Shane Buechele looks like the quarterback Texas Longhorns fans have been waiting for since Colt McCoy left the program. But is this fast start for real?
A look at his advanced stats provides some insights into what areas of his game show the most potential and where he might be lacking:
Easing Buechele Into the Offense
Buechele’s stats are great, but before we dive into the stats it’s worth noting that the degree of difficulty on his throws this season has been very low.
Obviously short-yardage targets are the easiest for a quarterback to make, but the next easiest are deep passes (assuming the quarterback has the arm to make the throws).
A look at Buechele’s passing chart shows that coaching staff is clearly setting him up to make the easiest throws on the field:
Buechele has attempted just five passes at the intermediate level, and just four down the middle of the field. By avoiding these areas of the field, they’re limiting the extent to which he needs to read the defense.
It’s much easier to be fooled by dropping linebackers in the middle of the field, and harder to fit the ball into tighter windows.
This doesn’t mean Buechele can’t make these throws. But he’s avoiding these throws right now, which should naturally boost his completion percentage.
Passing Under Pressure
This remains an unknown for Buechele, as he’s attempted just four passes under pressure this season. Two of the incompletions were throw aways, which is an encouraging sign that he knows when to get rid of the ball.
He’s also been sacks three times, however, despite being pressured on just seven dropbacks—that’s a high percentage, especially for a relatively mobile quarterback.
While there isn’t really anything positive to take away from his performance under pressure, it also isn’t an area of concern. The sample size is too small to really say much about it, and some degree of struggles should be expected from a true freshman anyway.
Without question, this is the most impressive area of Buechele’s game. He has completed 40 percent of his attempts at 20+ yards downfield, and two of the incompletions were drops.
This touchdown pass to Jerrod Heard is perhaps the best throw of his young career:
He followed that up with another perfectly timed deep ball to Dorian Leonard later in the game versus UTEP:
While there’s still a lot we don’t know about Buechele’s ability to make throws at other levels and under pressure, but it’s clear he has the arm strength and the touch necessary to make the deep ball a dangerous weapon in the Texas offense.
Buechele’s deep passing is massive upgrade over Tyrone Swoopes, who was just 6-27 on passes thrown 20+ yards downfield in 2015.
With some talented receivers at his disposal, Buechele should continue to pick apart defenses down the field this season.