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Breaking Down the First Half of Mason Rudolph’s Senior Season (Part 1)



At the midpoint in the season, I thought it would be a good idea to evaluate the play of Mason Rudolph thus far six games in.  

Preseason the expectations were sky high for Rudolph and the Oklahoma State offense, and so far they have delivered. I wanted to base this review off a previous segment I did, evaluating his play from the first 2+ seasons of his career.  You can read that previous article here.

First thing I would like to mention is that Rudolph is a fantastic player.  I generally like to dig deeper into someone’s play, because I’m a NFL Draft junkie. Rudolph is on pace for over 5,000 passing yards and 54 total TDs, so to say he’s been anything less than great is a mistake. However, I think it is a good idea to focus on some things that he has improved on since last season and some mistakes he has made as well.  

Impressively, Rudolph has improved every single season he has been at Oklahoma State, which is hard to do when you’re playing at a high level. He’s been labeled as a relentless worker and you can see easily in some key areas where big steps have been made.  You can see improvements in his game throughout each season, which is important in his overall progression and preparing for the NFL Draft next year.  

Some things really stand out in regards to where Rudolph has improved the most from the 2016 to 2017 season. I will break down each section and provide some examples of where he has improved and some areas that are still lacking.  

1. Pocket Movement and ability to get outside and make unscheduled plays. This has been far and away the best improvement from Rudolph’s game from last season, and has directly accounted for 4 passing TDs (some of which I will highlight below).  In my previous article, you can see that I talk about how Rudolph was unable to bounce out of the pocket to buy more time to push the ball down the field. There are a ton of examples of this, and you can clearly see he is more comfortable outside the pocket this season.  

EXAMPLE 1 – Just a tremendous play, he did not have this play in his game last year.  Great pocket movement to buy more time, sets feet and rips a ball about 40 yards down field. Best part about this is Ateman was not open when he throws ball, and he put the ball towards the sideline where only he could catch it.

EXAMPLE 2 – Great play to bounce the play outside of the pocket to buy more time and find McCleskey wide open in the corner of the end zone.

EXAMPLE 3 – This similar play actually happened against Tulsa as well. Although Rudolph has become much better at buying time and making plays with his legs, he has to be able to have a better internal clock than this. This play is almost identical to the TD to Mckleskey above, he just held the ball too long. Once you feel that pressure, need to pull ball down and take the 3-4 yards to live another down.

2. Short throws, intermediate, deep ball. The No. 1 issue I found with Rudolph from 2016 is lack of accuracy in throws under 5 yards and at or behind the line of scrimmage.  While his intermediate throws on the sidelines were absolutely his best throws, his intermediate throws to the middle were inconsistent. His deep ball was good but not great, although it accounted for a huge portion of OSU’s offense.

From what we have seen in 2017 thus far, his short passes have shown tremendous improvement. You can clearly see the coaching staff have more confidence in him in these situations, shown by Justice Hill having 15 receptions in 6 games vs. 5 receptions all of last season.  

His intermediate throws both inside and outside the hashes have been extremely consistent, and a staple in this offense this season. However, his deep ball has been inconsistent. I have mixed feelings here, but I think he may have actually regressed in deep ball accuracy from a season ago (some of this might be related to swirling winds in BPS Saturday vs. Baylor).

EXAMPLE 1 – This is one of the only examples of a bad throw on a lateral throw this year. Rudolph consistently has cleaned up footwork inconsistencies on short throws and looks more confident here. Huge improvement considering it was one of the biggest weaknesses of his game.  

EXAMPLE 2/3/4 – Intermediate throws are the best part of his game. In 2017, Rudolph has added intermediate posts, digs and slants as routes he is very comfortable with. Being able to work the middle of the field consistently has been crucial for OSU’s offensive success as well. The 4th example is one of the best throws I’ve seen him make at a crucial 3rd down …. on the road …. in the 4th quarter …. tied game. Just money.  

EXAMPLE 5/6 – We did not see a lot of seam throws from Rudolph before this season, but there have been several examples of Rudolph making confident throws with pace down the seam this year. At least 6-7 accurate seam throws thus far, the only example I found where he was not accurate is the second video (which was a big miss).  

EXAMPLE 7/8 – Deep balls have been Rudolph’s bread and butter, but he has been inconsistent here as well. Having James Washington and Marcell Ateman certainly help, and they have covered up some inaccurate throws from him both this season and in the past. Here are two examples of the wide disparity in accuracy we have seen thus far.  

We will take a look at Part 2 on Thursday.

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