In the Film Room: Breaking Down Jake Christensen

Iowa recently received a verbal commitment from one of the best quarterbacks in the country, Jake Christensen of Lockport, Illinois. Hawkeyenation.com's Jon Miller was able to view Jake's highlight tape and has an extensive evaluation on the 'Elite 11' player...

Jeff Christensen, father of recent Iowa QB commit Jake Christensen, sent me Jake's highlight tape, and I am going to get it into Insiders so that everyone can enjoy it.

I watched the entire tape tonight, and have jotted down a few thoughts as I watched it. I should say that I am not an expert in analyzing tape, but I do not feel I am a rookie when it comes to breaking down a football game or a player.

1. Jake hits his receivers in stride. Now, if they can catch it, he can't control that. Jeff had a stat in the first part of the tape that more than 600 yards of drops occurred last year, and 7 TD's that went by the board. Jake still had great efficiency numbers. Seriously, his throws are nearly always in stride.

2. He throws extremely well on the run. In fact, his OL last year was not overly impressive, to be kind, and teams blitzed a ton. He has good ‘escapability', and can throw on the run, whether he is running to his left, or across his body to the right. He ran a lot of rollouts to the right, for a lefty.

3. Strong arm. Clearly college zip on his passes. He also gets a good amount of air under his passes..something Banks and Chandler did not do well. Just watched a 50-yard completion, the ball was in the air 55 yards, and the pass was very, very high, and it hit his receiver who was over striding (bad form on the receiver's part) and 'lunge running', but was just a half step ahead of the defender....

You can say what you want about Jon Beutjer, but he threw a pretty deep ball that had some good air under it...too much air is not a good thing. But the highlights I have seen (and I know they are highlights, not bad throws) have air and hit the WR in stride. Jake probably is at his best with throws up to 45 yards (in the air), but you can say that about most QB's in the college game

4. He is pretty fearless in the backfield. Again, in most of these highlights, his OL did not do him many favors so he had to be creative. One such play came on 3rd and 31 in the 2nd round of the playoffs...ball at the 50...shot gun...rolls to his right, nothing, two defenders upon him, he side steps, hand hits the turf for balance, rolls back to his right...sees his man 55 yards downfield...Jake throws from his own 45, knowing he is going to get hit, gets his feet under him and hits his receiver on the goal line, touchdown. 55-yards in the air, under duress.

5. Nice touch on pump-fades as well as the post-corner routes.

6. Very consistent release point...has been coached well, technically. At times, he almost goes sidearm on slants and quick middle passes...sort of a flick...like Favre.

7. Sells the screens well, looking away, waiting, then coming back.

8. He has an extra gear in his arm on the come back routes in the flat and across the middle in traffic. He throws as hard as he needs to given the route, then he can come back and kill you with the touch fade. Real impressive.

9. Put together well from the waist down. Not a frail player.

10. All of this came against competition in the biggest classification in the state of Illinois.

11. Does a solid job of taking what the defense gives him underneath...not necessarily looking for the home run all of the time. I liked seeing that, given Iowa's offensive schemes we have seen for the last five years. He seems patient, and seems like he can lull the D to sleep. When teams were not selling out with the blitz against him, they were rushing three and four players and dropping back into zone coverages...and that is when Jake picked them apart underneath. They run a lot of shotgun and primarily one back sets. Not your average HS offense. He can also throw soft touch passes underneath, just over the LB's...its amazing to see the contrast in his underneath throws...he can bring the gas, or throw the soft touch pass.

12. He doesn't miss his open receivers. He knows where they are, and he gets them the ball...in the right amount of time. He does not break or hurry his normal delivery when he sees the wide-open man.

13. Good footwork on drop backs...three, five and seven steps. Classic crow hop on the seven-step drop.

14. I am writing this as I watch the tape unfold, and will probably revisit more than a few things. His rollouts to the right, as a left hander...he is unusually comfortable with these plays, and he does a great job of getting his feet set and squaring up to his targets. He throws real well rolling to his left, as I said before, but he might even be stronger going to his right...that really doesn't make sense, but I think his footwork is just so good, he can pull it off where a lot of HS QB's cannot throw across their body like that. In fact, Jake sets up his feet and shoulders so well, he is not throwing across his body.

This will be a very good tool for him with Iowa's play action game, and waggles to either side. With Banks and Chandler, Iowa would run the play action fake to the left, and let the QB open and roll right on the waggle, so they were not throwing across their body. They rarely went the other way, Banks doing that more than Nathan. Jake looks like he could be comfortable to either side...just another wrinkle Iowa could have with him.

15. Jake is really good at side stepping and stepping up in the pocket to buy him more time. He does not give up on plays and just take off and run, when he probably had every right to, due to his pocket collapsing. When he did have a pocket, he was clearly the Master and Commander out there. And again, I am just so impressed with his patience and taking the underneath stuff that was given to him…the gaps in the zones. Then when he did have one-on-one coverage to the outside, his throws were right on the mark. I have probably seen more than 100 of his completions on this tape, perhaps half of his completions last year. He has thrown a tight spiral on 90-percent of his passes.

16. In the state title game, he threw for 307 yards and three TD passes and ran for 79 yards and two TD's. Here is the link to the stats from that game: LINK

Jake is a rugged player, he does not quit on a play, but he does not seem to force the issue in trying to make something out of a bad situation. He still has one more year of HS football to play, and I am certainly not predicting he starts as a true frosh or a redshirt frosh.

Hopefully, Drew Tate or Jason Manson do well enough ahead of him to allow him time to adapt to Iowa's system, making him ready for action as a redshirt sophomore and a chance to be a three year starter at Iowa.

But it's clear to me that the Hawkeyes got a good one in Jake Christensen, and his ‘Elite' status among the nation's best QB's is deserved. He is unusually consistent with everything he does for a player his age.


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