"Well, Shea Patterson won't have to adjust to running for his life," I tweeted smugly on Saturday night. Yes. I had come up with something hilarious and was ready to bask in twitter glory. Then one person favorited it and no one retweeted. Oh yeah. I guess a lot of people have better things to do with their Saturday nights than pay five dollars to watch high school football games online. Losers.
Shea Patterson and IMG faced American Heritage (Fla.) in a scrimmage game on Saturday, though they seemed to treat it just like a game that counted. IMG lost 19-7. They had the No. 1 quarterback in the country and scored seven points. How does that happen? Well, it turns out that IMG's offensive line isn't all that good. Also, American Heritage's defensive line is highly skilled. IMG could neither pass block nor run block, unable to get things going on the ground and giving Patterson no time in the pocket.
When the ball was snapped, Patterson had about one second to get the ball away before the pressure got to him. It's pretty remarkable that he was only sacked twice, honestly. Take that as a testament to his escapability, which is very strong. Many times Patterson would dodge a would-be tackler in the backfield and find a receiver to whom he could throw the ball. It didn't always work out for him as Patterson went 18-of-33, but he didn't make bad choices.
As far as his accuracy is concerned, I know that a 54 percent completion rate isn't all that good, but Patterson played much better than the number suggests. He had at least four balls dropped, several of which were on potentially huge plays. He had two long touchdown passes called back due to holding. Sure, he had some slight misses, but he also had some tremendous placement on tough balls.
Here's a clip of the pass to Drake Davis that would have won the game when time expired were it not for a holding penalty.
On the next play, with zero seconds on the clock, Patterson threw a 40-yard hail mary that ended up being returned all the way for a touchdown.
Lynden Ostrander works for the Tampa Tribune covering high school sports. I know nothing about how many elite quarterbacks he has seen. This segment of the article isn't about that in fact. His assertion that Patterson is "Manzielesque" is an interesting one.
I hadn't really thought about it that way. Patterson does have that same quality that made Johnny Manziel so special in college. He's a gamer who figures out how to make some things happen when the play doesn't go right (which it almost never did on Saturday). He has decent speed to evade rushers (not like Manziel, but still potent) and doesn't have to have a perfect release to make accurate throws when scrambling. There was one particular play (which I wish someone had filmed) in which Patterson pulled the old EA Sports NCAA 2011 trick of running into the flats where a corner comes out to stop him and tossing the ball over the corner's head to the receiver he was defending. It was a beautiful play with defenders breathing down his back.
Initially, I criticized IMG coaches for calling so many running plays that were going for one or two yards a pop, but I grew to understand why they did it. They just couldn't really run many designed passes with so little protection. On the one drive in which the running game actually worked, IMG scored because the defense closed in to stop getting gashed and gave Patterson time to work in the pocket. That was all he needed
I'm not sure whether I will be able to watch this weekend, but you should. IMG plays host to Miramar (Fla.) at 3 p.m. ET/2 CT Sunday afternoon on ESPNU. I encourage you to watch the game so that you can judge for yourself. You don't need to understand a lot about technique to recognize how good he is (which is probably why I can).