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Air Raid Decision Time


In 24 short days, Kentucky will head down to Nashville’s LP Field to take on Bobby Petrino’s Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. The narratives will be running thick for this game as well. This contest marks Bobby Petrino’s return to the sidelines after the now infamous motorcycle incident which got him fired from Arkansas. This meeting will also see Kentucky’s quest for redemption after last season’s embarrassing home loss to the Hilltoppers. Oh yeah, Mark Stoops and his staff will not only be coaching their first game at Kentucky, but they’ll be implementing an exciting offense to boot. The return of the Air Raid has given fans around the Commonwealth visions of the late 90’s when passing yards and touchdowns were plentiful, but this also raises a question, just how similar are Neal Brown’s and Hal Mumme’s versions of the Air Raid? A few weeks ago, I pointed out some of the statistical differences in play calling tendencies and concluded that Brown preferred to run more often than did Mumme, among other things. I also pointed out that – according to my eye’s estimate – Mumme’s teams seemed to pass quicker than did Brown’s. This perceived difference in speed led me to conduct a little bit of research.

In my experience on the internet (that’s kind of a dangerous thought to think about), I’ve found that people tend to associate different offenses with one another. For instance, when some people hear “spread option,” they assume that all coaches who run the spread option run identical versions of the offense. Though they have similar roots, this term is more of a generic labeling than anything else. Some versions of the spread option favor the pass while others favor the rush. Some like to align in tighter formations while others like spreading the field. These individual styles can trace their roots back to a “spread option” origin, but there are many different types of spread option football.

The same concept applies to the Air Raid as well. Just because coaches run the system doesn’t mean they’re identical. Sure, many of the downfield passing concepts are similar, but there are subtle differences.  Through some research, I’ve found this to be the case when comparing Neal Brown’s Air Raid to Kentucky’s Air Raid of the 1990’s. Many people are of the opinion that the Air Raid is designed to distribute the ball to a receiver as fast as possible, and those people are mostly correct. Most plays in this system are designed to be quick hitting. However, Brown’s version of the Air Raid takes a little longer to develop than did Mumme’s. The below table explains.


The above information is pretty straight forward and simple to understand. On passing plays, Neal Brown’s 2012 Texas Tech squad took, on average, 2.17 seconds to release the ball after the snap. Mumme’s Kentucky team in 1997 took only 2.04 seconds to release the ball to a receiver. Both techniques did their job effectively and efficiently, but they were slightly different. If we were to estimate where the ball was thrown on the field using this snap-to-pass time we would likely conclude that Brown’s receivers were slightly farther down field than were Mumme’s receivers. This doesn’t mean a system is worse than another because it takes longer to throw the ball, it’s simply a variant on how a team decides to play.

While comparing two different teams using snap-to-pass time is little more than an exercise in personal preference, this, however, can be an effective tool used in evaluating quarterbacks on the same team. Let’s say that a coach is torn between two quarterbacks who are having similar fall camps. In a system heavily reliant on quick passes like the Air Raid, it would likely be more beneficial to select the quarterback with a shorter average snap-to-pass time. Something tells me that Maxwell Smith, Jalen Whitlow, or Patrick Towles’ ability to make a quick decision will be paramount in determining who starts at the quarterback position this season. Of course, I don’t have access to practices to time this for myself (though I work cheap), so this is something that the coaches will have to observe and decide for themselves. However, if Kentucky’s coaches’ past records are any indication on future decision making, we should feel very comfortable going forward.


Article written by Jonathan Schuette

14 Comments for Air Raid Decision Time

  1. WhoaThere
    9:43 pm August 7, 2013 Permalink

    Isn’t this a repeat post?

  2. Ty Bolin
    9:44 pm August 7, 2013 Permalink

    This is straight garbage… 0.13 seconds with you hitting some kind of timer? 105 sample size?

  3. Teddy Bridgewater
    9:46 pm August 7, 2013 Permalink

    I will be ruled ineligible within 2 weeks

  4. Hello
    9:51 pm August 7, 2013 Permalink

    Jonathon Schuette, you are terrible. Everything you write sucks.

  5. Wildcatsteeler
    9:55 pm August 7, 2013 Permalink

    @2 Ever heard of digital video technology? Where you can watch the video in slow motion and get this, it even has a timer on the screen! So you can watch exactly when he receives the ball and exactly when he lets it go. It’s amazing what they’ve done in the 20th century. Welcome to the 21st century though.

  6. Stoops Poops
    10:07 pm August 7, 2013 Permalink

    A 2 and 10 season and a laundry list of decommits is almost here.

  7. 6 is a troll
    10:15 pm August 7, 2013 Permalink

    6) Your a dumb a$$! I’ll agree with we are going to have sucky record, but that will not impact recruiting. You can bet Stoops has already told his guys that we are going to be bad next year and that is why he can sale pt to the new guys!

  8. Beavis606
    10:21 pm August 7, 2013 Permalink

    I gotta admit these posts are horrible. Can you write one without a meaningless chart?

  9. Great Story
    12:16 am August 8, 2013 Permalink

    Why is everyone beating up on Johathon? Snap to pass is exactly correct in the UK QB battle. It’s been written and on sports talk shows for the past two weeks.
    This will be why Whitlow has the edge.
    Great story!

  10. Season Never Ends
    8:06 am August 8, 2013 Permalink

    I enjoyed the photo. Most of the stat stuff goes way over my head, but the takeaway is simply, this may be Air Raid but it ain’t Riverboat Gambler Hal Mumme’s Air Raid.

    Which is good. I recall seeing a game in Athens with the Cats down 21-0. The Cats faced 4th and 20 from their own 25 yard line and ran a fake punt.

  11. Blueneck
    8:30 am August 8, 2013 Permalink

    What is the point or conclusion of this post? The statistical difference is too small to take into consideration. When comparing the systems you can’t say one throws downfield more when it doesn’t take into account all the in, out, dig, or slant routes which take time even though much of it is NOT moving downfield. You would also have to throw out all instances of pressure on QB, not sure if that was done here. While the timing is important, accuracy and not turning the ball over will be more important.

  12. asdf
    8:45 am August 8, 2013 Permalink

    The difference in speed is because under Mumme, we either threw to the flats or ran a draw most of the time. Texas Tech went downfield more often than Mumme and they had a more mature running game. They probably even had a playbook.

  13. asdf
    8:48 am August 8, 2013 Permalink

    3, I have to believe Bridgewater is innocent. I mean, a Card player signing his own name and it’s not an “x”?

  14. Big Blue Coming At You
    9:22 am August 8, 2013 Permalink

    Is it me or does Hal Mumme resemble Peter Cetera?