Before breaking down the performance of San Diego State’s struggling quarterback, I feel the need to brandish my credentials as a football analyst:
In middle school, I used to play two-hand touch at lunch. Like, almost every day. And often, I was entrusted with the position of “permanent quarterback.” So I’ve been there, OK? I know what it’s like to thread the needle with a multicolor Nerf ball while staring down the barrel of a pass rusher counting his 10th alligator.
Don’t act like you’re not impressed.
So what does my wealth of experience tell me about Ryan Lindley’s recent attempt to become the football version of Rick Ankiel? First, here’s a few things it hasn’t told me:
- I don’t think the senior has regressed.
- I don’t think the extra muscle he added has screwed up his mechanics.
- I don’t think he’s resting on his laurels or looking ahead to the NFL draft.
- I don’t think the moment was too big for him at Michigan.
What I do see is a guy who’s rattled. Not by the pressure or fear of being hit, but by a total lack of confidence in his wide receivers. He’s not sure they’re going to be in the right place and he’s not sure they’re going to catch the damn ball if they are.
Last year, Lindley knew that if he put the ball in the right zip code, DeMarco Sampson and Vincent Brown would go get it. Now it looks like he’s trying to be too fine; putting pressure on himself to make every throw perfect. Dude seems kind of mindfucked.
I really, really like Colin Lockett (rip alert!); he’s the most talented receiver on the roster and he’s going to develop into a great player. But the converted cornerback has shown about as much consistency as my dog’s dumps after he’s broken into a bag of flaming hot Cheetos.
Sometimes Lockett looks like the next Darnay Scott, other times the next Winfield Scott. Occasionally on consecutive plays. He’s still so green that it makes me wonder what he must’ve been like during spring ball:
Lindley: The hell man—did that pass hit you in the nuts?
Lockett (bent over and wheezing): Sorry, Ryan. It’s these damn pants. I got the biggest pair they had, but I can’t pull the waistband out far enough to trap the ball in there.
Lindley: Your pants?? You know you’re allowed to catch the ball with your hands, right?
Lindley: OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE!
This isn’t to throw everything at feet of Lockett (even though a lot of thrown objects seem to end up there AMIRITE??). Gavin Escobar and others have been playing their share of dropsie at times, but Lockett’s flubs have been the most flagrant.
His key fourth-down drop at Michigan came on a perfectly-thrown lob. The long touchdown pass he dropped at Army (a play I’m starting to suspect sent Lindley into his current suck spiral) had a freaking bow tied around it.
But there are signs of hope.
Even with Lindley’s subpar accuracy—and he was truly wretched for most of the Michigan game—his decision-making has been pretty damn solid. Senior-like, even. After being intercepted 30 times in the previous two years, he’s thrown exactly one pick in 130 attempts this season. That, amid all the other troubling signs, is clear progress.
UNLV’s quarterback just threw three pick-sixes in the same game. Now that is a slump.
Call me crazy, but I think (wish?) Lockett and the gang will eventually settle in and figure out their shit. And once that happens, Lindley will suddenly become reacquainted with the broadside of a barn.
Take it from a guy whose laced ‘em up: the adjustment takes a while. I totally went through the same thing when my top target, Mike Aruda, decided he was going to start playing teatherball at lunch instead.
Get at me, Ryan. I can talk you through this.