The offense had its ups and downs during the season. At times, they were very opportunistic. Other times, they were incredibly stressful to watch. Feast or famine was often the MO for this team – they were either making big plays or they were seeing drives stall out around the opponent’s 30 yard line with ill-timed penalties, inefficient production, or both.
The Line & Blockers
The offensive line was sometimes just that; other times, they were simply offensive. Too often, opposing linebackers were able to bring down the running back as soon as they took the handoff. Other times, there were some completely blown assignments – such as the unblocked rusher in the West Liberty game that hit Buechel as he was throwing. The play resulted in an interception. The ineffectiveness of the running game should be at least partly pinned on the line.
They need to get bigger next year. They need to be able to absorb defenders more efficiently or else we’ll again be frustrated by the running game.
The Wide Receivers
When they caught the ball, they were phenomenal. No catch of the year matched the spectacle of Sean Brady’s one-handed grab in the Albany game, but these guys made some great plays when they were needed. Dave Thomas and Gianni Carter both turned in some big performances at various times. The big issue with the wide receivers were the times when they missed on a dead-on ball. Too many times, a catch was not made despite hands touching the ball.
Devin Rahming emerged as a solid contributor in the Wagner game and – while he had some of the misses that plauged the wideouts – seems poised to be a major piece next year.
I’ve said it time and again – Dillon Buechel did not look like a redshirt freshman for much of this year. There were a few more interceptions than one would like, but with no running game to speak of and a porous offensive line, he was sometimes the only thing the team had going. Couple that with a lot of single reads and his numbers look even better. He was generally pretty accurate, though a few over- and under-throws were maddening.
Next year, we’ll get to see how good a decision maker Buechel. The leash should be significantly longer – hopefully he’s capable of some creativity.
The Running Backs
This was the worst part of the offense for most of the season. Some of it came from questionable play calls. Some of it came from poor line play. But some of it was also because the Ho and Douglas just didn’t seem capable of carrying a load. They only averaged 3.2 yards per carry – and if you exclude six long rushes, their production was more like 2.6.
Late in the year, they seemed to have a mix going that was working, using Ethan Dorsey as a power back and Jason Douglas for finesse situations. Even then, this wasn’t used with consistency – Dorsey didn’t get many chances in the final game of the season (though he had a nice catch for a touchdown). But Dorsey is graduating and the Dukes need an answer – either through extensive offseason development or a new recruit or transfer coming in to play the position.
The series concludes with the coaching