Would the people who said that Kevin Sumlin and Kliff Kingsbury’s up tempo offense wouldn’t work in the SEC please step forward. With the body of work that Sumlin and his offensive staff have put together this season, it’s now safe to say that statement could not have been more wrong.
In their first year in the new league, under a new coaching staff with a very different offensive approach, Texas A&M’s offense has improved in every offensive statistic since 2011. The Aggies rank in the top 18 in rushing offense (13th – 243 ypg), passing offense (18th – 303 ypg), total offense (5th – 545 ypg) and scoring offense (4th – 43 ppg). All of those stats surpass what they were able to accomplish last season under Mike Sherman and his staff in their fourth season (and they were no slouch on offense last year by any means).
Those numbers aren’t far off from what Sumlin and Kingsbury (who was our 2011 FootballScoop offensive coordinator of the year) helped engineer last season at Houston where they led the country in passing offense, total offense, and scoring offense.
When people said that the up tempo, “Air Raid” approach wouldn’t work in the SEC, I flashed back to watching Houston play multiple times throughout the 2011 season where I caught myself wondering, “Can anyone stop these guys?”
Kingsbury’s offensive success over the past two seasons has hinged on keeping things simple and allowing their guys to play fast, while (most importantly) getting players to play with confidence within the scheme..
“That’s by design. We’re better off having 11 guys knowing what to do on offense and the guys we’re playing against knowing what we’re going to do, than having two or three guys (on offense) knowing exactly what we’re going to do and it being real fancy or complicated.” Sumlin explained to the Houston Chronicle.
Sumlin also noted that the logic behind being with players for just 20 hours a week factored into their offensive scheme, as opposed to tyring to install and execute a complicated pro style scheme. They don’t hand out a playbook, instead they focus on perfecting a handful of plays that players easily remember and can eventually execute in their sleep.
“In the NFL, there’s a lot more time. You have to use your time wisely, and it’s hard to do that with a real thick playbook.”
The staff believes that if you can get your guys to play fast without analyzing things, you’ll end up with a better product on game day, which is something that Kingsbury learned firsthand playing under Mike Leach.
“It’s a belief that if you can get them to play faster and not think as much and let them use their natural abilities the best they can, then you’re going to have a better product. We’d have so many repetitions, and he (Leach) would say, ‘They’re going to know it’s coming, and they’re still not going to be able to stop you.'”
That feeling of confidence on the field as a player is extremely empowering, and that makes calls a whole easier to to make from the sideline when you’ve got really good players executing with confidence.