Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Run Pass Mix

So, everywhere I look, I see that we are going to be running the ball under the Clawson attack than we did under the Brandon attack. Coach Clawson certainly has shown that he has gotten RBs involved at prior schools and you know, the QB will be under center and all that. So maybe it is true.

I also heard Coach say that his offensive philosophy is to get the ball to playmakers in space. More about our running game playmakers in a second...first, let's think about the idea of run/pass balance.

Generally, people look at run/pass balance in terms of play selection. I'm going to argue in a minute that this isn't really the right measure, but let's look at the MAC, which can really be broken into four groups in terms of playcalling last season.

Very Run Heavy

Moderate Run Heavy
Ball State

Moderate Pass Heavy

Pass Happy

I don't think there are any huge surprises here. The takeaway point is this: 7 of the 13 teams in the conference were between 47.2%6% runs and 51.4% runs, essentially one play here or there. (This is our moderate pass heavy category). The league average also falls in this range. Basically, despite the reputation as a pass heavy team, BG was pretty typical of the MAC in this playcalling.

We can watch this as the season unfolds, but Ball State was in the 54-55% run range, which means for our team, we would need about five runs a game to get to that level.

Beyond playcalling, though, there is something that separates teams in terms of balance. I would argue that the most important thing is for the defense to know that the offense has the capability to make yards passing or running, regardless of how often they might choose to do so.

For example, NIU was very running heavy in the Wolfe days, too. But, I considered them a team with balance, because if you kept your safeties up, they had the ability to go over the top to one of a couple WRs who were pretty good and they had a QB who could get the ball there. They were simply not a one-dimensional team.

So, to measure the ability to run and pass, I looked at yards per play, and compared each team to the league average. A team with a 1 has the league average. More is better, less is worse.

Run Index Pass Index
BG 0.92 0.96
Akron 1.11 0.98
Bal State 1.22 1.27
Buffalo 0.90 1.01
CMU 0.83 1.12
WMU 1.02 1.03
EMU 1.04 0.93
Kent 1.29 0.96
NIU 1.09 0.97
OU 0.91 1.04
Temple 0.60 1.03
Toledo 1.12 0.86
Miami 0.79 0.83

As we can see here, Bowling Green and Miami were the only teams in the MAC to be below the league average in yards per play both running and passing. Ball State was the most balanced team in the league, and one of only two to be above the league average in both running and passing.

I think that is an interesting point. Only two teams in the MAC managed enough balance to be above the league average on yards per play running and passing. I would have thought it would have been different than this...I mean, we are talking the average here.

I also think this data would surprise Falcon fans. As I pointed out in my season review, the passing attack (and offensive prowess) of the late Brandon teams have an "emperor isn't wearing any clothes aspect."

Anecdotally, it seemed like we did have a number of QB runs out of the spread when we needed yards, and that would be less available under center. With that in mind, I think the point is (yes, I finally got to it) that we are going to need more production out of RB position this year than we have had in the past.

We have two RBs back: Chris Bullock and Willie Geter. Both have proven themselves as capable at times, but also have disappeared for periods of time too. Geter has battled injuries a little, and Bullock seemed to lack a home in the spread.

And he's the one I think is facing a huge opportunity this season. He has proven his ability to run, and he can go between the tackles and break outside as well, though I do not think of him as a speed back. But I do remember him taking over an EMU game at Rynearson when BG needed to grind out a win under some tough circumstances.

So, if we're going to run more and run more effectively and even have a fullback and CRAZY stuff like that, you might see Chris Bullock post some pretty big numbers for his senior season.

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