College offenses keep pushing the envelope

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The Oregon Ducks are averaging an amazing 630 yards of total offense per game.

The Oregon Ducks are second in the nation in total offense…and it’s not close.

The previous two sentences should be incongruous, but they are not. They are merely a byproduct of the offensive revolution that has come to dominate college football of late.

Six weeks into the 2013 season, an astounding 19 teams averaging at least 500 yards of offense per game. The Baylor Bears lead the way with an absurd 780 yards per game. By comparison, just two teams finished the season averaging over 500 yards per game in 2009.

Granted, it is still in the early going so the numbers are partially a reflection of opponent strength (or lack thereof), but it’s worth noting that back in 2005 everyone went absolutely ga-ga over a USC offense that averaged 613 yards of offense through six games. The fact that the Trojans averaged 50 points per game that year was also supposed to be a big deal. Mind you, that was an offense loaded with arguably the best personnel ever on one unit — Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White, a star-studded offensive line, two second-round receivers and so on. But that team’s production was primarily the result of USC out-talenting its opponents.

Baylor has a nice collection of players, with two legitimate Heisman candidates (Bryce Petty and Lache Seastrunk) and a budding Biletnikoff contender (Antwan Goodley), but it doesn’t have an NFL player at every position like that USC team did.  Its incredible offensive output — 71 points per game?? — can mostly be attributed to the schemes and machinations of head coach Art Briles. Without Briles, Baylor would be just another Big 12 doormat.

And it’s about time people recognize that. Football commentators like to say it’s all about the Jimmies and the Joes, but they’re wrong: The X’s and the O’s matter, too, especially in college football. It’s not like Clemson would be as proficient on offense if it ran out of a Power I formation, would it? Would Baylor be the only team without a three-and-out in college football if it utilized a pro-style attack? Would Oregon be what it is today if it had run the West Coast Offense all these years?

No way.

Scouring the top 20 teams in total offense, only three run what are usually referred to as ‘conventional’ offenses, meaning with the quarterback primarily taking snaps from under center and with the offense huddling before every play.

The evidence in favor of the effectiveness of spread-style systems is so compelling, it’s a wonder that more elite schools don’t go full bore in this direction (Florida was one that did and it won two titles). Imagine if the USC offense of 2005 — or even 2011 — had run the Briles scheme. Or if Alabama emulated what Oregon does on offense. Those two teams running those schemes with their talent level would rewrite the offensive record books and probably never lose.

Of course, we’ll never see that happen because programs like USC or Alabama want to win the way they’ve always won, even at the risk of not optimizing their production. In the meantime, college offenses keep improving to the point where teams that would normally be excluded from the national conversation — the Oregons, the Baylors, the Texas A&Ms, the Clemsons, etc. — are now dominating it.

Better get used to it.

Reports: Tim Drevno stepping down as Michigan’s OC

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An offseason of change in Jim Harbaugh‘s Michigan coaching staff continues, with one of the Wolverines’ million-dollar assistants stepping down.  Reportedly.

Multiple reports, including ones from The Wolverine Lounge and SI.com‘s Bruce Feldman, are indicating that Tim Drevno has decided to step down from his post as U-M’s offensive coordinator.  Drevno has been Harbaugh’s coordinator on that side of the ball each of his three seasons in Ann Arbor.

Drevno also served as the Wolverines’ offensive line coach.

Under Drevno’s direction, Michigan’s offense was tied for 91st nationally in averaging 25.2 points per game this past season.

The reports come three days after McElwain was officially announced as U-M’s new quarterbacks coach.  In the run-up to that hiring, it was reported that McElwain, the former coordinator at Alabama prior to his run as Florida’s head coach, could take over play-calling duties at U-M.

Arizona QB Brandon Dawkins to transfer from Wildcats

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An already crowded graduate transfer market has gained yet another entrant.

On his personal Twitter account Thursday night, Brandon Dawkins announced that he has decided to transfer out of new head coach Kevin Sumlin‘s football program. While no specific reason was given for the quarterback’s decision to move on, the presence of a Heisman Trophy contender, rising junior Khalil Tate, for the next two seasons likely played a significant role.

Dawkins is set to graduate this May, which will make him eligible to play immediately in 2018 at another FBS school if that’s the tack he takes.

Dawkins started nine games in 2016 and the first four games this past season before Tate took over.  For the Wildcats portion of his playing career, Dawkins completed just over 56 percent of his 334 passes for 2,418 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.  He ran for another 1,582 yards and 20 more touchdowns.

Fresno State DC Orlondo Steinauer headed back to CFL

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That certainly didn’t last long.

In December of 2016, it was confirmed that Orlondo Steinauer would be leaving his post as the defensive coordinator of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League to take the same job at Fresno State.  After one season at the Mountain West Conference school, Steinauer announced on Twitter that he has decided to move back to the CFL with the same organization.

“Orlondo is an accomplished CFL coach with a great track record at this level,” said Ticats head coach June Jones in a statement. “He’s a coach whose great work ethic, intelligence, knowledge of the Canadian game and ability to get the most out of his players will be a huge asset to our staff.

“We’re very happy to bring him home to Hamilton after an exceptional year at Fresno State.”

Prior to his one season at Fresno, Steinauer had spent his entire coaching career in the CFL, including a four-year stint as the defensive coordinator for Hamilton from 2013-16.  Steinauer, a Seattle native who played his college football at Western Washington, also played professionally in Canada from 1996-2008 prior to embarking on his coaching career.

Chris Ash adds another assistant to Rutgers staff

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It was a busy day on the assistant hiring front for Chris Ash.

Earlier Thursday, Rutgers confirmed that Noah Joseph had been hired as co-defensive coordinator as well as safeties coach.  Not long after, the football program again confirmed that Cory Robinson has been hired by Ash as well.

Robinson will serve as passing-game coordinator for the Scarlet Knights as well as cornerbacks coach.

“We are excited to have Cory and his family join our program,” said Ash in a statement. “Cory is a fast-rising young coach that will bring tremendous energy and passion to our defense. We look forward to having him develop and mentor our corners.”

Robinson spent the past two seasons as a cornerbacks coach, at Temple in 2017 and Toledo the year before.  Those were his first two years as an on-field assistant at the FBS level.