Fuller didn't get a shot of Dileo that he put on Flickr, but he got this 6-yard catch by Butt on 2nd and 5, when Dileo was busy running off two defenders.
The primary complaint with Michigan's offense, rightly, has been with the blocking dudes' problems with blocking dudes. While gathering data on personnel changes throughout the Northwestern game I got an opportunity to look hard enough to have an idea where the UFR will lay blame for 9 points in regulation. Preview: Bosch didn't have a good game. However the freshman guards are a problem solved mostly by experience, i.e. we can't fix it this year.
But if Michigan is looking for an offensive boost it might find one by improving which parts they deploy among the five eligible receiver positions. Which personnel and how they're aligned come with various strengths. Generally the smaller and more spread out, the better to make space for you to operate; conversely the larger and tighter the better to block dudes. I put forth that our blocking dudes are currently pretty bad at blocking dudes, thus it's worth moving some of their snaps to 3rd and 4th receivers.
MANBALL isn't Borgesian
Here's Borges's offense being run at UCLA in 1998, a time when the spread offense was something that won games at Tulane:
Note the 3WR sets pop up plenty. I believe the goal here is to be multifarious, not just very large and good at something. He wants to be impossible to prepare for because at any moment you might put in your 4-4 personnel when you see him trotting out 3 tight ends, and then he'll spread them out and put a 6'6 monster on your tiniest cornerback. This is why they're recruiting Fifty Shades of Shea.
But That's a Long Way Away
Today, they have precious few developed parts to play these "skill" positions. The running backs can't block, either because they're really spread nutrinos (Toussaint, Hayes, Norfleet) or true freshmen (Green, Smith) who didn't need blocking lessons to run over high school fools. The fullbacks are a walk-on they've been developing for awhile but who still misses 1 in 5 blocking assignments, and a RS freshman they recruited out of Utah who needs work.
|Off. Performance vs. NW'ern When Player is On Field
(Only normal downs counted)
From a Borgesian perspective, the tight ends are in even worse shape. Funchess became a receiver because despite all that size he's not much of a blocker. That leaves his classmate A.J. Williams at the top of the depth chart despite the fact that he's not been a very good blocker, and his threat as a passing target fizzles out about three yards downfield. They've got Jake Butt, who like Funchess is more of a receiver at this stage in his career. And just so they have another body there, positional vagaband Jordan Paskorz has been getting a few drives here and there; after him it's burning a redshirt and air.
It would make sense, then, for the receivers to pick up the slack. If you can't block a guy with Williams, you can get that same block by putting a receiver far away from the play, so long as you threaten to go out there if a defender doesn't follow. But there's another problem with the receivers: Gallon is great but tiny, Funchess is great but still raw. Chesson is coming along. Dileo is himself.
And…? The coaches seem to have put every other receiver on the shelf: they've played Jeremy Jackson a lot and gotten little returns. Joe Reynolds seems to be not an option. So every time they go 4-wide, effectively the whole depth chart is out there. Exhaust those guys and the passing game goes away. Or at least this is the best reason I can imagine.
I'm not sure it's a good reason. It seems to me that they're pretty effective the more they spread 'em out, because you're essentially replacing a mediocre-to-bad FB or TE with a slot receiver who is pretty good at that job.
Did You See Dileo's Number in that Chart?
I spent much of yesterday and all night last night charting the personnel moves during last Saturday's game to be able to pull those numbers. The whole thing is here:
There's no way I can go back and do the whole season, unless Brian has a secret code hidden in the UFRs or something. Anyway: 9 YPA when Dileo is out there, and 4.5 to 5.5 when he's not. Here's some other things I found in there.
[After the Jump: What We've Learned]
- A few tendencies, like Houma coming in was 100% run (so was tackle-over but you knew that).
- Smith in the backfield on a normal down and distance was 78% run. Hayes was 13% runs. Green was 53%. Hayes also played the entire 2-minute drill. I find this good news: Hayes needed to learn to block to justify the 3rd down back role we envisioned for him, and the freshmen have plenty of time to catch up in that department.
- Jake Butt split time between Y and U, and Michigan was more effective with him at Y. Butt lined up at U-back 20 times. All but one were on normal downs, on which Michigan averaged 4.2 YPA. He had 23 snaps at Y but just 14 were on normal downs—on those Michigan averaged 7.2 YPA to Williams's 5.1 on 38 snaps. Butt was also open on at least two of Gardner's shoulda-been-INTs. At this point I think his blocking is close enough to A.J. for the added pass threat to be important.
- However A.J. did a lot of lining up as a virtual extra tackle when Michigan went heavy to the strong side. Northwestern started blitzing at Williams's side and he handled it poorly.
- Joe Kerridge downs: 19 for 4.7 YPA on normal downs. Non-Kerridge normal downs: 41 for 5.8 YPA. Fullback hatred tags unlocked.
- When Kerridge was in at running back Michigan always passed. I'm totally fine with this so long as it's on obvious passing downs since he's as much a threat out of the backfield as the other RBs and a better blocker.
- That's not saying much; he wasn't a very good blocker either running downhill or at picking up protections.
- When Michigan covered a guy or had an OL shirt on an end, they averaged 1.3 YPA. When they didn't they averaged 4.6 YPA. Tackle over is dead to me.
The Dileo Effect
|"The most effective weapon is the one you never have to use, but you still have to pull it out and wave it at people!" –Masamune|
Here's ten "normal" plays with Dileo on the field:
- 11-yard PA in to Funchess
- A zone read that Gardner biffed the read, ends with 1 yard.
- 13-yard Funchess reception on a smash route
- 6 yards to Butt on a PA curl on 2nd and 5
- 14-yard pass to wide open Chesson
- Incomplete skinny post to Gallon on 2nd and 23
- Incomplete sideline pass on one of those Illinois rollout things.
- Gardner scrambles for 22 yards out of a pistol
- Quick hitch to Gallon for 11 yards
- 12-yard keeper on a zone read in 3rd overtime
Note the lack of any Dileo targets, or anything else that shows up on a scoreboard, but also a distinctly different experience than what you saw for most of the game.
Borges did finally trot him out for the 2-minute drill and a bunch of long conversion attempts, but on most of those Northwestern was undercutting those deep flag routes that used to get Dileo open.
What We're Asking: Be Scott Linehan, Not Rich Rodriguez
Not necessarily going back to the spread. I don't think Borges knows any more than he did the last two years, and they're transitioning away from that anyhow. But I think it's very reasonable to ask that he run his West Coast offense from a spread, using the width of the field and the horizontal and vertical spaces to make room for his young interior OL and developing Shea-bots.