Smart Notes – Brady Hoke, Belichick, Chip Kelly’s offense next year – 1/12/2011

Hoke-a-mania. Michigan has hired Brady Hoke, prodigal son most recently of San Diego State. I don’t know much about Hoke — seems like a solid guy and he obviously wanted the job. The rumor is he’s bringing Al Borges with him to be offensive coordinator; I’m already getting lots of questions about his so-called “Gulf Coast Offense.” I don’t know where that name came from, but as far as I can tell he’s a pro-style guy: nothing too exotic. But he’s been an offensive coordinator for a long time (close to two decades), in three major conferences (the Pac-10 at Cal, the Big 10 at Indiana, and the SEC at Auburn), and when he’s had first-round NFL talent (Cade McNown at UCLA and Jason Campbell, Ronnie Brown, and Cadillac Williams at Auburn in 2004) he’s had elite offenses.

I think that sounds about right. Michigan’s coaching search was explicitly about someone who wanted to build the program, not hiring the next offensive genius. And I can’t really argue with that — the Rodriguez thing ended badly. That puts on the onus on Hoke, however, as he must recruit and build the program from the ground up; there won’t be any reliance on a decided schematic advantage to win. But is that a bad thing?

Below are some clips of Borges’s offense at San Diego State this year.

Richard Sandomir takes down Brent Musburger. Ouch. I don’t know if I thought it was as bad as described in the article, but I have to admit that “This is for all the Tostitos” was an unreal comment.

Pat Dooley apologies for “dumb” tweet. This really is crazy; what made him say that about Frank Beamer?

Chase has a great article over at the NYT; read it here:

Tom Brady, the presumptive M.V.P. winner this year, was the 199th pick in the 2000 draft. The Patriots’ leading rusher, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, wasn’t drafted. Neither was their leading receiver, Wes Welker. Danny Woodhead ranks just behind Green-Ellis in yards from scrimmage but he wasn’t one of the 23 running backs selected in the 2008 draft. The rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski, who caught 10 touchdown passes, qualifies as a superstar by Patriots standards: he was the 42nd pick in last April’s draft. Of New England’s eight most productive offensive skill position players — Brady, Green-Ellis, Woodhead, Welker, Deion Branch, Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Tate — only Gronkowski was a top-60 draft pick.

… The Patriots led the N.F.L. in points scored. They threw the most touchdowns passes… They ranked second in rushing touchdowns and in net yards per pass attempt…. So how does Belichick turn an offense that appears marginal on paper into a dominant unit? …Conventional wisdom would suggest that Belichick is both a master of the draft, finding gems with late-round picks, and a fantastic coach in the truest sense of the word, able to turn young men into elite players with his tireless attention to detail.

[I]t goes a step further than that. The Patriots, for the first time in the past few seasons, have regained a level of organizational clarity that few teams can match. When Scott Pioli and Belichick built the championship Patriots teams at the beginning of the decade, New England consistently added “their guys,” players who fit the Patriot profile. With the drafting of Hernandez and Gronkowski, and the re-acquisition of Branch, to go along with Welker and Brady, the Patriots are back to finding players who, first and foremost, fit their system. Green-Ellis, Woodhead and Branch wouldn’t succeeed on a lot of teams, but Belichick knows exactly what he wants out of every roster spot and only looks for players who possess those traits. And that’s a big secret of his success.

Top Ten Sports Business stories of 2010, by Andrew Brandt.

Did Chip Kelly not run this year’s offense in the National Championship game, and instead next year’s offense? Bruce Eien thinks so, as they will have three very good backs next season. Here’s Bruce’s visual preview (click to enlarge):

Basketball related, but Birnbaum asks whether players steal rebounding stats from their teammates.

  • The below taken from the Pats’ depth chart:

    Matt Light was drafted by the New England Patriots in the second round (48th overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft …

    Logan Mankins was drafted by the New England Patriots in the first round (32nd overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft …

    Dan Koppen was drafted by the New England Patriots in the fifth round (164th overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft …

    Quinn Ojinnaka was acquired by the Patriots from the Atlanta Falcons on Aug. 23, 2010 for an undisclosed draft pick…Originally drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the fifth round (139th overall) of the 2006 NFL Draft …

    Sebastian Vollmer was drafted by the New England Patriots in the second round (58th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft …

    Only the C and RG are not high draft picks, and only the RG was drafted by someone else. Does this put into perspective the reason skill positions can be manned by low picks and UFAs?

  • Mike

    Weird that they linked Al Borges with the “Gulf Coast” offense since that’s a term I’ve only heard connected with Billy Joe’s tenure as head coach at Florida A&M. For FAMU it was a wide open passing attack with some eye-popping stats for several years. I think they had a receiver (Jacquay Nunnally) who finished #2 all-time in catches for the FCS division.

  • David

    “Gulf Coast Offense”? Borges ran a West Coast offense with a few tweaks on the Gulf Coast. It got tagged as such pretty early in the 2004 season.

  • Felton

    New England – an interesting note on the Patriots is that the Saints beat them last year employing a lot of two and three TE sets – if the Pats stayed base, the Saints passed and if the Pats went with nickel or dime, the Saints ran. What does Bill find for 2010? Two very good young TEs.

    Michigan – I think it was Football Outsiders who noted that the Rodriguez hire would not work because Rich is a guy whose offense was designed for lesser talent than what you would get at Michigan. In my opinion, Rich should have been the head coach at Tulane in 1999.

    Oregon – thanks for the information. The Duck offense appearde very different than what I’d seen during the regular season.

  • Justin

    As I was watching the first quarter of the National Championship I commented to those around me that the Ducks were running the wishbone-spread. Maybe it’s not the best description, just as it probably wasn’t a sound offensive scheme initially (zero 1st quarter points) but with James, Barner, Huff, Seastrunk, and Williams all looking for touches next season I wouldn’t be surprised to see more similar play designs.

  • Something to think about with Oregon’s 2-back triple option was that Auburn was fire zoning quite bit, so by introducing a 2 back look then crossing both backs (with a motiong pitchman), it can be a challenge for a defense to properly match after the snap.
    (i.e. the presnap field #2 now becomes boundary #3[or 2], then you have a recipe for breaking an explosive play on a thinking defense

  • 4.0 Point Stance

    Felton – The rumors regarding the Tulane opening in ’98 were that Tulane didn’t want to commit to Rodriguez because they were afraid he’d be gone to another job too soon. In my opinion this is bs – an almost crippling risk aversion – that if a guy is ‘only’ going to give you two more 10+ win seasons you’re better off without him. And as a result, in the meantime they’ve enjoyed a string of 3-9 years punctuated by one Hawaii Bowl trip.

    Of course, the other possibility is that Clemson was willing to pay more to an OC than Tulane was willing to pay to a head coach.

  • blusage

    The end of the SDSU video clip has the announcer saying that San Diego now has a college football team they can be proud of.

    That’s all we want at Michigan. It looks like Brady Hoke will help get it done.

    Go Blue!

  • endersgame

    Is the “Gulf Coast” offense just a media term or is there actually a specific definition of it?

  • Pilot

    About Hoke – I was a student at Ball State when Brady Hoke was head coach. I got to meet him at their annual coaches clinic–after chatting with him for only about 5 minutes, I was ready to run through a brick wall for him if he would have told me to. Hopefully it will work out for him and Michigan.

  • Matt Harris


    The ‘Gulf Coast Offense’ term was one that was coined by commentators when Borges was at Auburn. West Coast Offense + Auburn being only about 3 hours from the gulf coast = a clever marketing term.

  • Charlotte Roofing Contractor

    Brady and Belichick really messed up on this game.

  • Mr.Murder

    BGE is not a feature back. Straight line running, with no separation speed. The Giants showed everyone how to stop them, bracket their checkdown. The Jets used a robber to bracket the checkdown and whoever compliments the checkdown, as a shallow crosser. Suddenly he’s holding the ball too long, for some reason.

  • Mr.Murder

    As for the Championship game, Oregon saw so much Auburn motion/option stuff on film for Auburn that they probably decided to add a bit of their own to it.

  • Young buck

    I think hoke, i hope hoke, will bring balance to the Michigan team. I think he’ll run a lot of pro-style offense but i honestly dont care what he runs, a team needs balance to win. Hope he brings michigan back up from the graveyard

  • Grayson

    I think it may have actually been Tommy Tuberville that coined the “Gulf Coast Offense” term. I seem to recall a question from a reporter in an Auburn press conference a few years back about Borges and his preference for the West Coast offense, to which Tuberville jokingly replied “we run the Gulf Coast offense”, or something to that effect. It kind of stuck, obviously.

    Borges is a good coach and an excellent playcaller, but he struggled quite a bit at Auburn when he didn’t have top-shelf talent at the WR spots. He relies heavily on big, rangy receivers making plays in the downfield passing game and he didn’t really have that his last couple of seasons at AU. I’ll be very interested to see what Borges does with a guy like Denard Robinson. His offense is pretty much your basic West Coast scheme with multiple sets, loads of play action and check downs, and a healthy mix of power running – although the times I’ve seen him “unleashed”, Borges has a definite preference for the passing game and loves to chuck it around. At Auburn in 2007, there were several games where the lead-footed pocket passer Brandon Cox gave way to an athletic freshman named Kodi Burns, and Borges installed a few shotgun packages with some simple zone reads and checkdowns. I think it will be a gentle transition away from the Rich Rod offense at Michigan, and I’d expect next year’s version to look a lot more like the shotgun zone read and a lot less like the Borges West Coast scheme. But I think they’ll get there eventually.

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