Senior co-captain Nathan Ford has already proven that he has an arm. The two-year starter finished last year third on the school’s career passing list with 3,451 yards. Ford’s ability to work Knowles’ installment of the West Coast offense shows his talent in the pocket. But with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 6-to-14, Knowles will be looking for more from his leader in the pocket, especially in his second season in the system.
“[Ford] has to be able to make better decision,” Knowles said. “He is going into his third year but the second year of this offensive staff. They expect him to improve by leaps and bounds … It’s a maturity thing, second year in the system, having better protection, better alleys, everybody has to work on it.”
Ford had the school’s second-highest completion rate, .630, in a single season last year. Despite his accuracy, the Red is hoping that the increased time in the system and familiarity with his receiving core will help Ford be more patient in the red zone.
“He is extremely accurate, his percentages have been great, but he has to bring that into the red zone,” Knowles said.
“Last year, getting to throw a lot, you get greedy at times,” Ford said. “That’s what I’ve focused on — being more secure with the ball, being able to just check it down and take the safe play. It will definitely [help with the red zone offense]. We can’t be forcing balls and getting balls tipped. I need to just go the checkdown.”
Another thing that Ford thinks will help avoid the tipped ball interceptions that plagued him last year is a higher release point.
“I’ve been working on my release a lot with [quarterbacks] coach [Joe] Borich,” Ford said. “On those short drag routes we run a lot of, I’ve been trying to get that high release and keep the ball and my hand high.”