Film Study: Dru Brown Has the Skills to Start for OSU

[USATSI]
Written by Thomas Fleming

Before the end of 2017, we at PFB thought that incoming freshman Spencer Sanders would be the favorite to succeed NFL prospect Mason Rudolph. But with the recent news of Hawaii transfer Dru Brown coming to Stillwater, the competition for starter gets a little murkier.

Brown, who comes to OSU as a graduate transfer, played in an offense that’s similar to OSU’s. Not only does he have the experience playing in the spread but he also has all the skills of a starting quarterback.

Brown has an exceptional touch on his deep ball. Hawaii loves to use the slot fade both in the drop back passing game and as a tag in their running game. Brown has become adept at throwing to deep concepts, like the fade, with good touch and placement.

Brown also throws effectively to the seam. He shows good timing and knows how to lead his receiver in between multiple defenders.

Placement might be one of Brown’s biggest strengths. Some of the throws he was able to make at Hawaii are nothing short of impressive. Look at how he anticipates the receiver and places the ball in between the corner and safety on this switch concept:

He also is an excellent improviser when the blocking breaks down or the receivers are covered:

Brown’s highlight reel is certainly impressive but his statistics are average in comparison. In his two seasons at Hawaii, Brown has failed to throw for over 3,000 yards. His attempts are also not what you’d usually find in a starting quarterback. To put things in perspective, Mason Rudolph attempted almost 200 more passes than Brown in the past two seasons.

SEASON CMP ATT YDS TD INT RAT
2017 254 412 2785 18 8 129.0
2016 209 335 2488 19 7 139.3

Not only would his 2017 passing total rank him dead last among full-time starting quarterbacks in the Big 12, but he would also be last among those same starters in passer rating. Additionally, Brown threw at least one interception in five of his first six games.

Brown shouldn’t receive too much criticism, as he played in an offense that lacked explosiveness. The Rainbow Warriors were No. 105 in the country in scoring, averaging a mediocre 22.8 points per average. Whether his production would increase with an upgrade in talent is yet to be seen, but he’s proven that he’s a competent starter and should be in the running for the starting job come fall.

  • Bbjd

    Very fair critique. I appreciate you bringing up both the positive and negatives in Dru’s Hawaii career. I think overlooking Cornelius is a bit unfair he has a great chance to be the starter as well.

    All 3 are going to have a great shot at the job and I bet we see all 3 against Missouri State week 1 our actual spring game.

    • OrangeTuono

      Sounds like we have 4 in the running – Corndog, Wudtee, Brown and Spencer. Bounty for riches at QB these days. Hat’s off to Yurcich and Gundy.

      • Chris Baker

        I think if Wudtee (or Kolar) were panning out, we wouldn’t be bringing in Brown, just my opinion, but I have yet to see a single ball leave his (Wudtee’s) hand that gives me any confidence he can run our offense. The film on Brown gives me confidence that it will either be he or TC to start, and I’m thrilled about whomever wins that competition. I personally give the edge to TC just because he’s been in the system for four years, but Brown looks the part and if he can show he’s the guy in limited time this summer, that’s great. As far as Sanders, he’s obviously got the skill set and I think he does come in and competes for the job, but in the end I think he and OSU are better served with a redshirt. Nothing against him, but I like the idea of running/DT QBs spending at least one year in the strength program before taking on P5 defenders regularly.

        • Bbjd

          I think this is an unfair assessment of Wudtee. I agree he really isn’t a candidate to start this year but to say he isn’t panning out is kinda overstating the expectations of what a RS FR who was a project when he came in should be able to do.

          Wudtee fits great in the system I believe we will be running with Sanders which will involve more running. His role as a back up with his running ability and size could be a huge boost to the roster. So agreed on him probably not starting but I think the negativity toward his ability on here can get a bit overblown considering his age and that he has a different skill set than the Rudolph/Cornelius type.

          • Chris Baker

            I agree it is unfair because I have only seen him throw a hand full of balls in the spring game and in his very limited times in a real game. He bounced a lot of balls off the turf on short/intermediate throws. It’s a small sample size that likely won’t factor into his evaluation from the real coaches not us armchair coaches, but in about the same sample size, TC demonstrated he very much can make those throws. It seems Brown is likewise very capable. Wudtee is a guy that might find himself in a TC situation wherein he redshirts and sits for a couple of years, Sanders leaves early for the NFL and he starts as a 5th year Sr. Either way I feel pretty good about our QB situation at present. And in February I’m not sure what that really means but it’s better than being terrified.

          • Bbjd

            Agreed also I suggest you rewatch the South Alabama game.

            The arm is not impressive at all but I think we have to realize Wudtee isn’t going to be asked to make the throws Rudolph was asked to make. Outside of a bad/botched snap that put them in 2nd and 23 the offense moved pretty well with Wudtee in a way that reminds me of how we functioned with Walsh in 2015. He had 3 rushes for 29 yards and him and LD combined for 67 rushing yards on 2 drives one that ran out the clock and the other that ended in a field goal due to the fumbled snap.

            Once again not really a starting candidate but at 6’4 he has a role on this team and is going to be valuable down the road. Him and Chuba together for the Spring game would be awesome.

          • OrangeTuono

            I watched Wudtees senior highlights. He can flick the ball 45 yards on the move, but has a Walsh-esque sidearm. If hes upgraded his throwing mechanics (which I know is tough).

            Brown is a good QB, but in all the tape I’ve seen no 7 YARD out routes that separate the great arms from the good arms. He will have to run the ball or the D will collapse in on the receivers.

            Corndog actually has the best arm (I’ve heard better than Rudolph ) but we need to see him operate as field general.

            So my take is Brown and Wudtee are very Walsh-esque. Probably a 10 win ceiling. Corndog has an NFL arm and great wheels but we need to see toughness and leadership.

            I can see some 2 QB play this season if Corndog stalls out.

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  • Nicholas D.

    Thanks for this post – I liked it.

  • OrangeTuono

    As usual Fleming does a great assessment – pro’s and con’s.
    Good to have Brown on the roster!

  • Chris Baker

    I think one of our QBs pans out and we reach double digit wins for a fourth straight year.

    • guest

      I think one of them transfers before the year is over.

      • Chris Baker

        I don’t dispute that, but I think it very much depends on who wins the starting spot this year. I think the transfer candidates are Wudtee and Kolar. If TC were going to transfer it would be as a grad transfer and that would likely already be happening. If TC or Brown get the start, both are gone next year no matter what, and then we’re setup for a big QB comp before the 2019 season with Sanders, Wudtee, and whomever we sign at QB this year, which will likely be a 4 star QB given the chance to start as a true freshman would be on the table. IMO, one of the two SRs will get the start this year, Sanders will redshirt and we have an epic QB battle in 2019, which ends with someone transfering.

        • OrangeTuono

          Gundy specifically said in his signing day presser “I like where Cornelius and Wudtee are at” when asked if Sanders might start as a true freshman.

          Don’t want to read too much into it, but Wudtee still gets mentioned.

  • Bramos

    I think at this point Wudtee is no longer a candidate to be a starter in his time here, We’ve heard positive things about every other QB candidate throughout the off season and he is the only one that is almost never mentioned

    • Michael H

      Agree. I would be surprised if we didn’t hear about him transferring at some point between now and the first game.

  • Josh

    What I really hope happens is the best QB is the one that starts, what would we be saving Sanders for if he’s as good as advertised? Great teams play the best players regardless of the other variables. If we red shirt Sanders and he, god forbid, gets hurt next season we have essentially burned a redshirt. Play the player that gives you the best chance of winning and don’t look back.