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May 31, 2011

Rettig Doing Work

In modern day college football there really is no offseason anymore. Even when the players aren't practicing with their college coaches, they are still practicing on their own to try and enhance their individual skills. BC quarterback Chase Rettig is no different, as he spends his offseason working with his private quarterback tutor Anton Clarkson.

Clarkson has tutored Rettig since he was a sophomore in high school, which was around the same time Clarkson got involved with tutoring full-time. Officially Clarkson has been tutoring quarterbacks full-time for five years, but he has spent much longer than that in the business.

Anton's father is Steve Clarkson, the legendary quarterback tutor who has tutored quarterbacks since the 80's. Clarkson's list of notable quarterbacks that he's tutored includes Ben Roethlisberger, Gino Torretta, Matt Leinart, Jimmy Clausen, and Matt Barkley among others. Anton is starting to make a good list of his own, as his list includes the likes of Josh Freeman, Jake Locker, and Terrelle Pryor.

If you talk to Clarkson though, you'll notice right away that Chase Rettig excites him as much as any quarterback that he tutors. One of the main reasons for that is Rettig's high level of work ethic which makes him easy to work with.

"The week of spring break (in March) Chase flew back home on Monday and spent time with his family. The next day I wanted him to get out a little later at noon,---but he's a pretty excitable guy and he's excited about what's going on with BC--- he made sure that I was out there at 7:30 in the morning instead of noon. For every day the rest of the week we were out there at 7:30 and we worked out for a few hours," said Clarkson.

Clarkson went on to explain Rettig's work ethic.

"Don't get me wrong he's a California kid through and through, but he's definitely blue collar when it comes to working. He was putting in 4 hours a day, every day, on his spring break. His girlfriend probably wasn't too happy about that because she flew out from back from back east also. I'm sure she wanted to spend some time (together), but she ended up watching film a lot," said Clarkson.

Rettig visited Clarkson on his spring break a few weeks before spring practice started. For that week-long session the focus was on Rettig's individual mechanics, particularly since at that time Rettig hadn't had any formal practices with new offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers yet. Each daily session would include a couple of hours on the practice field working on mechanics ranging from the actual throwing motion to footwork. Then, Rettig and Clarkson would hit the film room to watch tape of Rettig from previous games.

"In the film room I break it down into two different parts. The first part is we look at defenses. We look at indicators and you have to look for any tips you might get. We'll break it down to a point where we pause the film and Chase will try and figure out what he's seeing pre-snap. That involves looking at pre-snap reads of the the linemen, based on positioning, and based on down and distance. Sometimes it will be exactly what he thought pre-snap and sometimes it changes. The second portion of watching the film is evaluating after Chase made the read understand what the defense was. What could he have done better with his mechanics? What could he have done better with his body positioning? Maybe he could've escaped pressure and hit the receiver later and he gained 5 yards instead of 15. Chase is really starting to take off a little bit in that area," explained Clarkson.

Clarkson says that the focus before spring practice was to work on footwork, the area that he thought Rettig had to do the most work on improving.

"The problem with Chase is that his arm is extremely strong. It's a blessing but it can also be a curse at some point. He has advanced footwork for someone his age, but he needed to clean up his base a little bit more. A couple times he tended to over stride when he wanted to put extra zip on the ball He needs to pack down his motion a little bit. From an intelligence standpoint he's gifted. He understands how things are working and he approaches everything like he's playing chess. It's just a matter of cleaning stuff up," said Clarkson.

A Surprise Guest

A few weeks after spring practice was over, Rettig made a return visit home to California to see his family and do more work with Clarkson. This time, Rettig had a surprise visitor with him.

"It was funny because Chase called me and told me his buddy Josh was coming out, so I had no clue who he was talking about. Josh came to workout and I thought he was a tight end or big receiver when I first saw him. Then I noticed that Josh threw it pretty well and that's when Chase told me it was Josh Bordner," said Clarkson.

Clarkson said that although it isn't common for quarterbacks to bring their direct competition with them, it wasn't a total shock that Chase did so.

"Chase is a really big team guy. He feels like if he has an opportunity to help a teammate get better--- even if it's his competition---he's not selfish in that regard as to not help a teammate out. It caught me off guard that he wanted to bring Josh out but I guess they are pretty good friends," said Clarkson.

In Clarkson's week spent with Bordner he came away impressed with Bordner's "cannon arm", and thinks once Bordner learns the nuisances of the game he could be a good quarterback for BC when Rettig is gone.

The New BC Offense

Clarkson got to spend two weeks with Rettig in total this spring, and feels like he is night and day as compared to this time last year. While Clarkson credits Rettig himself for the hard work he has put in he also credits new offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers.

"As far as bringing along Chase, I think Coach Tranquill did a pretty good job with that. I know Chase has the utmost respect for him. But in just talking to Chase he has a bounce in his step and he's excited about Coach Rogers. He's showing Chase things on the board that he's never seen before. The other thing too is that Chase talks a lot about Coach Rogers' terminology and the professional style to the verbiage. That includes how the plays are called, the reads, and understanding how he can slide and protect himself. I'm excited about it and Chase is ecstatic about it," said Clarkson.

Clarkson says that Rogers is excellent at creating good situations for his quarterbacks.

"The thing I appreciate and admire about Coach Rogers is he works well with what he has. He does a good job of creating good matchups and getting guys open. I really don't know that BC will ever have the speed that say a team like Miami does. If you watch some of the old film of Rogers' offenses at Virginia Tech---- and even Notre Dame which recruits a similar style of athlete that BC does-he does a good job of exploiting matchups and using play action to get receivers open," said Clarkson.

Rogers came to BC as coach who's known to let quarterbacks make plays with their legs. In spring practice, Rettig rolled out of the pocket and threw on the run quite a bit. However, there weren't a lot of designed plays like options or quarterback draws to give Rettig the opportunity to make plays with his feet. Does Clarkson feel Rettig is the type of quarterback who can do that?

"Chase is one of those guys that will sneak up on you. He's a pretty athletic kid that runs probably a 4.7 or a 4.8. The thing last year was that his ankle was never truly healed. Now he's had an opportunity to give it a rest and go through conditioning to strengthen it. He's never going to be the guy that beats you with his legs. Like my old coach used to say, he's one of those guys that if you need 5 he'll get you 6, if you need 10 he'll get you 11. I think Chase can make plays with his legs if needed though," said Clarkson.

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