are skewed out of bounds

He doesn't want to throw over the middle because most picks occur there. He skews his fades OOB because that's less likely to be picked. Ostensibly, he won the job for being less error prone.

So, he doesn't want to make errors (picks). So he throws incompletions instead.

Disclaimer: I could very well be wrong. But this hypothesis fits my data best. So, yeah.

Mr Miggle

September 26th, 2017 at 8:07 AM ^

but very few to anyone else. Throws to the TEs would be less dangerous, so I don't think a fear of interceptions explains it. My theory is his first read was usually downfield to a WR, 2nd read was usually Perry and he rarely went past that. Last year that second read was most often Jake Butt and his first reads were open more frequently.

Mr Miggle

September 26th, 2017 at 8:07 AM ^

but very few to anyone else. Throws to the TEs would be less dangerous, so I don't think a fear of interceptions explains it. My theory is his first read was usually downfield to a WR, 2nd read was usually Perry and he rarely went past that. Last year that second read was most often Jake Butt and his first reads were open more frequently.

Mr Miggle

September 26th, 2017 at 8:07 AM ^

but very few to anyone else. Throws to the TEs would be less dangerous, so I don't think a fear of interceptions explains it. My theory is his first read was usually downfield to a WR, 2nd read was usually Perry and he rarely went past that. Last year that second read was most often Jake Butt and his first reads were open more frequently.

consultant22

September 26th, 2017 at 12:07 AM ^

Harbaugh's appearance on the Rich Eisen show earlier made it sound like Speight is still the starter so long as he's healthy. To me that's a mistake and is puzzling given the meritocracy the team preaches. Perhaps I misinterpreted his comments, but I find the coach's attachment to Speight a little unnerving. 

DairyQueen

September 26th, 2017 at 2:56 AM ^

I'd say it's more 50-50. RBs seem to have been "best man up", same with WRs and TEs, with underclassmen getting many more reps than their Senior counterparts (wasn't Wheatly Jr. a 5-star???). Grant Newsome was in above MANY upper-classmen until his injury.

And it was planned to get O'Korn a few series in the Florida game (Jim had told the news-reporters, but it was meant to be a secret, which they didn't report on, faithfully, until after the game). 

And Harbaugh doesn't hesitate for a second to switch players form LB to FB, or WR to DB, constantly looking for the best-fit.

So I'd say, he absolutely believes and practices his meritocracy.

It's unwise to take anything in its absolute, of course, but I would argue that Harbaugh seems to adhere to his meritocracy far more than any coach I can remember, from seeing who gets starts/snaps from week to week, and least it seems to me.