Enter quarterback coach and trainer, Steve Clarkson. A guru of sorts in the industry of football’s most important position, Clarkson has help to mold Patterson throughout his meteoric to stardom.
This weekend, the Field General’s Camp was another opportunity for Clarkson to work with his star pupil in the ever-changing landscape of football.
“Shea reminds me of a more mobile Drew Brees,” said Clarkson. “He has a strong arm, he’s very smart and the things his high school team ask him to handle are very complex.
“He has great foresight too. What I mean by that is Shea does a great job of being able to predetermine what the defense is going to do just by the looks they give when they line up. He almost knows where he is going to go with the football from there.
“That’s the main reason he doesn’t get sacked very much, besides the fact he is athletic as heck. Physically, he can make all of the throws, and what I like the most, is that he can make those throws from different angles.
“You come to a camp like this, and the one thing I’m looking for is how guys throw on the move. Some quarterbacks can make the perfect throw in a perfect pocket, but what happens when you have to move your feet?
“That’s what happens 75-percent of the time. No matter how you draw it up, quarterbacks have to have the ability to side step and move their feet. You have to throw it 90-degrees, sidearm… various ways. Shea can make all of those throws in different situations. He’s got a cannon and he’s extremely accurate.”
With spread option attacks changing how the college game is played, movement from the quarterback position has never been more important.
Saturday, Clarkson had quarterbacks taking snaps from the offset shotgun and pistol formations both in passing drills and option read scenarios.
“We’re really working hard with Shea on transitional football,” said Clarkson. “That’s throwing out of rhythm, without the reset. With Shea in particular, he plays out of the shotgun so much, he has to read his progressions down.
“A lot of things happen post-snap, but we want him thinking pre-snap. What sets him apart is that he has the ability to do both.”
And that correlates well with USC and Steve Sarkisian’s vision for the Trojans’ offense going forward. However, Clarkson is quick to correct the assumption that more shotgun means USC wants a running quarterback.
“Shea fits what they’re doing perfectly, but the misconception is that USC is looking for a guy who is going to run the football,” said Clarkson. “That’s not really true. Sark likes guys who are like short stops, if you will.
“He wants a quarterback that can deal the ball quickly and accurately. If he can run the ball, that’s great. But it’s an added bonus, not a per-requisite.”
Clarkson compares Patterson to a “bigger Drew Brees,” but he has also tutored several past and present Trojan quarterbacks. USC redshirt sophomore quarterback Max Browne is still under Clarkson’s wing.
So where does Patterson stack up to the likes of Browne, Matt Leinart, Jimmy Clausen and Matt Barkley.
“He’s in the upper 5-percent,” said Clarkson. “He’s a guy that will definitely play on Sundays. He is a program maker. Whoever gets him is getting a stone-cold bluechip player that gets o the field his freshman or redshirt freshman year.”