What Happened to the Long Ball?

Critics of the Northwestern Spread Offense have always complained that this particular offense can sometimes score too quickly, but this Fall, the long pass seems to have disappeared from the Wildcat's playbook. Purple Reign asked Coach Walker about throwing long during Tuesday's Big 10 Teleconference...

Its a dimension that's gone missing from the NU Attack
Against Penn State, the longest pass play was 38 yards to Jon Fields, the next longest was a 20 yarder to Frayne Abernathy. At Arizona State, the long pass was 27 yards, facing NIU, Baz' longest was 26 yards.

All told, NU only has 5 TD's passing, and Baz has averaged one passing TD per game. Of course you have a runner like Tyrell Sutton to punch the ball in, but the Spread offense is known for the quick long TD, and for some reason, the Cats aren't getting those long throws to click this year.

So we asked Coach Randy Walker on the Big 10 teleconference just what happened to the long passing game?
There's probably two things, its not that we don't call it, we have those called, sometimes they're not there and I don't think you indescriminately launch balls and throw it deep.You do that sometimes, but...

By and large there's a built in progression in the deep to short or short to deep or however you want to call it and obviously that's the quarterback's decision and sometimes, too, to launch the deep ball, you have to have great protection, and I know that hasn't always been what it should be.

But it isn't ... lost from our arsenal, its something we're going to continue to try to do. We've been a little banged up with some of our best deep threats, with Mark Philmore, Jonathan Fields and Kim Thompson all missing some time and some games with various things.

That's taken some things away, but those guys should all be back.
And earlier in the conference Coach Walker had also talked about some minor injuries to 3 of the front 5 O-Linemen, which can cause the pass protection to break down also.
...when you're playing as many young kids as we're playing, you need to have a more consistent practice schedule.
With the various major season ending injuries to projected starters, the need to have everyone else at practice every day is pretty important. The next two weeks should give the Wildcats some time to heal, and get their passing game back on track.

Randy Walker Quotes from the Big 10 Teleconference

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