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The Difference Between Butch Jones and Brian Kelly: Part 3

In any coaching change the biggest adjustment for a coaching staff, and for the players they inherited, is finding where everyone fits in the new system. If the previous staff preferred big physical receivers who were threats in the vertical passing game those receivers might not work quite so well in a passing game based on shorter routes, run with precision timed to the quarterbacks drop. That factor was overlooked by everyone, myself included coming into the 2010 season. It ended up being UC's undoing.

By this point it should be well established that Butch Jones and Brian Kelly have different and distinct offensive philosophies. Because each coach does things a little bit differently on offense they will look for slightly different types of players to play the same positions. My goal is to try and get a bead on what those types of players are. In the main the discussion about this topic is limited to Quarterbacks, and Wide Receivers.

Starting With Receivers

I think that the logical point for this discussion to start would be with Armon Binns. You see, to me, Binns is the player that most typifies the philosophical difference between Kelly and Jones. In many respects Binns is the quintessential Brian Kelly receiver. He is tall, 6'3" big, 209 with a good vertical leap and the ability to snatch balls at their highest point. For Kelly's vertical offense the bigger the target the better. In general the longer the throw the lower the completion percentage. But if you are a guy like Kelly, who had long since committed fervently to the vertical passing game there are ways to buck that trend. The main problem with the longer throws in Football is that the further from the QB a receiver gets the smaller the target he creates. The solution is to just find bigger receivers which creates a larger target while at the same time lowering the margin for error.

Binns was a perfect fit for Kelly because he was the quintessential vertical threat. But the same things that made Armon so great for Brian Kelly's offense made him a work in progress with Butch Jones's scheme. It was tough sledding for Mike Bajakian and Jones to fit Binns into their offense. The offense they preferred was one based on precision and timing. Armon Binns is many things, but a precise route runner he is not. Looking at his game by game stats from 2009 to 2010 serves to illustrate the point. Binns caught more balls for more yards in 2010 compared to 2009. But he was much more consistent from game to game in 2009. This stat kind of says it all. The range in catches in the 2009 season was 5 with a low of 2 and a high for 7. The range in 2010 9 with a low of 3 and a high of 12. The perfect receiver for Jones's offense is a little bit smaller, a little bit quicker and more agile than the running towers that Kelly preferred.

There is a course a way to prove the difference in preferences, by going back and looking at the recruiting classes. The easiest way to do that is to compare the average size of a receiver recruited to Central Michigan or Cincinnati for the 07, 08 and 09 classes. And yes I am fully aware that everyone recruited to play in the MAC is smaller. Also I have taken into account the position a player was recruited to. For example Drew Frey is evaluated as a receiver by rivals, but he was a DB from day one and therefor doesn't figure into the receiver totals under Kelly.

Height Weight
Kelly 6'2" 197
Jones 6'0" 183

The average Kelly WR recruit is two inches taller and almost 15 pounds heavier than the average Jones recruit. The reason for the disparity is that Jones and Kelly recruit different kinds of athletes to play the receiver position(s).


From a QB perspective it is much harder to get a bead on this discussion. I have my ideas, but they may very well be bullshit. I don't think that Brian Kelly has a prototypical quarterback. He has played with many different kinds of QB's and kicked ass with all of the them, even going all the way back to his Grand Valley State days. As a UC fan I shouldn't have to go much further then the 2008 season where he so famously used five different quarterbacks on the way to the Big East Championship to prove the point. Kelly is such a stickler for details and his system is so easy to teach at the basic level that it really doesn't matter who his QB is. At various points Kelly has mentioned that he prefers to have a dual threat running the show. But the reason for that is how hard it is to run out of the shotgun in modern College Football without an at least decent running threat from the QB to hold that backside end. For BK a dual threat is nice, but he doesn't really need one to make his system work because he doesn't really need a running game for his offense to work.

Jones on the hand does have an ideal QB type. I said it yesterday, and I will say it again now. Dan Lefevour is the guy for Jones offensive system. He is big, has a strong arm and though he is not a burner, he is eminently capable of defeating a defense with his legs.

Dan LeFevour (via MrMarlinfreak)

If you look at the guys who Jones has recruited to the program as QB's in his two classes they all have elements of the Rust Belt Tebow in them. Munchie Legaux has a big arm and is an explosive athlete, in the 2010 class there are Stephen Weatherford and Patrick Coyne who are very much in that LeFevour mold. Patrick Coyne might be the best bet to reprise the Rust Belt Tebow motif if my hunches are correct. Coyne is a devastating runner who has an absolute cannon for an arm.

In the end the differences between Kelly and Jones and the representative offensive schemes and game plans isn't that big. There are some key differences in the design and execution of them, sure. But the real difference between Butch Jones and Brian Kelly might come down to one position. In my opinion Jones needs a very specific type of Quarterback to make his system really fire on all cylinders. He needs that mobile QB with a big arm to work out of the pocket in the passing game. Kelly on the other hand can make do with just about any QB. How many coaches can make due with whatever they have on hand at the most important position on the field? In truth that is the only really major difference between them. And luckily for me I have the perfect picture to express the differences between Brian Kelly and Butch Jones.


I probably should have skipped the 5,000 words and just posted that picture. say la vee