In the game against James Madison, Mitch Trubisky set UNC records for consecutive completions and consecutive passes without an interception. While he wasn’t great in the Georgia game, his overall efficiency numbers for the season have been pretty good. Through three games, he’s completed 73.6% of his passes. One player who seems to have benefited greatly from Trubisky’s efficiency is Ryan Switzer.
Through three games, the UNC quarterback has targeted Switzer 22 times, with 17 of them being caught. It’s a small sample size, but if they continued at this rate, both would far surpass Switzer’s numbers from last year.
Since his freshman year, Switzer has been a pretty big part of the offense. As a freshman, he caught 32 passes. His highest total in a season came in his sophomore year in 2014, when he caught 61. In 2016, he’s on pace for 68 in the regular season alone.
Switzer is also averaging 13.0 yards per catch, which would be the highest of his career. Admittedly, a lot of that comes from the 75 yard flea flicker touchdown against James Madison. Take that out, and the average drops below 10. However, Trubisky did go long to Switzer early in the Georgia game and just under threw him. Deep balls to Switzer have also been a fairly well-utilized part of the UNC offense throughout his career. That 13.0 number may not drop too much.
A major storyline in the Georgia game was the low number of rushing attempts from UNC. While that’s been less of an issue in the games since, the attempts per game is still down from last season.
Some of those attempts seem to have been cut into by more pass attempts to not just Switzer, but also Austin Proehl, as well as the running backs. Switzer, Proehl, Elijah Hood, and T.J. Logan are all on pace for their highest career reception totals. According to Bill Connelly’s numbers, all of their target rate numbers are way higher than in 2015. That suggests a bit of a higher reliance on screen passes and/or short passes.
A lot of fans would like to see the running game used more, and it probably will be in future weeks. However, Larry Fedora said after the Georgia game that UNC’s offense is about taking what the defense gives them. At least so far, it seems like short passes to Switzer and others is what has been there. Considering the skill set of Switzer, that’s not a bad fall back option if the run is not there.
With Marquise Williams at quarterback, Switzer got plenty of catches in 2015. However Williams’ completion percentage in 2015 was 60.1%, which is way lower than what Trubisky has done so far.
With the teams coming up on the schedule, Trubisky probably won’t be able to maintain a near 75% completion rate. However, if he can keep it somewhat close to that percentage, Ryan Switzer might be on course for his best season in his Carolina career.