Passing Game….Where You At?
I’m not going to beat a dead horse and recap the Irish offensive struggles from the previous three weeks, but I am going to talk about the lack of passing game improvement. Both special teams and the running game took steps forward last week from Ball State, but the passing game is still stuck in whatever rut it’s in.
Against Michigan, the passing game looked great in the first half, but only saw two completions in the entire second half — but we chalked that up to conservative play calling and a great Wolverine defense. Ball State saw a career high passing yard performance for Wimbush as well as a career high interception performance. Last week, Wimbush didn’t have any completions to Vandy’s defense, but only managed 122 yards through the air.
Through three weeks,Wimbush has one touchdown pass and four interceptions, and the Irish are ranked 89th in the nation averaging 200 yards passing per game.
That’s not ideal.
Wimbush has made questionable throws all three games, either throwing off his back foot or saying a prayer and lobbing it up into double or triple coverage. If our last three opponents had better hands in the secondary, Wimbush’s interception count could easily be six or seven.
It isn’t all on Wimbush, however. Some of it can be put on the offensive line play, but they have held their own outside of Ball State and showed signs of improvement last week. Receivers have struggled with drops the previous two weeks, with Chris Finke dropping a would-be touchdown last weekend in the redzone. The tall, physical Miles Boykin and Chase Claypool have yet to be huge redzone threats or play-makers. Surprisingly, the only receiver to go up and win a jump ball this season has been 5-10 Chris Finke vs. Michigan.
This week, it would be nice to see better play-calling and Brandon Wimbush and the receiving corps finally putting it all together. Wimbush struggles to complete the wide receiver slip screens and the Irish don’t have the speed for those designed plays, yet they were called numerous times last week — with the only success coming once from Finke who forced a nice missed tackle. Increased play-action and roll outs allowing Wimbush to get outside the pocket and let routes develop is a huge element of the passing game that is missing.
I’m hoping for the best and expecting the same when it comes to the Irish passing attack. The talent is there, it’s just a matter of putting it all together — and why not start this week?