Week 5 of the 2020 College Football season is officially in the books. Even though some conferences have yet to start, the majority of schools in the American, Conference USA, and the Sun Belt are all under way.
With that said, we have had a decent look at the majority of quarterbacks from these conferences. Starting this week, we will be having a weekly QB Spotlight series where we take one quarterback from each of the above-mentioned conferences and take a deeper dive into their performance from the week.
The quarterback play overall this weekend was all over the place to say the least. We had a game where there were 8 combined interceptions between the two schools (USF vs Cincy with USF throwing for a total of 5 interceptions), as well as a game where there 7 combined touchdown passes between two quarterbacks (Shane Buechele and Brady White). There were also several performances and quarterback stories worth noting this week.
In the American we had Zach Smith make several NFL throws to lead Tulsa to an upset win over UCF. In Conference USA we had quarterback Nick Tronti from FAU make his first career start and while he struggled in the first half, he led FAU to a come from behind win against Charlotte and was responsible for 3 second half touchdowns.
Meanwhile in the Sun Belt we had Cornelious Brown bounce back from an opening drive pick 6 to throw 3 touchdowns against ECU as they beat ECU by 20 points. With several good performances to choose from this week, we chose the three performances below to take a deeper dive into this week as each was not only a quality performance, but had a variety of takeaways to spotlight.
Shane Buechele (SMU)
SMU vs Memphis featured two of the better quarterbacks in all of the Group of 5, Shane Buechele for SMU and Brady White for Memphis. In last year’s match up, Memphis won by a score of 54-48, but Buechele did out-duel White in that game as he threw for 456 yards and 3 touchdowns. This year’s score was not as high, however SMU found a way to win, 30-27 and Buechele again out-dueled White. Beucehele was 32 of 45 passing the ball with 474 yards passing and 3 touchdowns through the air. Buechele started off fast against Memphis’ defense as they jumped out to a 24-3 lead. Memphis climbed back in the game, but SMU ultimately hung on to get the win, largely thanks to Shane Buechele’s fast start.
Buechele is known for throwing a very catchable ball, especially on his deep passes. While most will discuss his deep ball, what I am always impressed about from Buechele is his ability to extend plays with his legs and do the basic things right. Below is a great example of that. Memphis only brings three and the offensive line actually does a good job picking it up, but in doing that they create a running lane for Buechele.
Buechele steps through that lane, but always keeps his eyes downfield. He finds his receiver to the sideline and his receiver is able to break it for an 85 yard touchdown. This is a basic play for a veteran quarterback, but basic plays done right over and over again eventually lead to big plays like this one.
Shane Buechele— QB Spotlight (@QBspotlight) October 4, 2020
*We all know about his accuracy & ball placement on his deep passes. But plays like this are another reason why he is one of the best QB’s in the American⬇️
*Simple plays lead to big time results@PonyUpRivals @SMU247 pic.twitter.com/ecYn9z9Djx
Let’s look for Buechele and the entire SMU offense as a whole to have more consistency through out their next game. They started off extremely hot and then cooled down, only to have to kick a game winning field goal with 9 seconds left. If Buechele puts together a full game like he did the first half, SMU will be tough to beat.
Chris Reynolds (Charlotte)
This is only Charlotte’s second game to play this season due to Covid-19. And while they ended up on the losing side against FAU this week, I thought it was important to point out the bounce back performance Chris Reynolds had in this game. In the opening game of the season, which was a loss against App State, Reynolds was 11 for 30 passing for 140yds and 2 interceptions. While the weather was wet and rainy during that game and Reynolds was banged up, it still wasn’t a great performance by Reynolds.
This past Saturday against FAU, Reynolds was 24 for 32 passing for 314 yards and one touchdown pass. They almost knocked of the defending CUSA champs but ended up losing 21-17 despite carrying a 10-0 lead at half time. Reynolds was back to his normal self though as he was running the RPO and quick pass game efficiently.
Charlotte’s biggest problem was that they could not finish drives. I would also like to see more deep shots from Reynolds and Charlotte as that will help open up the field and would not allow the defense to crowd the line of scrimmage and the middle of the field to defend RPO attack.
Reynolds does not have the strongest arm, but is still able to push it down the field like in the video below. This was at the end of the game and put Charlotte into position to take the lead. He does a good job in the pocket, knowing he is going to get hit, but delivers a good ball anyways. Delivering a good deep ball isn’t always about having a strong arm, but being willing to stand in pocket against pressure and take a hit like he does here.
Chris Reynolds— QB Spotlight (@QBspotlight) October 4, 2020
*Not the outcome Charlotte wanted but a good bounce back game for Reynolds
*Big throw here to give them a chance at the end of the game, stood in pocket & took a shot⬇️Look for more deep balls in future games to open things up pic.twitter.com/wCmBBfl7L4
Charlotte also only averaged 2.0 yards a carry and Reynolds only rushed for 3 yards (sacks took away some rushing yards). I would like to see Reynolds take advantage of his athleticism next game and gain some more yards on the ground. However, I think taking a few more deep shots down the field will open up their run game as a whole.
Grayson McCall (Coastal Carolina)
Let me just say this, if you haven’t seen Grayson McCall play yet this year, do yourself a favor and make it a point to watch him next weekend against Louisiana. McCall burst onto the scene with his first career start against Kansas a few weeks ago and accounted for 5 touchdowns in a 38-23 win. This past Saturday against Arkansas State he looked even better. He was 20 of 29 passing the ball for 322 yards passing with 4 touchdowns and added 44 yards on the ground.
McCall is an exciting player to watch who is able to rely on his athleticism to open up the offense. Even when he doesn’t use his legs, the fact that the defense knows he could, open’s up throwing lanes for him in the pocket. Below is a great example of him using his legs to escape the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield the whole time. He initially looks left, but is able to go through his progressions as he uses his legs to create. Yes, he is able to take off and run when he needs to, but it is his ability to use his legs to assist in beating you with his arm that makes him so dangerous.
The second video we have of McCall is impressive for a young quarterback. He makes a pre-snap check and is able to deliver a good pass for a completion. This could have been an adjust for his RB to pick up the edge guy on the outside while letting his receivers know he is getting the ball out quick, or it could have meant nothing and he was just trying to mess with the defense. Regardless, this is great to see if you are a Coastal Carolina fan.
Also love seeing these pre snap checks.— QB Spotlight (@QBspotlight) October 4, 2020
Regardless if he changed something at the LOS or just tried to fool the defense, this is great to see in the developmental process. pic.twitter.com/59OVOZCFSO
Look for McCall to continue to improve each week. His lone interception this week he made as he was scrambling and threw a dangerous pass. If he can avoid plays like that then Coastal could really make some noise in the Sun Belt this year.