With Week 6 of the 2020 College Football season in the books, we've had a look at just about every American, Conference USA, and Sun Belt conference quarterback. It was nice to see Clayton Tune from the University of Houston and Anthony Russo from Temple get under center.
Most schools have had enough time to establish who their starter will be moving forward, or at least who their number one and two guys are.
Even with a limited amount of quarterback performances to choose from, we had plenty to sort through and break down into deeper detail.
Tune had a rough start before settling in and using the speed of his wide outs to his advantage. Conference USA consisted of WKU replacing their starting quarterback midway through their loss to Marshall as well as FIU playing three different quarterbacks in their loss to Middle Tennessee. Both of those schools have decisions to make moving forward at the quarterback position. The Sun Belt had so little going on, but we still saw Arkansas State play both Logan Bonner and Layne Hatcher. They each had three touchdown passes in their win against FCS opponent Central Arkansas. We could go on more about the different quarterback storylines in each conference, but let’s go ahead and get to our spotlights from each conference.
Holton Ahlers (ECU)
Ahlers was someone we spent time talking about on the QB Spotlight podcast last week as a quarterback that will be looking to bounce back from a rough performance. ECU was coming off of a 20-point loss to Georgia State where as a whole they did not look good. Ahlers had a very rough game as he threw 3 interceptions and accounted for 0 touchdowns. However, to defend him a bit, his offensive line did not do him any favors as Georgia State was constantly getting pressure on him.
Ahlers performance against USF this week was much better and it was evident that improvements had been made. Ahlers took care of the ball against USF and was more efficient passing the ball. His offensive line did a better job up front, but even when they got pressure, Ahlers did a better job of not trying to do much and not making a bad play worse. He ended up going 17/26, had 222 yards passing, 3 td’s, 0 ints, and even had 35 yards on the ground. This wasn’t necessarily a flashy performance by any means, but it is a performance worth spotlighting as improvements were made and a step in the right direction was taken.
Below are two clips that help demonstrate the improvement that we just talked about. The first clip is probably my favorite play by Ahlers from the entire game and it is due to the read he makes. The pre-snap look USF gives is one of a basic cover 3. The corners and the lone safety divide the field into thirds, theoretically to take away any deep shots. However, once the ball is snapped it looks clearly like cover 1 man under. There may be a cover 3 concept to it depending on a few different factors, but on this play you had one up top safety with the rest of the DB’s playing man. Every DB was playing off coverage except the one that got beat, which is the slot outside cornerback. Ahlers noticed the press coverage and makes the right here as the Safety can’t get over in time for help.
The next clip of Ahlers is simple, but something I wanted to show. Several of Ahlers bad decisions last week against Georgia State was due to pressure. While this play doesn’t look like much, Ahlers takes what the defense gives him and gets up field for a positive play instead of trying to do too much. Overall, solid performance for Ahlers.
Simple play here but improvement from last game. Great job getting up field and taking the lane the D gives opposed to scrambling in back field & potentially forcing an ill advised throw. pic.twitter.com/iZGalsmctJ— QB Spotlight (@QBspotlight) October 11, 2020
Lowell Narcisse (UTSA)
Despite UTSA ending up getting the loss, this was my favorite quarterback performance of the weekend. Depending on where you looked, UTSA was the underdog by more than 30 points against BYU this weekend. UTSA starting quarterback Frank Harris was dealing with an injury from a previous game so about mid-way through this game, Narcisse was called off the bench. In a game that no one gave UTSA a chance to win, UTSA did more than just compete with BYU, they ended up coming with-in a touchdown of tying the game as the final score was 27-20 with BYU getting away with the win. However, the main reason they were so close in this game was because of the performance by Narcisse.
Narcisse was UTSA’s 3rd or 4th string quarterback as the season started, but he surely didn’t look like that against BYU. He came off the bench and went 17/20, had 229 yards passing, 2 td’s and 0 int’s. Narcisse looked well prepared and looked to have a firm grasp of the offense. His ability to be comfortable and keep his composure in a situation with him coming off the bench was impressive and a big reason why he performed so well. He was able to make throws toward the sideline as well as in the middle of the field. He was able to complete passes off play-action as well as straight drop back’s. He showed off his athletic ability as well, especially on the last touchdown of the game which we will look at. Another thing Narcisse does well is using his talented playmakers on the outside. This may not seem like much, but UTSA has always had talented guys, but for whatever reason weren’t able to get them the ball in the past.
Below are three clips that demonstrate what Narcisse did well against BYU. The first clip is one of the best ball’s in all of college football from week 6. Not only is this a tough throw from the left hash to the opposite sideline, but it is a great example of trusting his guy to make a play. The second clip shows Narcisse extremely comfortable in the pocket and delivering an accurate ball to the outside. UTSA had some early success running the ball which allowed some of these play action passes to end up in completions. Also, great job by his blockers up front giving him time. This last clip shows his ability to make a play off-script. BYU gets pressure on him but he does a good job escaping, keeping his composure, and getting his eyes back downfield to find his open receiver. This performance should give UTSA fans optimism moving forward.
Lowell Narcisse (3 tweets)— QB Spotlight (@QBspotlight) October 11, 2020
*One of my favorite QB performances of the wknd
*Came off the bench: 17/20,229yds passing, 2tds & almost pulled off the huge upset
*Hell of a throw here from left hash to opposite sideline⬇️⬇️@UTSARivals @RowdyTalk pic.twitter.com/tqKaYjTeNW
Athletic ability to escape the pocket & keep his composure when things go off script. This TD put UTSA w/ in one score late in the 4th— QB Spotlight (@QBspotlight) October 11, 2020
Overall great performance for Narcisse & we will have a deeper game dive on him out later in the week from @underdogdynasty pic.twitter.com/G0Zb3PbC7E
Gunnar Watson (Troy)
In a week where only four Sun Belt teams were playing, Gunnar Watson clearly had the most impressive performance from any Sun Belt quarterback. Troy seems to just produce quality quarterback play year after year. The Sun Belt as a whole so far this season has had quality quarterback play so far this season. Troy took care of Texas State this weekend by a score of 37-17. Despite Texas State being a much-improved team from last year, Troy was in control of this game the entire time.
Watson was efficient and comfortable the entire game as he was 33/46, had 338 yards passing, 4 td’s, and 0 int’s. Once Watson got in rhythm he stayed in it the entire time. This was evident by how comfortable he was going over the middle of the field play after play. When a quarterback is “in the zone” as people like to say, there isn’t a throw he feels like he can’t make and that was Watson this past Saturday.
Below is a clip from early in the game of Watson taking a deep shot down the middle. The game consisted of many more throws through-out the middle of the field as Watson was able to pick apart Texas State’s defense. This is a great ball against zone as he puts enough air on the ball to get over the trailing DB, but also enough juice on the ball so that the safeties can’t come over in time and make a play. Good read by Watson pre-snap as well.
Gunnar Watson— QB Spotlight (@QBspotlight) October 11, 2020
*Troy QB’s continue to impress year after year. 33/46,338yds passing,4tds
*comfortable all game long as he was picking apart the mid of the field
*Great ball vs zone here, good example from last podcast episode: “if he’s even he’s leavin”@TroyFans1 @TrojanWallF5 pic.twitter.com/b7UsEmgAec