Clayton Tune: film study & spray chart from Navy

Trahan celebrates Clayton Tune’s incredible scramble / Photo by Mario Puente

We’ve written several times about how important 2020 is for Clayton Tune. In June, I said Tune has to have a big season to get everyone behind him. He appears to be doing just that: After the Tulane game, I wrote about his excellent 3rd quarter and following BYU, we highlighted how he’s progressed on throws over the middle.

Tune continued to impress this week. After a slow start (6/12), Tune turned it on. True, the game plan was wildly different than a week earlier in the BYU game. Throws at or near the line of scrimmage made up half of Tune’s completions against Navy while against BYU, 62% of his completions were 10+ (13/21).

Our spray charts track how far the ball travels in the air not the total distance of the play (click to expand any of the spray charts):

After rewatching the Navy game, my appreciation of Tune continues to grow. He showed me three things in this game: a new level of toughness, his roll-out ability, and his improvement to the right side.

Tune seemed like a tough QB before Saturday but the way he played against Navy certainly put it into focus. From the way he fell on the sideline to the hit that was called late to his hard running, Tune elevated his game by getting up from big hits and continuing to succeed. Tune ran for 5+ yards four different times including this run on the first play of the 4th quarter:

Tune got out of a pretty weak sack attempt, made two other arm-tacklers miss, and ran away from three more defenders before finally going down after a 10-yard gain. It was an effort similar to his touchdown run against BYU in that 98-yard drive, breaking free from a sack and winding his way to a great play. A year ago, this is probably 2nd and 20 on the other side of midfield instead of 1st and 10 at the Navy 33.

Earlier in that same drive, Tune showed off his development when flushed out of the pocket. The Coogs were facing 3rd and 10 and Navy showed pressure before peeling it off. Tune saw both receivers covered on the left then identified Keith Corbin stopping his dig route across the middle. Tune knew to roll out and find Corbin who was already into his scramble drill responsibilities.

Corbin drifted back and towards the right sideline, mimicking the QB’s speed, staying in Tune’s field of vision, all the while maneuvering between Middies and the sideline. Tune isn’t running full speed here which helps him fit a ball in perfectly between three defenders.

Later in the drive, Navy brought seven and forced Tune out of the pocket immediately. With pressure chasing him, he hit Kyle Porter who had released and had blockers with him. Porter makes a great run, cutting behind a Freeman block at the five but the key is Tune’s improved ability to keep that play alive and make the throw.

The Corbin throw shows something we didn’t see from Tune last season: the ability to use the right side effectively on throws of 10+ yards. In his first 3 starts in 2019, Tune was 17/41 (41.5%) on passes of 10+ and only two of those completions came outside the right numbers (2/13 – 15.4%). Most 10+ yard completions went to the left side (9) and six were between the numbers.

The numbers and the charts from last year were not bad for a guy starting his 3rd-4th-5th games. Here are his first 3 starts of 2019:

The progress over a year’s time has been pretty remarkable.

Through three games of 2020, Tune is 26/43 over 10 yards (60.5%) and 12/21 to the right side 10+ (57.1%). His numbers to the left and middle are pretty close to the same (9 and 5 completions, respectively) but the improvement to the right side is significant. This season:

After his disastrous first half against Tulane, Tune is 52/75 (69.3%) with 7 touchdowns and no INTs and is over 50% on 10+ yard throws in each game this season. He will need to be on-point on those passes to play with UCF this weekend.

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