With Virginia Tech playing win-for-win with North Carolina this season, the Tar Heels needed a convincing conference win this weekend to further their chances of appearing in the ACC championship game, presumably against Clemson. On the road, North Carolina beat down division mate Georgia Tech 48-20.
By: Derrik Klassen
Quarterback Mitch Trubisky was not faced with adversity of any sort in this game, but he did everything right to keep North Carolina on track throughout the game. He completed passes to all levels of the field at a high percentage, avoided turnovers and, ultimately, he helped North Carolina go home with a win.
- ADJ = Adjustment from receiver
- DE = Drop w/ effort or defended pass
- DB = Dropped blatantly
- TD = Touchdown
- INT = Interception
|25+||0/2 (1 DE)||0/2 (1 DE)|
|21-25||0/2 (1 DE)|
|16-20||0/1 (1 DE)||1/1||2/2 (1 TD)|
|11-15||0/1||2/2||3/4 (1 ADJ, 1 DE)||3/4|
|1-5||0/1 (1 DE)||1/1||2/2 (1 TD)||1/1|
|Throwaways:||Left Outside||Left Middle||Right Middle||Right Outside|
Total: 20/32 (62.50%)
Trubisky’s success against Georgia Tech was highly concentrated to certain areas of the field. When throwing to the left sideline and/or beyond 20 yards, Trubisky completed just a single pass on ten attempts. On his other 22 passing attempts, the first-year starter completed nineteen passes, good for over a completion rate over 85%. Regardless of any surrounding factors, that sort of efficiency is absurd.
The question is, why was Trubisky so good when throwing short-to-intermediate and to his right, but struggling deep and to his left? The answer lies mostly in Trubisky’s footwork. When throwing to his left, and even down the field, Trubisky does a poor job of striding forward and driving through his throughs. Instead, he will open his hips wide and step laterally with his plant foot. Doing this takes away from the natural rotation Trubisky can get in his hips, thus making the release of the ball less natural and fluid.
Though, as frustrating as that is, it’s tough to stay mad at Trubisky considering his successes elsewhere. Trubisky understands leverage very well and shows proficiency in choosing favorable match ups, especially when targeting his slot receivers, Austin Proehl and Ryan Switzer. As an inexperienced starter, Trubisky can be a little reluctant to turn away from his initial read when the initial read is a vertical route, but that is something that he may grow out of with more experience.
Pass Rush Breakdown:
- 3 Man Rush: 4 Times, 1 Pressures – 3/4 (1 DE)
- 4 Man Rush: 11 Times, 0 Pressures – 5/11 (3 DE, 1 TD)
- 5 Man Rush: 7 Times, 1 Pressure – 4/7 (1 DE)
- 6 Man Rush: 10 Times, 6 Pressures – 8/10 (1 ADJ, 1 DE, 1 TD)
Passing When Pressured: 5/8 (1 ADJ, 1 DE, 1 TD)
This is one of the rare cases where a passer, for one reason or another, does better versus higher pass rusher counts. Trubisky completed just over 50% of his passes against four or fewer pass rushers, while he completed around 70% of his passes against five or more pass-rushers. For Trubisky, this comes down to reading of the field and pulling the trigger. When Georgia Tech played conservatively and rushed four or fewer, Trubisky was more hesitant to pull the trigger and trust his reads. Conversely, when Georgia Tech brought pressure and kept fewer players in coverage, Trubisky trusted his match ups and let it rip.
Trubisky had the luxury of not facing pressure. Facing pressure on just a quarter of his attempts is a comfort than not many passers get in a given week. That being said, Trubisky delivered when Georgia Tech pressured him. He kept his cool, flashed quality mobile skills and made sure to avoid costly turnovers.
- Play Action: 11/18 (1 ADJ, 5 DE, 2 TD)
- Rollout: 2/2
- 3rd/4th Down: 9/11 (1 ADJ, 1 DE, 1 TD)
- Red Zone: 0/3 (2 DE)
Offensive coordinator Chris Kapilovic gave Trubisky a lot of easy throws by using play action in abundance. Georgia Tech’s defense continued to fall for play action throughout the game, so North Carolina kept going to it, and with great success. Both of Trubisky’s touchdowns were on play-action passes.
Trubisky was clutch on third down. He completed most of his throws and did a fine job of making the throw that gave the offense the best chance to convert. Inexperienced quarterbacks often struggle to make plays on third down and sustain drives, but Trubisky was excellent in that regard against Georgia Tech. In the red zone, however, Trubisky missed all three of his passes. It’s a small sample, sure, but Trubisky’s process looked a tick too slow for red zone success. He’s going to need to speed it up in the future.
Route Break Key:
- S = Screen, Shoot, Swing
- O = Out-breaking
- I = In-breaking
- V = Vertical
- C = Crossing
|O||9/12 (1 ADJ, 1 DE)|
|I||4/6 (1 DE)|
|V||3/10 (3 DE, 1 TD)|
|C||1/1 (1 TD)|
Trubisky’s only glaring flaw against Georgia Tech was his work on vertical routes. He did throw a touchdown on a vertical route, but he was largely inaccurate when throwing down the field and missed a handful of open throws that could have been huge gains. He’s got to make those plays.
When throwing any other type of route, Trubisky was great. Trubisky’s match up exploitation was a real weapon when targeting the middle of the field, just as his arm was an asset when attacking the sideline. Trubisky made a number of impressive throws all around the short-to-intermediate part of the field.
|Ryan Switzer (No.3)||4/6 (1 ADJ, 1 DE)|
|Austin Proehl (No.7)||4/8 (2 DE, 1 TD)|
|TJ Logan (No.8)||1/2|
|Bug Howard (No.13, temp.)||6/10 (2 DE, 1 TD)|
|Jordan Cunningham (No.15)||1/1|
|Thomas Jackson (No.48)||1/1|
|Brandon Fritts (No.82)||1/2 (1 DE)|
|Carl Tucker (No.86)||2/2|
Even without wide receiver Mack Hollins, North Carolina’s skill players group is stacked. Wide receivers Ryan Switzer, Austin Proehl and Bug Howard are all NFL talents, to some degree, and running back TJ Logan looks like he can be a weapon on passing downs in the NFL. Trubisky is swarmed by talented players and he took advantage of that against Georgia Tech.
Trubisky likes his wide receivers. North Carolina runs a predominantly spread offense, meaning they line up with at least three receivers on almost every snap, and often line up four or five wide receivers. Switzer and Proehl most often play out of the slot and both are excellent route runners over the middle of the field, often creating wide open windows for Trubisky to throw to. Howard, on the other hand, is a bigger, more dynamic type of wide receiver that can be a force on the boundary. He was Trubisky’s favorite target on Saturday.
Mitch Trubisky gave us a peek at the good and the bad in his game, but given a Tar Heels victory and an efficient, turnover-less performance, Trubisky did enough to keep himself in the conversation as one of the more intriguing quarterbacks of the class. With the top of this quarterback class growing muddier and muddier with each passing day, Trubisky has a real chance to step it up down the stretch and separate himself. Trubisky has plenty of kinks to work out, but his potential is enticing and will keep evaluators interested.