Breaking Down Kyle McCord’s Passing Chart from Ohio State’s Win at Wisconsin

By Josh Poloha on October 31, 2023 at 7:45 am
Kyle McCord

The good news: Ohio State beat Wisconsin 24-10 in Camp Randall this past Saturday night.

The bad news: Kyle McCord had arguably the worst game of his collegiate career to date in the victory.

The Buckeyes took care of business in Camp Randall, with their 14-point win over the Badgers marking Ohio State's first double-digit win at Wisconsin since 2000. The offense – carried by TreVeyon Henderson and Marvin Harrison Jr. – was able to move the ball and score enough to secure the win and remain undefeated, even with McCord's struggles.

A night game in Madison is never easy, but McCord clearly wasn’t at his best against the Badgers. McCord completed 17-of-26 passes (65.4%) for a season-low 226 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and a fumble. While the completion percentage and touchdown tosses weren't a problem, his three turnovers and two intentional grounding penalties were a black mark on his night.

McCord struggled early in the game, completing just four of his first 11 pass attempts of the game for 84 yards, including a red-zone interception in that mix. He threw two interceptions in the first half alone after throwing just one – on a fourth-down throw in the season opener – in Ohio State’s first seven games of the season.

In the second half, McCord completed all seven of his passing attempts – not including the two intentional grounding penalties, which go in the scorebook as sacks – for 86 yards and a touchdown. He showed impressive resiliency and toughness in the process, as his ability to plant and move were clearly affected by an ankle injury he suffered on a scramble late in the third quarter, yet he continued playing the rest of the game.

"He toughed it out at the end and still hung in there," Ryan Day said of McCord after the game. "When you have a couple of tough plays, the easy thing to do, and what most people do is get gunshy. He didn't do that. He kept swinging. He kept pushing. You could hear him on the sideline before that drive where TreVeyon (Henderson) ran it to make it a two-score game. He was in that huddle getting after the guys. He showed good leadership there."

Still, McCord’s overall performance against Wisconsin leave lingering concerns about both his inconsistency as a passer and his pocket presence going into the final month of the season.

To dive into how McCord performed in the win at Wisconsin, we charted all 26 of his official passing attempts in the game. (Note: The passing chart is categorized by how many yards the quarterback threw the ball in the air past the line of scrimmage on each attempt and whether the ball reached its target inside or outside the hashes, though the stats listed include yards gained after the catch on each completion.)

Kyle McCord's passing chart at Wisconsin

McCord's 56.0 QBR at Wisconsin was just the seventh-best in the Big Ten (58th overall) this past weekend. Even with his up-and-down game against the Badgers, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound quarterback's 83.4 QBR through eight games this season is the second-best mark in the Big Ten and ranks No. 6 in the country.

While he attempted only four passes of more than 20 yards against Wisconsin, his 50% completion percentage in that area was one of his best of the season as McCord continues to improve with his long-distance throws. Two-thirds of the way through the regular season, he has now completed 18-of-41 passes (43.9%) thrown 20-plus yards for 700 yards and six touchdowns.

In the intermediate part of the field, an area he has struggled in throughout much of the season, McCord completed 6-of-10 passes between 10-19 yards for 92 yards and an interception against Wisconsin. His 10 attempts in that area of the field were a season-high (the previous high was eight at Notre Dame).

McCord struggled with his efficiency between the line of scrimmage and 19 yards on the right side of hash marks against the Badgers. He completed just 2-of-5 passes for 20 yards and an interception in that area of the field.

Over the course of the game, McCord delivered a couple of throws that belong on the highlight reel but also had some noticeable misses that give him plenty to work on going into Ohio State’s ninth game of the season.

Good throw: Kyle McCord connects with Marvin Harrison Jr. for 35 yards

While Harrison certainly made an outstanding catch, McCord dropped it right in the bucket for a perfect throw to his favorite receiver and former high school teammate.

Good throw: 19-yard touchdown to Marvin Harrison Jr.

While it was an outstanding catch by Harrison, McCord threw it to a place where only his receiver could make a play on it and catch the ball for a touchdown with a safety coming over the top for helpside defense.

Bad throw: Kyle McCord misses Marvin Harrison Jr. on a comeback route

On time, on target are four words vital for a quarterback's success. That didn’t happen on this play; with Harrison open, McCord overthrows him on a comeback route.

Worst throw: Kyle McCord throws an interception in the red zone

This is very likely his worst pass of the season to date. His forced throw to Carnell Tate into double coverage cost Ohio State at least three points as the Buckeyes were in range for a short field goal if he had just thrown the ball away.

“I think he would tell you, on the first (interception), it was just a bad decision,” Day said. “It was first down, the play was designed to go to the tight end, the tight end got caught up. It was not how we designed it and the ball should have gotten thrown away.”

While McCord threw another interception later in the first half, Day saw that one as a good play made by Wisconsin cornerback Ricardo Hallman more than a mistake by McCord.

“The corner came off on cover three,” Day said. “He’s reading the flat defender and that corner, he just came right off. He took a chance and he made a nice play. I don’t really blame (McCord) for that play. I don’t. There’s going to be times where, when you’re pushing it down the field, things like that are going to happen. So I told him, ‘Hey, the corner came off, let’s just play the next play.’”

Two intentional groundings (that don't count as pass attempts)

With the Buckeyes in field goal position, McCord's two intentional grounding throws on separate 3rd-and-8 plays forced Ohio State to punt the ball instead. The penalties came in a three-pass sequence; both came after his ankle injury, so his lack of mobility played a factor in his ability to elude pressure and make a legal throw.

While McCord must improve his consistency and gain more pocket presence, the first-year starter has completed 148-of-231 passes (64.1%) for 2,163 yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions through eight games this season. In a perfect world, McCord plays the entire game as if it's the fourth quarter – which is when he’s played his best – but until then, Ohio State will lean on its defense and its skill-position playmakers on offense to lead the way while its quarterback continues to develop and find his groove behind center.

Kyle McCord's passing chart at Wisconsin
View 159 Comments