On Tuesday, we asked if Tommy DeVito had done enough to remain the Syracuse Orange’s starting quarterback. The verdict was... probably, for now, though mostly because he hadn’t done enough to lose the gig either.
There’s another side to that conversation, however. Has backup Garrett Shrader done enough to be Syracuse’s starting QB? Or at least enough to earn more snaps than the limited time we saw him vs. Rutgers as the two players continue to compete?
Shrader’s mother, Tracey, told the Daily Orange that he thinks he’s capable of starting. But that’s also a natural response for any parent. It doesn’t mean he’s not capable or that he doesn’t think he’s capable. But if you ask most parents if their kid’s capable of something — or if they think their kid believes themselves to be capable — the answer’s almost always yes. (still, worth giving the D.O. piece a read if you’d like to learn more about Garrett)
So instead we’ll focus on his play so far, similar to how we did with DeVito the other day.
Against Rutgers, Shrader was 5-of-8 for 50 yards, with two straight three-and-outs inside SU’s 20 before a sustained drive that stalled out around mid-field. Notably, here’s how his throws broke out by distance — per PFF:
- 20-plus yards: 0-for-3, 0 yards (44.7 grade)
- 10-19 yards: 2-for-2, 29 yards (84.0 grade)
- 0-9 yards: 3-for-3, 21 yards (64.7 grade)
On more total throws, DeVito scored better at two of those three distances. One place where DeVito struggles, however, is in the mid-range — throws that usually take more time to develop, and thus don’t work when you’re locking on to a single receiver for a quick throw. On one fewer throw (and the same number of completions), Shrader fared significantly better from a PFF grade standpoint — 84.0 vs. 69.7.
From an eye test standpoint, Shrader appeared more able to move the pocket and throw the ball, while operating in more of a no-huddle system than what DeVito’s typically running after the first few (scripted) drives. But when it comes to dropping back with blitzes and pressure, DeVito actually grades out as the better passer, for the most part.
With a clean pocket, Shrader scored a 62.7 passing grade from PFF, vs. 76.0 for DeVito. They’re pretty similar when not blitzed (60.2 for Tommy, 65.3 for Garrett), but when blitzed, DeVito’s actually significantly better — 70.7 grade vs. a 44.1. Shrader’s big advantage is when facing pressure, though neither is all that great in that department (55.9 passing grade for Shrader, but 44.1 for DeVito).
Shrader’s running was also supposed to be his differentiator, yet DeVito has graded out as a better runner so far this season, and has picked up quite a few yards on the ground so far (62 on 16 attempts). Will admit that Tommy’s also had more opportunities to take off, and he’s aided by 49 yards against Ohio. But what we’ve seen from Shrader behind the same below-average pass-blocking hasn’t indicated a greater ability to take off and gain yards while doing so.
So yes, we come to the same conclusion around who’s starting from a statistical standpoint. Tommy hasn’t lost himself the job, and Shrader definitely hasn’t done enough to take it from him either. What Shrader’s shown so far is a different look in the sense that he’s more comfortable running a hurry-up offense and throwing on the run. Is that enough of a reason to make the switch given what else we’ve seen so far?
Dino Babers has acknowledged that the two-QB system can’t work all season, and SU will need to make a decision after this week. That probably means significant snaps for both players against Albany to come to a final verdict. You still have to wonder why the fourth quarter vs. Ohio wasn’t also utilized for this purpose, though, if it was so crucial to come to a decision by the end of game three.
For as much as I think it’s still Tommy’s job, Garrett’s only had three drives and garbage time vs. Ohio to show anything. Has he really had enough time to show what he can do? Or was this just destined to be DeVito’s gig this year?