Though we’re uncertain how John Paul and Ken Broschart’s coaching will take to the Division-1 level, we have no such question marks about offensive coordinator Judd Lattimore. He’s been an assistant at the D-1 level for seven years now, with stints at Delaware, Penn, North Carolina, and Bucknell.
Let’s take a look at how offenses have fared under Lattimore in comparison to how they were performing prior to his arrival, and how they performed after he left. With small sample sizes (single years at Delaware and Penn, two years at UNC, and three years at Bucknell), we may not have a great picture, but it will at least give us an idea.
We start at Delaware (Lattimore’s year in bold):
As you can see, the one year that Judd was on staff in our (admittedly small) sample was the best year for Delaware. In fact, it’s also the only year that the Blue Hens made it to the NCAA Tournament, as they lost in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament in each of the surrounding seasons.
In Lattimore’s only season at Delaware, freshmen attackman Vincent Giordano and midfielder John Carrozza made the CAA All-Rookie team, sophomore midfielder Jordan Hall was the CAA Player of the year and an Honorable Mention USILA All-American, sophomore attack Cam Howard was an All-CAA player, and senior midfielder Joe Trentzsch was named Second-Team All-CAA. None of those players achieved those levels of honor either the year before or the year after Lattimore’s brief stint.
From Delaware, he moved on to the University of Pennsylvania:
We don’t even need to break out the individual accolades to demonstrate the turnaround Judd implemented at Penn. the 2005 Quakers weren’t a bad team all-around, but simply struggled to put the ball into the net. They never reached double digits the entire season(!), and though opponents only reached that point 6 times, the Quakers only managed to come home with a pair of wins.
When Judd joined the Penn staff, the offense immediately improved by leaps and bounds. The Quakers’ average offensive efficiency for all games (including shellackings at the hands of Maryland and Johns Hopkins – the latter in the NCAA Tournament, which they were nowhere near until Judd came on staff – and a low-scoring win over Bucknell) was better than the best individual game the previous year. That’s impressive. When Judd left, the Quakers’ offense fell back to Earth a bit, and UP went 6-7.
Following his time in Philadelphia, Lattimore returned to his alma mater North Carolina for a two-year stint:
For the first time, the stats aren’t clearly slanted in Judd’s favor. When he arrived at North Carolina, he did indeed raise the offensive efficiency, but only marginally. The Tar Heels also got much better on offense the year after he left. While there may be other mitigating factors, the stats certainly seem to show that hiring Judd Lattimore is not a magic bullet that automatically results in an amazing offense. What are some of those mitigating factors?
- Changes in talent – most notably, the 2009 team got a non-freshman version of Billy Bitter. He started every game as a sophomore, after not earning a single start as a true freshman.
- Clearing – for whatever reason (typically not the fault of the offensive coordinator) the 2008 team was god-awful on clears. That counts against the offense’s efficiency, fair or not.
- Change in pace – the 2006 Heels were a pretty slow team, averaging under 35 offensive possessions per game. UNC sped it up when Lattimore arrived (whether or not he was behind that is irrelevant), meaning Carolina had to make some adjustments. By the time Lattimore left, UNC was more used to playing near 40 offensive possessions per game.
Again, I’m not looking to make excuses (as I’m fully ready to admit that Michigan’s offense is not going to suddenly be amazing on account of hiring Lattimore), but pointing out a couple mitigating factors. The Tarheels also changed head coaches, going from John Haus to Joe Breschi.
From North Carolina, Lattimore’s most recent stop was at Bucknell:
As you can see, Bucknell’s offensive efficiency immediately took a leap when Judd joined the staff. Another encouraging sign? It continued climbing in each of the years he was on staff.
Michigan’s offense probably isn’t going to be very good in year 1. There are some strong players on the team, with possibly some more talent arriving this fall, either through recruiting, or some as-yet-unknown transfers. Still, the vast majority of the players on the team weren’t getting interest from the Syracuses, Virginias, and Johns Hopkinses of the world, or even some of the ECAC teams that they’ll be going up against this fall.
Despite a talent gap between opposition and the Wolverine team, however, it appears that they have one of the better coaches in squeezing every bit of production out of the talent that he does have available. With his success on the recruiting trail thus far, it’s easy to see an efficient, exciting Michigan offense within a couple years.