I begin with a caveat. I am not Coach Mason. I have not been to one practice. I am, as you all know, a baseball guy.
However, I couldn't help but have a visceral reaction to Patton Robinette being named our starting quarterback.
Let me explain.
I'm a huge fan of The General, who he is as a person, what he represents, and his fake jump pass run to beat THOSE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED. Further, I fully expected him to get a good number of snaps this year, as he has clearly proven he's one of the best goal line QBs in college football. He can run the read-option like a champ, is one of the toughest guys on the team, and will surely be a credit to our school for the rest of his life.
McCrary's a more talented quarterback. I have a hard time believing the coaching staff disagrees with that.
One thing you learn watching and writing about baseball is that talent is always visually evident. If a guy throws 98mph but has a hitch in his motion that makes his throws erratic, you can see it from the outset. Further, it's usually pretty obvious whether that flaw is fixable. Furthermore, if a guy is an amazing cerebral pitcher with perfect form, but can't top 85mph on the gun, he can be a useful player, but his margin of error is significantly smaller. He can play a role, but would rarely be able to be your Friday starter. If he's got a great mind for pitching, again, he can be useful, but you try to move him toward the path of becoming a future member of the coaching staff as soon as possible.
If a hitter has numbers that don't pop, but has a compact swing, quick hands, and keeps his bat in the zone, you can pretty accurately project how he'll do in the near future once he gets acclimated to the talent level of the league. Think John Norwood prior to the end of last season, or Rhett Wiseman next year (who I expect to set the world on fire). See enough talent on both sides of the ball and you can pretty accurately surmise what a team will do.
Football's not as easy to determine, as every player is a cog in a wheel, and individual production is closely tied to team performance. However, the ability to tell whether skill position players will pop or thud based on the eye test is just as easy to determine as baseball.
And with that, McCrary has popped hard every time I've seen him - starting with the Army AA Game and continuing with both spring games he's been a part of. It's clear he's got the "It Factor," and that he can physically make all the throws. This is the reason few shed a tear when ACS's younger brother spurned us in the aftermath of the OBP leaving town. This is the reason many of us projected another bowl appearance in a transition year. This is the reason I was excited Karl Dorrell was on staff.
This is not to say Robinette cannot be successful. Rather, I'm simply saying he won't be able to make all the throws, and this will effectively limit the amount of pages in the playbook that can be used on game day. Further, this is not something anyone can really argue with. Robinette has leadership midi-chlorians that are off the charts. He can run the read-option better than anyone on the roster. He's tough. He's a winner. He's one of my favorite guys on the team. However, just like Tim Tebow, he doesn't have the pure arm talent to throw accurately with repeatable precision, he can't throw the deep ball, and he lacks the arm strength to thread the needle when he needs to.
McCrary, in short, can do these things.
I'm not saying he will; just that he can.
And for that reason, I have to either question the coaching staff's ability to evaluate quarterbacks, or assume that offensively, they'd rather go with trench warfare instead of a spread out aerial attack.
Earlier this week, Coach Mason referenced "deep water," and how we will want to drag other teams into said depth. This is all part of his consistent message of "intellectual brutality" and his defensive mindset that you can stop anything with grit and cohesion. I don't disagree with this, but I am starting to believe this mindset will be a part of the offense's mentality, as well, and that, to me, seems problematic.
For those who say, "It doesn't matter how we win; just that we win," I agree with you, in principle. In practice, I have a tough time believing we'll be able to beat SEC opponents not named Kentucky and THOSE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED by putting up less than 20 points.
I trust my eye, and my eye tells me we should be starting McCrary and bringing in Robinette for read-option plays and goal line offense.
I may be wrong, and I hope I am. My eye's telling me I'm not, though.