One of the question marks surrounding North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz has been his accuracy on the deep ball. This is an aspect of his playing style that the quarterback has been working on with his coaching staff. In the Bison’s game Saturday against in-state rival North Dakota, the QB showed that work might be paying dividends.
Midway through the third quarter the Bison have the football and a commanding 27-3 lead. On this 1st and 10 play at the North Dakota 38-yard line, Wentz is under center with 22 offensive personnel on the field. Behind the QB stand running back King Frazier (#22) and tight end Connor Wentz (#87) ‒ Carson’s younger cousin ‒ in an i-formation. The offense has three receivers to the right of the formation, with sophomore wide receiver R.J. Urzendowski (#16) split wide to the right, TE Luke Albers (#88) on the end of the line and fullback Andrew Bonnett (#46) in a wing alignment:
With Albers and Urzendowski on the line of scrimmage, the TE is “covered” in this formation and is not eligible for a pass route. The formation and personnel may indicate to the defense that a running play is coming. Given the 4-3 defense shown here from North Dakota, they probably expected run as well.
The defense stacks nine defenders in the box, with both an outside linebacker and the strong safety lining up on the line of scrimmage. The defense shows Cover 1 in the secondary leaving sophomore Deion Harris (#19) isolated on Urzendowski on the right:
But the Bison are taking to the sky on this play off of play action. After the snap Wentz fakes the halfback lead play to the right, while Urzendowski runs a straight go route:
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What makes the throw impressive is the touch on display, with pressure at his feet. The defense blitzes all three linebackers and the strong safety, and the interior of the pocket breaks down. Wentz knows he’ll take a shot on this play ‒ and he does ‒ but he hangs in the pocket and delivers a perfectly placed pass to Urzendowski. The sophomore WR runs under the football right at the goal-line for the score:
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The Bison rolled to a 34-9 victory over North Dakota, with Wentz finishing the day 18-27 for 262 yards and four touchdowns. While the numbers are impressive, it is his traits as a passer ‒ and the continued refinement of his game ‒ that have scouts taking a long look at him right now.
Editor’s Note – An astute reader pointed out that Carson and Connor Wentz are cousins, not siblings. Thank you!
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.
Mark Schofield has always loved football. He breaks down film, scouts prospects, and explains the passing game for Inside the Pylon.
All video and images are courtesy of GoBison.com and Sidearm Sports.