I need a favor.
Put everything you know, think you know or could ever venture to assume about UConn offensive football from your mind, before we talk about it at length.
Now, answer this question:
If you were driving an old Volkswagen that’s best features included predictably low horsepower and a crappy cassette player but you could trade her in for a newer, smooth Mustang, would you do it?
If “yes”, you are likely amongst those who are logically very content with the big Husky hire made last January, positioning T.J. Weist as the new offensive coordinator. `
If not, congratulations. You’ve officially become the founder and first-ever member of the “We love offense by George DeLeone” club.
In either instance, it’s time to realize that this critical ride for UConn football, and head coach Paul Pasqualoni, begins and very well could end with Weist’s teaching of his new Mustang playbook. Years from now, we should come to recognize Weist’s hiring as either the first of many staff changes made, or the initial moment Husky football rebounded into relevance.
Yet today, we have absolutely no clue as to which it will be.
So, as we all bleed, but more accurately sweat, blue through these empty summer months, let me tell you what the spring game didn’t, UConn football brethern won’t, and local writers can’t: Specifically, what you can expect from Weist and the structure of the new UConn attack.
Now, let’s be clear. No soul can tell you with certainty how well the Huskies’ offense, or team for that matter, will perform in 2013. Therefore, I will not waste anyone’s time by trying to tell you two months from opening kickoff, whether or not the team will score lots of points and win some games.
Instead, by the end of this piece you will simply be able to speak to a much greater degree about Weist and the attack he’s installing in Storrs, beyond “he runs a spread offense”.
I need another favor.
Kindly return everything you know, think you know, or could ever venture to assume about all offensive football to your mind. And from here on out, stay with me.
So, let’s start with those things that we know.
For the last two seasons, the UConn offense has sucked; worse than fake-tans, sub-tweets and sadly, any recent Adam Sandler production.
How do we know this? Well, outside of the general population’s depressed reaction to the unit every week, this is how we know:
Out of the 120 FBS schools, UConn was statistically amongst the worst dozen offensive teams in 2011 and 2012. The running attack resided in the bottom fourth of the country for yards gained over both seasons, registering 117th last year. The Huskies are a team that prides itself on running and keeping the football. Once the books closed last December, the Huskies were 110th in turnover margin.
Turn the page to this September.
In general, people expect Weist to run a spread, up-tempo offense. This expectation has led UConn fans to believe he will open things up with a new pass attack and thus, shut the door on the past dumpster fires of the DeLeone era.
This is at least half-true. I’ll tell you why in a moment.
Next, we suppose this because at present time most have learned that Weist served as the wide receivers coach at Cincinnati for the last three years, where they ran a no-huddle, spread system. Husky fans should recall as that Bearcat offense has directly stopped UConn from making the post-season both years of the Pasqualoni era.
Finally, the players involved in the 2013 reproduction of Husky O are a familiar cast of characters: quarterback Chandler Whitmer, running back Lyle McCombs, a receiving group that boats little depth or playmaking and an experienced offensive line returning all five starters.
Thus, as much as everyone involved would love this new system and these desperate times to produce a ton of points, Weist and co. still have to cook with what’s in the cupboard. And given its recent history, it looks like no matter the recipe, we’re still a season or two away before anyone is putting out any serious offensive explosions.
So, what does the future hold?
Speaking strictly aesthetically, the first thing you’ll see is the lack of huddling. The Huskies, for the most part, just won’t do it. Instead, they’ll look to the sideline for playcalls, make fluid substitutions and move quickly to the next line of scrimmage. The scheme will be much more aggressive than its predecessor in this way and also in the way it will attack with formations. Weist will spread out UConn foes with multiple receivers and use the remaining time on the play clock to decide whether they should run against fewer defenders in the box or throw.
Tomorrow, I'll take a deeper look at some X's and O's to infer what this will look like on the field. The core philosophy has changed, but the personnel will be the same... so how will that play out?
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