When Longmont, Colo. QB Austin Apodaca first committed to the Cougs, I wasn't overly impressed. I saw a ton of raw talent, but not a ton of good decision making. A big reason I didn't love Apodaca was simply that the videos on him were so poor in quality, that it was hard to be excited. Also, highlight tapes are designed to make the kid standout and look fantastic.
Recently, Apodaca released his senior highlight tape. At over 10 minutes in length, it does a wonderful job at breaking down his throws on the run, from in the pocket, and everything else you could want from a high school highlight video.
I've been sitting on this post for a few days now, but I was reminded I needed to do it when J.J. FeKI posted the FanShot about it. So thank you, kind sir.
I love that the video breaks down exactly what type of throw he's making. You see his touch on a lot of the fades, you see his ridiculous arm strength on the slants, and you see his ability to make things happen with his feet on the scrambles. I didn't realize he was that athletic. He's not Michael Vick or anything, but he's definitely more mobile than I originally anticipated, and a legitimate threat to take off and run.
Much of my first evaluation was less about him, and more about our stable of QBs as it stands. I still believe in Cody Clements, reports be damned. I think what Apodaca brings is a mixture of everything we have currently. Jeff Tuel understands how to throw the fade, and he makes smart throws. Connor Halliday has a cannon for an arm, and can fit balls into tight windows. Clements has the ability to make things happen with his feet, and turn a loss into a gain. Apodaca has all of these, and he has them in spades.
What I loved about this video is how, when he was being pressured, Apodaca keeps his eyes down field the entire time. He realizes he can tuck it and run for a few yards, but he is patient and waits for a receiver to get open. Another thing I loved that is pretty rare to see: during scrambling, he stops to plant before throwing. Now, this didn't happen on every play. There's simply not time to do this on every play. He possesses enough arm strength to make a throw from an awkward angle on the run and still get it there with plenty of zip. I really loved how he realized he needed a little more on it, though, stopped, set his feet, and chucked it down field.
I still think there are a few things he needs to work on, but it's a huge improvement from what I saw in his junior tape. His throwing motion is a little wonky at times, and it comes out at three quarters or even sidearm. It's not necessarily a problem -- look at Philip Rivers -- but the ball is more prone to getting batted down at the line if it's coming out at a lower angle. He doesn't do it all the time, though.
Another thing I noticed was his wind-up was a little long and loopy on some throws. Reminded me of Tim Tebow or Byron Leftwich coming out of college. Shorten that up, and he'll be fine. Again, he doesn't do this all the time.
The best part about the negative things (if you can even call them negative) that I saw this time? They're all easily correctable. I still think he redshirts if for no other reason than to create separation between himself and Halliday, but at this point, I'm ok with admitting I was wrong before.
As much as I loved Clements last year, I think Apodaca surpasses him on the depth chart. The key to the Air Raid is accuracy on short passes. Clements did that well, but Apodaca just put on an absolute show. Apodaca's most impressive skill -- yes, even more so than his arm strength -- was his ability to always hit his receiver squarely in the numbers or in stride. His ability to place the ball exactly where it needs to be in order for the receiver to turn it up field and make guys miss is key.
If he can improve that much from his junior to senior years in high school, I'm excited to see what he'll do after a few years under the tutelage of Mike Leach.
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