TEMPE, Ariz. – Comparing players is often unfair. Many coaches shy away from the topic for fear of putting undue pressure on someone.
The flip side is when a comparison is made to give people a better idea of a particular player’s talents or perhaps what a team may be up against that week.
For example, Arizona State defensive coordinator Keith Patterson was asked Wednesday about getting pressure on a quarterback with a quick release, like Texas Tech signal-caller Patrick Mahomes, whom the Sun Devils face Saturday.
Patterson explained he expected the same difficulty rushing the quarterback as ASU experienced last week against Case Cookus of Northern Arizona. Both release the football in under two seconds, according to Patterson.
“The thing that’s different is this guy,” he said, referring to Mahomes, “is kind of a Brett Favre-type quarterback. He has just an uncanny ability to get outside the pocket. He will run to one side and throw back to the middle of the field. It’s a cardinal sin to do that. He does it with regularity. The other night he throws a no-look pass. I mean, he’s looking out here and throws the ball to a guy in the middle of the field, so he’s extremely talented.
“He just has a sense; he has that quarterback-sense that he just feels that pressure and has a unique ability to get back outside of containment and when he does, boy, hold onto your hat.”
One question later, Patterson drew another comparison with Mahomes, albeit with a player in a different sport entirely.
“He kind of plays football like Magic Johnson played point guard,” he said, pointing out Mahomes completed passes to 17 different receivers in Texas Tech’s 69-17 season-opening win against Stephen F. Austin. “He’s big. He’ll run up in there (in the pocket) and all of a sudden you’ve got guys converging on him and whoever you left in coverage, he’ll just dump it right over your head. We have a plan to try and cast a net and keep him in, like everyone else does, but that’s easier said than done sometimes with a guy of his ability.”
Last week, Mahomes accounted for six touchdowns, throwing for 483 yards.
Last season, Mahomes was the nation’s fourth-leading passer, (4,653 yards) directing the nation’s second-best passing attack. The Texas Tech Air Raid offense averaged 388.2 yards per game in 2015, causing many sleepless nights for opposing defensive coordinators.
Just don’t count Patterson among that group.
“I kind of like playing teams like this to be honest with you. That’s why our whole defense is designed to play spread, up-tempo offenses,” he said. “There’s not much that’s going to keep me awake.”
— Reinforcements may be on the way in the Sun Devils secondary by way of redshirt senior safety Laiu Moeakiola. He missed the opener due to a hamstring injury. His availability would be big, according to Patterson. “Just kind of quiet confidence. The guy knows how to compete. He’s got great experience. Just his presence on the field,” he said. “You look out there last week we had five projected starters not on the field. We get one guy ejected for targeting. We have another starter go down on the first series so we had seven guys not on the field for most of the game so guys were able to get valuable experience and I thought that was key.”
— It was junior linebacker Christian Sam who went down with a foot injury early against NAU. It’s still unknown as to whether or not he’ll be healthy enough to play this week, but if not, then Patterson expressed his confidence in redshirt senior Carlos Mendoza, who replaced Sam. “I thought he did pretty well. It’s just one of those deals, you have to be ready,” he said. “Carlos is one of those guys; he comes in and studies the game so he’s prepared. I was just addressing that with our linebackers. The kid was going into the game as a backup. He could’ve easily not taken care of his responsibilities to the team, but he answered the call so I was very proud of him.”
— Patterson on Texas Tech’s offensive line, which historically has always been very good: “They recruit the largest human beings they can find, and they just try to teach them to backup and then ball comes out quick, now you got to spend time running around them.”
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