(Photo Credit: BlockU.com)
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One of the biggest storylines for Indiana’s national signing day was the commitment of prized quarterback Jack Tuttle. At 6-foot-4 and 207 pounds, the four-star California native was ranked as a top 10 pro style quarterback out of high school and joins Indiana’s 40th ranked recruiting class according to 24/7 Sports.
Update April 3rd, 2019: After a bit of commotion on social media about Jack Tuttle’s NCAA waiver response being delayed, the Indiana Football administration received official notice of Jack Tuttle’s eligibility. He would be immediately available to play with four years of eligibility. This news marks a tremendous impact to Indiana’s offense who recently signed Fresno State’s offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer.
During Tuttle’s junior year of high school, he committed to the University of Utah and remained committed even though he had a number of schools pursue him. He was widely considered as Utah’s most prized quarterback commit in program history. The Utes beat out countless power-five offers for Tuttle including Alabama, Auburn, USC, Wisconsin, Arizona State, LSU, Missouri, and more. His ties to the state of Indiana – he was born in Indianapolis and his father played at Indiana – led to an offer from Tom Allen and Indiana as well.
After arriving to Salt Lake City, he quickly realized where he landed on the Utah depth chart. He would he not be the starter day one as that was Tyler Huntley’s role to lose, but he would also have to sit behind the red shirt freshman backup Jason Shelley. Ultimately that paved the way for his interest in transferring out of Utah and the Pac-12.
Although the Hoosiers believed that they would have a relatively deep quarterback squad, that simply became untrue before the season even began. Arizona transfer Brandon Dawkins announced that he was stepping away from football. The two-headed beast of Peyton Ramsey and Michael Penix Jr., with Reese Taylor as a third backup, would be the quarterbacks to lead Indiana. At the mid-point of last season, the depth issues were even further exacerbated as Penix Jr. received a lower body injury in the contest against Penn State.
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What is his game?
Jack Tuttle truly fits the mold of the pro-style quarterback archetype. He has a strong and accurate arm, and looks to pass first always. In fact, Tuttle is not really known to run the ball unless for specially called QB sneaks or when a play truly has blown up.
You will see in the next series of clips that the best parts of his game include proper foundational footwork, ability to read defenses and offenses, quickly react and make critical decisions, and the ability to make the deep and accurate pass with time in the pocket.
Let’s dig in.
Solid Drop and Footwork
One can quickly tell that Tuttle was coached very well at the high school level because he has built his game off of fundamentals. Although he primarily operates out of the shotgun, Jack looks very comfortable playing under the center and understands the appropriate footing to get him quickly into throwing position. Stable footing is a key indicator on whether or not Tuttle will make a good throw. If sets into a stance and has the opportunity to step into his throws, you can bet that good things will happen.
A very quick three step drop out from under the center leads to a pinpoint-precise throw for his receiver.
Instead of a 3-step drop, Tuttle goes deeper with a 7-step drop. He launches for the corner and places the ball only where his target can catch it.
Tuttle dedicates practice time to his footwork, that enables him to get air under his throws while also being accurate.
Fast Read Progressions and Decision Making
Another core tenet of a good pro-style quarterback is to understand what happens on the field at game speed. Tuttle has the game-IQ to not only read the defense pre-snap, but also to make game time decisions looking at his progressions from 1 to 4.
Although sometimes to a fault, he truly sticks to the progressions of the play call and does not often run with the ball unless he truly has no more options. Indiana fans will come to appreciate just how quickly he is able to make reads and move through the progression as seen in the following clips.
Focus here on Tuttle’s eyes. You can watch how he is mentally going through the play’s intended progression. “No, no, yes, fire.”
Another showcase of his ability to scan the field quickly and make the pass. In this play, he starts from the right and pans all the way to the left.
Even with an open man as the first option, Tuttle has the maturity to pump fake and instead find a better target for the touchdown.
Throwing deep happens to be a core part of Tuttle’s skill set. Indiana fans have been craving for a gunslinger since the graduation of Nate Sudfeld in 2015. Jack’s rocket launcher arm may be considered his best feature and a big reason for his high recruiting ratings. These are clips that Tom Allen has to be showing wide-receiver recruits, perhaps to Rashawn Williams?
Initiating the play with proper footing allows Tuttle to lean into this forty-yard bomb.
Here he is on the opposite side, but again the drop leads to a stable throwing platform for his beautiful pass into the corner.
Indiana has had receivers with the ability to separate deep. Having throws as accurate as this one is going to do wonders for the offense.
Out of the shotgun, Tuttle gets pressured but does not give up on the play and has his eyes down field.
Areas for improvement?
In the same ways that Richard Lagow struggled for the Hoosiers, Jack Tuttle has similar weaknesses that a pro-style quarterback would typically have. His pocket mobility is truly the single most important aspect of his game that he needs to improve over the off-season if he wants to have a shot at challenging the starting position.
Evading Pocket Aggression and Throwing Away the Rock
What makes Jack Tuttle great also works against him at times. Part of being a pass-first quarterback includes needing to keep your eyes laser focused downfield. As a side effect, Tuttle may lose awareness of the activity in the pocket itself. By the team he realizes that the pocket has collapsed, it is usually too late for him to roll away or even throw away the rocket.
Tuttle is completely focused on the development downfield and does not make it through the progression before getting grabbed by the defender. Luckily his throw lands to his receiver, but a pass like this could have been easily picked.
Although it is probably unfair to put the blame on Tuttle on this play as his line blew an assignment, Jack does not have the peripheral sense to know when roll and make a move in the pocket.
Even though his progressions are quick, he is not quick enough on this play and does not have time to avoid the sack.
Tuttle again gets caught looking downfield and does not have enough mobility to evade the blitz.
Under-throwing on the Move
While Jack Tuttle still hits his targets, you can see that he loses some power when his lower body is not properly set. When on the move, he has a tendency to trail his targets, especially in short pass scenarios. The separation that his receivers can get on the field might be fine in high school, but the ability for Big Ten secondaries to close in will spell trouble for Tuttle if he does not place the ball properly.
Of course there are designed curl routes for the receivers to face towards the quarterback when catching, but these plays below are not. Even if Jack hits the target just a bit more in front laterally east-to-west, that would allow the ball to be caught without the need for body contortion. His players will be more protected and will be able to maintain their momentum.
In a designed tailback fade, Tuttle places the ball just slightly behind his wide open target with the opposing D-line in his face.
Out of the shotgun, Tuttle under-throws another 10-yard pass to his receiver.
Jack rolls towards the right and hits his receiver, but again the trails his target forcing him to turn his body backward for the catch.
Eventually a pass without enough juice gets picked off in traffic.
Certainly, one of the key selling points that the coaching staff made to convince Jack to select IU was the improvements in the Athletic Performance department lead by Coach Ballou and Dr. Matt Rhea. With their emphasis on speed, Tuttle has the opportunity to improve his all around game and become more nimble in the pocket.
Tuttle should take advantage of the speed measuring tools and devices, and continue to monitor his improvements during the off-season. Pairing that with the speed training programs that the staff has expertly crafted can enable Tuttle to at least avoid getting sacked. Given his highly touted passing, there is no need for Tuttle to become a true dual-threat QB, but a bit more gains in acceleration can pay dividends for him.
Lastly it’s worth noting that Tuttle can definitely take the game on the ground. There are highlight clips of Tuttle breaking multiple tackles for a score; however, unless the play is a designed QB sneak, taking off on the ground is not where Tuttle is most comfortable.
Tuttle gets pressured early due to a missed assignment, but does not pick up enough speed to escape the defender. He fumbles the ball as a result of still trying to salvage the play.
Even with more time in the pocket, Tuttle takes the sack despite finally finding an open man.
He makes one move the initially evade the defender, but he does not have enough speed to separate enough to make a play.
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Jack Tuttle’s Impact
After a hot start to the 2018, Indiana’s season fizzled out due to a number of reasons. One of those reasons was the inconsistency of the offense. Alone Jack Tuttle is not the savior that will immediately change the program. Even as a top 10 quarterback recruit, there are still lots of adjustments that Tuttle needs to make before even being in the contention of beating out the likes of Michael Penix Jr. and Peyton Ramsey.
What he does bring is the the ability for Indiana to open up the playbook. Peyton Ramsey was the master at the short game and scrambles, but he could be painfully inaccurate in the long game, especially when considering the receiver core he had to work with before injuries. Tom Allen has four years of eligibility to work with Jack Tuttle. What happened the last time Indiana had a pro-style quarter back out of California for four years? Nate Sudfeld broke Indiana’s single season and career passing yard records.
Jack Tuttle is a tremendous addition to our program and we are happy to welcome him to IU,” coach Tom Allen said in a press release. “He is extremely talented and brings a huge skillset to our quarterback room. We look forward to his arrival on campus next semester and his development as a Hoosier.– Coach Tom Allen