While Ryan Nassib begins the season as the starting quarterback, John Kinder and not Johnny Miller may end up playing a huge role this year as well. We all know the most important position is under center. In fact, The Fizz recently analyzed how vital it is that Nassib steps up during the Spring Game and beyond.
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Let’s say he doesn’t, though. What options does The Dougie have? As likely as it is the Pinstripe Bowl performance proves to be the turning point in the redshirt junior’s development, it could also just be a fluke. Before his brilliance in that lone game, Nassib served up a large sample size of mediocrity. In the final seven games of the regular season, the QB averaged just 137 passing yards and totaled more interceptions than touchdowns. The numbers say he’s still largely unproven over the long term.
Personally, I believe in Nassib and am pulling for him. The dream scenario is his final night in Orange will be in a BCS game after winning the Big East. But there’s also the possibility he gets sidelined before getting that chance, either for injury or poor performance.
That’s what makes the guys sitting behind him so important. Charley Loeb is the presumed backup right now, but it’s the youngsters with higher ceilings, John Kinder and Johnny Miller, who have SU fans wondering.
Miller was highly touted as a recruit, but I’m starting to doubt that he’ll ever amount to more than an emergency option. He has looked behind the curve at spring practice, possibly not quite recovered from shoulder injury that forced him to miss all of last year. Keep in mind that Miller has essentially spent three of his last four seasons on the shelf. He only played one full year of high school ball, and because of the injury, didn’t benefit from a season’s worth of college practices like his fellow redshirt freshman, Kinder. No wonder he looks so raw.
Kinder may be a really valuable asset, even if Nassib stays healthy and plays well. It’s always an advantage to give defenses extra looks to think about, and the presence of Kinder does that. He could potentially be dynamite in the Wildcat if the offense is struggling or to keep the defense off balance. That alone would make the Orange much tougher to game plan for.
At the college level, I like the idea of the starting quarterback and backup having different styles of play. The burden of injury falls on the defense, which all of a sudden has to adjust to a completely different offensive look.
That’s optimistic, however. Realistically, Kinder has yet to indicate he can be a serviceable backup and future starter. Watch him in practice and you’ll see the superior speed and the impressive arm strength. But those were qualities he’s always possessed. He still needs to become a better decision-maker and more accurate passer.
In simulated game situations in weekday practices, Kinder’s throws spray all over the place. In the three weekend scrimmages so far, he hasn’t been much better. Loeb is never going to make your jaw drop, but to his credit he’s been by far the most consistent of the backup quarterbacks.
Kinder must begin to turn it around in Saturday’s Spring Game – it’s in SU’s best interest that he does.
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Posted: Andrew Kanell