Tommy DeVito didn’t put together the game he wanted in his first career start at Liberty Saturday. The redshirt sophomore went 17/35 for just 176 yards, while tossing two interceptions and no TDs. We went into the film room to figure out why the four-star recruit struggled.
Forcing The Issue
Perhaps DeVito’s worst mistake of the game came right before the end of the first half. Syracuse drove down the field to set up a 2nd & 10 at right around the Liberty 14 yard line. Facing pressure from the Flames Jesse Lemonier, DeVito spun around and was forced to role out of the pocket. As you can see below, no one was really open, except for maybe the receiver blocked by the score bug, so this was frankly his only option.
The issue comes when DeVito comes near the sideline. Instead of just throwing the ball away and ending the dead play, the Syracuse quarterback tries to squeeze it into a tight window where Aaron Hackett is at the far side of the three yard line.
Above you can see while Hackett was a little open, there wasn’t enough there. As a result, Vincent Elefante, the pass-rusher at the 20-yard line right in front of DeVito, got his hands up and deflected the ball, leading to an interception in the middle of the far side of the end zone, stalling a momentum-building drive. If anything, Sean Riley or Abdul Adams, the two SU route runners with their hands up at the hash marks were the best options. Given the situation of the game though, there was no reason to force the issue at all. The correct play was throwing the ball away.
Earlier in the first half, DeVito missed a chance for his first TD of the season. He had Taj Harris open on a fade route on the far side of the end zone. It was tough to get a clear shot of this because ESPN+ was somehow still in a double box with the replay of the play before and essentially missed the play. Regardless, you can see the separation for Harris.
DeVito fluttered one to the left of him though, spinning him around and falling to the left of his back shoulder. He missed a touchdown on a pass he typically makes. This was one example of a couple passes Saturday that showed DeVito just didn’t have his usual pinpoint accuracy.
One gripe on DeVito last year was his eagerness to rely on improvisation and scramble out of the pocket. A common trait for any young quarterback. While, DeVito did make some nice plays scrambling on Saturday night, below is an explain of him flushing out of the pocket when he doesn’t need to.
Above is a photo taken a solid 3 seconds into the play and credit the Orange offensive line and Abdul Adams with a great blitz pick up here. This is textbook. Despite the great protection, DeVito rolls out right.
On some instances like this play, coverage was solid and DeVito was rolling out to get closer to where he ultimately threw the ball–down the right sideline on an incompletion to Taj Harris. However, he still could have stayed in the pocket longer to let the play develop. The protection didn’t require any scrambling.
Everyone has bad games. Just look at how Trevor Lawerence played in week one as well. Any film study would led to examples of what any player, especially quarterback, can do better. There’s no reason to panic with DeVito. It was his first career start, after all. The three things listed above, forcing the issue, accuracy and pocket patience are just things he could improve on heading into Maryland this week.