Sounds like Malzahn’s offense is The Next Big Thing in SEC Land.
“Their scheme they had was significant. Everybody’s looking at it,” Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel said. “That’s what we do. We steal. Everybody steals what other people do.”
It’s not just the scheme that’s attractive; it’s the change of pace.
“There are some really interesting concepts in that offense,” Pinkel said. “Gus was ahead of the change. He was leading the band on that. He did a remarkable job. You’re going to see more of that. I guarantee it.”
Florida, for one, is making a move. After four years of offensive stagnancy, the Gators have pinned their hopes on new coordinator Kurt Roper, who is coming over from Duke after the Blue Devils’ ACC title-game appearance last year.
His offense ran 72.6 plays per game last season, primarily out of the shotgun, and was able to gouge defenses both through the air (3,474 yards) and on the ground (2,492).
Ringing any bells?
“We have the players to make this offense work,” Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel said. “We have offensive line that can block one-on-one. We have running backs and skill position players that can make people miss in space. That’s a word you’re going to hear a lot, is ‘space.’ This offense creates space and, when you get that space, that’s when big plays happen.”
Based on last year’s results, why wouldn’t you be interested?
The Tigers were one of eight SEC teams to see increases in plays per game from 2012 to 2013, and the league as a whole ticked up its average from 68.0 to 69.7.
Six teams — Mississippi, Missouri, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Georgia and Auburn — ran more than 70 plays per game. All but Mississippi State ranked in the top six in the league in total offense.
Correlation ain’t causation, as we all know, but that kind of statistical linkage is going to get attention. If you find that compelling, though, what do you make of this chart compiled by John Pennington?
2013 Defensive Comparison
School Avg. Seconds/Play Avg. Points/Game Allowed (SEC Rank) Texas A&M 21.87 32.2 (14) Ole Miss 22.78 23.7 (7) Missouri 24.17 23.1 (6) Georgia 24.25 29.0 (10) Auburn 25.17 24.7 (9) Tennessee 25.80 29.0 (10) Kentucky 26.04 31.2 (13) Miss. State 27.14 23.0 (5) S. Carolina 27.14 20.3 (2) LSU 27.56 22.0 (4) Vanderbilt 28.08 24.6 (8) Arkansas 28.29 30.8 (12) Alabama 30.22 13.9 (1) Florida 30.70 21.1 (3)
Interesting. Not one of the five fastest offenses ranked among the league’s top seven in terms of points-per-game-allowed. On the flip side, five of the SEC’s most stingy defenses also happened to be paired with offenses that used more time in between snaps.
2012 told much the same story.
2012 Defensive Comparison
Schools Avg. Seconds/Play Avg. Points/Game Allowed (SEC Rank) Texas A&M 21.43 21.8 (7) Tennessee 21.83 35.7 (14) Ole Miss 22.75 27.6 (9) Kentucky 23.51 31.0 (13) Arkansas 24.03 30.4 (12) Missouri 24.83 28.4 (11) Georgia 25.56 19.6 (6) Vanderbilt 26.93 18.7 (5) LSU 27.00 17.5 (3) S. Carolina 27.12 18.2 (4) Miss. State 27.60 23.3 (8) Alabama 30.19 10.9 (1) Florida 30.60 14.5 (2) Auburn 30.68 28.3 (10)
So here’s the question you’ve gotta ask yourself if you’re Will Muschamp: how much of your team’s defensive prowess over the last two seasons was the result of the deliberate pace you set on offense? Because if it turns out that the answer is more than just a little, how are you going to react when your defense gives up more points in the context of a faster paced offensive scheme? (In other words, Pat Dooley raises a fair question in this column of his.)
It’s not just Florida that should be asking how hard to mash the accelerator pedal. Note Georgia’s numbers and consider that we’re told Hutson Mason is more comfortable playing in a faster paced offense than Aaron Murray was.
But also remember ultimately that the participants in the last SECCG were two of the faster paced teams in the SEC, neither of which finished in the top five in scoring offense. Does Boom strike you as the kind of coach who can live with that sort of trade-off? (I’d probably argue that Richt is.)
I don’t have any answers here, except to note that I bet there will be more than a coach or two questioning his approach as the season progresses. That’s probably not a recipe for success in 2014.