Northwestern State is an FCS school that has had some past successes, but has been mired in medicriaty for the last 5 or so years. To remedy that, the administration went out and got Jay Thomas, the former head coach at Nicholls State. Thomas lost the Nicholls State job in part because his teams struggled to score. Here is the scoring average of Thomas's teams during his six year tenure.
Over six years his teams scored, on average, 23.9 points a game. It is very hard to play winning football with that kind of scoring output. It is not surprising that Thomas went out and got someone to run his offense for him. He picked Robby Brown, a former Georgia Tech QB turned rising coaching star. Only 32 Brown, has an impressive CV. He worked with Tony Franklin at Troy, and with David Dean at Valdosta State.
Dean is really interesting to me. He is an heir to the legacy of Hal Mumme and Mike Leach, both at Valdosta State from 1992-96, but his connection is through Chris Hatcher, a second generation air raider who broke into the profession at Kentucky when Mumme, Leach and Franklin were lighting conventions on fire for fun.
While Valdosta State is associated with the classical period of the Air Raid, what brown did a year ago had more in common with second gen air raiders like Dana Holgorsen. They passed the ball often and accurately, but their balance was what was excellent. They ended the year ranked in the top 25 nationally in rushing offense, and passing efficiency, averaging 200+ yards per game on the ground, and through the air.
One way in which they did that was by exploiting mismatches with their formations. This will be the rare post that involves many plays, rather than a specific one. Check out this series, all run from the same formation with the same personnel.
That is, in order, snag to the trips side with a slugo to the back; spot to the trips quick slant to the back, buck sweep, buck sweep, inverted veer*. Thats five concepts being run with the same personnel, give or take a running back, with enormous effectiveness.
*albeit with a terrible read from the quarterback.
Its simple looking back on it, but the simplicity is what makes it difficult to defend. In Football it is far more important to look complex than it is to actually be complex. In games so much emphasis is placed on the pre snap, because that is easy to observe and analyze. The best offenses look complex before the snap, but are devilishly simple after it. Auburn rode the principal, and a transcendent talent, to a national championship in 2010.
Northwestern State is an FCS school, and an average to below average one at that. Knocking on wood, they don't have the athletes to match up with UC. But this game will be interesting, strategically. There is simply no one else on the schedule who will stress the Bearcats defense in the particular way Northwestern State will