NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - NOVEMBER 19: Head coach Butch Jones of the Cincinnati Bearcats reacts during a game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Rutgers Stadium on November 19, 2011 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
With fall camp starting tomorrow in earnest it is a time to ask questions, important questions, about the look of the Bearcats offense this year.
You have to start with the basics. Munchie Legaux is the starting QB for the Cincinnati Bearcats. That is not yet official, but it borders on a certainty. Brendon Kay battled Munchie throughout spring but at no point was considered a solid bet to win the job. Butch Jones wanted to competition to continue through the summer, which it has, but it is likely to end swiftly. The statement last week that he wants the QB position settled a week into camp comes with all but a blinking, flashing LED board screaming MUNCHIE LEGAUX. It is Munchies job, all that is left is to make it official.
Once it becomes official the question changes from "Will Munchie be to the guy?" To "how do you go about making Munchie successful." The answer to that question is an honest I don't know. I do have my suspicions, but we won't know anything until September 6th.
To guess what this offense will look like the search has to start with Dan LeFevour and the offense that Butch Jones and Mike Bajakian crafted for his use. That platonic ideal of and offense had no bearing what so ever on the offense for the Bearcats last year. The offense last year had to work around the holes in Zach Collaros's game. For example the middle of the field from the line of scrimmage to about 15 yards was off limits to Zach. His height prevented him from being able to see over the offensive line and read the second level defenders. There is a reason that the passing game last year took place almost entirely outside the hashes. That will not be the case this year. For all his flaws as a passer, the long windup and spotty (at times) footwork chief among them, Munchie Legaux is blessed with two things that Zach Collaros never had. Height and a cannon for an arm, which means he has alot more in common with LeFevour than he does with Collaros. Its not a stretch to imagine that the offense will look more like the Central Michigan edition than the one from last year.
At Central Michigan that offense was at its best when Lefevour was making hay in the pocket using Mesh, Stick and Levels predominately. The underlying idea being to stretch the defense horizontally and allow their play makers to make hay in space in adventagous 1 v 1 situations. That play maker was almost always Antonio Brown who they went to great lengths to funnel the ball to. Brown was a threat as a receiver and as a defacto running back. When LeFevour was on his game passing the Football everything else fell into place in terms of the running game. CMU was a damn good team running the Football at the end of Butch's time there, which gets lost in translation a bit.
My suspicion is that the Bearcats offense in 2012 will be built on the running game, just as it was last year. That's part of that has to do with the deficiencies of all the quarterbacks. If I were a conspiracy theorist I would use this moment to say that this is the reason Munchie is getting the job, he brings more to the table as a runner than anyone else. Munchie bringing more to the table as a runner is a fact. He is afterall one of the 10 or so best athletes on this team. I have a feeling that this season will be one of the most run heavy years that Butch Jones has had as a head coach.
But the key for this group will be manipulating numbers. With the exception of Mike Bajakian and newly minted running backs coach Roy Manning the entire offensive staff cut their teeth with Rich Rodriguez. Which means that they were all schooled in a particular way of analyzing defenses, the broadest outlines of which are in the video embedded below.
The running game is all about numbers for this group, and there are two really easy ways to get them. One is to use multiple personnel groupings, motions and shifts to confuse the defensive alignment for a start and to reveal coverage in an ideal world. That is something that Butch Jones and Mike Bajakian did all the time at Central Michigan but have gone away from here in Cincinnati. There was that one magical night when they broke out the heavy package, but outside of that the Bearcats have been more subtle spreading the field to get numbers. That is one thing I expect to change this season. With more depth and more weapons, even being young guys, there is more raw material to work with. I will be disappointed if the offense that Butch Jones and Mike Bajakian put onto the field on September 6th looks just like last years, there are more options available than that for this offense.