After losing four of their first six games, the offensive staff at Middle Tennessee State decided that some change needed to be made in order to turn their season around.
The staff decided that the changes needed to start with their offensive playbook, so following their third straight loss to North Texas, they "cut everything" and have rolled with a playbook of just three plays ever since, rolling off five straight wins to finish 8-4.
“We cut everything, and we have stuck with that plan,” offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner told The Daily News Journal. “I wish we could’ve figured that out a couple games earlier. We probably got ahead of ourselves putting too much in. But give the kids credit. We have won five straight.”
“We have run only three run plays the last five games. We just did them out of multiple formations.
To make that kind of sacrifice is one thing, but the numbers that MTSU has put up since making that decision are fascinating:
During the five game win streak the Blue Raiders have:
- averaged 523 yards
- average of 43 points per game
- scored on 23 of 25 trips inside the red zone (including 17 touchdowns)
- averaged 273 rushing yards and 250 passing yards per game
- allowed just 1 sack
- produced 240+ rushing yards in every game
As a playcaller, Faulkner explained how the thinned out playbook benefitted them over the past five weeks and helped to put them in the position they're in now; just waiting to hear their bowl placement.
“We have been more balanced. Our screen game has been a lot better the last four or five weeks. And I could be wrong, but I don’t think we have taken a sack in the last five weeks. All those things go together. We eliminated negative plays, we have stayed ahead of the chains, continued to do pretty good on third down and finished drives the last five games. Our red-zone percentage has gotten better.”
It's that time of year. Time to take a look at your playbook and decide what should stay, and what should go. While Middle Tennessee's results aren't typical (and results will definitely vary), it does make you want to take a long, hard look at your playbook with a large trash can, or white-out nearby.