Peyton Bender committed to WSU just a few days after arriving in Pullman and less than 24 hours after head coach Mike Leach offered him. Bender is from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and went to Cardinal Gibbons high school where he split time under center with a senior this past season.
While watching Bender’s film I immediately started to like the kid. His accuracy, height, pocket presence, and quick release are all things that are going to help him out huge when he gets here in the Fall of 2014. Before the snap I noticed he is taking some time before getting down and watching the defense, one can assume he is making pre-play decisions and coming up with possible scenarios. For a young quarterback to be able to read the defense and make pre-snap decisions is going to be a big boost when he shows up on campus.
During the play I noticed that he had good pocket presence and wasn’t bumping into every offensive or defensive lineman in the pocket. He knew where to step up and when to step up as well as when to escape the pocket. He isn’t a scrambling quarterback which has both positive and negative effects.
Positives of that include: being able to stay in the pocket and make a pass instead of bailing right away and less chance of him getting hurt. Quarterbacks who go out of the pocket and try to turn a busted play into something on their feet are more prone to getting injured and that is not what we need from a quarterback in our rebuilding stages.
Negatives include: the possibility of taking a sack over running for a first down and not being able to extend the play beyond the pocket. I did notice that when he did scramble he was able to gain at least a few yards instead of losing yards which is always a positive.
Some of the things I noticed about him that scare me are his low passes and failing to look at the whole field in his drop back. His release is quick and there isn’t much of an arc that comes with his ball. This can possibly force the receiver to have to go low to make the catch or a tall defensive lineman can easily get his hands up and swat the pass. Another thing I noticed that really scares me is when he is back in the pocket he doesn’t scan his receivers before making his choice. Any smart safety that is watching his eyes will key in and know exactly where he is going with the ball and will take advantage of that all day.
With time and coaching I think that the scanning of the field will be an easier task to fix than the low release. Changing the arc of the ball would possibly change his whole passing technique and could ruin a lot of things that he has going for him. But, Leach saw something with Bender and I trust that our coaching staff will be able to fix any problems that they see.
Bender will bring to the table his pass-first mindset as well as him already running the same system at his high school that WSU runs. I believe that with these few things he will be able to become an outstanding quarterback. But another thing that scares me about him was that in high school he split time with another quarterback this past season. My main question on that one would be, did we just get a guy who wasn’t good enough to start at his own high school all year? From his film it definitely doesn’t seem that way but that is something that we will have to see in his upcoming season.
I don’t see Bender getting any playing time his first year as we will have two quarterbacks who should be getting good playing time in Connor Halliday, who will be a senior, and Austin Apodaca, who will be a sophomore. I can see Leach red-shirting him and having him learn the system and learning from both Halliday and Apodaca for a year then contending with Apodaca for the starting spot granted they both live up to the expectations I have for them.
Overall I look forward to seeing Bender progress and work his way into our system and become the main quarterback for our team in the upcoming years. He leaves a lot of questions out there but from his junior year film I can only hope that he lives up to what I can see in the clip.
Below is his junior year game film along with a practice session that he did with a few receivers and his coaches.