Rutgers freshman quarterback Johnathan Lewis burst onto the scene with five touchdowns last weekend in a 65-0 over Morgan State. For more insight into Lewis' progression, we caught up with Madei Williams who served as Lewis' private quarterback coach during high school.
Williams is renowned in New Jersey for his coaching ability and here is some Q & A on what he has seen and expects out of Lewis.
John Otterstedt: What did you think of how the RU staff brought Johnathan along?
Madei Williams: From a coach's perspective, you want to take care of a young guy. You want an opportunity to give him some reps, and a team like Morgan State would be the most ideal and strategic opportunity to do so. With that said, that is when they decided to plug him in there. I was already privy to the fact that they had a package for him, and that is what they wanted to go with. As he gains more confidence in the system, they will add to that package, give him more responsibility. He will be part of the meetings for what Kyle [Bolin] will do, but as for him in games, they will have packages that they feel comfortable calling him in on. As the season goes on, and as he gets more confident, they can thrust him in there on the normal packages.
JO: Did you expect him to mainly be running?
MW: Early on, yes, since you have a young quarterback getting a feel for the college game, the speed of the game. I don’t like using the whole dual threat moniker, but he is athletic. He is a big guy, and he can move, so why not when you have a situation where you are trying to give him a feel for the system and college football, why not utilize that skill set? That is what they are doing, and it is easy for him to execute.
JO: What will his ultimate “style of play” be?
MW: He will be someone who can fully function within the scheme of the offense. You cater the offense to the skillset of your starter. They won’t ask Kyle Bolin to do the running that Johnathan will do because that is not part of Kyle’s skillset. The fact that John can run the ball, you want to utilize that as a weapon. If you spread teams out and have the option of a runner, that gives you more numbers. That is what the spread teams do. What John brings, he is someone who, as he gets a feel for the game, they can use however they need to. He can drop back and throw the ball 30-40 times a game, but if they need someone who can do some quarterback specific runs, he can do that as well. With someone who has his skillset, it allows you to open up the playbook even more. Teams will have to gameplan for that element.
JO: What kind of work does he have to do?
MW: He has to learn the protection schemes and how he will be protected in case they give the quarterback a lot of responsibility to set the protection. That is a huge aspect of the passing game because it is all about self-preservation. The quarterback has to know how he is going to be protected. He has to be comfortable seeing the field, reading the coverages, pre-snap, and reading and reacting once the play is in motion.
JO: Do you see him starting to grasp some things?
MW: He is beginning to understand the different pathways and the amount of touch - with less velocity - whether it is zone, versus man, whether there is a defender between you and the target. Anyone who is blessed with a rifle of an arm, they want to show it off. That is a blessing and a curse. Being at that level, he is beginning to understand that you can’t try to drill a hole in the wall with every single ball. That touch develops over time. Even Brett Favre, five or six years into his time in the league, would try to drill a hole in the wall.
JO: How much better will he be next year because of the reps he takes this year?
MW: A quarterback in his situation will go into year two as a true sophomore with a much better understanding as to what he needs to do to execute and be productive, as opposed to being thrown in there as a true freshman when you are more green and ignorant of what you are supposed to do. This time next year, he will be in a much better place than he is right now on September 18, 2017.