Wilson the Passer vs. Wilson the Runner

There’s been lots of chatter in the comments and in the forums about Wilson not looking to run. I don’t think that is the case, and the stats back that up. Wilson had 11 rushing attempts last night, compared to an average of 11.56 per game last year (in the 9 games where he played most or all of the game).

But many of you are also missing that even last year, Wilson was far more dangerous as a passer than a runner. Wilson’s 2008 yards per passing attempt (YPA, along with TD/INT ratio, the key QB effectiveness stat)? 7.11. His yards per carry? 3.4. It’s also quite safe to say that Wilson is more likely to fumble on a rushing attempt than to throw an interception, especially on a per attempt basis.

Running is important to control time of possession, and to keep defenses honest. But an effective passing attack is how you win games. And last night, the threat of Wilson’s running ability did lead the Gamecocks to play lots of single coverage on intermediate and deep routes. State took their shots, but didn’t deliver (the fault lies with both Wilson and with the WRs).

There was much to be concerned about with last night’s effort and execution (crappy tackling and dropped passes being 1A and 1B). But Wilson being “coached away” from being Russell Wilson isn’t one of them.

About BJD95

1995 NC State graduate, sufferer of Les and MOC during my entire student tenure. An equal-opportunity objective critic and analyst of Wolfpack sports.

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68 Responses to Wilson the Passer vs. Wilson the Runner

  1. dbo2874 09/04/2009 at 10:17 AM #

    running for your life does not equal “rushing attempts”

  2. tooyoungtoremember 09/04/2009 at 10:34 AM #

    With as often as the pocket broke down, he should have had far more than 11 rushes. There were many times when it looked like he thought about running, and probably should have, but pulled up for an incomplete pass.

  3. Cardiac95 09/04/2009 at 10:39 AM #

    Lots of chatter about how “fast” the SC defenders were, but I’m wondering if RW is suffering some lingering effects of the knee injury… I mean, can SC’s defenders really be that much faster than FSU’s or Miami’s?

  4. GAWolf 09/04/2009 at 10:41 AM #

    And standing in the collapsing pocket and THEN deciding to run does not do much either. It looked like to me that there were designed roll-outs and the runs where the pocket collapsed. There were no runs that looked to be improvised from coverage or pressure. Several times he had great lanes and looked, to me, to think about taking off and then opting not to. And I think in that lies the problem.

    Teach the kid to slide and then let him run.

    The passing efficiency was, in part, the result of defenses having to spy or at least play a low zone with the corners to avoid Wilson getting out of the pocket and taking off. Then you get zone coverage deep in which receivers can find seems and or squat in open space for easy completions.

    With that said, at least twice I saw RW walked down by defensive linemen. I’m not sure whether he’s a step slower this year, the ends for SC are freakishly fast, he was hesitant due to some mindset placed him by the coaches, he was hesitant due to some sort of ailment, or a combination of all of these.

    And there’s the question that will have to be answered if we can expect ANY production out of this offense all year.

    Had you told me they score only 7 points I would maybe not have bet my life on the fact we’d win by at least two touchdowns, but I’d probably have bet any of one of yours.

    I know this: Thank God we have those cupcakes before the Pitt game. Any of you guys who complained about those scheduled games better thank your lucky stars because we obviously need some serious work on getting this crowd back to Pre-Rutgers form.

  5. Alpha Wolf 09/04/2009 at 10:43 AM #

    Wilson sure as heck looked like he was favoring his leg when he was running full speed. I think he has lost a step.

    And I think it would be extremely wise for Mr. Glennon to get as many reps as possible the next couple of weeks. He may well be the one player who keys this entire season.

  6. tooyoungtoremember 09/04/2009 at 10:48 AM #

    Unfortunately Alpha, I don’t think we have the WR’s to complement a pure pocket passer.

  7. Sam92 09/04/2009 at 10:52 AM #

    the unfortunate truth is that we’re just not very good. my only hope now is that there will be steady improvement over the course of the season so that we’re ready for UNC Nov. 28.

    We’ll do very well to win 7 games this year.

  8. Alpha Wolf 09/04/2009 at 10:52 AM #

    ^ You may be right, but the kid has got to get some more game experience. WR’s or no WR’s, I do not expect Wilson to last the year. Let’s just say that I got a bad feeling last night about his “escapability.”

  9. BJD95 09/04/2009 at 10:53 AM #

    FSU and Miami do have fast defenders, but they don’t have nearly the same amount of discipline. Wilson effectively used their speed against them (particularly Miami).

    I do think that if defenses quit having spies on Wilson to take away passing options, then he will run more. It was clear to me that SC was daring Wilson to beat them with his arm – and he didn’t.

    Subjectively, there is a collective catching of the breath in our stands when Russell looks like he’s starting to scramble into a big rushing play. I felt/heard that 2 or 3 times last night, and the defenders walked him down each time.

    I think it’s a combination of Wilson losing a step (might be conditioning or rust as much as his knee injury – but he wasn’t exactly his usual self on the diamond in 2009, either, was he?) and SC’s defensive speed.

    I would also point to the second half kickoff. Their kick coverage unit looked pretty damned fast in comparison to TJ Graham, didn’t it? And TJ is our fastest player.

  10. GAWolf 09/04/2009 at 10:57 AM #

    I’d just like to say this: We weren’t going to win a national championship this year, so this loss matter very little in the grand scheme of things. I was furious last night because, as usual, it seems we let opportunity slip away. And we did. Repeatedly. It’s just a huge let down as a fan, but we’re all used to that aren’t we?

    Some things I saw last night:

    Vermiglio was on the sidelines with no pads and on crutches. Eugene looked to be limping as did Justin Byers. I saw some other things that I’ve shared with some folks via email that doesn’t probably need to be put on the internet for the world.

    Apparently TB had the ball in the wrong hand when it was hit and knocked out on the first play from scrimmage. That was told to me by an ex-coach’s brother today. I’m going to try to watch the game on tv tonight and look at some of thsoe things. If so, that’s why it’s a tough… maybe not wrong but tough… call to put TB in that sort of position on the first play from scrimmage after 2 years on the shelf.

    That same guy told me, and he’s bias admittedly, but that the team looked like an Amato-coached team that all of us fans complained about for so long. He’s right. It did. And we did. And that tells me we weren’t prepared for that game last night. I won’t try to opine why we weren’t fully prepared… but we clearly weren’t prepared. Several times USC snapped the ball and we had Defensive guys all over the place not in position. The D played well considering, but that’s evidence that there’s much work to do.

  11. GAWolf 09/04/2009 at 11:00 AM #

    BJD: We, too, talked about Graham looking either slow or hesitant or both. Everyone I’ve talked to today is blaming the no call face mask as the difference in the game. Yeesh. There were so many “differences” in the game. And it started with spotting them the 7 that was the difference on our first play from scrimmage. The crowd never recovered, and from the looks of things neither did the players.

  12. Wolf Hound 09/04/2009 at 11:00 AM #

    Wilson’s best attribute at the end of the year was making the first guy miss and then buying time so that the RB could come open behind the LB’s. I’ll give SC credit though. They scheme very well. Their D usually plays very well in the SEC. Their problem every year is that their offense is not that good.

  13. BJD95 09/04/2009 at 11:00 AM #

    We looked like we were playing our first game, SC looked like they were playing their 4th. They had a great gameplan and clearly their players bought into what the coaches were teaching.

  14. hai17 09/04/2009 at 11:04 AM #

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought Wilson looked slower than last year and much more reluctant to run. There were a couple of plays where it looked like he had a lane to run and instead hit his outlet for a gain of just a couple of yards. While that may be the best option for a pocket passer, I’d like to see Wilson use his athleticism and try to make something happen – that’s what made him so good last year. Regardless of whether the cause is nerves or coaching, it’s not a good sign for the success of our team.

  15. tvp1 09/04/2009 at 11:09 AM #

    I don’t agree with the premise of the post. I don’t think you can draw any conclusion about Wilson playing differently or not from the statistics.

    The fact is that our WRs cannot get open consistently against really athletic secondaries playing man coverage. We saw this in the Miami game last year. And in that game, Wilson kept tucking and running until Miami had to switch their defense. This year he kept waiting for something to develop and it never did.

    The talent is not there on the OL (got whipped tonight) and at WR to play a conventional, pro style offense against really athletic defenses.

  16. GAWolf 09/04/2009 at 11:11 AM #

    THe other thing that scares me is that TOB kept talking pre-game about Russell slowing down his play and not playing “Russell-speed.” He kept saying he was “hyper.” Uhh… if that’s the slowed-down Russell he was going for 1) he got what he asked for and 2) it’s not going to help us win any games (especially when hyper could mean the difference of life and death when there’s little to no protection from our line).

    Also, speaking of lines, we got very little pressure on Garcia. He isn’t outstanding, but the time we gave him allowed him to make plays on crucial 3rd down conversions.

  17. Tar Heel Fan 09/04/2009 at 11:13 AM #

    The only part of the Wilson’s running game that seemed problematic was his inability to escape SCAR defensive players. There were moments were it appeared he needed an extra burst to get 4-5 more yards and he just did not have it. Was the knee brace an issue? Maybe and he did look tentative out there. Who knows if a fear of injury might be cropping up, especially having gotten a concussion last season vs SCAR. The dropped passes were the biggest issue as well as SEC officials not calling a facemask after watching a player get yanked 180 degrees and down to the turf.

  18. Alpha Wolf 09/04/2009 at 11:40 AM #

    Sheesh, we SHOULD have won this. One dropped pass made the difference. It would have been a different mood and take on this game had Jay Smith not dropped the ball that was in his hands standing on paydirt.

  19. GApack04 09/04/2009 at 11:44 AM #

    One dropped pass was not the only issue. Who’s to say a DEAD tired Pack D could stop USC on a final drive?

    The team wasn’t ready to play from the beginning and when they decided to show up in the 4th they couldn’t execute to win the game.

  20. rdjennin 09/04/2009 at 12:45 PM #

    TOB is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole with russell wilson. If russell wilson is not allowed to play his way, we will be vastly unsuccessfull. Wilson is slower, is playing more timidly, and according to an insider, his mind has been set on baseball and his own “big picture” in life. Lets all be thankful that we had him to salvage a year and deliver us to a bowl. But I think we all know what is about to happen, its what was going to happen all along. For better or worse.

    Enter Mike Glennon.

  21. McPete 09/04/2009 at 1:01 PM #

    with that pathetic excuse for an o-line and pedestrian receivers, Mike Glennon would have a very long year (if he made it the whole year).

    I don’t think the defense was that tired. The coaches rotated the D line all night. I saw plenty of Sweezy, Lemon, and Augustin.

    I just think that Wilson had been instructed since spring practice to go through all his reads on passing plays. It just so happened that he couldn’t find alot of open guys and the o line couldn’t protect him like they needed. When he decided to run, the defenders were already after him at full speed.

  22. tobaccordshow 09/04/2009 at 1:03 PM #

    You guys are certifiably crazy. You’re ready to ditch the All-ACC quarterback over a single performance where, let’s face it, Spurrier had our number called.

    I have no problem with high expectations and I have no problem with the bitching the morning after. However, this is boarder line asylum style talking.

    Everyone needs to take a HUGE freakin chill pill and lets not start beating up on the one guy who, yesterday at 6:55pm was your savior.

  23. BJD95 09/04/2009 at 1:07 PM #

    Wilson had a bad game. South Carolina had alot to do with it. They hit him early and often, and that helped set the tone.

    He is and whould be, without question, our starting QB. Everything I’ve heard indicates that the coaching staff does NOT think Glennon is close to Wilson is his ability to play QB for us this season.

  24. elvislives 09/04/2009 at 1:34 PM #

    Can we please stop anointing Spurrier as a coaching genius? Or even a good coach? Even he admitted after the game that “it was a good day to be a defensive coach, and I am not a defensive coach.” And am I the only one tired of hearing him referred to as “The Old Ballcoach”? This guy has done less with more than many other coaches around the country.

    Scarolina’s defense played well last night but State’s offensive playcalling did nothing to adjust to their well-prepared defensive gameplan. It doesn’t matter who is at QB if the play calls are predictable, ineffective and timid.

    I agree with tvp1’s comment above regarding the lack of talent at the WR position. Wilson gives the team more options when the pocket collapses and does not turn the ball over. But if any reciever can emerge as a playmaker, Glennon would appear to be the stonger pocket-style passer.

  25. hoop 09/04/2009 at 1:37 PM #

    I’m not at all worried about Wilson being coached to look for the pass more. What I am worried about is the fact that he got caught from behind four times by friggin big guys (non-speed position players).

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