With the announcement of Shannon Dawson as our new Offensive Coordinator I was encouraged that Stoops was aiming to keep the same offense. It's exciting, presses the defense and offers UK certain advantages since we are not at the point where we can overpower other SEC teams. Additionally, it takes advantages of progressing our existing players along the same philosophy instilled under the last two years under Neil Brown.
Dawson will have an advantage over Brown of inheriting players with experience in the system which has shown flashes the past two years but little consistency. A lot of that is simply due to youth, inexperience, lack of depth and a shortfall of talent over the long haul of the season. It takes a lot of good receivers to execute a high octane offense and Brown was lacking a deep stable of reliable receivers.
Below is a table looking only at pass distribution when comparing Brown, Dawson and, for comparison's sake I also included numbers for Lincoln Riley - another prominent name that surfaced during the brief search for the new OC. Nothing is intended to compare pass/run ratios or even to which areas of the field each coach emphasized, only what type of receivers were used and how often.
|School /Year||TTU '12||UK '13||UK '14||SFA '09||SFA '10||UWV '13||ECU '13|
|Coach||Neil Brown||Neil Brown||Neil Brown||Shannon Dawson||Shannon Dawson||Shannon Dawson||Lincoln Riley|
|# of Receptions||418||204||228||410||364||320||368||100.0%|
One of the things that struck me is the sheer number of passes completed by the non-UK offenses by each of the coaches. The UK numbers are significantly short of what both of these men have done at other programs; in fact, Brown was about half of his TTU (Texas Tech) numbers along with Dawson and Riley. In addition, it looks like Dawson could be more aggressive in that he is dedicated in getting the ball on down the field; he never gimmicked a pass to the quarterback and at Stephen F. Austin (SFA) he only completed 2 passes to tight ends over a two year stretch. Even where he was contributing but not directly calling plays at West Virginia (WVU) the 10 tight end passes was to a player designated a TE/RB so the player may have been getting his passes from the running back position.
Dawson looks to be as aggressive in the passing game as Neil Brown when given the required stable of receivers and the BBN should expect to continue the trend upwards in the UK passing game. From this year's team we lose Blue and Robinson to graduation from a team that only used another 4 receivers (Timmons, Johnson, Baker and Bone) in significant roles. Herrick came on well toward the end of the year to get a jump on '15 and Dawson will then add other players with game experience in TV Williams, Badet, Montgomery, Walker and Cunningham. Add to these players the red shirt freshmen from this year (Snodgrass, Kendall, Bouvier, Fogle, Thompson and Pilch) to put us at sixteen (16!) wide receivers, not including those coming in with the '15 recruiting class. Surely, we've got some good route runners with good hands among that large group.
Everyone knows we're is pretty good shape at running back (and maybe even better?) so that appears covered and Dawson may have to expand his look at involving the tight ends. Although we lose Shields and Borden, we carry get Darryl Long after a red shirt year and have Cox, Kazunas, Campbell and Fink available. All young and ready to contribute. Oh, don't forget we also have 4 star C.J. Conrad coming in next year.
Like much of UK's team, this is another area positioned to make great strides next year due to good recruiting and judicious use of red shirts. Dawson could be made to look like a real hero with a perfect storm of talent. Football season is never over.