BC Report: Rettig needs to kick it up a notch at QB

If there is a key to success for Boston College, which needs to reverse last season’s 4-8 record, it is at QB where junior Chase Rettig remains in control of the offense. The good news is that Rettig seemingly has adapted new (yes, another one, the fourth that Rettig has played for at BC) offensive coordinator Doug Martin’s new quick tempo, simplified system of come to the line of scrimmage, make a read and go.

Less complicated, quicker pace. In two seasons at BC, Rettig has rarely shown the potential that the BC coaching staff thought he had when he came out of Southern California with a big time reputation that had him in the Matt Barkley neighborhood of recruits.

And it may not happen, which will doom Rettig, BC and probably coach Frank Spaziani. One of the criticisms that Rettig has heard is that his reaction to finding open wide receivers is too slow. Former BC QB Brian St. Pierre, who now works on the WEEI-radio broadcast team for all Eagle football games, spotted it a year ago when he said that one of Rettig’s problems was that he was waiting to see his receiver open before he threw the ball.

That might work at the FCS level, but in the fast paced world of FBS, BCS football, you are just as likely to have a DB make the catch as you are a WR.

What Rettig needs is what Duke coach David Cutcliffe called “fast twitch thinking.” Cutcliffe is a QB coaching savant. He guided both Peyton and Eli Manning through the early stages of their careers and is turning out any QB who plays at Duke into a dangerous offensive weapon.

I still remember the story Cutcliffe told about Peyton Manning when I was at Ole Miss several years ago doing a story on Eli.  “Peyton and Eli to some extent have fast twitch thinking which is a total necessity for a QB,” said Cutcliffe. “But nobody was better at it than Peyton.”

Which naturally prompted a question: What is fast twitch thinking?

Cutcliffe explained by telling a story. “There was this student who needed to pass this course to graduate. He’s ready to take his final exam, which the professor explains is based on content, but speed as well. The kid has the content down cold and as he sits in a big conference room with 100 other students, he knows he has done well.  But he wants to make sure, so he goes over his answers one more time. He looks up and notices that the room is empty and the professor is sitting at his desk next to a pile of papers.

The professor looks at the student, shakes his head and points to the clock. “I told you it was also based on time,” said the professor. The student is in a total panic. “I need to pass this exam to graduate,” he says, getting up. The professor nods his head, but says he explained the rules and there will be no exceptions made. “Do you know who I am?” asks the student as he walks toward the professor.

Now the professor is facing a moral quandary, wondering who is this kid, perhaps the son of someone important, someone who can damage his career if he does not make an exception. “I don’t know and I don’t care,” says the professor making a judgment.

As he says this, the student smiles, sticks his paper in the middle of the large stack next to the professor and hurries out of the room.

“That,” says Cutcliffe laughing and waiting for the delayed reaction he knows will come, is fast twitch thinking.  In football terms, what Peyton can do and few others can do it as well, is to drop back, look at his receivers and make an instant decision on where the ball will go with the least amount of risk for an interception.

What Chase Rettig needs to do this season–and what Doug Martin and Frank Spaziani need to do is to work on Rettig’s fast twitch thinking ability and potential.

If they can do that, Rettig might have the break through season he wants and BC desperately needs.

© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.

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