Quinn Ewers vs Cade Klubnik in the Dodge Bowl

Ian Boyd

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The Texas 6A D1 State Championship Game ended up being a little disappointing. The start was promising enough, Southlake Carroll drove down the field with Quinn Ewers throwing bullets outside the hash marks while Westlake matched with run-heavy drives on offense.

It didn’t last. Southlake Carroll took a sack on third down in their third drive, later threw an interception before the half when Ewers was hit trying to throw a deep stop route in between a cover 2 bracket. Meanwhile Westlake kept scoring.

For many fans watching, particularly around here, this game was about Cade Klubnik vs Quinn Ewers. Both are blue chip quarterback prospects in the 2022 class, both have offers from Texas and several other schools, and both are getting high level coaching from a member of the Dodge family.

Here were the lines for each of the two quarterbacks:

Cade Klubnik: 18-20 passing for 220 yards at 11.0 ypa with one touchdown and zero interceptions. 17 carries for 97 rushing yards at 5.7 ypc with two rushing touchdowns.

Quinn Ewers: 23-39 passing for 351 yards at 9 ypa with three touchdowns and two interceptions Six carries for 25 rushing yards at 4.2 ypc with zero rushing touchdowns.

All told, Klubnik accounted for 317 yards and three touchdowns with zero turnovers while Ewers piled up 376 and three touchdowns with two turnovers. Those two interceptions were the main difference in the ball game on a results level, on a deeper level where the yards came from made a whale of difference in the outcome.

Klubnik vs the Carroll defense

The 2020/21 Westlake Chaparrals really may have been the best team in the school's history. I don't know the history of the school as well as say a Kevin Dunn, who feels this way, but I've observed it in the Todd Dodge era and it was certainly the best team since he’s been head coach.

One of the big factors in their brilliance this season was the offensive line. They weren't a senior-driven group, believe it or not, it's just they were really large.

Left tackle: Bray Lynch: 6-4, 275 pound junior.
Left guard: Aidan Kinnaird: 6-5, 305 pound senior (heading to Illinois State).
Center: Jack Griffin: 6-0, 250 pound junior.
Right guard: Ryan McMillan: 6-4, 295 pound senior. (D2 offers)
Right tackle: Connor Robertson: 6-3, 295 pound junior (3-star recruit).

A high school line averaging 6-3, 284 across the board is no joke. Especially when they're well coached, which this unit was. As was the case against North Shore, they utilized a fair amount of D-gap power and would try to punish the Dragons for how they handled the run/pass conflict between defending an added gap on the edge vs defending quick passes to the wide hash or beyond.

The Dragons responded to this challenge with bracket coverage on the slot, disguising the alignment of their nickel from snap to snap but generally having him play with outside leverage on the slot to take away quick passes to the hash. Their nickel was Cinque Williams, the highest rated talent in the Dragon secondary who goes 5-10, 170 pounds and is a 3-star prospect. Then the safeties would sit flat footed at the snap so as to close on runs while the corners played off coverage.

SLC 4-bracket vs Westlake.jpg

This was a variation on how they played the Ja’Quinden Jackson Duncanville Panthers last year. In that game they played their D1 defensive back (Clemson-bound 4-star R.J. Mickens) as the deep field safety and used a linebacker underneath him to try and outnumber the edge and force JQJ to beat them with quick passes underneath.

This time they were afraid of the quick passes underneath since Klubnik is a proven practitioner of the art of RPOs. So they sat on those and tried to force Westlake to throw it wider underneath off coverage or beat them in the box facing honest numbers. The Chaps obliged…


In this instance the Dragons are stemming into a sort of Under front to try and stuff the run with the boundary safety dropping down to serve as a weakside linebacker and the middle linebacker moving to the edge like a sam. They’re covering the slot and shading the field safety over late to the middle of the field. Westlake pops them with an iso run and while the Dragons have it theoretically stopped up on the chalkboard, the chalkboard assumes the 280 pound nose tackle isn’t double teamed off the ball so fast leaving a gaping hole the dropping safety can’t fill.

Westlake two-back iso.jpg

Southlake Carroll couldn’t really match up in the box. The Chaps mixed up which of their two backs (or quarterback) would run the ball and which would get tasks like this one to help prevent penetration by the opposing defensive line. Their power run game behind the big line with senior guards simply bulldozed the Dragons out of the picture.

Then they also landed some kill shots off the power run actions:


I’m not sure what happened here for the Dragon defense. Cornerback Ayvonne Jones seemed to think he was getting help over the top but it generally wasn’t there too often in this game by design. Jaden Greathouse, a 4-star sophomore, blew by him and it was six more for Westlake.

Klubnik had a nice day throwing some open RPOs on the edge and also throwing some underneath checkdowns to the running backs against the Dragon inside linebackers who were preoccupied with denying him scrambling lanes. It was all too much for Carroll to cover up and guys sprung free due to missed tackles, Westlake blowing open holes, or coverage busts.

The future issues from his long windup were apparent in this game, particularly on his open rollout he couldn’t hit in time to score.


Watching him windup reminds me an awful lot of a bigger, faster Case McCoy with more physical upside. How much upside is the big question. Klubnik is fast enough to run around and past high school defenders but when they catch him, he lacks the strength to get away or move forward. He has the arm to push the ball down the field but he’ll need to shorten the windup or he’ll give defenders time to close on his targets.

At the high school level his blend of athleticism, schematic knowhow, and arm talent is enough to simultaneously threaten multiple areas of the field. Combined with the return of big sophomore receivers Jaden Greathouse and Keaton Kubecka along with their starting center and tackles, the Chaps should be able to make another deep run in the playoffs next year.

Ewers vs the Chap defense

I’d argue what really put this Westlake team over the top over the second best Chaparral team I’ve seen in the Dodge era (2015) was the defense. In particular, linebacker Nick Morris. The 3-star, Duke-bound middle linebacker has P5 size and athleticism at 6-3, 220 and moved down from Connecticut for this season to have a chance to play ball.

The 2015 Chaps had a really good offense as well and while they weren’t as big and effective across the entire offensive line as this unit they did have a P5 left tackle in Stephan Zabie, some strong receivers, and future SMU star tight end Kylen Granson. They also had Sam Ehlinger. They didn’t have a Nick Morris nor defensive linemen like Hayden Bray (6-5, 260 heading to Air Force) who was effectively spelled and supplemented at times in this game by Maryland lacrosse commit Ethan Burke, who stands 6-7, 215 pounds as a junior. The other obvious star on defense for Westlake was cornerback Michael Taaffe, who’s heading to Rice next season.

They’ve slowly built up this defense into something approximating the Katy Tiger units down south, everyone who sees the field plays with great fundamentals and can close and tackle in the open field with good team leverage. Their strategy for handling Quinn Ewers and the Dragon offense was vaguely similar to what Carroll was trying to do.

They played more of their zone coverages which often end up turning into something like Tampa 2. You can see the difference in tactics and effectively quite nicely on this zone-read play by the Dragons:


The Chaps are in their flyover defense, they’d sub in an extra safety for nose tackle Taevin Brown anytime they were able to make a stop on first down and put SLC behind the chains. The safeties are a bit deep on the bubble screens but they can trigger downhill on those then there’s an extra middle safety who hawks down and blows up Ewers on the keeper.

Ewers is not anywhere near the same kind of runner as Klubnik, what makes him a 5-star prospect is the arm talent. He makes NFL throws look effortless and can threaten every area of the field. Last year the Dragons would set that up with a rushing attack featuring freshman running back Owen Allen. They had A&M bound tight end Blake Smith, a 3-star who was 6-4, 250, and Texas-bound 4-star left tackle Andrej Karic. This year they had to retool the entire offensive line and while they ended up starting three seniors those three weren’t necessarily starters all year. Marquette Seaton, the 280 pounder getting doubled into oblivion on the iso play above for Westlake, began the year as their starting left tackle.

They weren’t really up for the challenge of beating Westlake, who increasingly dialed up zone pressures and flyover defensive packages as it became apparent the Dragons didn’t have enough time or expertise up front to run the ball. What’s more, SLC has tended to be overly reliant on Ewers’ devastating downfield abilities, eschewing simpler options against pressure:


The Chaps parked their nickel and a safety underneath in the flats and would play a corner or safety in half-field zone over the top with a safety or linebacker in the middle third. Those alternating Tampa 2 coverages stymied the SLC deep passing game...enough. They picked off Ewers twice, both of which made all the difference in winning a shootout. Here was the first example which occurred just before the half:

https://twitter.com/Ian_A_Boyd/status/1351265875123462146?s=20

Westlake picks Ewers 1.jpg

The aforementioned Ethan Burke flies around their left tackle and hits Ewers while he’s trying to fit the ball to the wide side vertical in between the cornerback and deep safety. The throw was actually there but he’s hit on the release and the ball flutters and the corner drifts back and picks it.

Similarly, later on…

https://twitter.com/Ian_A_Boyd/status/1351270415461711872?s=20

This is just traditional Tampa 2. The middle linebacker (but Morris is to the weakside so it’s the 175 pound Brady Lamme) drops to the deep middle, the corners sit underneath, and Ewers tries to fit the ball to his favorite receiver Brady Boyd in between the corner and deep safety. The corner is Michael Taaffe and he makes that incredible one-handed interception...game over.

The primary reason Carroll made it this far into the playoffs was the potency of Ewers throwing to Boyd and Samson all over the field. His ability to reach every part of the field made it impossible for most teams to cover up the Dragons, but the Chaps were able to present a lot of layered coverages, pressure him, and stop the run without committing extra numbers to the box. They also scored over 50 points.

It was a big win for Klubnik and the Chaparrals and they’re now back to back state champions. However when evaluating for the collegiate level, Ewers’ ability to threaten the whole field and the way he dropped over 300 passing and scored 34 points on the Westlake defense was actually the more eye-catching achievement.

It’ll be very interesting to watch these two teams next season when they each return to the playoffs with these quarterbacks. As I mentioned earlier, Klubnik returns his tackles, center, and both Greathouse and Kubecka at wide receiver. Up in Southlake, Ewers loses Boyd but returns Samson and flex tight end R.J. Maryland (3-star NFL legacy), and the Dragons will have another year to retool the offensive line and defense. Ideally, we'd get a rematch, Dodge Bowl II.
 

The_Major

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Weird takeaway.

He kept his team competitive while they were getting completely outmatched.

Get him close to even talent and he's a force multiplier.
I like him. I just think he has limited mobility. Get him in the college game and it's going to really show. He's going to need protection.
 

stilesbbq

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Little Dodge really erred in not finding more ways to involve Samson and RJ Maryland.

It seems they (or maybe Ewers) kept forcing the ball to Boyd when Westlake at times shaded coverage to Boyd and left Samson and Maryland more isolated
 

texaslove2

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What do you think about ewers throwing off his back foot so much. I noticed it last year as well.
 

cefhcl

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I like him. I just think he has limited mobility. Get him in the college game and it's going to really show. He's going to need protection.
As someone else mentioned, I think he’s more mobile than he showed Saturday. He also has really good pocket presence already, and that’s something that keeps getting better with experience. That’s what allows non-mobile QB’s like Manning, Brady, and Brees to thrive even without good mobility.
 
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sherf1

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The limited mobility is because of the Hernia injury, he’s shown a ton of mobility when healthy.
Also mobility leading to less sacks is a long disproven myth.

What overcomes a bad O line, if that's the concern, is a well designed offense that offers lots of answers and quick options.

Tom Brady isn't running away from sacks.

Mobility is valuable as a playmaking tool, but if you're building your offense around your qb running for his life...it's not gonna go well.
 

goforbroke

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Exactly. His phenomenal arm can only work with a clean, or semi- clean pocket. He is a pocket passer, albeit a great one at the high school level. Both QB’s are talented and both have areas needing improvement. How each responds will be great to watch. Klubnik is most likely has the talent to be superior at D1 . Ewers has a arm which exceeds D1 to the next level. It is amazing to watch such outstanding QB’s .
 

The_Major

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Also mobility leading to less sacks is a long disproven myth.

What overcomes a bad O line, if that's the concern, is a well designed offense that offers lots of answers and quick options.

Tom Brady isn't running away from sacks.

Mobility is valuable as a playmaking tool, but if your building you're offense around your qb running for his life...it's not gonna go well.
I'd prefer to have both a great O play design and some escapability when necessary. Mahomes, Rodgers
 
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cefhcl

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Also mobility leading to less sacks is a long disproven myth.

What overcomes a bad O line, if that's the concern, is a well designed offense that offers lots of answers and quick options.

Tom Brady isn't running away from sacks.

Mobility is valuable as a playmaking tool, but if your building your offense around your qb running for his life...it's not gonna go well.
Completely agree. Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson have seasons where they were sacked more than any other QB’s in the NFL, and it wasn’t because of a lack of mobility.
 

stilesbbq

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What do you think about ewers throwing off his back foot so much. I noticed it last year as well.

Dropping the ball in the bucket, 40 yards down the field off his back foot. I think a lot of why he makes back foot throws is because he can. Not gonna find it now but there's another clip Gerry posted of him slinging it 60 yards off his back foot with Shemar Turner in his face

Whenever he sees a target he gets the ball to it as quickly as he can. Off his back foot, without setting his feet, etc just whipping the ball with unreal arm talent. I think it is more encouraging he can make those throws than alarming he keeps trying to make them. You can coach the bad habits out of him selectively, all HS QBs have them
 

stilesbbq

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I'd prefer to have both a great O play design and some escapability when necessary. Mahomes, Rodgers
Rodgers is my comp for Ewers. Great arm, can make all the throws from any platform, has some scrambling ability but you dont want them on designed runs
 
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cefhcl

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Dropping the ball in the bucket, 40 yards down the field off his back foot. I think a lot of why he makes back foot throws is because he can. Not gonna find it now but there's another clip Gerry posted of him slinging it 60 yards off his back foot with Shemar Turner in his face

Whenever he sees a target he get the ball to it as quickly as he can. Off his back foot, without setting his feet, etc just whipping the ball with unreal arm talent. I think you it is more encouraging he can make those throws than alarming he keeps trying to make them. You can coach the bad habits out of him selectively, all HS QBs have them
obviously there’s nobody else like him, but Patrick Mahomes throws off his back foot quite a bit and it usually just doesn’t matter because of his physical traits.

It’s not something you want your QB doing all the time, but some of these guys just have the ability to get away with it quite often.
 

stilesbbq

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obviously there’s nobody else like him, but Patrick Mahomes throws off his back foot quite a bit and it usually just doesn’t matter because of his physical traits.

It’s not something you want your QB doing all the time, but some of these guys just have the ability to get away with it quite often.
I get what you mean. Every QB who makes on off balance throw for the next 20 years is gonna get compared to Mahomes, ha
 
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cefhcl

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I get what you mean. Every QB who makes on off balance throw for the next 20 years is gonna get compared to Mahomes, ha
It’s going to be extremely annoying. I’m a Chiefs fan so I’m hesitant in doing it for anyone, but I do think the unprecedented success he’s having is going to open some eyes about things that have long been taboo for QB’s to do like throwing across your body, and throwing off your back foot.

the problem is there’s never going to be another guy like him, so trying to replicate what he does will end in absolute disaster for most QB’s.
 
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Ian Boyd

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What do you think about ewers throwing off his back foot so much. I noticed it last year as well.
Gets away with it so there’s not a ton of incentive to stop. He works with a coach though.
I'd prefer to have both a great O play design and some escapability when necessary. Mahomes, Rodgers
Or failing that, maybe a Tom Brady or Peyton manning. Go make it happen, rebuilt Texas recruiting department!
Rodgers is my comp for Ewers. Great arm, can make all the throws from any platform, has some scrambling ability but you dont want them on designed runs
Don’t love that comp. I don’t have one though to throw out there.
 
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The_Major

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Rodgers is my comp for Ewers. Great arm, can make all the throws from any platform, has some scrambling ability but you dont want them on designed runs
I don't see it. He doesn't have the feet Rodgers does in what I've seen. He has speed but it's straight line. Rodgers in his day was pretty shifty. He actually reminds me of a very unathletic VY. Big long strides. - the Texas 2 Step.
 
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RD3

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One of the big factors in their brilliance this season was the offensive line. They weren't a senior-driven group, believe it or not, it's just they were really large.
I have had Westlake season tickets the past couple of years (except this year due to COVID) and this really stood out to me last year. My seats are on the 1st row which the kids love. Last year, Westlake rotated QBs for a good chunk of the year and I remember during one of the games I was watching one of the QBs warm up with one of the tight ends. Except that wasn't a tight end. It was Kirkland Michaux who ended up being their starting QB late in the year. Michaux is like 6'4/6'5 220. And he's a HS QB?

And I have had season tickets since Sam's junior year at Westlake and the team the past couple of years is considerably bigger and more athletic than they were just 6 years ago. Sam carried that team in 2015 in big wins over Southlake Carroll (with Lil Jordan) and Allen High before losing to GP North Shore in the finals. But in all of those games, Sam put the load of the work on his shoulders because the talent gap was there. Westlake is a powerhouse now.
 

The_Major

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Of course I would but we’re talking about college which means you get to recruit and I definitely look for players that have a little bit More mobility. Doesn’t mean I’d pass on a special pocket passer. Now if you’re sure you’re gonna have a great office of line that changes but I forgotten what that’s like
 

Ian Boyd

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Stafford or Lawerence?
I don’t know Stafford as well, that might be the best comp but I doubt Stafford was this serious this young.

Ewers sees the field really well, amazingly for a young QB, and has a studious approach to the game you don’t see from guys this talented too often.

More compact Trevor Lawrence might be the comp.
 

BluffviewHorn

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I don’t know Stafford as well, that might be the best comp but I doubt Stafford was this serious this young.

Ewers sees the field really well, amazingly for a young QB, and has a studious approach to the game you don’t see from guys this talented too often.

More compact Trevor Lawrence might be the comp.
Stafford was pretty polished out of HS. Not sure if that was the case his JR year. I mostly saw him on TV during his Sr year playoff run. At that point we was throwing at a high level. Definitely showed great arm strength combined with placement and touch as a Sr.

To see Ewers do that as a JR is pretty unreal.

@Gerry Hamilton or @Bobby Burton may remember what he looked like as a JR.

The fact we are digging back 10 years for comps to a guy that became an NFL all-pro says a lot.
 

Scipio Tex

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Good write up, Ian.

I came away impressed with Ewers playing through injury with a much weaker supporting cast and was pretty blown away by Westlake's total team.

Ewers is an athletic pro style QB. I don't understand the confusion. It's straightforward.

Don't worry people, you're not alone in bad comps. 24/7 comp'd him to Phillip Rivers. Good grief.
 

Toadvine

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I have had Westlake season tickets the past couple of years (except this year due to COVID) and this really stood out to me last year. My seats are on the 1st row which the kids love. Last year, Westlake rotated QBs for a good chunk of the year and I remember during one of the games I was watching one of the QBs warm up with one of the tight ends. Except that wasn't a tight end. It was Kirkland Michaux who ended up being their starting QB late in the year. Michaux is like 6'4/6'5 220. And he's a HS QB?

And I have had season tickets since Sam's junior year at Westlake and the team the past couple of years is considerably bigger and more athletic than they were just 6 years ago. Sam carried that team in 2015 in big wins over Southlake Carroll (with Lil Jordan) and Allen High before losing to GP North Shore in the finals. But in all of those games, Sam put the load of the work on his shoulders because the talent gap was there. Westlake is a powerhouse now.
Michaux would have been a great P-5 QB prospect if he didn't want to play baseball.
 

tholly

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Ewers is incredible.....but I believe the midget QB from Allen is still the best hs QB Ive seen. Remembering his loss to bama reminds me of this SLC-Westlake game. A great QB with a weak defense is not gonna be enough vs an elite overall team
 

Ian Boyd

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Ewers is incredible.....but I believe the midget QB from Allen is still the best hs QB Ive seen. Remembering his loss to bama reminds me of this SLC-Westlake game. A great QB with a weak defense is not gonna be enough vs an elite overall team
I’m more sympathetic to the idea Kyler is the best but still have to note his high school OL had bookend NFL tackles and a future All-American center.
 
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tholly

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I’m more sympathetic to the idea Kyler is the best but still have to note his high school OL had bookend NFL tackles and a future All-American center.
Im sure it would be difficult to name a hs QB with a better OL than Kyler enjoyed. Still, he was at his best even when his protection broke down. Cant stand him, but will never forget the talent and savvy combo.
 

Ian Boyd

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Im sure it would be difficult to name a hs QB with a better OL than Kyler enjoyed. Still, he was at his best even when his protection broke down. Cant stand him, but will never forget the talent and savvy combo.
His quickness and speed was impossible at that level, he might have been the GOAT for that reason.
 
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