In an attempt to adequately address Seth's #3 question (from 5 Questions, Baylor Edition), I propose that we devote a thread to the discussion of our receiving corps and the changes that it has seen in the last year.
The team stats look like this:
2009 Passing Stats: QB Rating 143.76 Completion Pct. 67% Y/A 7.5
2010 Passing Stats (4 games): QB Rating 134.91 Completion Pct. 63% Y/A 6.3
2009 Receiving Stats: Y/C 11.22
2010 Receiving Stats (4 games): Y/C 9.95
What accounts for the drop in productivity? Theories after the jump.
Theory #1: Attrition
One theory that you could float out there is that the offense have experienced player attrition. A poorer OL might leave the QB with less time to make reads and get rid of the ball. Less talented WRs might not be able to get open, make catches, or run after the catch as well as previous units. A poorer QB would contribute obvious problems.
Analysis: The QB is the same guy as last year, and from 2010 to 2009 Potts' stats have only taken a marginal dip. On top of that, he's not throwing the picks that we are accustomed to seeing from him (remember ND State?). I've never liked this group of WR's... but it's basically the same as last year's group, as well. Britton is the only departure and he was our 7th leading WR - so his contribution was nominal.
That leaves the OL. It's hard for me to keep up with which OL is playing which position, but the attrition from last year's starters includes Hamby, Carter, and Winn. Hamby is replaceable. Winn didn't have a great year. I miss Brandon Carter from an image and morale standpoint alone... but can our lack of performance this year really be blamed on the RG alone?
Call me crazy, but I think when you return your offensive starters, your offense should get better, not worse. Remember that sorry MSU team that we whooped up on last year? Yeah... they're 5-0 and ranked in the Top 20.
Theory #2: Defensive Evolution
Quoth the HC:
We’re getting schemed pretty good (by opposing defenses). Everybody knows this offense. They’ve coached against these receivers. This offense is pretty much the same in the passing game of what everybody’s seen the last eight, nine years.
Analysis: Really, Coach? We're the #1 offense of the 2000's. No one has been able to stop us for a decade, but somehow... completely coincidentally... the lights just came on and everyone figured out how to scheme us this year... and it has nothing to do with the fact that we have a new coaching staff. Bullshit.
Theory #3: Play Design
Under Leach, the Air Raid functioned optimally when we had an accurate QB who was capable of hitting receivers in stride and finding holes in zone defenses, WR's who could run well after the catch, and extendable routes in most of the plays (slants, drags, posts, etc. as opposed to outs or curls).
In 2008, we saw the Air Raid at its best with an accurate Harrell, a great run-after-the-catch WR in Crabtree, and mesh routes out the wazoo - not to mention a screen game that was clicking on all cylinders.
Anecdotally, I'm hearing that NB has incorporated fewer extendable routes into his play design. Routes like curls require big, strong WR's to break tackles in order to pick up YAC. It doesn't seem like our WRs have the size to do that. Can anyone confirm this?
Much has been made about OL splits and the effect they have on the pass rush. I think it should be mentioned here, although I don't want to dwell on it.
Theory #4: The Terminator Theory
This theory is hinged on the idea that Craig James is a freedom fighter, sent from an alternate future to subvert Mike Leach. Left to his own devices, Leach would become the most popular public figure in the state. Ultimately, he would become governor and then President. As President, Leach would fund an artificial intelligence program called Skynet. Skynet would eventually become self aware and wipe out all of humanity in a bid for self-preservation.
So really... Craig James is our hero. If it weren't for him and his son, we might still have a passing game so powerful that it would put the very future of our planet in jeopardy.
I'm not saying this is really what happened. But it seems as plausible as anything else, doesn't it?
- Potts' completion percentage is the same as last year. It's not Potts and it's not WRs dropping the ball.
- It's way too convenient to believe that Big XII defenses picked this year to figure out our scheme. It's not defensive evolution.
- Can it be that we miss Carter that much? Is it the shuffling of positions along the OL that's preventing Potts from having enough time?
- Has a coach that is committed to the run given up on the Hal Mumme practice strategy of throwing it on every offensive down during practice?
- Has the playcalling changed?
- Did it make that big of a difference to give the QB the ability to check into the run?
- Is our pace too fast?
- What do you think accounts for the drop in Y/A?