Joining the Outside the Huddle in 2021 as a contributor in is former Manchester University head football coach Shannon Griffith. A product of Northrop High School where he started three years at quarterback, Griffith brings a wealth of coaching and playing experience to OTH. Prior to being a head coach, Griffith served as an assistant at Northwood University and Ball State University, where he was a three-year letter winner for the Cardinals. Griffith now serves as Manchester’s director of development and you can hear him on Friday nights as part of 1380 The Fan’s coverage of high school football.
After four games played and heading into the halfway point of the season, a question I get frequently asked is “Who do you think is the best quarterback in the Summit Athletic Conference?”
This is always a loaded question, but understandable. We have been treated to some talented QBs in the SAC and northeast Indiana over the last few years.
Presently, I believe the top two are South Dakota State commit Jeffery Becker of Carroll and Carson Clark of Bishop Luers. While these two have some similarities, they are in ways drastically different. The league record holder for passing yards in a career is held by James Knapke, who threw for 5,893 yards. Currently, both have surpassed 5,000 yards and are well within striking distance of Knapke’s record.
My observations of these two are a combination of watching them live while covering their games for 1380-AM The Fan as well as watching film. One distinct difference between the two is Becker has started since his sophomore year and Clark did not take over until late in his 10th grade season for Bishop Luers.
Let us first look at what I believe is the most important trait of an effective quarterback – Accuracy.
I believe that a quarterback must complete 60-plus % of their passes to be an effective passer. Looking at Becker, he completed 61% in 2020 and is currently at 54% through three games here in 2021. This is one area that Becker has struggled with over the course of his playing career as he is a streaky type of QB.
Clark on the other hand has completed 64% of his passes through four games in 2021 and 62% of his passes in 2020. So, from an accuracy standpoint, I give the nod to Clark.
Another area that is vitally important in today’s game is mobility.
This is where Becker is dangerous. He is a very mobile QB and he can evade the pass rush. Most teams will assign a “spy” to try to negate Becker’s ability to escape.
Clark is more of a traditional drop-back passer and is not as mobile as Becker. This isn’t to say that Clark doesn’t have the ability, but I see this as one of Becker’s strengths.
Pocket Presence is an instinct that Clark displays the times I have seen him. He really allows the pocket to develop and he is very calm in the pocket.
Becker has not been as trusting in the pocket and at times he has “happy feet.” It is important that the QB trusts the pocket with eyes downfield and this is something I feel Clark does very well. He is very calm under pressure.
An area that both are good at is Ball Placement. I define this as “throwing a receiver open.” Both Clark and Becker do this very well with back shoulder throws, placing the ball in a spot where the defender cannot tip or intercept. This is a talent that I can tell both have worked to perfect.
I believe Clark has better “touch.” This is noticeable on his deep ball and throws he makes down the field. Some of the throws he made against Homestead in Week 3 were just unreal. I remember a throw he made under pressure on third-and-19 on the first drive of the game where he placed a ball just out of the touch of a Homestead defender into the hands of his receiver that resulted in a first down to keep the drive alive.
Becker is a more dual threat and Dynamic Quarterback.His ability in the spread no huddle offense is limitless. This was clear with his 75-yard touchdown run against North Side in Week 3 on an inside zone read. The feel and speed he displayed was impressive and he has hurt many teams with his feet and his ability to draw the defense up to try to contain him only to throw it over their heads for a big play. He drives defensive coordinators crazy trying to defend him.
Here are the last two years of statistics for both, per MaxPreps:
Carson Clark, 6-foot-2, 192 pounds
2021: Four games. 75-of-116 (65%), 1,104 yards, 654 yards, 12 TDs, two INTs
2020: 15 games. 242-391 (62%), 3,592 yards, 38 TDs, 11 INTs
2019: Eight games. 48-of-107 (45%), 578 yards, two TDs, seven INTs
**Clark is currently third in the state in total yards and passing yards this season
Jeffery Becker, 6-foot-1, 195 pounds
2021: Three games. 26-of-48 (54%), 321 yards, five TDs, two INTs Note: Becker missed a game due to contact tracing
2020: 10 games. 158-of-260 (61%), 2,581 yards, 33 TDs, nine INTs
2019: 11 games. 158-of-304 (52%), 2,039 yards, 20 TDs, 12 INTs
Both young men are talented QBs and have made the last few years exciting to watch when these two are on the field. They both carry themselves with class on and off the field in the times I have watched them. With the game on the line I would take either of them to put the ball in their hands and say, “Go win it!”
While there are things that both do very well and other things they still have to work on, I have been so impressed with how well they prepare themselves and how well Coach Doug Dinan and Coach Kyle Lindsay have groomed them to be outstanding quarterbacks in the SAC.
While you might be waiting to see who I think is better, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But I do believe both are D1 talents. Yet only one has a D1 offer. How can that be!?
Coach’s Corner appears every week during the prep football season. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers.