Say what you want about Will Muschamp as a coach. But the man can recruit.
With the recent commitment of California dual threat QB Sheriron Jones, Florida has pulled off a rare, impressive feat: they’ve signed two 4+ star QB’s in this incoming class and now they’ve got another four star QB committed to next year’s class. Getting three such highly rated mobile QB’s is something only the best recruiters can do, since each of them have to be worried about the type of playing time they’ll get. But now, finally, Florida has some quality depth at the QB position- a luxury they’ve been without since the Spurrier days. And in 2015, once Jones signs and makes it official, they’ll REALLY have some quality depth.
Which asks the question: what, exactly, is Florida getting in Sheriron Jones?
To me, Jones comes off as a solid player who needs some work in certain areas, but also brings a lot of inherent talent. Let’s look at the tape, play by play, and develop a more complete picture of Jones’ game.
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Play #1: On this play, it matters not the least that he slightly underthrew his receiver because he was so open, but you’d like to see him lead his receiver a little more so he can catch the ball in stride, instead of having to turn around, adjust and make the catch. A taller and faster cornerback, not to mention one who looks up to track the flight of the ball, might be able to make a play on that. Also irrelevant on this play, but a potential issue, is that he seemed to lock in on his primary receiver. He faced straight down the field between the hashmarks from snap to throw.
Play #2: This is a simple QB keeper off the left side that Jones’ superior speed allows him to succeed on. One potential problem, though: though the camera isn’t set up at the best angle, Jones appeared to have a perfectly clean corner, and he looks to be fast enough to have gotten to it in this situation. In college, choosing to cut up the middle and go airborne near the goal line is just begging to get stripped, especially if you’re not built like Tim Tebow.
Play #3: Again, Jones locks in on his primary receiver, and again it works out here because it goes for a touchdown. But as I said before, he’s going to have to learn to be a little more patient and go through his progressions. There also appears to be something a little off with his throwing motion, but that’s easily fixable.
Play #4: Maybe the most impressive play on Jones’ tape. He shows beautiful touch on this deep ball, where his receiver doesn’t have to break stride to catch it and take it in for the touchdown. If I’m his coach, and I’m looking hard for things to nitpick the next day in the film room, I have nothing to say here. This ball was maybe underthrown by a millimeter or two, and not even Nick Saban can complain about that.
Play #5: Another good deep throw (after a good job escaping the pressure), but this one seems to be slightly underthrown. This time, his receiver clearly had to slow down to make the catch, but it wasn’t so badly underthrown that it cost them a touchdown (which is also partly due to the receiver angling away from the DB/s).
Play #6: Jones appears to be running a read option in which he keeps the ball, and shows his elusiveness by evading two tacklers in the background and coming away with a nice gain. He simply beats the first guy on the outside, and then makes a sweet juke move that puts him in the second level, where he smartly takes his winnings and goes down. Taking on the linebackers head on or trying to cut back and make another juke move is asking for a little too much for one play, and carries the risk of fumbling since he may not see the defender who tries to strip him.
Play #7: The camera angle isn’t the best for this play, but Jones throws a touchdown on a corner route. It couldn’t have been too bad of a throw, because, you know, it was a touchdown. And the corner was playing his receiver tight.
Play #8: It’s become clear at this point in the video that #2 is Jones’ favorite receiver (and why not, he’s a beast. Watch him break tackles). He does a nice job hitting him in stride, but it also seems to me that another receiver, #6 (who doesn’t even appear on the screen until the ball is in flight) is wide open down the sidelines. Here’s another example of Jones not going through his options and locking down on one receiver. It was clear from the moment he took the snap that he was going to #2 down the middle, and again, he threw a pretty ball. But good SEC defenses are going to take away his favorite target and funnel the ball into somebody else’s hands. The good news is, we know Jones is a pretty accurate passer. We know he was capable of hitting #6 on that sideline route. He’s also a smart kid, and open to coaching. So this doesn’t really concern me too much.
Play #9: Another deep ball to #2 for a touchdown. If I’m a coach, though, I tell Jones to put more air under it and lead his receiver more. A bigger, faster and better DB who gets his head turned around is probably going to bat that ball down if not pick it off. Even if a receiver has his man beat, it becomes irrelevant if the QB throws a line drive, because that allows the beaten DB to have a chance at a ball he doesn’t deserve to have a chance at because the receiver beat him. This is a mistake that even the best QB’s make, though, so it’s no cause for alarm. Arguably the best QB in college football history made the same mistake against Alabama a few years ago. Watch what happens at 7:10 of this video. The Florida tight of end of whom we shall not speak of has Alabama corner Justin Woodall beat, but Tebow throws a line drive, allowing Javier Arenas- who wasn’t even supposed to be covering aforementioned tight end- to jump up and snatch it. If Tebow puts some air on it, it’s a touchdown.
Play #10: Now THIS is when you put some zip on the ball. It’s a short crossing pattern to #2 which works for a decent gain. But watch the top of your screen. You can only see the guy’s legs, but the receiver clearly torches his man and gets open by four yards or so. If Jones takes the time to go through his progressions, he’s got the easiest touchdown of his life. And again: we KNOW Jones has the touch to make that touchdown happen.
Play #11: Jones demonstrates some nice escapability here. It’s going to be nice to have a QB who can extend plays like this, and if he sees nothing downfield, take off and get something that way. This time, he did seem to be more patient, though maybe he was just waiting for #2 to get open (which he never did).
Play #12: Another bit of nifty running by Jones. Jones makes three guys miss him in a matter of three seconds. He beat the first two guys to the spots they meant to tackle him in, and then put on a Madden type spin move on the third guy. A rather impressive run for a QB.
Play #13: This rivals play #4 for the best one on the tape. Jones makes a nice pump fake, and then puts some beautiful touch on the ball. He did appear to be looking in the same direction the whole time, but that shouldn’t take away from what a great throw that was.
Play #14: This play seems to be a repeat of a prior play.
Play #15: Jones throws a bullet over the middle for a touchdown. His footwork isn’t the best, but again, that’s coachable. And to his credit, on this play, he did seem to look around for different receivers for a little bit longer than usual.
Play #16: Jones does a great job in stepping into this throw after dropping back really far, and it’s a thing of beauty, connecting with his receiver on a corner route for a touchdown. Once again, I’d have liked to see him look for more than one receiver, as he locked in on the guy running the corner route.
Overall analysis: Jones seems to have no uncoachable weaknesses. The issues he does have: he tends to lock in on one receiver, he needs to tighten his release and work on his mechanics. Those are all fixable under an SEC coaching staff. The positives are numerous: he’s mobile, and thus able to escape most pressure and extend plays, he throws a great deep ball and demonstrates an ability to make all different sorts of throws.
He’ll get his day in the sun in Gainesville eventually. No telling when that is, but he will get his chance at Florida. And he will thrive.