The Future Of Tiger Quarterbacks
In Tommy Bowden's first three seasons, offensive line problems were hidden by the mobility of Woody Dantzler. Coach Bowden has admitted to mistakes in his strategy of recruiting offensive linemen, but the problems were not clear until Dantzler left. The low point for the offensive line came in the Tangerine Bowl, when redshirt freshman Charlie Whitehurst was pummelled for four quarters.
Whitehurst is a better passer than Dantzler or any basically any other Clemson quarterback, however Whitehurst was recruited as a drop back passer. Whitehurst has posted some amazing numbers in his time at Clemson, but he was recruited as a quarterback in Mike O'Cain's system. Whitehurst has adjusted well to the new scheme under Rob Spence and will be the starting quarterback this year. In the future, you can expect quarterbacks with more mobility to be under center for Clemson.
Spence's offense is more dangerous with a more mobile quarterback behind center. His offense lives off of the short passing game which takes emphasis off of the deep ball. Most mobile quarterbacks struggle throwing the deep ball, those who can go by the last names of Vick, Culpepper, and McNabb. If you look at the quarterback targets for 2006, you can already see the change in philosophy.
D'Vontrey Richardson is the name that has appeared the most frequently with Clemson. Coach Dabo Swinney will try and become a factor with Tim Tebow, but Clemson most likely will not have a shot with Tebow. Richardson is very dangerous with his feet and showcased an impressive arm. What may be most attractive is his vision. Richardson uses his feet to avoid pressure and keeps his eyes downfield until he is forced to take off running.
It is clear that Clemson will not look to sign drop back passers under Spence. If a great one comes along that has interest in Clemson, the staff would not pass on him, but ideally the dual-threat quarterbacks will be the targets.
As for quarterbacks currently on scholarship, all four could be successful under Spence. Whitehurst may not have great mobility, but I believe he will complete close 70% of his passes this year under Spence. Proctor showcased in the spring that he is a good fit under Spence. Tribble Reese and Cullen Harper have enough mobility to be successful under Spence, but the wheels of change are in progress.
Spence has very solid track record with quarterbacks. His track record with quarterbacks and commitment to running the football was a large factor in his hire. The evolution of the offense will take place this fall. Whitehurst will have more freedom in the offense to make plays. At certain points in the season, you will see a play Whitehurst will make with his arm where a future quarterback may make the play with his feet.
Defenses continue to get faster and more athletic every year, and with a majority of defenses being ahead of the offenses it made it difficult to win games consistently living on a deep passing game. A mobile quarterback is fastly becoming the great equalizer of college football. Woody Dantzler gave Clemson a puncher's chance in every game he played, which allowed for great upsets like the overtime victory over then #9 ranked Georgia Tech.