The Colorado Buffaloes have their quarterback.
Sunday, Deion Sanders was introduced as the latest CU head football coach and he also introduced CU’s starting quarterback.
Coach Prime’s son, Shedeur Sanders will be the man behind center for Colorado in 2023.
He was a four-star recruit in the 2021 recruiting class who earned 26 offers that included Alabama, Michigan, Oregon and Tennessee.
Today in the Buffs Film Room, we break down Shedeur Sanders’ game and why he will be the driving force for Colorado in 2023.
Dots and Darts
Sanders’ arm is the most apparent trait that pops off the tape when you watch. He has natural and impressive arm talent. He can throw with anticipation, change the trajectory of the football and make tight-window throws at every level of the field.
Here are some of his best throws from the 2022 season.
Sanders was dealing in the SWAC title game last Saturday. Buff Nation was watching with bated breath and the second-year quarterback delivered. This pinpoint accurate throw was Sanders’ third touchdown of the game, showcasing his timing as a passer and ball placement.
On his fourth touchdown pass against Southern, Sanders perfectly executes the back shoulder fade throw. Deion Sanders in his prime could have been the cornerback on this play, he wouldn’t have gotten a hand on that football.
This throw is a frozen rope. Sanders is able to throw between zones and put the football right on the receiver’s face mask in the end zone for a touchdown. Timing and ball placement once again stood out as the sophomore quarterback was in full control of his offense.
Later on against Grambling, Sanders drops one in the bucket throwing from the opposite hash. It takes a certain level of arm talent to be able to make a throw like this, an NFL-level throw.
That arm strength shows up again here in the fourth quarter against Grambling. I love Sanders’ throwing motion on this deep ball. His arm elbow remains tucked through the process of the throw, the motion is not elongated and the ball jumps out of his hand. An absolute dime that hits the receiver in stride nearly 40 yards down the field.
Sanders completes this touchdown to last year’s number-one overall recruit, Travis Hunter. Hunter primarily plays cornerback but his athleticism jumps off the screen on this play. Sanders’ impressive ball placement is on display again as well, there’s no room for error on this throw and Sanders nailed it. There’s a good chance we see this combination making plays at Folsom Field in 2023.
I mean, come on. The ball placement on this play is just silly. When he wants to, Sanders can throw the football with incredible touch and loft to make these absurd throws.
He can also throw a mean fastball to complete tight window throws in these short-field situations.
This is what raw arm talent looks like, soak it in Buff Nation.
Willingness to sacrifice his body
Sanders is listed at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds on Jackson State’s roster and he knows how to use his size to his advantage. He is not going to blow you away with RG3 or Lamar Jackson speed but Sanders uses his legs well and knows when it’s time to tuck the ball and run.
Make no mistake about it, Shedeur Sanders is a dual-threat quarterback and he will be utilized in the run and option game while at CU.
His arm talent shows up again in this clip but it’s the poise and toughness that stand out to me on this play. There’s a free rusher aiming right at Sanders’ chest and he still stands tall in the pocket and delivers a dime deep down the field.
Even when he’s drifting away from the line of scrimmage and throwing off his back foot, Sanders has the confidence and ability to beat the blitz all on his own. His confidence and full control of the offense really stand out. He doesn’t panic, when he needs to make a play for his team he delivers and processes the game quickly.
If opposing defenses want to play coverage in the red zone and vacate the middle of the field, Sanders possesses the ability to make you pay with his legs.
This is one of my favorite plays watching Sanders. Of course, you don’t want to see him taking these hits often but he delivers the boom on this play. Any quarterback that scores a touchdown like this for any time is sure to fire up an entire sideline and stadium.
So your defense wants to play man-to-man coverage across the field with two safeties deep on third down? Bold move against Shedeur Sanders.
Edge rushers screaming upfield to attack the quarterback? No problem, Sanders will expose the edges of defenses and take it to the house by himself.
Buffs’ fans got a slight glimpse at what Owen McCown can do when the play breaks down and he has to make a play on his own in 2022. Sanders can do all that and is willing to sell out for every inch he can take.
Shedeur Sanders is a natural at quarterback
In case you weren’t already convinced, Shedeur Sanders has “it”. One of the biggest things I’ve learned as an evaluator of the game of football is that bloodlines shine through.
We talk about this factor constantly on the DNVR Broncos Draft Podcast. Players that are born of former players simply learn the game and can gain a feel for football at a different rate than players that aren’t.
Broncos Country has seen that firsthand with Patrick Surtain II. Broncos fans have also seen the other side of this equation when you look at the Bosa brothers, their NFL pedigree and how they were able to succeed immediately in the NFL. Colorado-native, Christian McCaffrey proved that in his time at Valor Christian and exploded onto the scene once he got on the field for Stanford. Shedeur Sanders has it also.
In these clips below, take note of how calm and poised Sanders is finding reads beyond his first and when he has to get outside of the pocket.
The pass rush on this play is severely lacking but Sanders quickly surveys the field and cashes in for a two-point conversion. Because he’s been around football for so much of his life, this is second nature stuff for him. He doesn’t force a throw when his first read isn’t there and he knows how to scan the field quickly.
How many times this year have you seen Russell Wilson bail out of a pocket and roll the opposite way of the play? Sanders knows where his receivers are and he knows how to get them the ball even when he’s under duress. He shows off his beautiful throwing motion while on the run also.
This is routine for Sanders. He makes smart decisions with the ball in his hands, rarely forces throws and finds backside receivers that are working their way across the field.
This is real Buff Nation. The Buffs will have a great quarterback to rally around in 2023. Sanders is a natural quarterback that has the arm, size, intelligence and feel for the game. There will be no quarterback controversy this year. Colorado football has an established dog at the most important position on the field.
So how does Sanders stack up against the Pac-12’s best quarterbacks?
Michael Penix Jr.’s accuracy was on display for the entire Pac-12 to see in 2022 as he led the nation in passing and routinely carved up west coast defenses. I’m not ready to compare Sanders to Penix yet, but Sanders will be in the conversation as one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the Pac-12 in 2023.
He can move, but he’s not Caleb Williams or Bo Nix. Sanders is at least on par with or ahead of Cam Ward in terms of dual-threat ability.
When it comes to 2023, the sky really is the limit for Shedeur Sanders. He will have to adjust to a heightened level of speed going from the SWAC to the Pac-12, but this is a four-star recruit. He’s played football against very fast and talented players all his life.
The Heisman Trophy may be a bit too optimistic at this point, but it’s not out of the question.
Buff Nation, this is your quarterback. He’s coming.