Highly-touted recruit Matt Alviti is making is Northwestern debut today against Michigan. The former four-star quarterback redshirted during his true freshman year and has yet to see the field this season.
A more athletic and mobile quarterback, Alviti brings an extra dimension that the Northwestern offense has seemingly missed this season.
In practice this week, Alviti took snaps with the first team offense. From what we saw, he did a lot of scrambling and didn't run too much of the read option.
Following Northwestern's loss at Iowa, our Kevin Trahan wrote about what Alviti's presence may do for Northwestern's offense:
Does the offense need the option?
The biggest "suggestion" I've seen for the coaching staff after Northwestern's past three losses is that the Wildcats need to involve Matt Alviti in the gameplan so they can run the option once again. You know, like that's so easy to do.
There are many reasons why this might not be the best idea for this team, but the logic that Northwestern needs an option-heavy team to win might be the most short-sighted. The Wildcats have only been extremely option-heavy in one season, but they have been impressive on offense in other seasons, with Dan Persa, Mike Kafka, CJ Bacher, Brett Basanez and others. NU doesn't need the option to be good at offense.
Second, there are two types of "option" that people seem to lump in to one: read option and speed option. Both take a lot more to be successful than "have a mobile QB."
The read option (that's the one where the QB decides whether to hand it off or not based on the DE) requires the ability to make these reads in a split second. We all praise Kain Colter's athleticism, but something he doesn't get enough credit for is that he almost always made the right read. That allowed those plays to be so successful, because they effectively took a defender out of the play. Matt Alviti, we've heard, tends to really struggle with concepts in practice. It's entirely possible that he would not be good at running the read option.
The speed option (pitch) is similar. You have to understand the concepts and know when to pitch the ball. True, we've never seen Alviti try this, but given his apparent struggles learning concepts in practice, it's reasonable to assume he might not be great at running either of these option plays.
Moreover, let's make sure that we note that Northwestern can, in fact, be successful on offense without being option-heavy. There are plenty of bigger issues surrounding this team.
This development comes after starting quarterback Trevor Siemian was pulled last week in favor Zack Oliver during the blowout loss.