How much influence does Hoke have on the OC?

How much influence does Hoke have on the OC?

Submitted by Yeoman on September 28th, 2014 at 11:22 AM

Some comments on the locker room issues thread got me thinking. Or datamining, anyway, I don't know how much thinking was involved.

RockinLoud and Johnvand suggested Hoke might be forcing Nussmeier to play a style he didn't necessarily want to play, the offensive problems now being "eerily reminiscent" of the defense under RR.

Of course with RR we had clear evidence that this was happening because they were running a 3-3-5 that neither of the coordinators ever ran before or since. I didn't see anything similar happening now but Gobgoblue pointed out that Alabama had more of a vertical passing game last year than Michigan has now.

Well, that's something that might leave a tangible mark in the box score, so I pulled some stats from Nussmeier's offenses since he became an OC: the percentage of play calls that are runs (sacks are included here of course but they don't impact the percentages all that much), and yards per completion, which might serve as a measure of route depth. Anything over 13 is a pretty big number; over 15 is mad-bomber territory unless you're running a triple option and only throwing a few times per game.

  run % ypc
2008 Fresno St. 56.3% 12.1
2009 Washington 49.6% 12.3
2010 Washington 56.1% 12.1
2011 Washington 52.7% 12.4
2012 Alabama 63.5% 13.9
2013 Alabama 55.8% 13.2
2014 Michigan 56.8% 11.3

The run/pass mix hasn't changed, but yards per completion are definitely down.

The problem is, YPC only measures the ones you catch. Are we not throwing the ball downfield, or are we just not completing the downfield balls we throw? That's impossible to tell from the box scores, we'd need charts of Alabama's offense to know.

The next chart's more interesting. Here's Al Borges's career:

  run % ypc
1995 Oregon 49.6% 12.1
1996 UCLA 56.4% 14.0
1997 UCLA 60.7% 16.6
1998 UCLA 57.6% 16.7
1999 UCLA 52.8% 13.4
2000 UCLA 53.9% 14.8
2001 California 47.8% 12.4
2002 Indiana 49.3% 13.2
2003 Indiana 62.7% 11.5
2004 Auburn 64.2% 14.6
2005 Auburn 58.7% 13.3
2006 Auburn 62.5% 13.1
2007 Auburn 60.4% 11.4
2009 SDSU 42.3% 12.9
2010 SDSU 50.8% 15.7
2011 Michigan 66.4% 15.3
2012 Michigan 61.2% 15.3
2013 Michigan 55.8% 13.6

When Borges and Hoke first hooked up, Al passed more than he ever had before. Even the second year when they had Ronnie Hillman running rampant the run/pass mix was still at the low end of Borges's career numbers.

And then they came to Michigan and it turned upside down.

Yes. Denard. True. But in 2013 when Denard was gone and the run game had collapsed they were still running the ball more than they had with Hillman.

Something happened between 2010 and 2011 and it wasn't Brady Hoke because, thankfully, the experiment was constructed so that variable was held constant.

What changed was the move from San Diego to Ann Arbor, not the coaches. And my unfounded suspicion is that a decision was taken to rebrand Michigan football.

We can change coaches all we want. As long as the brand is more important than the product, this isn't going to get fixed.

Continuity, establishing an identity, that I understand. These 180-degree turnarounds in philosophy are damaging; you want the players you recruit to get to play in a system that works for them. But if the managing of public perceptions starts influencing coaching decisions, it's a problem.