Analysis: Joe Ayoob

I have attended dozens of practices this year, starting in the spring, then through fall camp and during the regular season. I've watched Joe Ayoob throw hundreds of passes in practice, some bad, many good.

He is a far, far better passer in practice than we have seen in recent games.

That does not in itself make Ayoob a D-1 quarterback. Many observers would have to say at this point that he is not, perhaps while acknowledging that might change with time and maturity.

But the point is important: Ayoob definitely has the physical skills. This is definitely not a case of a guy who simply lacks the needed skills.

Steve Levy is a good practice quarterback, but not close to Ayoob. Levy will be good one play, off target the next; he’s a gutsy guy, a great kid, a dedicated team member, a good scout team quarterback, but not a D-1 quarterback.

Yes, Levy looked good against USC, but that was against USC’s 2nd and 3rd string players, and at a time when the game was NOT on the line. That is not a situation where Steve’s abilities can be realistically assessed.

Once Longshore went down, Tedford had to deal with this reality: IF he could get Joe's performance up to what Joe is physically capable of, Cal had a shot at a good season. Tedford is an acute observer of quarterback skills and performance: he has known since the beginning of the season that Joe was a risky situation.

Remember the reason why Tedford chose Longshore over Ayoob?

"Consistency" - exactly what which Ayoob has lacked.

I see Tedford's choice for the season this way: he could battle through the adversities hoping that Ayoob would master the position - because then the team would have a chance at a good season, OR, go with a guy like Levy even while knowing he didn’t have the skills to succeed at the D-1 level.

There weren’t any other alternatives.

So the choice was A: shoot for the high while risking the low, or B: settle for the mediocre.

If you’re a confident quarterback coach, one of the best in the nation, which do you chose?

Some observers are now saying – on the strength of Levy’s performance against USC – that Tedford should have used the hook much earlier to replace Ayoob with Levy. The problem with analogies made to occasions when Tedford used that hook to (for example) swap Reggie Robertson for Aaron Rodgers is that both those were two damn good quarterbacks; the team could win with either. Not so in this case.

Moreover, using the hook would be to admit defeat on the most critical decision of the season, a decision that was made with full knowledge of the risks and the importance of persistence. Tedford had to stick with Ayoob as long as there was a chance of success. Yanking him would itself be a blow to his confidence.

To my mind, there is real courage of conviction on display here, even as the downside becomes painfully evident. Tedford chose his course and has put every ounce of coaching ability he has into making it succeed. Win some, lose some, suffer the consequences, but admire the conviction and commitment Tedford has invested in his chosen course of action.

==========

If it's not skills, what is it with Joe?

Coach Tedford talks about good quarterback fundamentals leading to effective quarterback performance, which in turn leads to confidence and success. He said after the USC game that Joe's footwork was bad, and that that led to the interceptions.

Joe is a “good athlete” by which I mean nimble, balanced, quick, strong and has a good arm.

So why can't he - why hasn't he - learned good footwork in spite of hundreds if not thousands of drills, drills undertaken at the direction of a master teacher of those skills? Why is it that under pressure Joe reverts to old (bad) habits and loses his "connect" with recently taught skills?

I'd have to guess - (please forgive the speculation at this point - I am no psychologist and don't much trust them anyway) - that Joe gets rattled under pressure. He loses mental composure when facing real (high-speed) risks, and that when the composure goes, it becomes fight-or-flight adrenaline time and the training goes to hell-in-a-basket.

Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, that is no qualification for a D-1 quarterback. In discussions at other times and places, Tedford has called that "mental toughness". It's a fundamental issue that will have to be solved before Joe can succeed at this level.

And for the Big Game?

Joe should sit. He doesn’t need to be wounded any further. He needs to begin a long recuperation process to overcome the disappointment and despair of these events. This is much more than just losing a few games. Precisely because the physical skills are there, it is a clear case of integrating mind and body, of forgetting and overcoming all the negative emotions surrounding these events.

Joe should play. If he has the kind of intestinal fortitude that a successful quarterback must have, he has to climb back on that horse right now and battle the demons. Only by succeeding will he overcome them.

Tedford’s choice: he has to do whatever maximizes the team’s chance of winning. But does that mean going with a limited but confidant Levy? Or with a fragile Ayoob who has more inherent ability?

You chose.


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He is a far, far better passer in practice than we have seen in recent games.

That does not in itself make Ayoob a D-1 quarterback. Many observers would have to say at this point that he is not, perhaps while acknowledging that might change with time and maturity.

But the point is important: Ayoob definitely has the physical skills. This is definitely not a case of a guy who simply lacks the needed skills.

Steve Levy is a good practice quarterback, but not close to Ayoob. Levy will be good one play, off target the next; he’s a gutsy guy, a great kid, a dedicated team member, a good scout team quarterback, but not a D-1 quarterback.

Yes, Levy looked good against USC, but that was against USC’s 2nd and 3rd string players, and at a time when the game was NOT on the line. That is not a situation where Steve’s abilities can be realistically assessed.

Once Longshore went down, Tedford had to deal with this reality: IF he could get Joe's performance up to what Joe is physically capable of, Cal had a shot at a good season. Tedford is an acute observer of quarterback skills and performance: he has known since the beginning of the season that Joe was a risky situation.

Remember the reason why Tedford chose Longshore over Ayoob?

"Consistency" - exactly what which Ayoob has lacked.

I see Tedford's choice for the season this way: he could battle through the adversities hoping that Ayoob would master the position - because then the team would have a chance at a good season, OR, go with a guy like Levy even while knowing he didn’t have the skills to succeed at the D-1 level.

There weren’t any other alternatives.

So the choice was A: shoot for the high while risking the low, or B: settle for the mediocre.

If you’re a confident quarterback coach, one of the best in the nation, which do you chose?

Some observers are now saying – on the strength of Levy’s performance against USC – that Tedford should have used the hook much earlier to replace Ayoob with Levy. The problem with analogies made to occasions when Tedford used that hook to (for example) swap Reggie Robertson for Aaron Rodgers is that both those were two damn good quarterbacks; the team could win with either. Not so in this case.

Moreover, using the hook would be to admit defeat on the most critical decision of the season, a decision that was made with full knowledge of the risks and the importance of persistence. Tedford had to stick with Ayoob as long as there was a chance of success. Yanking him would itself be a blow to his confidence.

To my mind, there is real courage of conviction on display here, even as the downside becomes painfully evident. Tedford chose his course and has put every ounce of coaching ability he has into making it succeed. Win some, lose some, suffer the consequences, but admire the conviction and commitment Tedford has invested in his chosen course of action.

==========

If it's not skills, what is it with Joe?

Coach Tedford talks about good quarterback fundamentals leading to effective quarterback performance, which in turn leads to confidence and success. He said after the USC game that Joe's footwork was bad, and that that led to the interceptions.

Joe is a “good athlete” by which I mean nimble, balanced, quick, strong and has a good arm.

So why can't he - why hasn't he - learned good footwork in spite of hundreds if not thousands of drills, drills undertaken at the direction of a master teacher of those skills? Why is it that under pressure Joe reverts to old (bad) habits and loses his "connect" with recently taught skills?

I'd have to guess - (please forgive the speculation at this point - I am no psychologist and don't much trust them anyway) - that Joe gets rattled under pressure. He loses mental composure when facing real (high-speed) risks, and that when the composure goes, it becomes fight-or-flight adrenaline time and the training goes to hell-in-a-basket.

Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, that is no qualification for a D-1 quarterback. In discussions at other times and places, Tedford has called that "mental toughness". It's a fundamental issue that will have to be solved before Joe can succeed at this level.

And for the Big Game?

Joe should sit. He doesn’t need to be wounded any further. He needs to begin a long recuperation process to overcome the disappointment and despair of these events. This is much more than just losing a few games. Precisely because the physical skills are there, it is a clear case of integrating mind and body, of forgetting and overcoming all the negative emotions surrounding these events.

Joe should play. If he has the kind of intestinal fortitude that a successful quarterback must have, he has to climb back on that horse right now and battle the demons. Only by succeeding will he overcome them.

Tedford’s choice: he has to do whatever maximizes the team’s chance of winning. But does that mean going with a limited but confidant Levy? Or with a fragile Ayoob who has more inherent ability?

You chose.


©Copyright 2005, BearInsider.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.

If you haven't done so already, subscribe to The Bear Insider so you can participate in this active online Cal community and get access to the members-only content from the nation-wide Scout.com network.

Bear Insider staff writers visit the Insider discussion board regularly, and are available to discuss questions you may have about this article and Cal Athletics.

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