The Gamecocks 2016 offense is a mystery. This is so because the Co-Offensive coordinators @CoachBmac_ and @CoachKurtRoper bring a blend of contrasting styles.
McClendon coached on Mark Richt’s staff at Georgia. Georgia ran a pro-style, balanced offense. Roper and Pat Washington (tight ends coach) came from spread offenses. Shawn Elliott (offensive line) loves the read option and coached years under Spurrier. Head Coach @CoachWMuschamp coached the 2015 season under Gus Malzahn, self-proclaimed creator of the “Hurry up, no huddle.” This mix of coaches brings a lot of experience with diverse offensive styles. It begs the question. In which direction will the Gamecock offense go?
I’m just guessing here, but I think the Gamecocks will try to run a smash mouth spread attack such as is used by Urban Myer, Dan Mullen, or Malzahn. I’m betting the 2016 Gamecocks offense will want to establish ball control. I think Muschamp wants his offense to be a physical and use clock. The longer the Gamecocks control the ball on offense, the less time the defense is on the field getting tired and worn down. I think the offense will throw passes. But my guess most of the passing will be short and quick, basically an extension of the running game.
Gamecock tight-end Hayden Hurst provided insight into how the tight ends fit into the Gamecocks 2016 offensive system during the spring practices.
We’re all over the formation. Sometimes we’re in the wing. Sometimes we’re split out wide. Sometimes we’re at fullback. It’s a lot different than last year but I’m excited about it. I love it. I absolutely love it. It’s a vital role [in the offensive scheme]. In practice I would say we’re getting the ball four times per drive. It’s a crucial role.
The comments by Hurst suggested to me that we may see the Gamecocks use the popular inverted veer running play (diagrammed above). The diagram came from an Urban Myer Ohio State playbook. Nunez or McIlwain would be particularly dangerous running the OSU power read play. But I digress . . . .
At #SECMD16, @CoachWMuschamp was asked about Hurst and took the opportunity to discuss why he likes athletic tight ends in his offense:
But a guy that’s got really good ball skills, very mature, obviously, an older player and is a really, really good athlete. He’s going to be a very difficult match-up for people as far as how they want to count him. He’s a guy that can split out and match up on a safety or a linebacker, but can play at the box and block at the point of attack and do some things. He’s a guy that’s very — a wide skill set and he, and K.C. Crosby are both guys I’m excited about at that position.
Not surprisingly, Muschamp is thinking defensively–thinking about the match-up problem players like Hurst and Crosby create for opposing defensive coordinators. If an opposing defensive coordinator puts in an extra linebackers to stop the power running game, Hurst or Crosby might split to the wing or drop into the backfield and threaten to make plays in the quick passing game. If either draws a mismatch against a linebacker in coverage, the odds of completing a deep pass to a tight end improve. At the same time, if the opposing coordinator uses an extra defensive back, the relatively bigger tight ends may shift inside next to the tackle and run-block, helping to open holes for the backs smashing out rushing yardage. Once you have a personnel advantage against the defense, it makes sense for the offense to use the hurry up no huddle attack so it can prevent a defense from substituting.
Hurst and Crosby are potentially good players with exciting upsides for the Gamecocks. Hurst and Crosby are excited because they think athletic and fast tight ends will have a big role in the Gamecocks 2016 offense. It will be interesting to watch them work against Vanderbilt and other SEC opponents in whatever scheme the Gamecocks use in 2016.
Here is a chart of the Gamecocks tight ends: