I was up most of the last two nights with my teething infant, so to kill the time I decided to look at every throw Swoopes and Buechele made. It's entirely possible I missed a few passes since this was all done between 3-5 am each night and my daughter was waking up every 10-15 minutes crying. Just wanted to put that disclaimer out.
For each pass, I put what it looked like the route was supposed to be, but also could have missed that as some were out of the camera view. I also put a rudimentary grading scale of rating the play as excellent, good, bad or terrible.
Excellent Play: QB did something great and the result of the play was positive.
Good Play: QB did something good, did what they were supposed to do and/or made no visible mistake. Result of play could be positive or negative.
Bad Play: QB makes visible mistake in read, placement or timing that causes play to be negative.
Terrible Play: QB makes a very bad decision or very bad throw that creates a bad missed opportunity or results in TO/near TO.
So for example, the first interception on Swoopes I actually rate as a good play since it was a pretty good pass that McNeal just couldn't haul in. Davis only got the pick because of McNeal's mishandling. I do not blame Swoopes for that. You probably get the gist. Here is what I saw.
1. Quick pass to Foreman in the flat. Stares down the route and Boyd breaks on the ball to bat it away. Foreman should have come back to the ball to cut off Boyd's angle but it was an easy pass to read for Boyd and the ball did not come quickly enough given that Boyd was only a couple of yards off the WR. Probably should have thrown it away or tucked and run. Bad play.
2. Deep ball to Burt. Bounces off his facemask. This was a good pass and should have been a completion. Looked like Burt's momentum would take him out of bounds at the 2, so likely not a TD but ball at the 2-yard line is almost as good. Good play.
3. Check-down to Foreman. Good read, good pocket presence, good pass. Results in good positive yards. Good play.
4. Deep ball to McNeal. Good pass though the coverage was pretty tight so not sure it was a good read. This one has been hotly contested, but pause the game on the replay just after the commercial. Davis is all over McNeal and has an arm across McNeal's when he's trying to catch it. This would have been a very tough catch for anyone but Johnson who could just out height Davis. Result was an interception but that would have been overturned in an actual game as the ball clearly hit the ground. Because Swoopes gave his receiver a shot, I mark it down as a good play.
5. Drops back, locks in on Warrick and throws an out route. Hall breaks in and bats the ball away. Probably should have intercepted it. This was a bad decision and a bad pass. Bad play.
6. Throws deep to a well-covered Joe. He underthrows the ball and PJ Locke has it bounce off his chest. This should have been intercepted. Terrible play.
7. Throws to the flat to a well-covered Leonard. Sheroid Evans broke up the pass. Leonard was not open so this was a bad decision. Bad play.
8. Swoopes throws a deep ball Leonard. Overthrew his receiver by 7 yards and out of bounds. Bonney was blitzing from the nickel and Leonard was covered, so I'll say that was a good decision by Swoopes to get it out of bounds. Giving him the benefit of the doubt that he was trying to get it out of bounds. Good play.
9. Swoopes throws a screen to Johnson coming down the line of scrimmage. Good throw and fairly well placed. Johnson leaves his feet unnecessarily and Hill makes a great tackle. No gain on the play but Swoopes did nothing wrong that I could see. Good play.
10. Throws a curl route to McNeal. Swoopes starred down the route, but he throws a good, accurate pass into a fairly tight window. Goes right through McNeal's hands. Should have been caught and would have likely been a first down. Good play.
11. Swoopes throws quick slant to Warrick. Very good placement that allows Warrick to catch in stride and make a move for extra yards. Warrick had a mismatch with a linebacker on him so it was a good read and great throw by Swoopes. Excellent play.
12. Throws a quick stop route to Foreman. Bounces off Foreman's chest. Swoopes threw this one low and hard, so it would be hard for Foreman to catch with his hands. Foreman should have caught this one, but this was not like the McNeal drop on #10 that hit him in the hands. This was bad ball placement and had Foreman caught it, he would have been tackled immediately because he had to crouch to get it. Bad play.
13. Throws deep to Warrick. Puts good air under the ball and allows Warrick to run under it for a basket catch. This was just like the OSU deep ball to Foreman two years ago. Great effort by Warrick and very good throw by Swoopes. Excellent play.
14. Swoopes throws slant to Warrick. Throws it high and behind him. Warrick has no chance to catch the ball. This is one of the easier routes to throw and it was just a terrible pass by Swoopes. What makes this worse is that the safety was blitzing so if he had hit Warrick in stride, it appeared Warrick would only need to beat Locke to score and he appeared to have a step on him. Huge missed opportunity. Terrible play.
15. Throws out route to Newsome. Pretty sloppy route by Newsome as he rounded his cut instead of making it a sharp angle, but the ball was a high rocket so not sure he would have been able to get to it regardless. I tried to estimate on the screen whether the ball would have hit Newsome had he run a better route and it looked like a bad pass by Swoopes regardless, so it goes as a bad play.
16. Swoopes dances around pocket and throws the ball away. Good example of how strong his arm is that he could get it out of bounds with two guys crashing in on him. Good job by Swoopes not forcing it as everyone was well covered downfield. Live to play the next down. Good play.
17. Throws a deep ball to a well-covered Johnson. Hill deflects it to Bonney and it is intercepted. Throwing a jump ball to Johnson is not in and of itself a bad decision, but this ball was underthrown to the inside when it should have been pushed high to the sideline where only Johnson would have had a chance to get it. The throw caused the interception so this goes down as a terrible play.
1. Quick pass to Colin Johnson. A little high, but Johnson caught it. It was put in a place where only Johnson could get it. Good play.
2. Deep pass to Leonard. Pump fake froze Davis in his tracks. Excellent play.
3. Quick stop route to Foreman. Throws it where Foreman has to come back, but pulls him away from Boyd. Good play.
4. Deep pass to Burt. Evans had good coverage and ball went out of bounds. Good play.
5. Out route to Warrick. A little high and hits Warrick in hands, but bounces off. Good play.
6. Flushed out of pocket, escapes, throws it away. Good play.
7. Out route to Joe. Thrown on time and hits him in stride. Good play.
8. Quick out to Foreman. Again, makes Foreman step back to the ball and make the catch in tight coverage from Hill. Good play.
9. Another pump fake from Buechele (though Hill wasn't looking at him so it had no impact) and then nicely placed lob to Foreman who makes a great catch despite being held by Hill. Ball drops in perfectly over Hill and with Vacarro coming over. Excellent play.
10. Buechele escapes pressure and throws it away. Never takes his eyes away from downfiied. Good play.
11. Great pass in a tight window to Joe. This was an odd route that I could not tell what is was meant to be with 3 WRs all in a 7 yard area. Regardless, threw it on a wire. Good play.
12. Buechele escapes pressure and flips the ball the Bernard. Improv that we haven't seen in awhile from our QBs. He escapes Omenihu coming off the backside and buys just enough time. Excellent play.
13. Play action fake and drops a great pace to Foreman for a TD. Amazing placement. This was probably his best throw of the day. Excellent play.
14. Deep ball to Oliver. Overthrows him by about 5 yards. Only his receiver could have gotten it, so standard incompletion. Oliver did have a step though on a clear mismatch. I'll put this down as a bad play.
15. Throws quick screen to Leonard. Hits in him stride. Short gain. Good play.
16. Throws out route to Oliver. This was a combo route with Leonard running a quick slant underneath. Man coverage with the LB collapsing on the slant. Good read by Buechele and good pass that he delivers before Oliver is out of his break. Perfect pass, perfect read to convert 3rd and long. Excellent play.
17. WR screen to Johnson. Ball was a little low and it looked like Johnson's knee might have hit the ground. Regardless, Johnson is slowed by the pass location and gets very little gain despite decent blocking. Bad play.
18. Throws a curl to Beck. Jefferson had good coverage. Buechele releases before Jefferson is looking. Beck drops the pass. Probably should have been a completion. This was a risky throw, but it was delivered accurately and on time. I'll mark it down as a good play since it should have been a completion.
19. Deep ball to Foreman. Boyd makes a great play to knock the ball down. The ball was not underthrown and had Boyd not made a great play, it would have likely been a completion. Good play.
20. Didn't get this full play due to TV coverage, but looks like completion to Warrick on an out route. Goes for a first down. Good play.
21. Deep pass to Burt. Evans has very good coverage. Ball drops into Burt's hands perfectly. Excellent play.
22. Pass batted by Vasser. Warrick was open on the out route. Buechele stared this one down and telegraphed his pass to Vasser leading to a potential INT scenario. The ball is completed to Connor Williams, but I'll put this as a bad play.
23. Deep ball to Burt at the front corner of the endzone. Burt is well-covered and the ball goes out of bounds and was uncatchable. Given that Evans was in great position and Burt was not open, I'll give benefit of the doubt that this was fired out of bounds on purpose. Good play.
24. Pump fake deep pass to Colin Johnson. The combo of pump fake and Johnson's stutter step makes Hill bite hard. Johnson is wide open and Buechele delivers a good pass between CB and Safety. Play is ruled as an incomplete pass as Johnson appeared to be on the line. That keeps that as a good play rather than excellent.
25. WR screen to Leonard. Hits him in stride. Davis makes a good play fighting through blocks. Good play.
26. Deep ball to McNeal. Locke has good coverage but had the ball been better placed, it could have been a completion. I'll put this down as a bad play.
27. Deep ball to Foreman on the sideline. DB had great coverage. Ball is dropped in perfectly. Foreman is on the line so it's an incomplete pass. Good play.
28. Out route to Foreman. Buechele misfires high. Bad play.
29. Comeback to Leonard. Well placed, accurate throw. Good play.
30. Incomplete in route to Leonard. Leonard slipped so the pass went incomplete. Even with the WR on the ground, no CB could make a play on the ball. Looked like it would have hit the receiver in stride has he stayed up, so this goes down as a good play.
31. In route to Leonard. Hill had good coverage and gets in to strip ball. Pass was delivered to the perfect spot where only Leonard could get it despite great coverage by Hill. Good play.
32. Buechele rolls out and fires to McNeal. Goes off McNeal's hands. The ball had some velocity on it, so tough to tell if that should have been caught. Since Buechele makes a great move to avoid the sack, keeps his eyes downfield and finds the open receiver, going to put this down as a good play.
33. Deep pass to Burt for the TD off play action. Buechele double clutches to allow the route to develop and delivers a ball on the money to hit Burt in stride and allow him to catch it cleanly with his hands. Excellent play.
34. WR screen to Johnson. Johnson slips after catch, but ball was well placed and got there quickly. Good play.
35. Buechele is flushed, runs around, keeps eyes downfield and delivers good ball to Johnson in end zone that hits him in his hands. Vacarro makes a good defensive play, but this probably should have been a TD. It was incomplete though so it is only a good play.
36. Pass batted down by Vasser. Looked to be intended for Bluiett who was open. Still, Buechele stared down the route and tipped of Vasser. Bad play.
37. Buechele looks off coverage and delivers screen to Bernard coming out of backfield. He was wide open so good read and good pass. Good play.
38. Comeback to Foreman. Good pace, accurate delivery. Good play.
That's all I saw, but like I said, it's possible I could have missed something. So by my count there were 2 excellent, 7 good, 5 bad and 3 terrible plays. All in all this was a solidly Swoopes performance in that it was uneven and inconsistent. He had a couple of really good throws but those were mixed in with an equal number of bad decisions and bad throws. The reactions thus far have put a lot on his receivers, but that is really not the case from what I saw. I counted 4 balls that could have/should have been caught (at least one for a TD). But I also counted another pass that should have been picked and two others that could have been picked which makes this all a wash since you have to take the near-miss good with the near-miss bad.
Buechele had 7 excellent plays, 25 good plays, 6 bad plays and 0 terrible plays. I did not see a single pass that should have been intercepted and only one that could have been intercepted. The two batted passes showed how the height will be an issue at times (as a side note, kudos to Vasser for the two batted passes showing good ability to read eyes and time his jump both times). This type of performance will always give us a chance to win and can be the difference in close games.
This is all subjective, so some of the ratings could be adjusted on any given play, but the results were not close. The key here is ball protection. From a passing standpoint, Buechele is better across the board in accuracy, timing and pocket presence. These guys threw the same route tree to the same receivers against the same defenses and Buechele hit all the routes consistently and Swoopes did not. Swoopes has proven his mettle as a runner in the 18-wheeler package, but those were generally designed runs. He has never been as good running as an improv when the play breaks down. Buechele showed some good escapability and pocket presence but I share concerns about his frame being able to take abuse. We saw what happened to Ash who was bigger. If Buechele can learn to minimize hits and slide when running, that'll help.
What we all witnessed Saturday was the same Swoopes we've seen over the past two years. I did not see any improvement from last year and that is the problem. Swoopes is a senior with plenty of game experience. Staring down receivers, underthrowing balls and throwing to a well-covered receivers has nothing to do with how many offenses he has been in. These are mental mistakes that are excusable for a freshman, RS freshman or sophomore but not for a senior.
Buechele is going to take his lumps and make mistakes, but I find it difficult to believe that Buechele will make more mistakes than we can expect Swoopes to make. Buechele brings more intangibles and a better feel for the game. He is more accurate already and will only get better with experience. Swoopes still looks like a deer in headlights. Buechele looked more comfortable and brings more intangibles.
Anyway, enjoy the fruits of my sleep deprivation.