Personnel Clues to the Offense

via media.lawrence.com

Another question surrounding the new Turner Gill led offense is what will it look like.  Formation wise, personnel wise and who's going to get the touches.

Today we dive a little deeper into that question by once again comparing the most recent trends on the field at Buffalo in his only stint as a head coach. 

Once again let's kick things of with a break down of Gill's four years at Buffalo from a statistical standpoint.  We'll take a birds eye view of two categories here, touches and yardage.  Next we'll break those down by the major offensive positions in question and then look for clues.

What positions see the most action?  Not just from the perspective of where the yards are coming from but also where the play calls are going to.  Any hints to his preferences at the quarterback position?  Usage of the tight end?  How about a fullback?  Is there a trend or any conclusion that can be drawn when running through the numbers? 

Year 2006         2007         2008         2009
Position Plays Yardage Plays Yardage Plays Yardage Plays Yardage
Quarterback
Pass Attempts 354 2136 382 2615 471 3326 394 3839
Designed Runs 54 NA 33 NA 43 NA 70 300
Runningback
Runs 278 1082 350 1541 401 1917 335 1691
Receptions 54 285 64 451 73 537 22 195
Fullback
Runs 1 -4 1 1 1 2 0 0
Receptions 5 26 7 48 3 21 2 30
Tight End
Receptions 41 539 24 225 28 247 34 469
Wide Receiver
Receptions 100 1284 167 2521 202 2521 186 2176

 

Trends?  Clues?  Tough call really.  In Gills most successful season of 2008 he pretty clearly had a solid running game and a couple of decent receivers at his disposal.  Again, very balanced.  Surprisingly it marks the year with the lowest production from the tight end standpoint, but that certainly has plenty to do with James Starks and an increased number of receptions out of the backfield.

Tight End

On the subject of the tight end, the involvement of the tight end is fairly consistent.  When looking at the players involved a Gill led team has it's highest production at the position when he had a seasoned player at the position in 2006 and then again in 2009.  Trust is always big with a coach and that would certainly bode well for a junior like Tim Biere who has all the tools and was a focal point in the spring game. 

Another indicator for the position is the fact that Gill started a tight end in every single game during his final two years even going double tight three times from the opening series.  Another indicator of a more balanced attack and a commitment to the run while at Buffalo.    It might mean we'll see plenty of AJ Steward or Bradley Dedeaux and the door is certainly open for two incoming freshman to see the field, but I'd say that hinges on their ability to block more than anything.

Fullback

As for the questions about the fullback position, it's pretty apparent that this isn't a spot we are likely to see a tremendous amount of touches going to.  It appears for all intents and purposes that when the fullback is used, they are being used as a blocker.  Not a bad thing. 

Two other stats related to the fullback.  Starts by a fullback, six total in his final season with the Bulls.  Total games without a fullback seeing the field, only 5 in his four years as a coach.

Quarterback Style

The other question is surrounding our current quarterback battle.  Does Gill prefer a dual threat running type quarterback as his recruiting would seem to indicate, or does he prefer the pocket passer.  Again a bit surprising it appears until his final year that Gill went the direction of keeping the QB in the pocket. 

The jump in play calling wasn't hugely significant in 2009 when he finally had a dual threat quarterback, but the production was.  Perhaps that's why we are seeing such a focus on that style of player in recruiting.  Did Gill like the flexibility? and will it dictate which direction we see the Jayhawks go this fall?

Traditional Spread

One last interesting item of note.  Only once did a Buffalo starting unit in 2009 include a three receiver set.  Obviously starting doesn't necessarily give the best indication of an entire game, but when it's that rare it does give you a sense of what the common sets likely included. 

I'd expect with receiver being a position of strength for Kansas that we'll see more of this than what he used during his time at Buffalo, at some point philosophy or not you have to get the best players on the field.

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