Why Utah QB Cam Rising is changing his throwing motion

While the focus remains on his recovery from a torn ACL, the quarterback mentioned that he’s tweaked his throwing mechanics a bit to try and improve the velocity and distance of his pass attempts.

After suffering a torn ACL in Utah’s Rose Bowl loss to Penn State this past January, quarterback Cam Rising’s left knee has become the source of much hand-wringing in the ensuing months.

Last week, he met with the media to discuss his rehab process and the progress he’s making toward possibly starting in the Utes’ Aug. 31 season opener against visiting Florida.

Among the more interesting revelations he made during his brief five-minute availability, though, is that in addition to strengthening his knee, he’s been doing the same with his right arm.

“Trying to make sure that I’m working on my accuracy, and in some certain ways, changing my throwing motion just a little bit — not too much,” said Rising.

Asked why he was tweaking his mechanics, his answer was simple.

“Just to get more shoulder mobility in there, in my throwing motion, and hopefully [have that] lead to more velocity and a little farther throws,” he added.

This past season, Rising completed 249 of 385 passes — a 64.7% completion rate. His 3,034 passing yards equated to 233.4 per game, and 7.89 per attempt.

Those are hardly prodigious numbers, especially in the offense-crazy Pac-12, though that’s partly attributable to the Utes featuring a less-than-standout cast of wide receivers — something they hope to change this season.

Still, the quarterback wants to do his part to ensure the Utes’ offense can pose more of a downfield threat.

Per Pro Football Focus, in 2022, a majority of Rising’s throws were either behind the line of scrimmage or classified as short throws (with an air distance traveled of between 0 to 9 yards) — 12.7% of his pass attempts were thrown behind the line, and 47.5% of his attempts were of the short variety. The average depth of target of those short throws was just 4.1 yards.

Needless to say, he was quite accurate on such throws — completing 81.6% of his passes behind the LOS, and 80.4% of his short throws.

Any pass attempt deemed medium (between 10-19 yards) or deep (20-plus yards), however, saw Rising’s efficacy plummet.

He had 89 medium throws last season (or 23.0% of his attempts) and 54 deep tries (14.0%). Rising completed just 49.4% of those medium tries, which averaged 14.3 yards average depth of target. And he connected on only 31.5% of his deep attempts, which averaged 27.0 yards to the target.

Meanwhile, six of Rising’s eight interceptions last season came on medium or deep throws.

(Pro Football Focus) Utah quarterback Cam Rising said he has tweaked his throwing mechanics to increase the velocity and distance of his passes. Last season, he completed 49.4% of his attempts between 10-19 yards, and just 31.5% of his attempts that traveled 20 yards or more.

As for the knee, Rising said he’s coming along, noting that he’s doing running, cutting, dropping back, and throwing — “Just about everything except for team [drills],” so he doesn’t yet have to react to defenders coming at him.

The rehab process has been rigorous but also tedious because he’s chafed at the sheer amount of monotony. But he invoked the late Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant by saying he was trying to approach the work with a so-called “mamba mentality,” which is to say, “Just go do it. Get it done, it’s your job, you gotta go do it, and it’s just for the betterment of the team.”

Asked if he’s targeting, say, mid-August to be a full participant in camp, he said there was no official timetable yet, and that he’d defer to the advice of the doctors. As for what milestones he must meet next to be cleared for more activity, Rising said it’s a straightforward agenda at the moment: “Keep getting stronger, keep taking care of my knee. That’s it.”

Sooooo … not a ton of clarity yet.

Still, he did offer one bit of encouragement.

“I’m feeling as normal as I’ve been in a while,” Rising said, “so that’s just a positive right there.”