Commentary: Quarterback Developments

Here's what HI.com Publisher Clay Henry thinks about the battle at QB between Tarvaris Jackson, Ryan Sorahan and Matt Jones. This is a commentary.

It's too early to read anything big into what has happened at quarterback, but after four workouts there are some trends worth noting. The key will be to watch to see if these trends stand up, or they change.

The biggest thing to notice is way the snaps are split. It seems out of every 25 snaps, Tarvaris Jackson gets 11 and Ryan Sorahan and Matt Jones get 7 each. That tells me that Jackson is the No. 1 man right now. That's not to say Jackson will stay No. 1.

Sorahan will do fine. As for saying he's quicker than Jackson, I don't see that. Jackson ran 4.59 in the 40 in the summer. The coaches told me that was just a little faster than Sorahan, but not nearly as fast as Jones. I don't know the exact times of the others, but they are extremely pleased with what Jackson has done with his body.

I do think Jackson took on a bit of a leadership role this summer in the pass skel drills. There was one day when he was dissatisfied with the number of drops (when his passes were on the money) and he asked the defensive backs to leave at the end of the workout and then worked an extra 45 minutes with just the wide receivers. He told them that drops were not acceptable when the passes were right there. That's not something he did in public, but behind closed doors as to not embarrass his teammates. One of the WRs told me about it and said it was an impressive moment.

This is not to say that the WRs prefer Jackson over Sorahan or Jones. I think they like them all. But, they respect what Jackson can do with a football.

I will be eagerly watching as things develop over the next week. I see things that suggest that Jackson is maturing as both a quarterback and a leader. He is not a great interview on camera or with a mike in front of his face. That's one thing he hasn't figured out. But, he does communicate in solid fashion with his teammates and I believe they will follow him. I see evidence of that more and more. I believe the coaches have noticed this, too. Leadership at quarterback is important.

Of course, the key will be how the quarterbacks move the team. It will be interesting to see who gets the bulk of the first-team reps in a scrimmage. A scrimmage can be set up for a quarterback to fail or succeed. For interest, often the first offense will go against the second defense, and the second offense against the first defense. It is almost impossible for the quarterback with the second offense to do anything but fail against the first defense. I will say that there is a big difference between our first defense and the second defense. So far, Jackson has been with the first offense against the second defense in almost every situation. He should look good in this setting.

If and when that changes in drills, I'd say that Jones and Sorahan are making headway in becoming the starter. Until then, I'd say Jackson has the upper hand.

One thing that is obvious is that Matt Jones can make an impact at wide receiver. In the morning workouts when he's been at wideout, Jones has always made solid catches, including one comeback route in which he left his feet to make a nice catch away from his body with those great, long arms.

Another nice development has been the touch that Jackson has displayed on the swing passes out of the backfield. He's got that mastered now, and that will be a weapon that the Hogs will exploit.

This is fun stuff to watch ... three great talents battling to learn the offense, the read and trying to impress the coach in a true battle.

There is one other factor in all of this, and that is Jones' sore shoulder. The goal is to have him fit and ready at the start of the season, not this week. When you see Jones take seven snaps in team work, it seems that they are mainly running plays. He's getting his snaps, but not throwing as many passes as others. There's nothing wrong with this, and it's smart coaching. This might bring his arm back to life in the next two weeks, and that is the plan.


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