FanPost

2014 NFL Draft: Tom Savage Is A Quarterback (And Is Now A Quarterback For The Houston Texans)

It is apparent that he's a quarterback. - Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

University of Pittsburgh Pro Day 2014

Other Texans scouts headed to the University of Minnesota to check out some Golden Gophers, but Texans head coach Bill O'Brien was on hand at the University of Pittsburgh Pro Day to see several Pitt players including #15 ranked WR Devin Street, highly touted defensive lineman Aaron Donald, and quarterback Tom Savage. Wait, who is Tom Savage? Who the hell let that guy into the stadium...didn't he transfer or somethin'? Sigh.

According to this blog entry at www.StateOfTheTexans.com, Tom Savage was more than just a guy throwing to Devin Street:

The Texans had a formal interview with Donald at the NFL combine, and O’Brien meet with Savage after his workout that consisted with over 100 scripted passes. O’Brien even instructed Savage to make some throws he wanted to see after his workout for the 28 teams in attendance. Reports are that Savage threw well and showed impressive arm strength and accuracy in the cold conditions (Kevin Weidl, ESPN)

Sidenote: Devin Street improved his 40 time to a 4.46 and Aaron Donald did not run a 40 but did perform positional drills for the 28 NFL teams on hand for the Pitt Pro Day. In the clip below, there is a Bill O'Brien interview at the :54 mark where he raps on his thoughts for this particular Pro Day followed by Tom Savage throwing some passes.

Tom Savage Is A Big, Tall Quarterback

I'll post some video clips at the end of this FanPost, but for now let's look at the specifics of who Tom Savage is.

He's big and tall, with measurements at 6' 5" (Bortles is 6' 4" and some change) and he weighs in at around 230 lbs. according to the Pittsburgh Panthers Athletics website.

Tom Savage was ranked by noted football scout Tom Lemming (The MaxPreps.com dude) as the #3 ranked PRO STYLE quarterback coming out of high school in 2008. By now, everyone should know what "pro style" means. It's the opposite of Johnny Manziel, meaning the quarterback operates within a structure that has rules meant to decipher a defense and then exploit that defense based on known variables that must be computed by the quarterback prior to the snap and then within fractions of a second once the ball has been snapped. TL;DR recap: It's big boy football.

What Type Of Offense Has Savage QB'd?

I Google'd what type of offense head coach Paul Chryst deployed at Pitt, and wound up finding this nugget of familiar information in an interview of Joe Rudolph who had left U Wisconsin to join Chryst at U Pitt. The following is intriguing if you remember the core attributes Bob McNair wanted and said he thinks he has found in Bill O'Brien as Texans head coach:

At Wisconsin, the offense always seemed to play to its strengths - it wasn't just a run-oriented offense or pass-heavy offense. It adjusted to its personnel on an annual basis. Is that the approach you will take here?

"Absolutely. The great thing about Coach Chryst as a person who has had so much success putting together offenses is his humbleness. I always talk about him running an offense without ego. He truly tries to identify the best players and put those players in the best situation to succeed. Growing the offense in the direction that helps our players feel comfortable and maximizes their strengths is something he doesn't hesitate to do." -- U Pitt Athletics Article, Feb 22, 2012

Flexible, adjusts when needed, and uses the talent on the roster to grow in a way that maximizes the roster's strengths. This doesn't help me identify what offense the Panthers ran with Savage at QB, but it could help us understand that whatever they ran in 2013 must have been something that played to the strengths of Savage, the OL and the skill positions Chryst inherited there.

After some more research, I found that Tom Savage was dealt the cruelest blow a young true freshman QB in college could be dealt: Tom played for the now infamous Greg Schiano who in the 2010 season completely eff'd up what had been a decent 2009 outing by his Rutgers team under the true freshman QB Tom Savage. Check this out, courtesy of our friends at ESPN.com:

But Savage struggled early [in 2010], got hurt and eventually was replaced in the fourth game by true freshman Chas Dodd. Savage played in only six games in 2010, completed only 51.8 percent of his passes and had just two touchdown throws with three interceptions. Stuck behind an awful offensive line that gave up a nation's-worst 61 sacks, he looked gun-shy and had trouble keeping his eyes upfield. Dodd, a smaller, more mobile quarterback, found some success because he could run away from trouble, though the Rutgers offense never really got on track.

Savage, at 6-foot-4, seemed tailor-made for Greg Schiano's pro-style attack. But the Scarlet Knights tried implementing some spread principles to poor results, and the quarterbacks were constantly shuffled off the field for the Wildcat formation. There was little doubt that Savage was highly frustrated by that turn of events.

But Rutgers just hired former Pitt offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti as part of Schiano's desire to get back to a true pro-style offense. On Friday, Schiano said that Cignetti's offense would perfectly suit Savage's skills.

But Savage has apparently had enough, and now it will be interesting to see where he lands. Rutgers said he had been granted a "conditional" release, which likely means he will not be allowed to transfer to any team on the Scarlet Knights schedule. Does he go to an FCS school where he can play right away, or does he move to an FBS team where he'll have to sit out a year before suiting up?

TL;DR Recap: Savage began his first season and played in a pro style offense under Schiano, then Schiano decided to play reindeer games in 2010 and everything for Rutgers went to hell in a hand basket even with a more mobile QB taking over for Savage at the halfway mark of the 2010 season, and then Schiano said "Naw, dude, I was just playin' wit ya dawg! Come on, Tom, let's be buddies and run pro style offense again. Whattya' say, bro?" and Savage left Rutgers.

Conclusion: Tom Savage is a pro style QB. A big, tall pro style QB who likes to play pro style football.

The Tom Savage Nationwide QB Tour

Rutgers: Two seasons, 2009 (starter) and 2010 (got screwed over, "lost" the starter job)

As the MaxPreps/Tom Lemming #3 ranked pro style QB out of the high school 2008 graduating class, Savage's first season was a true freshman year in 2009 where he won the starting the QB at Rutgers two games into the 2009 season under Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. He also played as a Sophomore with the Scarlet Knights in a reduced role during the 2010 season, losing his starting job to freshman Chas Dodd after having getting beat da' hell up by a poor OL which eventually led to an injury and then a permanent seat on the bench for Case Kee...Chas Dodd.

Apparently, it was too late to apologize to Tom Savage, so he got the hell out of dodge like any smart Sophomore would if given the chance to leave a guy like Schiano in the rearview mirror.

Savage's achievements for the 2009 and 2010 seasons at Rutgers:

2009 Achievements

  • Seized the starting quarterback job in September '09 as a true freshman and was named the Scarlet Knights' Most Valuable Offensive Player after completing 149-of-285 passes (52%) for 2,211 yards with 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
  • Played in 12 total games, starting 11 of those games
  • Threw for a career-high 294 yards on 14-of-27 passing with two TDs in a 45-24 victory over UCF in the 2009 St. Petersburg Bowl
  • Had the most passing yards and touchdowns by a true freshman quarterback in Big East history
  • Also had the best touchdown-to-interception ratio for any true freshman QB in the country in 2009
  • Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) Freshman All-America selection

A 52% completion rate is not astounding, and his TD-to-Int ratio was 14:7, but then again he was a true freshman and he was playing for Rutgers. Under Greg Schiano.

2010 Achievements

  • Played in six games, starting four as a sophomore, completing 43-of-83 passes (52%) for 521 yards and two TDs.

He then transferred out of Rutgers after the 2010 season, landing at the University of Arizona prior to the 2011 college football season.

Arizona: One season, 2011 (sat out due to NCAA rules)

NCAA rules mandated that he sit out the 2011 season at Arizona even though he had already been punished for having to play under Greg Schiano who is allegedly a complete tool.

Details from the TucsonCitizen.com article, a retrospective commentary on Tom Savage:

Tom Savage, we hardly knew ya.

Savage spent a semester as a quarterback at Arizona, the fall of 2011, following his transfer from Rutgers, where he was a Freshman All-American in 2009.

He announced he was leaving UA in December 2011, citing family reasons rather than new coach Rich Rodriguez. The coach’s zone-read offense isn’t a natural fit for Savage’s pocket-passer profile, although RichRod has shown the ability to adjust his attack according to his quarterback’s skill.

Rodriguez had no trouble using the arm of Matt Scott last season.

If Savage had stayed at Arizona, perhaps he would be the starting quarterback right now as the 3-0 Wildcats head into conference play Saturday at Washington. As it is, life is pretty good for him at Pitt. The senior passed for 424 yards and six touchdowns at Duke on Saturday, earning him the Walter Camp Football Foundation’s National Offensive Player of the Week award.

He is ninth nationally in passing efficiency at 185.9 yards per game.

According to a previously published article by TucsonCitizen.com, Tom Savage left Arizona to return to the east coast due to a family situation there. Savage stated that it was not a conflict with RichRod's style of offense, and RichRod also stated that he felt sure that Savage's pocket passer skills would still be utilized in the read-option offense at Arizona had he remained for the 2012 season.

Except this: It seems that Rich Rodriguez, who is also a major tool, left Michigan after being a colossal failure there (which was after leaving the West Virginia program) and was hired in November of 2011 by the university of Arizona well after Tom Savage's arrival at UA (Remember: Savage was sitting out the 2011 season at Arizona at that time). So once again, Tom Savage finds himself at the mercy of a self-indulgent, daft head coach who puts Tom's pro style skills out to pasture. Talk about a man of constant sorrow!

Sidenote: Never under estimate the power of guys like Rich Rodriguez and Greg Schiano to totally jack up whatever place decides their football program needs a shot of crazy in their asses. Honorable mention: George O'Leary for lying like for a over a decade or something about his resumé achievements and honors plus being sort of almost completely responsible for a player's death at UCF. It's a unique club, and O'Leary probably has a few more years to make the ballot.

Back on track, now. Savage transferred from Arizona to Pitt prior to the 2012 season, and again had to sit out the 2012 season at Pitt because of NCAA rules. He then played the 2013 season with the Panthers, finding a home and a place where he could be Tom Savage under a head coach, Paul Chryst, who haz connectionz to Russell Wilson.

From the Pittsburgh Panthers Athletics website article on Paul Chryst:

In 2011, Chryst helped Wisconsin to an 11-3 record and its second consecutive Big Ten title and Rose Bowl berth. The Badgers featured a prolific offense that set no fewer than a dozen school records, including points per game (44.1 avg.), total offense per game (469.9 avg.), total rushing yards (3,298) and total passing yards (3,280).

From 2009-11, Wisconsin achieved the Big Ten's best record (32-8, .800) while averaging 39.2 points per game during that span. Chryst also coached the UW quarterbacks and was twice named a finalist for the prestigious Broyles Award, annually presented to college football's top assistant.

In many ways, those powerful Wisconsin offenses were a reflection of the man drawing up and calling the plays.

The players were well prepared, fundamentally sound, workmanlike and had fun playing the game. Adapting schemes to his players has been a hallmark of Chryst's coaching career. In 2011, quarterback Russell Wilson transferred from NC State to Wisconsin for his final season of eligibility. Despite not arriving on UW's campus until July, Wilson was seamlessly and effectively adapted into the Badgers' offensive attack.

Under Chryst's guidance, Wilson would throw for more than 3,100 yards with 33 touchdowns and only four interceptions as Wisconsin stormed to the Big Ten title and Rose Bowl. He led the nation in pass efficiency with a staggering 191.78 rating, topping Baylor Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III's 189.48.

In the 2012 NFL Draft, Wilson - still considered by some to be a stronger baseball prospect - was selected by the Seattle Seahawks. He seized the starting job as a rookie and in his second season led Seattle to victory in Super Bowl XLVIII, a 43-8 demolition of the Denver Broncos.

The Connectionz Chart looks something like this, which I think blows the O'Leary O'Brien connectionz theory out of the water!

11imx3p_medium

Pittsburgh: Two seasons, 2012 (sat out due to NCAA rules) and 2013 (starter)

Savage's accomplishments at Pitt under head coach Paul Chryst, who once coached Russell Wilson, are below, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Panthers Athletic website:

2013 Achievements

Tommy found a home in 2013! After a minefield of coaching changes and offense changes, he finally made it.

In his lone season of eligibility at Pitt, Savage threw for 2,958 yards and 21 touchdowns on 61% passing (238 of 389)

  • Threw only nine interceptions on the year...also rushed for three TDs
  • Started all 13 games but was limited to just one half of play in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl vs. Bowling Green...sustained a ribs injury late in the second quarter of the bowl game and did not return...was 8 of 13 for 124 yards against Bowling Green, helping Pitt to a 17-10 halftime lead (and an eventual 30-27 victory)...if not for the injury, was on track to become just the fifth player in Pitt history to reach 3,000 passing yards in a season
  • His 2,958 passing yards rank 5th on Pitt's single-season list
  • Produced one of the finest single-game passing efforts in school history in Pitt's 58-55 win at Duke...completed nearly 70% of his passes (23 of 33) for 424 yards and tied an ACC record with six touchdown passes...his yardage total was the most by a Pitt quarterback since 1997 and ranked fourth in school history
  • Garnered numerous honors for his Duke performance, including Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week, Davey O'Brien Quarterback of the Week and ACC Offensive Back of the Week
  • His second highest yardage output was a 313-yard effort on 23-of-38 passing (60%) with two TDs vs. North Carolina
  • Threw only three INTs over his final nine contests of the season
  • Elected a senior team captain...All-ACC Academic Team selection

Tom Savage had a much higher completion rate, 61%, than his two seasons at Rutgers where it was in the low low 50% range both seasons there. And Tom Savage didn't even transfer or anything after this!

Off-Topic Concluzion: Johnny Manziel is not the only QB to put up huge numbers on the Duke football program in 2013/14.

The Final Word(s)

I don't know if he has chest tattoos or a hot girlfriend, and I don't know if he has hung out with LeBron or anything spectacular like that, but it seems he's a big, tall QB with some crazy connectionz that should have his draft stock rising in the next few weeks once the national media decides to pay attention to Tom Savage.

Anyways, I hope this has been entertaining. What the hell else were you going to read today anyways, moar Bortles Iz Prototype QB For O'Brien rhetoric? Don't worry, that will be the soup of the day tomorrow, as well.

Oh Yeah, Some Highlights Of Mr. Savage Throwing Footballs

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