BALTIMORE, Md. -- Last year, Mount St. Joseph (Baltimore, Md.) traveled down the I-95 corridor to Bullis (Potomac, Md.) and came away with an upset victory, and this time around the Gaels pulled the same trick at home in a 35-21 win Sept. 5. Even so, Bulldogs quarterback and Maryland commit Dwayne Haskins did his best to lead the team, showing why he's one of the nation's foremost signal callers. TT was on hand to scout Haskins, and the four-star ended up completing 25 passes on 42 attempts, throwing for 341 yards and two touchdowns. He added in four rushing yards on two attempts.
Our take on his game is below, while an interview with Haskins can be seen in the video above:
Whenever watching Dwayne Haskins play, regardless of his final numbers, the poise is readily apparent. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder is seemingly always in control, radiating a confidence and swagger that permeates throughout his squad. He’s calm in the huddle, is never rushed, and makes sound, calculated decisions.
Bullis runs a fast-paced spread offense, and the way Haskins coolly commands it is something rare at the high school level. Indeed, Haskins can be a stoic at times, but still possesses a palpable intensity that seems to suggest, “Don’t mess with me.”
At 6-3 with large hands and long fingers, Haskins has ideal measurables for the FBS level. Plus he has a thick, sturdy frame with a stout base, which allows him to wiggle free of arm tackles.
Operating primarily out of the shotgun, Haskins actively scans the defense pre-snap, pointing out key defenders and changing calls if he has to. With the ball in his hands, he can make quick, split-second decisions if under fire, but also knows when to dial it back and go through his progressions. He seems to sense where the mismatches will be and exploits them, either by moving his receiver or looking off an intended target initially before coming back to him later during the play.
Haskins has sound, nimble feet that rarely cross when he’s dropping back or shifting forward. He shuffles and sidesteps well, rarely panicking -- even when pressured. Haskins knows how to feel and elude a blitz without compromising his form or fundamentals. He’s not going to scramble away prematurely, either, preferring to wait as long as possible for a receiver to come open before bailing on the play.
The quarterback likes to use play-action quite a bit, the fake a primary weapon in the Bullis offense. Haskins sells it well by now, taking advantage of an over-aggressive defense by firing bullets into uncovered areas overtop the linebackers. And this guy’s not afraid to thread the needle either. If there’s a window, chances are Haskins is going to find it, the signal caller trusting his arm strength and precision.
Speaking of arm strength, Haskins may not have a Joe Flacco-like rifle, but he can make most throws, from dump-offs to deep outs. His short- to intermediate passes often travel in a tight spiral, while his deep-balls are typically low, flutter-free arcs that don’t hang too long.
Haskins can zip the ball when needed, but he can take something off the shorter passes as well. Haskins’ throws have plenty of touch and are very catchable. Moreover, he typically leads his receivers, allowing them to generate yards after the catch. (Bullis’ offense is set up so Haskins can find a multitude of wideouts in that 5-10-yard range, getting them the ball quickly and accurately so they can make plays upfield. He can sometimes enter rapid-fire mode, slinging balls around likes he’s throwing darts.)
In terms of fundamentals, Haskins has a consistent, repeatable three-quarters delivery and follow through. His passes are usually on-point and on time, especially in that short- to intermediate range.
One thing to note about Haskins’ delivery: Sometimes he’ll adjust it when he’s throwing from a complicated angle or needs to fit a pass into a particular window. He might come over the top to get a bit more loft on an over-the-middle pass, or drop to sidearm if he’s slinging a quick-hitter to a back.
An area Haskins has improved on since last year is his ability to shrug off hits/sacks. Haskins can now extend plays and break tackles thanks to his stout lower body and increased strength. He also showed some gumption, absorbing a hit, springing back up and then delivering a strike on the very next play.
To improve, Haskins has to continue working on his reads and progressions from inside the pocket. He tends to roll out quite a bit, meaning he’s only reading one side of the field. In college, Haskins will more than likely be asked to scan the entire defense – and he’ll be asked to identify much more advanced coverage schemes.
Also, Haskins does have fundamental lapses like any young quarterback. When throwing a deep ball, sometimes his release can be long, the ball coming out more deliberately than his other passes. He has a tendency to drop his elbow on such throws, causing the ball to lose velocity while compromising his accuracy.
Furthermore, Haskins has to make sure he looks off receivers more often. He certainly knows how, but sometimes he’ll latch onto his go-to guy and miss another wideout, who comes open on the opposite side of the field.
Haskins has to consistently step into his throws too. Sometimes, when he spots his target, Haskins will throw off his back foot to get him the ball quickly. He also tends to do this when rushed and there’s no room to move the pocket. Instead of throwing the ball away, Haskins might take a chance by firing into traffic. That may work in high school, but he’s primed to be picked off in the Big Ten.
It might also behoove Haskins to incorporate more running into his arsenal. He’s never going to be a read-option guy, but if there’s somewhat of a chance he’s going to scramble, it will force defenses to respect the threat.
And there were a couple times Sept. 5 when Haskins took a "bad sack," including once on fourth down. He has to have a better sense of when he can sidestep the rush/extend the play and when to just throw the ball away (or, in the case of the fourth-down scenario, when to throw the ball up and give his receivers a chance).
Finally, the gunslinger has to learn how to shake off mistakes/defeats and channel his frustration. As the team leader, he's expected to pick his squad up, regardless of circumstances. Sulking obviously does not send the right signals.