How Tedford Evaluates a Quarterback

In an article published in the September 2004 (inaugural) issue of the Bear Insider magazine, coach Tedford spelled out the criteria he uses to evaluate quarterback recruits. In view of the difficulties experienced by JC-transfer quarterback Joe Ayoob, we thought it would be useful to recapitulate those criteria.

p>What they don't take into account is the learning curve - that an inexperienced quarterback who meets all the criteria may yet struggle to perform while the challenges of D-1 quarterbacking are mastered.

Bear Insider: What do you look for in a quarterback when you are recruiting or trying to decide whom your starter is?

There are really five things we look at. The first thing is mental and physical toughness. The second thing is intelligence. The third thing is competitiveness. The fourth thing is escape dimension or athletic ability. And the fifth thing is arm strength or a natural throwing motion.

The mental and physical toughness aspect, [we want someone] mentally tough enough that when you’ve thrown three picks and the fans are booing you, you are able to stand in there.

Or you’re in a hostile environment and you’re mentally tough enough to block all that stuff out, focus on your job. Physically tough enough that you’ve taken shots under the chin … or you have a rib that’s out of place, and you’re getting in the huddle and your teammates respect you for being in there and running the show. You’re not going to lie down on the field every time you get the wind knocked out of you…

Intelligence. I don’t care how well you can throw the ball. You can have the best arm in the world, but if you can’t get the team out of the huddle and you can’t look at the 25-second clock, without intelligence you can’t get all those things. In the mindset of a quarterback what you have to go through from the end of one play to the beginning of another is a tremendous amount of information and execution and it takes intelligence to do that.

Competitiveness. They want the ball in their hands. They’re not afraid to get in there in a two-minute drill, and they have great confidence.

Then there’s the athletic part of it, the escape dimension. Very rarely do plays happen exactly the way they’re drawn on the board. A guy that can make somebody miss, move up in the pocket, can get to the outside, play-action pass, have some movement, not just a stiff guy who sits back in the pocket all the time, we want a guy who can pull it down and scramble for a first down, that type of thing.

The throwing, of course, is what it is. To able to get the ball to the places you need to get it to, all over the field.

Bear Insider: Of the five elements, the only one Tedford thinks is actually coachable is throwing ability.

That’s one of the few out of those five that you can coach. We did it with Joey, did it with Trent (Dilfer, while Tedford was at Fresno State), and we did it with Kyle. And to a limited degree with Aaron, because he’s pretty natural. That’s something that you can work on, ball placement, arm placement, release point, and so on. There’s a lot of technical stuff that goes into that that we work very hard on.


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","mobileBody":"p>What they don't take into account is the learning curve - that an inexperienced quarterback who meets all the criteria may yet struggle to perform while the challenges of D-1 quarterbacking are mastered.

Bear Insider: What do you look for in a quarterback when you are recruiting or trying to decide whom your starter is?

There are really five things we look at. The first thing is mental and physical toughness. The second thing is intelligence. The third thing is competitiveness. The fourth thing is escape dimension or athletic ability. And the fifth thing is arm strength or a natural throwing motion.

The mental and physical toughness aspect, [we want someone] mentally tough enough that when you’ve thrown three picks and the fans are booing you, you are able to stand in there.

Or you’re in a hostile environment and you’re mentally tough enough to block all that stuff out, focus on your job. Physically tough enough that you’ve taken shots under the chin … or you have a rib that’s out of place, and you’re getting in the huddle and your teammates respect you for being in there and running the show. You’re not going to lie down on the field every time you get the wind knocked out of you…

Intelligence. I don’t care how well you can throw the ball. You can have the best arm in the world, but if you can’t get the team out of the huddle and you can’t look at the 25-second clock, without intelligence you can’t get all those things. In the mindset of a quarterback what you have to go through from the end of one play to the beginning of another is a tremendous amount of information and execution and it takes intelligence to do that.

Competitiveness. They want the ball in their hands. They’re not afraid to get in there in a two-minute drill, and they have great confidence.

Then there’s the athletic part of it, the escape dimension. Very rarely do plays happen exactly the way they’re drawn on the board. A guy that can make somebody miss, move up in the pocket, can get to the outside, play-action pass, have some movement, not just a stiff guy who sits back in the pocket all the time, we want a guy who can pull it down and scramble for a first down, that type of thing.

The throwing, of course, is what it is. To able to get the ball to the places you need to get it to, all over the field.

Bear Insider: Of the five elements, the only one Tedford thinks is actually coachable is throwing ability.

That’s one of the few out of those five that you can coach. We did it with Joey, did it with Trent (Dilfer, while Tedford was at Fresno State), and we did it with Kyle. And to a limited degree with Aaron, because he’s pretty natural. That’s something that you can work on, ball placement, arm placement, release point, and so on. There’s a lot of technical stuff that goes into that that we work very hard on.


©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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