Holgorsen explains challenges of developing college quarterbacks

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The most important position in the NFL also has become the toughest to properly evaluate. Friday’s PFT Live included a visit with one of the men who develop quarterbacks at the college level for consideration and employment by pro football teams.

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen explained the challenges of developing quarterbacks, given the time limitations that apply to student-athletes.

“It’s tough,” Holgorsen said. “I’ve had that question a lot from a lot of the NFL guys. ‘Why do keep things this simple? Why is the spread offense so simple? Why don’t you go under center? Why don’t you use more tight ends? Why don’t you use more fullbacks?’

“You’ve only got 20 hours a week with these guys, plus you’re limited with your scholarship numbers too. So we choose just to try to get good at something. You don’t have very much time where you can work with these guys. They’ve got to go to class, they’ve got to have a social life. We’re limited with the amount of hours that we have with them so you’ve just got to be careful on how much you put on them.”

That’s why, as Bruce Arians told PFT Live in Phoenix, college coaches look for quarterbacks who can “out-athlete” defenses. At the next level — as players like Robert Griffin III have discovered — that simply doesn’t work.

Which makes it only more difficult to figure out which of the college quarterbacks can and will become good (and hopefully great) NFL quarterbacks.

17 responses to “Holgorsen explains challenges of developing college quarterbacks

  1. Great article. Really eye opening as far as contact and development. Maybe GM’s are looking at all the wrong factors….

  2. Can’t help but feel the O-lines have every bit as much, if not more, to do with it as the QB’s. It’s not like most QB’s take up the position at the college level, they’ve been taking snaps from under center since grade school.

  3. There NFL is experienceing a QB shortage thats going to be a lot worse when the last of the very good QBs Are gone in a few years (Brady, Brees, Rothlisberger, throw in Manning and Palmer).
    What will the NFL look like starting the 2020 season?
    Will Andy Dalton and Alex Smith and Ryan Tannehill be top 10 QBs? Top 5?

  4. Coach is 100% right.
    However, things will never change so long as the almighty dollar rules college & NFL football.

  5. thus the need for a proper minor league. the players cant be coached enough in college these days, there is a huge need for the step between college and the nfl.

  6. With the salaries college football coaches are receiving (a good chunk making more than NFL coaches, mind you), a lot only have time to worry about pleasing boosters paying that salary. If that means winning games with a gimmick offense, then so be it. Yet another good reason for the NFL to institute some sort of development league.

    Holgorsen has quite the skullet, as well.

  7. I’m not buying what this coach is saying at all. Limited number of scholarships and 20 hrs/wk? How is that different fro the past? There were QB busts in the past, too. Not nearly as many though, and more were NFL ready than today. It’s the spread offenses. It allows these coaches to light up the scoreboard and make scoring like Arena FB, keeping the fans excited and their jobs safe. The spread is making it impossible to evaluate OLinemen these days too. Until recently, if you drafted a guy in the top 10, you had a pretty good chance at an 8 yr starter. Many college OLinemen these days, outside of the Big 10, hardly ever play in a 3 pt stance. Most of these QBs wouldn’t know where to stand in the huddle or how to line up under center.

  8. Thats a very weak argument. NFL players practice a grand total of 6 hours each week during the season. Considering colleges get 20 hours per week, the coaches are as amatuer as the players.

  9. It’s never been the college coach’s job to develop players for the NFL. It’s his job to win games with guys who likely will only start for a couple of seasons in college. Of course he’s not going to run anything so complicated where he figures it’ll take 2-3 seasons for the kid to really be clicking with it.

  10. Great Piece. Thats why it is so important to not go to spread team, the learning curve is just too big. Carson Wentz played in a Pro Style system at NDSU, Goff played in the Air Raid. Dak was simply off the charts in his own preparation to become a pro style qb and had the luxury of Scott Linehan at his disposal

  11. It’s absolutely a College Coach’s job to develop players for the NFL, at least at the top echelon. That’s how they keep recruiting the top players. Why do you think Alabama is 3 deep at every position?

  12. If these college coaches can’t teach football (which is not nearly as complicated as they would like you to believe) in 20 hours a week plus all the off season stuff maybe they need to take a pay cut. It’s like when people say so and so coaches system is so complicated it takes a QB 3+ years to learn it. If that’s the case the system is too complicated. Who are the coaches with supposedly extremely complicated systems. O’Brien, Gruden come to mind. What have they won? I believe the Belichick system, from what I have read is not overly complicated. But what does he know? What has he won?

  13. Marcus Mariota played in the spread, yet seems to be doing just fine in a Pro style offense.

    He sure is. and he has one of the better QB Centric HC in league in Mularkey. Mularkey simplifies and takes the debating out of the equation for Marcus so his natural talent can shine. Only a handful of coaches can do this..

  14. That’s why it’s a joke when someone describes a QB as “NFL ready”.

  15. A lot of QBs win National Championships, but aren’t really pro prospects. That’s because the things that are asked of college QB, are completely different from what a pro QB needs to do. It’s not the college coach’s job to get his QB ready to help a pro team win. Deshaun Watson won’t make it in the NFL. Alabama hasn’t had a pro prospect in years. I don’t see ex- Ohio State QBs doing much in the pros. Good NFL scouts can see a good prospect. Bad scouts make excuses because they’re just bad scouts.

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