It's an odd thing when a 6-0 football team decides midseason before its two biggest road games to bench three offensive starters, modify its base set, demote 2/3 of the starting receiving corps, change the best WRs position, tacitly admit a failure of offensive philosophy,
and all but confess that late last year and over the summer defenses did the scouting on us that we should have been doing on ourselves.
Who could possibly guess that teams would play pass-first and develop specific packages for us? Averaging 307 yards per game against three Big 12 defenses is a cold slap of reality. So now we begin to do the work we should have started in April.
That we are having to do this now, mid-season, after being stoned by three Big 12 defenses is incredible. We returned nine offensive starters including our All-American QB, 4/5 of our OL, tons of experience at WR and RB, and yet every Saturday we're a gibbon trying to hump a greased water balloon. If you contrast that with the optimization and maximization on the defensive side of the ball where Muschamp had so many more questions to address, you can only shake your head.
So welcome to...
The New Offense
1. Goodwin, Williams, Shipley start at WR. Buckner is first off of the bench in a four WR set. Shipley is now a slot WR again. Goodwin and Williams outside.
2. Extra Blocking Surface Greg Smith now gets heavy reps as we go to a 3 WR, 1 TE base set.
3. On the OL, Tray Allen now sees heavy work at right guard.
4. We'll feature the running game more and attempt more downfield play action off of it to increase our pathetic 9.8 yards per completion average. A greater focus on quality over quantity in the passing game.
5. Misdirection will not go away (and we will add more play-action off of of it), Colt will run 10+ times per game, and you'll also see a heavier dose of man-blocking.
Greg Smith gives us the worst starting TE in the Big 12. That written, if he can he block nominally (our TEs were miserable in pass protection last year) and catch one first down per game off of a boot without a volleyball set interception or fumble, we do have a chance at an improved running game if teams play us honestly.
If they bring up an extra man and ignore the TE, as I expect they will, we still have three real players at WR with threat potential. It also places Shipley inside where he is particularly adept at finding seams and exploiting teams that try to cover the slot with a LB/safety stack. Goodwin and Williams outside are far more threatening to a defense than Chiles/Kirkendoll.
So that's some of the flavor of what we're going to try to do.
The fundamental issue here, beyond our incapacity for candid self-reflection, is that our offensive coaches - specifically at OC, OL, WR - too often settle for a "reliable" marginal player that requires minimal coaching over a developmental great athlete. We used to do this on defense. Not anymore. Maybe it stems from laziness, maybe it's how Mack evaluates them, maybe they don't have the ability to assess the true nature of risk. I don't care to get in their heads.
The problem is that the butcher's bill always comes. You can pay it early - and harmlessly - with inexperienced studs playing against Wyoming with a couple of busted assignments and a drop with teachable moments after (and growth) or you can pay it against Oklahoma when you roll out mediocrities on the edge, your unit is completely humiliated, and you cement Colt McCoy's Big 12 passer rating beneath Austen Arnaud.
We've now we've pissed away half of a season of development for guys that need it. The guys you need to win the games that matter.
Does anyone give a damn that John Chiles can catch 5 balls for 50 yards against Wyoming? He then goes 6 catches for 22 yards against Colorado/OU combined. The purpose of playing a Wyoming is to get reps for the kids that need it.
David Snow has totally regressed from his freshman year. Generally, OL don't get worse with age and experience. Tray Allen is our next sacrificial lamb at RG splitting time with Michael Huey. MacWhorter completely ignored Allen's development for three years as a mental knowledge of assignments is more crucial than the physical ability to perform them. In basketball terms, MacWhorter would start Tommy Penders Jr over J'Covan Brown.
Bobby Kennedy is a very solid WR coach from a teaching standpoint, but same story, different verse. Another who values reliability over upside. Clearly, there's a balance, but we make little attempt to strike it.
I don't pretend to know the role that Major Applewhite plays in all of this. He's the most junior member of the offensive staff, but if I could guess from his demeanor as a player and GA, he doesn't suffer fools.
In any event, I expect to see us try to make this work @ Mizzou. It should be interesting.