Sunday, December 23, 2007

Rich Rodriguez Runs to Victory

One thing that baffles my mind is the large number of college football fans that have a basic misunderstanding of philosophy and play calling when it comes to various styles of offense. The simple inability to differentiate between the spread option attack run by Rich Rodriguez and Urban Meyer from the spread passing attack run by Joe Tiller and Bill Belichick is crazy. The one and only thing they share is a shotgun formation (at times) and a 4 WR set. That's it. The spread option starts almost every play with either a handoff or fake handoff to the TB. Almost every single passing play is play action or misdirection. Many of the passes are wide receiver screens or short crossing routes and there is not much in the way of downfield passing.

What I want to do here is characterize Rich Rodriguez as an offensive playcaller in terms of run/pass balance at various places he has been. This will give us an idea of where Michigan might be heading in the future.


2007 West Virginia Mountaineers

166/246 passing for 1891 yards
589 rushes for 3515 yards

QB Pat White lead the team with 1185 rushing yards (on 177 attempts) and 1548 passing yards (on 197 attempts). The team as a whole ran the ball 71% of the time.

2006 West Virginia Mountaineers

149/233 passing for 2059 yards
590 rushes for 3939 yards

QB Pat White was second on the team with 1295 rushing yards (on 165 attempts) and lead the team with 1655 passing yards (on 179 attempts). This team as a whole ran the ball 72% of the time.

2005 West Virginia Mountaineers

122/193 passing for 1398 yards
625 rushes for 3269 yards

QB Pat White was second on the team with 952 rushing yards (on 131 attempts) and lead the team with 828 passing yards (on 114 attempts). This team as a whole ran the ball 76% of the time.

2004 West Virginia Mountaineers

149/259 passing for 1993 yards
589 rushes for 3019 yards

QB Rasheed Marshall was second on the team with 861 rushing yards (on 169 attempts) and lead the team with 1886 passing yards (on 242 attempts). This team as a whole ran the ball 69% of the time.

2003 West Virginia Mountainers

129/252 passing for 2034 yards
600 rushes for 2762 yards

QB Rasheed Marshall was third on the team with 303 rushing yards (on 101 attempts) and lead the team with 1729 passing yards (on 215 attempts). This team as a whole ran the ball 70% of the time.

2002 West Virginia Mountaineers

148/279 passing for 1753 yards
714 rushes for 3687 yards

QB Rasheed Marshall was third on the team with 666 rushing yards (on 173 attempts) and lead the team with 1616 passing yards (on 259 attempts). This team as a whole ran the ball 72% of the time.

2001 West Virginia Mountaineers

192/355 passing for 1811 yards
474 rushes for 1999 yards

QB Rasheed Marshall was second on the team in rushing with 210 yards (on 41 attempts) and QB Brad Lewis lead the team with 1339 passing yards (on 237 attempts). This team as a whole ran the ball 57% of the time.

2000 Clemson Tigers

159/296 passing for 2311 yards
557 rushes for 2600 yards

QB Woody Dantzler was second on the team with 947 rushing yards (on 172 attempts) and lead the team with 1691 passing yards (on 212 attempts). This team as a whole ran the ball 65% of the time.

1999 Clemson Tigers

252/423 passing for 3019 yards
497 rushes for 1812 yards

QB Woody Dantzler was second on the team with 588 rushing yards (on 146 attempts) and lead the team with 1506 passing yards (on 201 attempts). This team as a whole ran the ball 54% of the time.

1998 Tulane Green Wave

251/375 passing for 3495 yards
518 rushes for 2523 yards

QB Shaun King was third on the team with 633 rushing yards (on 156 attempts) and lead the team with 3495 passing yards (on 365 attempts). This team as a whole ran the ball 58% of the time.

1997 Tulane Green Wave

201/366 passing for 2608 yards
424 rushes for 2038 yards

QB Shaun King was second on the team with 511 rushing yards (on 124 attempts) and lead the team with 2577 passing yards (on 363 attempts). This team as a whole ran the ball 54% of the time.



A couple things jump out. For one, Rodriguez loves to run the ball. In the last 11 years, his lowest run percentage was 54% (in his first year at both Tulane and Clemson). He also tends to run the ball a lot more the longer he is at a school, which may be a product of recruitng more guys that fit his system the longer he is there. Even his record setting Tulane offense in 1998 ran the ball 58% of the time, despite being characterized as a wide open passing attack.

I think in the long run, Michigan will settle out running the ball between 60-65% of the time with Rodriguez at the helm. He should be able to recruit some dual threat QBs that are better passers than Pat White, but it's also plainly obvious that even when he has a future NFL QB he is going to run the ball a lot. Take a look at those West Virginia rushing yardage totals. When is the last time Michigan cracked 3000 yards on the ground in a season? Rodriguez has done it 4 straight years in Morgantown.

It's also worth noticing that QBs tend to rank very highly on the rushing list each year for Rodriguez. In 11 years since he left Glenville State in the NAIA, the worst a QB has finished in rushing yardage on his team is 3rd and only twice has he failed to have a QB rush for at least 500 yards on the season.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Hal said...

Thanks Dr. Rob for the articles, they are very enlightening and they show RR's propensity to run over the pass. I was at Michigan when Bo was there and to me, (even though I know better) the option is still the option no matter what flavor it is.

I remember wishing Bo would throw the ball down field more, particularly against the better teams, and we became too predictable and easier to defend against. Now I see Carr's teams just as predictable even with the Pro sets and I would not mind a little Bo ball to mix it up a bit.

To me, college football like the pros follow trends, and whatever wins is the flavor of the year and what many team will eventually follow. I like the option however, I don't like to have my QB running like that. I can see a D. McNabb type of QB that runs when you need him to take an open lane and make some yards, but not on every play.

I guess I'm difficult to satisfy and that's why I'm not coaching. However, I am looking forward to an exciting era of football and particularly how RR does against OSU and the bowl games against other top teams with better talent than he's had at WVU. It should be a significant step up in class for both RR and Michigan.

Thu Dec 27, 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger robert paulson said...

I agree that the basics of what the Rodriguez offense are a throw back to option football and running quite a bit. However, I'm am enjoying the idea of having a coach running an offense with some flexibility that is willing to change things up based on the opponent and based on what our talent is.

Thu Dec 27, 05:29:00 PM  

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