I know you are all probably waiting on this, our offensive philosophy. Wide open spread offense, fast paced, great ball security. Our goal will be to lead the country in ball security and scoring points and doing whatever necessary to secure a win. We have been fortunate to be able to do that in the last three years in our offense. There are only two quarterbacks who have been able to throw for 3,000 yards in one season and rush for 1,000 and that was our quarterback last year Dan Lefevour and the other quarterback to do that is Vince Young. That is the type of offense that we will bring to Nippert Stadium each and everyday.
Butch Jones; December 16th, 2009
Wide open, fast paced and no huddle were promised. But only the no huddle came to be. In truth, Butch Jones and Mike Bajakian ran the offense at a pace that was no better or worse than Brian Kelly, and technically slower than the offense that unreasonably maligned former offensive coordinator Don Treadwell.
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Over nine seasons and 113 games three different coaches and offensive staffs managed to all average between 69 and 71 snaps per game. Which is rather strange, considering just how different the offenses of those eras proved to be. The only one who really promised to push the offensive pace was Jones, and he wound up being slower than the rest.
There are a few reasons for this. For a start depth was never where Butch Jones wanted it to be, so that he could run at his Central Michigan pace, which was much, much faster than anything he did at Cincinnati. The reason why Bajakian never ran at a fast enough pace for my liking is that they slowed things down at odd times in a drive. A common occurrence of the Jones era would be for a big gain to be followed immediately slowing the tempo down to make sure the next play was perfect. It was far too micro managed for my liking.
Which brings me to this year. Very little has been mentioned on this subject in the off season. Mostly because Eddie Gran is supposed to be bringing a "pro style" offense to this team, and "pro style" offenses are, by definition, slow and methodical. Or so goes the prevailing wisdom on meaningless labels.
But if you look at the staff, look up the stats and do the math a different picture reveals itself. The offenses that Blake Rolan, Darrin Hinshaw, Darren Hiller and Tyson Helton ran before they were brought to UC by Eddie Gran averaged 75 snaps a game. Gran brought these guys here because he wants to incorporate something that they have done before, and that includes the pace at which they play. Taking Grans numbers from FSU out of the equation the number is 78.
My guess is that Eddie Gran ends up shooting for about 80 offensive snaps a game which is fast, probably the fastest a UC team has ever played if it comes to that. There some reasons for that.
1) it is beyond question that playing at a faster pace results in playing against simpler defenses. The greatest advantage a defense has is its ability to disguise their schemes, to complicate the picture for the offensive line and, most important of all, the quarterback. Pushing the pace prevents a defense from disguising their looks because more time is spent aligning the defense against the offense. If a defense can barely line up they can't very well bluff the offense.
2) The Bearcats have a couple of players who can line up in a variety of positions without losing effectiveness. Ralph David Abernathy IV is the most prescient example. As a total hypothetical the Bearcats could go two backs with Tion Green and RDA4 with Anthony McClung, Chris Moore and Alex Chisum. The defense has to counter with a nickel defense. At which point RDA4 is shifted to receiver, and matched up with a poor, poor linebacker, instant advantage for the offense. But the offense has to continue at a pace fast enough that the defense can't substitute to change the match ups. That is another inherent advantage of a faster paced offense.
3) The depth is better now than it was at any point in the Butch Jones era, particularly on the offensive line. If UC is able to rely on some of the back ups like Kevin Schloemer, Andre Cureton and whoever winds up on the wrong side of the Kory Keebler vs. Parker Ehringer battle at right tackle for a couple series a game they will be able to stay fresh all game long, despite playing more snaps. Add in the fact that there is not just one guy at running back, and that receiver goes 7 or 8 deep and playing faster makes a ton of sense,
With this group of players I expect Eddie Gran to try to push the pace often. I don't think UC is going to be running at anything close to the pace that Marshall had last year, but I do think the Bearcats will play as fast as any UC team in recent history, and that could make the difference between an above average offense, which is what the Bearcats were under Jones, and a great one, to which all teams aspire.