HUDSON — It's not the knee.
Zack Wynn makes that audible immediately upon stepping to the line of questioning. Hudson's junior quarterback knows people see the six interceptions — in only two games — on his stat line, as well as the cumbersome black brace on his left knee, and draw conclusions.
In most other cases, they might be correct. Wynn, the North Suncoast passing leader in 2007, had surgery to repair a torn ACL in December. Nine months later, he's struggling with his mechanics and timing. The association seems feasible. Wynn insists it's false.
"(The knee) is fine," said Wynn, whose 1-1 team hosts Pasco in a Class 3A, District 8 showdown Friday. "The next morning there's no pain at all in it. There's no hurt, no pain at all."
So how else to explain a start that even Wynn describes as "mediocre"? And why so much scrutiny on the performance of a high school junior?
We'll start with the second question first. Perhaps no area team's playoff hopes hinge on its quarterback play as much as Hudson's.
As for the first inquiry: A lot of factors have been attributed to Hudson's preseason loss to Springstead and season-opening defeat at Ridgewood. And none can be found beneath Wynn's left kneecap.
"He's a better quarterback than he was last year," Cobras coach Mark Nash said. "It's just we don't have the team around him right now to showcase him like we did last year."
The roster validates Nash's claim. Only one of Wynn's top five receivers from the 2007 team — senior Hunter Newton — is on this year's roster. And while the newcomers have flashed potential — sophomore Dylan Buono has 10 catches for 220 yards — Wynn hasn't fully clicked with the new batch of skill players around him.
Additionally, Nash says he has been baffled by the struggles of an offensive line that returned three starters.
"That's the surprising thing to me at this point," he said. "We virtually have the same offensive line we had last year and we're not playing anywhere near the level we played at last year. That's been the biggest shock to me. I don't know; I can't put my finger on it."
Even so, Wynn (34-for-54, 442 yards, four touchdowns) is on track to easily shatter his 2007 passing yardage total (1,698 yards). He said he was encouraged by his team's last performance, a 33-3 win over Hernando during which he threw a pick on his second pass attempt, but finished with three touchdown throws.
A bye week also helped. Last Wednesday, Wynn said he threw about 200 passes, most in pass-skel work with his receivers. Offensive coordinator Rob Mahler corroborates that total.
"My arm was dragging pretty low after that," he said. "I went home and iced it immediately."
But the knee required nary a cube.
"I'm real confident," Wynn said. "I think the line stepped up (against Hernando); I had plenty of time to throw last week. I'm pretty confident we'll come out this week and play our best football against Pasco."