The last time Kirk Ciarrocca was running the offense for Minnesota, it was one of the most explosive passing attacks in the B1G. The big arm of Tanner Morgan and sure hands of Tyler Johnson, Rashod Bateman, Chris Autman-Bell and others helped catapult the Golden Gophers to an 11-2 season in 2019.

A lot has changed in the past two years.

Minnesota has become a team known for its ground-and-pound style of offense recently. A lot of that is attributed to the stellar offensive line play and the outstanding running back room that includes Mohamed Ibrahim and Trey Potts.

But the issues with the passing attack over the past two years are now a focal point for the Golden Gophers with Ciarrocca’s return. He says improving in that area is critical.

“We know that we have to improve throwing the football. I think everybody in the state of Minnesota knows that, and I think everybody in the B1G is hoping that we don’t improve in that area,” Ciarrocca said, per 247Sports. “But we know we must improve in that area of throwing the football.”

Minnesota’s passing offense ranked 12th in the B1G last fall, averaging 162 yards per game. Morgan completed fewer than 60% of his passes and had 10 touchdowns with 9 interceptions.

It’s a far cry from the potent passing attack Minnesota had in 2019.

That year, Morgan racked up 3,253 yards and 30 touchdowns with just 7 picks in an 11-win season. He also completed 66% of his passes.

Ciarrocca says all the blame doesn’t fall on Morgan.

“We have to improve our protection. We have to improve our quarterback play, or our skill guys have to improve every area in order for that to happen, right?” Ciarrocca said. “And if everybody gets better at throwing the ball and all the components that go into it. We’re gonna throw the ball better, right? We have we have the pieces to be better in that area. I’m convinced of that.”

Minnesota has all the pieces to show significant improvement in the passing attack. The Gophers return Morgan under center, Ibrahim and Potts in the backfield and Autman-Bell and Dylan Wright as the primary pass-catchers. The offensive line needs some work, but PJ Fleck says he’s seen major improvement up front in spring.

Plus, Ciarrocca’s genius is back on the sidelines in the Twin Cities. And he’s ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work.

“There’s just no question about it and when you have a deficiency somewhere, the only way I know how to fix it is just go to work,” he said. “And focus on it and concentrate it on it every single day. Then we live with the results from there.”