Midseason Review: Areas of Possible Improvement

Ryan Willis needs to complete more passes over the middle of the field. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

It’s midseason reckoning time, and for this piece I’m thinking about where a team that’s verging on jerry-built might realistically improve. I’m not calling for—nor am I expecting—vast advancements. Instead, I think these are all things we can hope for, and perhaps even expect that one or two might come to pass.

Passing Game: Work the Middle

We’re all seeing how Ryan Willis is comfortable working the sidelines, but with defenses taking note and bracketing his favorite reads, it’s time to open the playbook and make teams pay between the hashes. I trust our insiders who are telling us Willis throws most of his picks down the middle, and it’s an issue I bet will take at least an off-season to chip away at (and probably an offseason where he’s the clear #1 QB.) That means telling him to throw posts and slants every other pass in the coming weeks won’t be helpful.

Instead, Coach Cornelsen and Coach Fuente need to put their thinking caps on and scheme some guys open in ways that are also safe, easy reads. Maybe it’s messing around with motion, or taking another swing at zone-blocked RPOs. The backs and TEs are great at feigning and influencing in the red zone, and it might be time to take advantage of that more in order to keep drives going. Breaking tendency more and putting Hazelton in groupings to the field side (wide side) could be helpful, especially on calls like the post/dig concept. The post/dig is a pairing of two deep routes that horizontally stretch the secondary, which helps prevent guys from getting creamed by two converging defenders, as has happened a few times this season, while still letting Willis throw downfield. GT played aggressively against Duke, so there might be voids there next week to exploit.