Thursday, December 18, 2008

what it's going to mean

First off, yay basketball. Beat Longwood; glee. This is the first good win all season. There are two more home games, including an SEC matchup, before the first ACC test of the year. Hopefully the team can build on this. You hate to say "hopefully we can build on beating Longwood" but there you go.

So yesterday, a little bit of introduction to the new offensive coordinator, Gregg Brandon. Today, a look at what effect it'll have on the offense, position by position. All this will be assuming that those who believe Groh gives no freedom to his OC are wrong. Personally I think it might have been a logical theory when the OC was the coach's son, but no longer.

Another caveat: It's easy to tell what Brandon's hiring is a shift to, but not so much what it's a shift from. "Identity" has never been a word that followed this offense around, not since Groh's hiring. Certain plays were staples of the offense, but there was never a particular style of quarterback or running back that it demanded. Whoever we had, we used. It was maybe a little bit pro-style, except for when it was run by Hagans or Sewell or Spinner. And pro offenses sling it downfield more. It certainly wasn't the spread, although it had some spread-ish elements. Heavy use of the tight end and dink-and-dunk passing were probably the two calling cards, but it never seemed like there was a theme or a go-to play, just a bunch of plays in a playbook.

So like I said: position by position - let's see what this offense means.


Marc Verica is probably cringing, seeing his playing time circling the drain. Or is he? Yesterday I wrote that the Gregg Brandon offense appears much more suited to the skills of Jameel Sewell or Vic Hall than Verica or our '09 recruit, Ross Metheny. It's still true - you see how Tim Tebow's doing in it. But BGSU's quarterback these past two seasons has been Tyler Sheehan, a big, "pro-style" quarterback that tops 220 on the scale, and he's been decent. Very nice completion percentages and TD-to-INT ratios. But - but - Bowling Green has not done all that well with Sheehan at the helm. They don't have any real running types on the roster, and their best years of late have been with Omar Jacobs quarterbacking them. The coaches face a decision next year. They have to choose from Verica, who can throw but not really run; Hall, who can run but not really throw (yet); or Sewell, who can do both but neither exceptionally. Brandon will have no ingrained loyalties to any particular player. Spring practice will tell much, but I have to believe Brandon will lean toward a guy whose skill set includes running with the football.

Some might wonder why I don't mention Riko Smalls. Because he's behind three other players, that's why. Unless Smalls goes to spring practice and just blows everyone away, hold off on him til Sewell graduates. Even though there's no history yet between the OC and the quarterbacks, coaches still tend to defer to guys who've seen the field before.


If Marc Verica is cringing, Mikell Simpson should be leaping for joy. No cartwheels, he's got that banged-up shoulder. Let's hope that gets healthy quick, because Simpson seems tailor made for this. He's smallish, and when he's got some forward motion going, he's tough to get a grip on. There's a good chance, I think, for Simpson to be a feature player in the offense next year. Fullback types, on the other hand, may see their roles diminished. BGSU has a sophomore RB named Willie Geter, who weighs all of 170 pounds and who's done nothing but average 6 yards a carry in his two years. Geter has been used as a change-of-pace type, but in our case Simpson is the most senior and most talented back on the roster. Gregg Brandon's system should help him to flourish.


There's a lot of room in Brandon's system for talented wide receivers, but the new caveat is that they had better be able to block. The option demands it. This in turn means that bigger wide receivers like Maurice Covington are in vogue - unfortunately, Covington's graduating and we have nobody near his size at wideout. The guy I'm looking at in our recruiting class is Kevin Royal. He's 6'4, 205. If Ogletree goes, the entire receiving corps will be very young and inexperienced - Dontrelle Inman will be the graybeard - and there will be opportunities for true freshmen like Royal. Look for the role of the wide receiver to increase somewhat under Brandon, because.....


....the spread doesn't use these. More than anywhere else, this is where Groh and Brandon will have to mesh their systems. BGSU has three tight ends on the roster. We have eight. BGSU's tight ends accounted for 6 percent of receptions; ours accounted for 19%. There's a clear difference in usage here. BG's Jimmy Scheidler is a regular, and 7 of his 17 catches were touchdowns, but - 17 catches. That's 1/3 of the total between John Phillips and Andrew Devlin. Devlin and Joe Torchia will still get their looks, because Al Groh is still the head coach and not Gregg Brandon, but I think we've seen the last of the days where the UVA tight end is a lock for all-conference.


Can't really match stats here, obviously. But this is an offensive line that's used to getting out there in space on plays like screen passes, and pulling the guards, and such like. Running the option is a similar skill set. Our line's primary weakness was an inability to consistently get any drive forward in the running game. This offense should play better to their strengths.

Next order of offseason business is to hire a couple more assistants (about which you will not get nearly so much brilliant insight, unfortunately) and get Morgan Moses to start thinking Charlottesville.

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