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Offensive balance in 2009

August 23, 2010

This is worrisome for several reasons.

First, the rule of thumb is to run the ball when your team is ahead, to keep the clock running and shorten the game, and to pass the ball when your team is behind, to stop the clock between plays and allow more time for a come-back. Given that EMU basically played the entire 2009 season from behind, “balanced” play calling would have resulted in more pass attempts in almost every game.

Second, where we might have expected a shift in play-calling from passing to running with the loss of fifth-year senior quarterback Andy Schmidt late in the Michigan game, play-calling actually shifted to more passing for the next two games. This coincided with junior Kyle McMahon getting all the snaps against Temple, and then McMahon and freshman Alex Gillett splitting snaps against Central Michigan. As Gillett played more, the proportion of rushing plays generally increased.

Based on what we saw last season, Gillett is just not a very good passer. He’s a good rushing quarterback — he was the Eagles #2 rushing threat last year behind Dwayne Priest — but his passing stats leave a lot to be desired. Consider the last three games, the period during which Gillett took all the snaps. As a passer against Western Michigan, Toledo, and Akron, he was 44 for 81, with 3 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.

I sincerely hope that either Gillett has become a much better passer over the offseason, or that Coach English will tag Devontae Payne as the starting quarterback. Otherwise, opposing defenses will have a very easy season.

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