WSU coach Mike Leach says NFL overvalues QBs who take snaps from under center

Jul 13, 2016, 11:30 AM | Updated: 4:56 pm

WSU coach Mike Leach says NFL scouts wrongly discount quarterbacks coming from spread offenses. (AP...

WSU coach Mike Leach says NFL scouts wrongly discount quarterbacks coming from spread offenses. (AP)


LISTEN: Mike Leach talks about QBs taking snaps under center

Washington State football coach Mike Leach is confused by NFL talent evaluators who devalue college quarterbacks coming from spread offenses. And he said it’s time for these decision-makers to keep up with the evolving game.

Leach told 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton Tuesday that the bum rap attached to college quarterbacks coming from spread attacks – like his Air Raid offense at WSU – are unwarranted and that taking snaps from under center is an overrated skill.

“Every youth league coach that I’ve ever met … has mustered the ability to teach sixth graders to take snaps under center,” he said. “So if you’re a scout and if your guys at your whatever NFL team are a fraction of the coaches that you hope they’re going to be, I should think that they’re able to teach somebody to take a snap from under center. I mean, obviously, the guy already knows how. A chimpanzee can take the snap from under center.”

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Fair or not, whether college quarterbacks have experience leading a huddle and/or taking snaps from under center carries weight for many NFL scouts and general managers. It’s likely one of the reasons Trevone Boykin, who is hoping to catch on as the Seahawks’ backup, went undrafted after an accolade-filled career at TCU.

Leach said talent evaluators will ask profound questions and check boxes related to this skill, which he believes is increasingly less important in the pros.

“Like there is something magical about teaching somebody to do that because whichever caveman invented football, they were taking snaps under the center,” Leach said. “… And I’m not talking just one scout or one person has asked me this. But somehow the insecurity that exists with some of these people and their ability to teach a quarterback to take a quarterback snap from under center I think is a disturbing commentary.”

Cougars quarterback Luke Falk is among the players who will receive this scrutiny next year. As a sophomore, Falk completed more than 69 percent of his passes for 4,561 yards and 38 touchdowns in WSU’s pass-happy attack.

Leach called Falk a “real good” quarterback who will likely face varying degrees of scrutiny come draft time.

“I’ve always thought the biggest thing a quarterback does is elevate the play of the people around him,” Leach said. “I think Luke Falk did that better than anybody in the country last year, I think he’s going to do it better than anybody this year and I think that’s the biggest nature of a quarterback.”

While Clayton mentioned that there seems to be a wider push this year for Air Raid offenses in the college game, Leach said the trend is nothing new. The Air Raid offense – which Leach said he coined while coaching at Iowa Wesleyan College when a fan would show up to games with an air raid siren and blare it after every score – is run from a shotgun formation with four wide receivers and one running back. The quick, short passing attack gives quarterbacks freedom to diagnose defenses and call plays at the line of scrimmage.

The surge of high schools using spread offenses – especially in California and Texas – has helped with recruiting quarterbacks and receivers that fit the system, Leach said. He added that there has been “some denial” of that offensive approach but that it is usually from “people that want to make excuses for why they’re not as productive as they might be.”

Leach said the Air Raid offense has been part of NFL offenses for years.

“You’re hard-pressed to find an offense in the NFL that the Air Raid hasn’t influenced,” he said. “And I happen to think (the NFL) was the best football as far as coaching, as far as scheme and all that. I don’t think that’s been the case for about 15 years. I think as some of these older guys retired that it’s diminished. I think the best-coached football is in college and perhaps the best-coached football is in our conference, the Pac 12.”

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