How Jackson Morrill changes the Whipsnakes offense
When Jackson Morrill got traded to the Whipsnakes, you got the sense that his game was something the club had been lacking.
The attack position was still something that Whipsnakes didn’t have fully figured out since the departure of Ryan Drenner following the 2019 season.
Despite signing Will Manny as the third attackman this off-season, Stagnitta still clearly feels the attack unit needed shuffling, hence the Morrill trade last week.
The Whipsnakes have always lacked a true ‘X’ attackman, which is why I argued last week that Morrill should get the start behind the cage.
A true presence behind the net would keep the offense flowing and give opportunities to Whipsnakes sharpshooters, which is what Morrill did with 3 assists in the loss.
“I would have liked to get the ball to Jackson a little bit more because he makes things happen,” Stagnitta said postgame. “I thought when the ball was in his stick, he made some great decisions and found some people. I thought we played some of our best offense when the ball swung through him.
The assumption is the Whipsnakes plan to start Morrill again at X in the quarterfinals against the Waterdogs.
For the offense to be successful in that case, the ball needs to touch Morrill at X more - plain and simple.
If you watch all three of Morrill’s assists last week, he gets the ball at X, attacks the backside, and makes a quick read to find an open man.
The first assist was off of defensive miscommunication where Morrill wisely attacks the open space to get the defenders to commit and then find an open Connor Kirst.
The second, similar to the first, was Morrill attacking the backside after Brad Smith drew two and hit the forward to Morrill at X.
And then the final assist was Morrill swinging it quick to Brad Smith, who converts a beautiful jump shot.
It might not seem like he’s doing much, but the accurate passes and quick ball movement Morrill provides is essential to the Whipsnakes offense.
And for Morrill to get more touches, the midfielders need to throw it forward quicker and more consistently.
Tucker Dordevic, Mike Chanenchuk, and Smith are great shot generators in their own right, but at times they do too much. If they can draw a slide and trust hitting the forward more often, Morrill will make the right play afterwards as proved in his limited sample size with the Whipsnakes.
But still, you need to find a balance. Morrill can put up points, but you still want your star midfielders taking shots and calculated chances. This balance between moving it quickly and exploiting a matchup will make for a dangerous offense, but the Whipsnakes didn’t execute that consistently on Saturday.
Not only did the midfielders turn the ball over too much on Saturday according to Stagnitta, but they shot 20% as well.
There could be some growing pains with Morrill inserted in the lineup and it’s a gamble this late in the season, but it seems this is what Stagnitta wants and it could open up the offense.
While one of Zed Williams or Will Manny will be displaced at attack, they’ll get opportunities to attack and score given Morrill’s ability to find open space and open players.
Saying Morrill is the ‘missing piece’ in the offense is cliche.
But, having his presence behind the net changes the complexion of the offense and should create more space and opportunities if the Whipsnakes buy into hitting the forward.
And why not? Right now, it seems like the Whipsnakes are struggling to keep up with the high-powered offenses of the Cannons, Waterdogs, and Archers.
Maybe this change is what they need.