John Adams: Dual-threat quarterbacks helpful for duels in the SEC

John Adams
Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel (2) finds running room against Oklahoma on his way to the end zone for a score in the first half of the Cotton Bowl NCAA college football game Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel (2) finds running room against Oklahoma on his way to the end zone for a score in the first half of the Cotton Bowl NCAA college football game Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

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As dominant as Alabama looked against Notre Dame in winning another national championship, the season wasn't a total loss for anyone trying to catch up to the SEC.

The rest of college football couldn't prevent the SEC from winning a seventh consecutive national title, but it at least should have figured out what it will take.

For starters, you better have a talented quarterback who can run as well as pass. And you better have the right approach.

Notre Dame didn't have it.

The shortcomings that Notre Dame overcame during its 12-0 regular season were exploited repeatedly by Alabama in a 42-14 victory Monday night. As steadfast as the Irish defense was during the regular season, it was no match for Alabama.

You're not going to beat Alabama with defense. Oregon, with its high-speed and exotic offense, would have given the Tide a more competitive game.

The greatest distinction between the SEC and everybody else is the speed and athleticism of the defensive fronts. Quick passes and quick quarterbacks can help neutralize those advantages.

And that beats the heck out of giving South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney a four-second window in which to dismember your quarterback. In fact, you have to wonder how much longer any SEC team will entrust its offense to an immobile quarterback.

The postseason confirmed what you learned from the regular season: If you want to beat a good SEC defense, get yourself an exceptional dual-threat quarterback.

You saw that in November when quarterback Johnny Manziel helped Texas A&M knock off No. 1 Alabama. You saw it in the postseason when Clemson and Louisville upset superior SEC teams through exceptional quarterback play.

On a lower level, Mississippi State also was done in by mobile quarterbacks. Two Northwestern quarterbacks combined to complete 21 of 36 passes and averaged better than 6 yards per carry on 13 runs in a 34-20 Gator Bowl victory.

But mobility alone doesn't guarantee success.

Clemson's Tajh Boyd and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater have a lot more going for them than foot speed. Their durability also was a factor in what they accomplished against LSU and Florida.

Boyd carried the ball 29 times and threw 50 passes against an LSU defensive

front chock-full of pro prospects. Neither the hits nor the expectation of them distracted him from his job. Bridgewater was just as poised against Florida despite taking a ferocious and late hit from linebacker Jon Bostic on Louisville's first possession. The Gators sacked him five times but never rattled him. He completed 20 of 32 passes for 266 yards.

Surviving one game against defenses as nasty as Florida's and LSU's is altogether different from making it through an SEC season, which explains why some conference coaches are still reluctant to rely on running quarterbacks.

But a drop-back passer is just as much at risk in this league. Arkansas' Tyler Wilson, a prototypical drop-back passer — not Manziel — was the quarterback with the concussion this past season. Manziel carried the ball 201 times, threw 434 passes and didn't miss a game. He won the Heisman Trophy in the process.

Boyd and Bridgewater didn't have to withstand an SEC season. But they held up long enough to beat top-10 defenses.

The SEC shouldn't lose sight of that. Neither should the rest of college football.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 30

retiredVolinGA writes:

This is precisely why I'm not too dissapointed about Bray leaving. Maybe new Coach will find a dual threat for us. We can only hope.

golfman1975 writes:

Robert Griffin III....do I need to say more?
I have posted this before, but Michael Vick, Robert Griffin III are 2 great examples of dual threat QB's and the problems they can present with long term injuries. If you believe that there would be no response to countering this is a joke. Look at what Alabama did to neutralize the QB for ND. I would take a great pro-style QB anytime because they generally stay more healthy because they don't take all the hits.

born2ride writes:

We need another Condredge Holloway.

wigmeister writes:

Recruit Superman! That should surely help!

golfman1975 writes:

in response to wigmeister:

Recruit Superman! That should surely help!

We could call him "SM II"

Vol-TIL-I-FaLL writes:

the only reason vick is how he is now is because instead of doing what the coach ask....SLIDE,HE FELT HE COULD PUT THE TEAM ON HIS BACK AND OUTRUN EM,same goes for RGIII,if he wants to last ,youd better learn when to slide or whatever it takes instead of thinkin you can make it happen,a good pocket passer will destroy u if u let em, but a good pocket passer that will run and get down when hes suppose to will take the fight outta ur defense if you cant find an answer..see aaron rodgers,steve young,warren moon,mcnabb early on, jake the snake, but they knew when to slide..and each had decent lengthy careers

6972 writes:

I haven't had opportunity to see either Of our 2 QBs. Anyone know which of the 2 has the best foot movement and best speed? They've got to have more than TB. Wouldn't ya think?

SouthTexasVol writes:

No we don't. We need pro style, a GREAT one.

imw8n4u writes:

in response to SouthTexasVol:

No we don't. We need pro style, a GREAT one.

Okay - let's compare results. We had Peyton Manning, by any measure a GREAT pocket passer. 3 great seasons, 1 SEC Title and a blowout loss in a potential championship bowl game to, wait for it, a running QB. Then we had Tee Martin, a dual threat QB who could run when needed to get the first down. How did he do?

ktownorange32 writes:

in response to 6972:

I haven't had opportunity to see either Of our 2 QBs. Anyone know which of the 2 has the best foot movement and best speed? They've got to have more than TB. Wouldn't ya think?

From what I've read Peterson is dual threat but I haven't seen either. That being said, I'm not a huge fan of the dual threat thing. This atricle is seemingly based on the 1 team that managed to beat beat Bama. That same team managed to lose 2 games as well. Vick never reached the NC. The only "shining" dual threats i can remember bringing home the crystal is Cam, Tebow, and that kid Osborne had at Nebraska a while back. The consensus "most prolific offense in college ball consistantly is Oregon and as fun and flashy as they are, they won't bring home the crystal. I know that it was "Cam" that beat em, but the true story of that game if you remember was Auburn shutting down a team that avg'd like 50 pts a game, i.e. NFL style defense found in the SEC. And these players don't convert to NFL well either. Cam was all anyone could talk about last year. RGIII is all anyone can talk about this year and neither are producing results. RGIII is already hurt. They definetly are fun to watch, but not effective in getting W's. Tebow is sitting on a bench. Vick has never seen a Super Bowl either. We want the guys that leave here to live on in the NFL and continue to represent Vol nation. Not sit on a bench or have mediocre careers. The closest thing to a dual threat with success is Big Ben and he isn't a dual threat, he just gets lucky on some un planned scrambles. Again, all these blogs are is opinion. I'm a Manning guy. Loved Ainge, loved Casey, and overlooking maturity, loved Bray. I like an avg 300 lb line that lets us sit back and rack up 3500-4k yrds a year. If we are talking tradition and CBJ doing all he can to continue our tradition...... We are Wide Reciever U, which constitutes having a pocket passer. This past season should show that. If we had a defense worth a bleep, we coulda beat anyone.

cloudodust writes:

Does one build it's offense around it's QB or vise versa..? Mobility in a QB is a necessity be it a Pocket QB or a moving target QB. The Wildcat formation has basically died in the vine as it is shown to be one dimensional so to have a guy that can go get 5-10, throw and use his head has an onboard computer (e.g Hawkins) instead of a battering ram (e.g. RB's) is a plus as long as he knows not to consistently take on defenses trained to behead those toting the melon...I accept the QB as being the most vital piece on the Chess Board with his blind side OL-men coming in 2nd. Moving on into Spring practice, what shall we see Atop Rocky..?

jmaples54 writes:

guess the anti-adams trolls are too busy commenting on his election to the state sportswriters hall of fame to log in here. isn't this a dig at UT? isn't this stating the obvious? isn't john simply untalented? fire adams! tomkats, tovolny, born2ride et al, c'mon. you thought up this very topic last week, right? wow, you are true geniuses!

RealisticVol writes:

I will make 1 point. Johnny Football hardly ever gets a hard lick laid on him. He is one of a kind.

ftblcoachc writes:

Actually what you saw is 3 SEC teams that played teams that were much more motivated than them. This is the problem with the bowl system. Do you actually think if that was a semi final game in a playoff system that Lou would have beaten Florida or Lsu would have lost to Clemson? The difference in athletes on the field was obvious in those games but the motivation was obvious too. It also doesn't help when Les Miles is the worst game manager in college football & we've seen those last drives on Chavis' defenses for years (twice this year).

TNVol71 writes:

Three teams won with dual threat quarterbacks. If Les Miles had taken lessons in clock management, LSU would have won that game. Look at how many other teams lost when they tried that concept because their primary play maker got injured during the season.

RollTideJoe writes:

First, Johnny Football is extremely unique even among scrambling QBs. Second, Bama was coming off the LSU game and had to play him but once they adjusted A&M didn't score much more and could have lost that game on a last second, goal line play. But, no mistaking that he is special in that he not only runs like a rabbit but he is terribly effective passing, too. That is what distinquishes him because most running Qbs are poor passers. Just my opinion, but if any QB runs a lot he's apt to get hurt. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and countless other pocket QBs have proven quality years, healthy years at the position. Alabama's McCarron can run when needed, but generally stays in the pocket. That's where his protection is and once you leave that pocket you're vulnerable. It takes a very talented Manziel to be able to throw well on the run. Running was essentially what ended McNair's football career (not talking about his death). It almost ended Vick's and others. All in all, I'll take a QB that runs when absolutely necessary, but fundamentally stays in his pocket.

whatthe84 writes:

in response to born2ride:

We need another Condredge Holloway.

Condredge was fun to watch and he was exciting for sure but he did not win a bunch of games. UT was competitive but not a championship team. If Condredge was playing today he would not be very effective. He was not a great passer and his competition then was not anything like it would be now. The speed of the game today would bottle him up and cancel out whatever he had. Johnny Manziel is much faster, quicker and more electric than Condredge was. I am not trying to hate on Condredge because I loved watching him play and all but todays players are so much faster from the linemen to the DB's. Condredge would not be the answer today.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Vol-TIL-I-FaLL:

the only reason vick is how he is now is because instead of doing what the coach ask....SLIDE,HE FELT HE COULD PUT THE TEAM ON HIS BACK AND OUTRUN EM,same goes for RGIII,if he wants to last ,youd better learn when to slide or whatever it takes instead of thinkin you can make it happen,a good pocket passer will destroy u if u let em, but a good pocket passer that will run and get down when hes suppose to will take the fight outta ur defense if you cant find an answer..see aaron rodgers,steve young,warren moon,mcnabb early on, jake the snake, but they knew when to slide..and each had decent lengthy careers

Very true. There is no need for an outright running QB at the highest level of either college or the pros. All you need is a QB who can run for an occasional 1st down when the defense is back covering receivers or can move around in the pocket to keep downfield plays alive. Much more than that is setting up your QB to get killed at some point. I was amazed at how much and how well Tahj Boyd ran after overcoming a serious knee injury early in his career, but if I were a Clemson fan, I would hold my breath every time he sets out running.

hueypilot writes:

in response to ktownorange32:

From what I've read Peterson is dual threat but I haven't seen either. That being said, I'm not a huge fan of the dual threat thing. This atricle is seemingly based on the 1 team that managed to beat beat Bama. That same team managed to lose 2 games as well. Vick never reached the NC. The only "shining" dual threats i can remember bringing home the crystal is Cam, Tebow, and that kid Osborne had at Nebraska a while back. The consensus "most prolific offense in college ball consistantly is Oregon and as fun and flashy as they are, they won't bring home the crystal. I know that it was "Cam" that beat em, but the true story of that game if you remember was Auburn shutting down a team that avg'd like 50 pts a game, i.e. NFL style defense found in the SEC. And these players don't convert to NFL well either. Cam was all anyone could talk about last year. RGIII is all anyone can talk about this year and neither are producing results. RGIII is already hurt. They definetly are fun to watch, but not effective in getting W's. Tebow is sitting on a bench. Vick has never seen a Super Bowl either. We want the guys that leave here to live on in the NFL and continue to represent Vol nation. Not sit on a bench or have mediocre careers. The closest thing to a dual threat with success is Big Ben and he isn't a dual threat, he just gets lucky on some un planned scrambles. Again, all these blogs are is opinion. I'm a Manning guy. Loved Ainge, loved Casey, and overlooking maturity, loved Bray. I like an avg 300 lb line that lets us sit back and rack up 3500-4k yrds a year. If we are talking tradition and CBJ doing all he can to continue our tradition...... We are Wide Reciever U, which constitutes having a pocket passer. This past season should show that. If we had a defense worth a bleep, we coulda beat anyone.

You make very good points, but Manziel is an exceptional athlete. His acceleration from the dead stop is jaw dropping and unique at least among most QB's. He will take that team a long way and as for taking licks, he almost never gets hit. Always moving and doesn't present a stationary target. You mentioned Casey and he wasn't a runner but he could get a few first downs with his legs. Ainge and Bray? They couldn't run past a junior high defense. Clearly we need a qb that could run a little bit, and neither of them could run a lick. Unless you've got a running game and an O line like Alabama, in which case a mobile qb is unnecessary. But few teams ever assemble that good a line with those great backs behind them.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to RealisticVol:

I will make 1 point. Johnny Football hardly ever gets a hard lick laid on him. He is one of a kind.

There are a very few guys regardless of position who hardly ever seem to take a direct hit from the defense. The great Jim Brown was one. As best I recall, Condredge was such a one and Johnny seems to be another. They just have a sixth sense for when a defender is drawing a bead and know when to duck or step sideways. Those guys are rare, though. As effective as Tee Martin was running on occasion, he took some awesome hits because he seemed to totally lack that sense I was talking about. I admired his courage, but I was surprised he survived the season.

RealisticVol writes:

in response to jmaples54:

guess the anti-adams trolls are too busy commenting on his election to the state sportswriters hall of fame to log in here. isn't this a dig at UT? isn't this stating the obvious? isn't john simply untalented? fire adams! tomkats, tovolny, born2ride et al, c'mon. you thought up this very topic last week, right? wow, you are true geniuses!

Gee, you are even defending John Adams even when nobody said anything to defend. You really have gotten sensitized haven't you John? Or is it John's wife or some other relative. Unfortunately you have given it away by never commenting on anything else but your defense 99% of the time. LOL

RealisticVol writes:

in response to johnlg00:

There are a very few guys regardless of position who hardly ever seem to take a direct hit from the defense. The great Jim Brown was one. As best I recall, Condredge was such a one and Johnny seems to be another. They just have a sixth sense for when a defender is drawing a bead and know when to duck or step sideways. Those guys are rare, though. As effective as Tee Martin was running on occasion, he took some awesome hits because he seemed to totally lack that sense I was talking about. I admired his courage, but I was surprised he survived the season.

Jim Brown could run around you or through you. I saw an interview with a hall of fame linebacker ( I can't remember his name at the moment) and he said one game he tackled Brown and Brown warned him not to do it again. Later he hit him again. The third time he went to hit him, he said Jim Brown turned and plowed straight into him and while he was laying there on the ground shook up, Jim Brown looked down and said "I told you not to do it again." The linebacker said he was never hit any harder by anybody.

VolsUpsetYetAnother writes:

Peyton verses Martin - it's amazing that after 14 seasons we are finally writing articles on a TN website about this. Don't even offer another pro style QB.

Rumblefish writes:

Did John Adams just break the news that a dual threat QB is advantageous????

How is this guy not writing/reporting for ESPN or Fox Sports!?!?!?!?!

Man alive! None of us football fans would have ever known that!!

(yawn)

BuckFama writes:

It's refreshing to know that Adams can distinguish between "duel" and "dual". To tell the truth, I had my doubts as to his ability to do so.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to RealisticVol:

Jim Brown could run around you or through you. I saw an interview with a hall of fame linebacker ( I can't remember his name at the moment) and he said one game he tackled Brown and Brown warned him not to do it again. Later he hit him again. The third time he went to hit him, he said Jim Brown turned and plowed straight into him and while he was laying there on the ground shook up, Jim Brown looked down and said "I told you not to do it again." The linebacker said he was never hit any harder by anybody.

No question Brown could do it any way he needed to. What I remember most about him was the way he seemed to turn a shoulder or give a defender a limp leg to escape a hard hit, but as you say, he could also deliver a blow. The thing is, he seemed able to DECIDE in real time whether to escape a hard hit or deliver one, so he was ready for either situation.

Olddogsrule writes:

in response to jmaples54:

guess the anti-adams trolls are too busy commenting on his election to the state sportswriters hall of fame to log in here. isn't this a dig at UT? isn't this stating the obvious? isn't john simply untalented? fire adams! tomkats, tovolny, born2ride et al, c'mon. you thought up this very topic last week, right? wow, you are true geniuses!

Since you brought it up, I'll bring my comment over here. Firstly, no, it's not a dig at UT. Every school can't have the best dual threat quarterback in the conference, some don't have any. It's an age old question of which is best answered by, it depends on how good the offensive line, running backs, and receivers are. In other words, what is the capability of the team around him and the skills mix they have. A dual threat quarterback dosen't need to scramble very often if most of the other elements in the offense are clicking. Example is how great the Volunteer offensive line was at protectecting Bray from sacks this year, apart from Clowney's one perfect hit and a very few others. Secondly, yes, thinking up an article of the advantages of a "dual threat" over a "single threat" quarter back don't take much cogitation. Thirdly, yes .. FIRE ADAMS ..

(Reposted and somewhat edited from the above referenced article)

As far as, 'who cares about johnnyboy's awards'? I actually do. A Pulitzer will never be awarded to a sportswrier, and I do not know what awards are promulgated for sports print journalism on a national scale, how one would be nominated, etc. So then, for our little town would be say, a southeastern sports writers association, assuming one even exists, and then state and local. johnnyboy now has a plaque to hang on his "wall of fame", one step up from local. Not even close to the level of an Oscar,Grammy, or CMA. Well, good for him. It was about time since these local awards surely get 'turn about' to some extent and johhnyboys one of "the last men standing' as it were. He can show it to his grandkids and others who may care.

And he may be quite a personalbe guy if you got to know him. But as for me and, obviously, a whole lot of other folks, it's the back stabbing sarcastic journalistic "style" he's stuck in that pulls enough vacuum to suck start a 747. And, in our opinions, he's done an amazing amount of damage to the Volunteer Spirit through the years by his mean spirited 'journalistic freedoms as a columnist'. We'd love to see him replaced with an even handed writer with journalistic integrity. One who'd do a much, much better job of introducing us to the players, coaches, and program. One who, even though reporting on the very same issues (and because he'd be quality- more and with a greater amount of verified facts thrown in) johnnyboy does, when read by potential recruits and their families, whould not be leaving them with a sour taste in their mouth for the University of Tennessee and Volunteer Football ... and East Tennessee in general.
...
Oh, and here's another topic. Advantages of the 4-3 or 3-4 defense as related to what appeared in the SEC CG and the BCS CG.

pomp_and_circumstance writes:

John Adams has spoken. And COLLEGE FOOTBALL listened. Every HC except Nick Saban is in a mad scramble to snatch a Manzeil clone from the vast horde of them waiting in high school. So why hasn't Nick? Well, Ala. had 500 something yards (I don't know the exact number)of offense, and a dozen or so yards seperated rushing from passing. McCarron made a scamper or two when he had to for a first down. Otherwise he stood in the pocket and handed off or passed with stunning accuracy and split decision making. He was cooler than Payton Manning. I seriously doubt there is a QB draw in the present Ala. playbook. But these are exactly the sort of obvious facts that sail high above John Adams' head.

Olddogsrule writes:

in response to pomp_and_circumstance:

John Adams has spoken. And COLLEGE FOOTBALL listened. Every HC except Nick Saban is in a mad scramble to snatch a Manzeil clone from the vast horde of them waiting in high school. So why hasn't Nick? Well, Ala. had 500 something yards (I don't know the exact number)of offense, and a dozen or so yards seperated rushing from passing. McCarron made a scamper or two when he had to for a first down. Otherwise he stood in the pocket and handed off or passed with stunning accuracy and split decision making. He was cooler than Payton Manning. I seriously doubt there is a QB draw in the present Ala. playbook. But these are exactly the sort of obvious facts that sail high above John Adams' head.

+10 for insight

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to RealisticVol:

Jim Brown could run around you or through you. I saw an interview with a hall of fame linebacker ( I can't remember his name at the moment) and he said one game he tackled Brown and Brown warned him not to do it again. Later he hit him again. The third time he went to hit him, he said Jim Brown turned and plowed straight into him and while he was laying there on the ground shook up, Jim Brown looked down and said "I told you not to do it again." The linebacker said he was never hit any harder by anybody.

Realistic,

You right about Jim Brown. A truly great and punishing back.

Except for one game which I saw. 1962, the Browns came to Washington to play the Skins.
Washington won 16-9, and they held Jim Brown to 52 yards. Also. Lou Groza missed an extra point in the game.

Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little.
Wouldn't it be great if the Vols had anything like those former Syracuse guys?

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