Kirk Bohls wrote a column last week wondering if John Chiles is the next Tim Tebow. Cue the wunderkind:
"I'm the first John Chiles," he said, flashing a toothy smile.
Well, so much for that. Chiles is obviously a confident player, understanding his ability to change games. After all, he is faster than Vince Young. Possibly significantly. The problem is the passing. Even though Bohls favorably compares the two, as he points out, Tebow was 22 of 33 in his freshman year, while Chiles was 1 of 9. Bohls says neither was an accomplished passer, which I might buy, but judging by the passing stats, the levels of "accomplishment" were not comparable (I suggest logic more unassailable, Mr. Bohls). Urban Meyer found passes Tebow could complete, while the Longhorns coaches failed to do the same. Bohls identifies the possible reason:
His footwork is very much a work in progress, and he seemed not to use his legs to step into his throws at practice, instead relying on his arm only. He consistently underthrew receivers and occasionally threw behind them, problems that more reps may cure.
Horn Brain touched on it as well, also noting that Chiles often took too long to make decisions in the pocket. RolloTamasi noticed the issues, too. In my opinion, it's going to be important for the coaches to discover what throws Chiles can make.
But the title still wonders if Chiles is the Horns' version of Tebow. I think they are similar in one significant way, one which Bohls would have been smart to explore. The Horns would benefit greatly from using Chiles in short-yardage situations, like Florida did with Tebow. While Tebow's fullback size and running style fit easily in that package, I think Chiles does as well, despite the difference in size. My reasoning is simple. Chiles is a threat to run the ball any time he lines behind the center. Even if he hands the ball off, he's still a threat. Chiles could even fake the handoff, then bootleg with an option to pass to the tight end in the flat, an easy pass to make. The possibilities are, to use a Muschamp term, mutliple.
Besides the short-yardage similarities, the coaches may be better served by watching how Florida moved Percy Harvin around the backfield. That's a difference between Chiles and Tebow. Chiles is much closer in speed to Percy Harvin than Tim Tebow. In my recollection, Tebow was never used at running back and receiver like Chiles will be this year. So while Chiles may not be the passer that Tebow was in his freshman year, his versatility may be greater. PB nailed the versatility issue:
Preparing for John Chiles, quarterback/roamer, is different than preparing for John Chiles, wide receiver.
It's true. Moving Chiles to receiver permanently doesn't make much sense, simply because the offensive success this season is greatly predicated on getting him the ball. This raises a question of usage. RolloTamasi mentions the triple option package with McCoy and Chiles. While I applaud Greg Davis and Mack Brown for thinking creatively on this one, I'm not sure that I see McCoy running the option well to the outside. He just isn't fast enough. However, it makes a ton of sense to use Chiles to run the triple option with Fozzy Whittaker and Cody Johnson or Vondrell McGee. I believe that Greg Davis is capable of copying successful plays from other teams, so I suggest viewing some film of the Aggies (gasp!) and West Virginia running the triple option. The Aggies ran the triple option successfully against us on that excruciating drive to seal the game in 2006. White was dangerous with Owen Schmitt and Steve Slaton. Heck, while you're watching the Mountaineers, take note of the running plays they used with Pat White, who has been known as only an adequate passer ithroughout his career.
This discussion also raises another question. How will Colt and Chiles be used together and how much will Chiles take the field as the quarterback? Last year, all we saw of the Colt/Chiles package was Chiles taking the snap while Colt split out wide. Then Chiles would run the ball. I don't think the defenses were worried about Colt at all. The play could have some success if there was a commitment to trying to get Colt the ball as a receiver, but with the passing ability of Chiles and the speed of McCoy, that doesn't seem very likely. So you almost end up 10 on 11 with that play, negating the speed advantage of Chiles. I would be inclined to eliminate that play altogether.
I can see Colt and Chiles running the zone read together. If Colt continues to make a concerted effort to keep the defense honest, then I think the play can have some success. I also like the idea of moving Chiles around pre-snap. Lining him up in the backfield before motioning out wide could not only create potential mismatches against a linebacker, but also give Colt a better pre-snap read. Lining up at the tight end or wing back position could also allow for linebacker match-ups, while also opening up the possibility for reverses and fake reverses. My impression of Greg Davis is that he has done a relatively poor job of developing complimentary plays. The Hawk (I just have to link this because it's awesome) does a good job of this at CU. He will often put a player in motion on a fake reverse to see how the defense defends it. If the defense doesn't bite, then they run the reverse. I think you can argue that it tends to have the effect of taking that player out of the play when they don't get the ball, but the benefit is exploring the defense for weaknesses. I suspect that Major Applewhite can help in this respect.
That leaves the question of Chiles manning the quarterback position himself. I've already alluded (that's for you, billyzane) to my desire to see him in short-yardage situations. Will Chiles be used as he was last year in several games, coming in with the second unit at quarterback? Cedric Dockery, can you help me out?
We want to get to where we can play two lines. First line goes in, we might play two series. On the third or fourth series, Coach [Mack] Brown will put in the second line and they'll move the ball right on down the field.
Thanks man, big ups. It would make sense to use Chiles on the "third or fourth series" since he spends time practicing with the two's. Anyone like the idea of Chiles and Fozzy running the zone read? Yeah, me too. The primary issue with this package is staying on schedule. With the limited ability of Chiles to throw (barring significant improvement in the next several weeks), staying on schedule becomes paramount. Last year, incompletions or running plays gaining fewer than three or four yards were back-breaking. So, once again, the coaches will have to find passes that Chiles can complete. And, horror of horrors, that might just be the bubble screen passes fans hate. But what about the idea of using them to get DeSean Hales or DJ Monroe the ball. Sounds a little better, huh?
In summary, Chiles=Tebow? No, mainly because Chiles will be used in capacities that, in my opinion, Tebow does not have the pure speed in which to be employed (sorry Urban Meyer, it's okay, take a deep breath). However, I would like to see Chiles used in the same short-yardage situations in which Tebow was used his freshman year. PB?
The decision to slot Chiles as the #2 QB almost requires that the coaches get it right and make the most out of him in genuinely creative/effective ways. If they don't, they risk compounding a mistake by under-utilizing Chiles and needlessly burying Harris.
So if I'm behind the idea in theory, it's up to the staff to use Chiles in a way that reflects a genuine commitment to the right ideals.
Exactly. Now all the coaches need to do is read this post to figure out how to use Chiles.
Now it's time to bring the collective brainpower of Burnt Orange Nation to bear on this issue. How do you think the Longhorns should use John Chiles this season?