I've previously written about my mini man-crush on former Idaho Vandals quarterback Nathan Enderle. While I have watched him four times, I could only be taken at my word. There was no video evidence provided to back up my thoughts on his talent.
There is now.
A video recently surfaced on YouTube that shows every pass play by Enderle against Louisiana Tech earlier this year. You can evaluate for yourself his performance, the video will be linked at the bottom, but here is the play-by-play of Enderle.
1. 1st-and-10: A quick pass into the flats to his TE who lined up in the backfield. The throw is a little to the outside and his receiver has to leave his feet to make the grab, but the ball is placed only where his target can catch it. There's no chance of a linebacker or defensive back undercutting the route.
2. 3rd-and-6: Enderle hits his TE on a post over the middle for a first down. He sees the LB open his hips and turn to run with the TE, meaning his back is turned to the QB and won't be able to see the ball. Enderle throws it in time and with enough spin on the ball that the strong safety can't make a play on it. Enderle also holds the other ILB to create the throwing lane. If he stares down the TE, the linebacker is going to read it the whole way and get in front of the throw, likely resulting in an interception. A perfectly thrown pass on a throw that is tougher than it looks.
3. 1st-and-10: An attempted out route to the TE, Daniel Hardy. An accurate pass but the ball goes through the receiver's hands.
4. 2nd-and-10: Swing pass to the slot receiver who gets a good block and picks up a first down.
5. 2nd-and-8: Tech brings a blitz from the inside, putting the back one-on-one with a linebacker. Enderle scrambles to his right. Doing a pretty good job of keeping his shoulders square when he makes his throw, Enderle flicks it 50 yards off balance. The receiver doesn't come back to the ball in time and it falls incomplete.
6. 3rd-and-8: A go route down the right sideline. It's an accurate pass and it's likely the receiver makes the catch. However, the cornerback makes a really good play on it, getting his hand out to knock it away.
7. 1st-and-10: Play-action. Enderle is under pressure by the time he reaches the end of his drop. The left tackle steps inside off the snap, forcing the TE who stayed in to block to take the end. This leaves the weakside linebacker with a clean path to the QB. Had the left tackle cleanly picked up the end, it's likely that the tight end would have been able to block the free rusher. Being taught to pick up the inside blitzer, there's nothing Hardy can do.
Enderle feels the pressure and does an excellent job of stepping up in the pocket. He keeps his eyes downfield and doesn't lose his base. The pass does end up being overthrown in the end zone, but this is a perfect illustration of the strong pocket presence Enderle has.
8. 2nd-and-10: No play is run as the Vandals moved early but you can see Enderle's ability to read a defense and make the needed adjustments.
9. 3rd-and-13: Enderle can again be seen making pre-snap adjustments. He appears to want to go deep but thinks better of it. While moving outside of the pocket, Enderle doesn't look to run. He kept his eyes on his checkdown and threw it to the back. It didn't go for a first down, but it's smarter than throwing a pass that could get picked off. He lived to fight another day.
10. 2nd-and-7: Another simple out route to the left sideline by the slot receiver. I would have liked to see the pass lead the target a little more though. The receiver has to slow down to make the catch.
11. 1st-and-10: Out of the shotgun, the first such snap of the day. As Trent Dilfer would say, a "dime" down the seam to the wide receiver. The defender is trailing underneath and Enderle is able to throw it over the top where only his receiver can snag it. A good catch from the receiver as well. Yet again, you can see Enderle making plenty of pre-snap reads.
12. 1st-and-10: Out of the gun. A risky throw from Enderle, trying to hit Hardy the tight end on an out route. He should have seen that the linebacker had caught on and made an immediate break on the route. It still is an accurate throw, but that isn't going to work out consistently in the NFL. Worth pointing out that both his tackles were abused on the play, especially on the right side. The heat could have forced a throw Enderle wasn't comfortable making.
13. 2nd-and-10: Play-action. Just after Enderle reaches the end of his drop, he's swarmed by ends on both sides. Even on just a four-man rush by Louisiana Tech, they get to the QB right away and drop him for a sack. The graphic that follows shows that Idaho had given up 22 sacks on the season, the most in the nation. Enderle was playing behind a poor offensive line that had lost its best lineman in years to graduation, first-rounder Mike Iupati.
14. 3rd-and-19: By far, the best throw of the day by Enderle. It has a little bit of everything. It should be noted that this snap is taken from under center so Enderle doesn't even have the luxury of getting the best read possible on the defense out of the shotgun. He has to read the defense on his drop. Enderle points out the possibility of the strong safety blitzing pre-snap, pointing out the fact that he's playing very shallow.
Ultimately, the safety drops into coverage and Tech brings just its four down linemen. The right defensive tackle is able to disengage from the left guard and puts a big hit on Enderle just as he releases the ball. Enderle still gets off a clean throw and hits Hardy down the seam between three defenders for a first down. There's a linebacker trailing and defensive backs from both sides. In a nutshell, this is why Enderle has so much potential.
15. 2nd-and-14: Enderle attempts a throw to the back shoulder of a wide receiver down the left sideline. The throw is off target and falls incomplete. On the bright side, he did throw it to the back shoulder. Better to do that and away from the cornerback, only letting the wide receiver have a chance of making a play on it.
16. 3rd-and-14: Shotgun formation. Enderle hits his wide receiver for a touchdown. A play that exhibits Enderle's mental aptitude. He sees the free safety creep closer and closer until he's only about six yards back on the snap. He sees that the cornerback covering the "X" receiver (far to the left) is playing tight coverage. Enderle also knows that his slot receiver is going to be running a curl.
He is able to freeze the FS, watch the slot cornerback follow the slot WR on the curl, and see the "X" get inside position on the CB. With no safety or nickelback in the way, there is a clear throwing lane. Enderle continues to stand tall in the pocket, taking a shot from a free blitzer right after releasing the ball.
17. 1st-and-10: Shotgun. He checks it down to the back for a small gain.
18. 3rd-and-3: A swing pass to the back who gets a couple of good blocks downfield and picks up the first down.
19. 1st-and-10: Play-action. A strong throw on the corner route to the tight end Hardy. It appears to be a Cover 2 look. No defensive player follows the pre-snap motion by a TE. The left cornerback comes down on the TE going into the flats, opening up the corner route without much problem. Enderle makes his throw before the safety can break on the ball and knock it away.
20. 1st-and-10: Enderle hits a receiver on a drag route. Good amount of zip on the pass, but I would have liked to see Enderle step into the throw. He does a nice job of leading the receiver, however.
21. 3rd-and-4: An attempted go route down the right sideline is a little overthrown. Pass falls incomplete.
22. 1st-and-10: Out of the shotgun. Enderle hits his receiver on a post for a touchdown, his second of the day. Good manipulation by Enderle. He looks at the slot receiver, drawing the strong safety (No. 31) with him. This opens up the post.
You can really see the velocity Enderle has on his passes on this throw too; the ball comes out scorching hot. And this pass wasn't even a perfect spiral; it had some wobble to it.
23. 1st-and-10: Play-action. The ball gets a little lost in the shadows but it seems like Enderle led his man on the corner route a little too far. A dangerous throw that could have been picked off.
24. 2nd-and-10: Play-action. Once again, there are plenty of pre-snap changes. Enderle motions both tight ends to the left side and then brings one back off the line. Idaho's right tackle gets beat and ends up holding the LE. The ref missed a blatant hold here.
The end grabs Enderle's shoulder but with his frame, 6'4", 240, he's able to shake it off and break the pocket. With nothing available, Enderle throws the ball away.
25. 3rd-and-10: The pocket breaks down pretty quickly. Enderle is forced to step up and take off. He tries to dump it off to his back at the last second but the running back isn't expecting a throw and it goes through his hands.
26. 1st-and-10: Another accurate throw from Enderle in the deep middle of the field. He hits his tight end on a post route, getting the ball out quickly to ensure the safety isn't able to cause an incompletion or decapitate the receiver. I'm sure the receiver is very thankful for that.
27. 2nd-and-10: Dump off to the back who makes a move and picks up a decent chunk of yards.
28. 1st-and-10: A great example of Enderle going through his reads. He doesn't decide to throw until at least his third read, going through his progressions and scanning the whole field. He looks down the right sideline, looks to the left and finally the slot. The pass may be a tad high but definitely catchable and it goes through the receiver's hands for an incompletion.
An interesting topic of discussion on the throw is Enderle's throwing motion. It seems like he dropped to a three quarters motion. That could be a blip in his mechanics—it is not his usual throwing motion—or it could be him feeling pressure from inside the pocket and him ensuring the pass doesn't get batted down or his arm doesn't get hit on his throw.
29. 2nd-and-10: Again, Enderle feels pressure from the outside and climbs the pocket letting his tackles push the end upfield while keeping his eyes downfield. The pass across the middle is low but as in the last play, it's a catchable ball the WR can't haul in. Enderle may have gotten his arm hit as he throw, causing the low throw.
30. 3rd-and-10: The ugliness continues and these three plays show the poor supporting cast Enderle had to work with. Another swing pass to the back that he can't haul in. Idaho is forced to punt.
*The second half will be posted in another article along with my final thoughts.