How a shake-up on offense at Wisconsin and Purdue might
Adam Rittenberg, ESPN
- Senior Citizen WriterAug 22, 2023, 07:00 AM ET Close College football reporter.
- Signed up with ESPN.com in 2008.
- Graduate of Northwestern University.Shortly before his death in
December, Mississippi State coach Mike Leach talked with Phil Longo about Longo landing the Wisconsin offensive coordinator job.According to Longo, Leach was delighted his Air Raid offense– the transcendent scheme he assisted launch years previously– would lastly reach the Big 10 after affecting every other significant conference. Longo has actually utilized the offense while hopscotching the college ranks, most just recently as a planner at Ole Miss and North Carolina. He has actually seen the Air Raid work in a range of settings, but not the one behind his current office window: Camp Randall Arena, home to the historically run-heavy Wisconsin Badgers.For thirty years, the Badgers have actually won with effective backs raking behind giant offending linemen on clock-eating
drives. The Air Raid, marked by quick pace, receiver-heavy sets and passing predisposition, could not be more different from what the Badgers have done. The first time Wisconsin gets the ball Sept. 2 versus Buffalo will mark a watershed of sorts for the program, its fans and the Big 10. “It’ll be a bit of a culture shock, however ideally [fans] enjoy it, “Longo stated.
“If we’re scoring points, I think they’ll enjoy it. If we’re winning games, they’ll enjoy it. You have your old-school lovers that do not want modification, but there seems to be a big part of the Wisconsin contingent that has actually been waiting for a change. “The seismic shift at Wisconsin is the most visible relocation for a Big Ten offending landscape
whose plates are beginning to rattle. Wisconsin is one of 2 Big 10 programs bringing the Air Raid to the league for the first time this season. Purdue will utilize it under brand-new coach Ryan Walters and offending organizer Graham Harrell, a record-setting quarterback for Leach at Texas Tech. Both groups brought in transfer quarterbacks from Texas– Wisconsin’s Tanner Mordecai( SMU )and Purdue’s Hudson Card (Texas)– to lead the units.Wisconsin and Purdue heading an offensive shake-up that might be exactly what the Big 10 needs. Considering that 2015, the year after the Big 10
‘s last national title, the league has actually had only 2 offenses rank in the leading 25 in scoring( No. 2 Ohio State, No. 17 Michigan ), just one(No. 2 Ohio State)in the leading 48 in lawns per game, and just two in the leading 30 in anticipated points added (No. 3 Ohio State, No. 24 Michigan). Editor’s Picks 2 Associated Big 10 defenses, on the other hand, have actually prospered during the very same span. Five rank amongst the leading 11 in least
points enabled and five are in the top eight in anticipated points included. But just how much of the protective success is tied to the offenses they normally deal with? Perhaps more considerable: Are Huge Ten offenses adequately preparing their defenses for the College Football Playoff? Michigan was a top-five defense in points and yards enabled going into the CFP, while Ohio State was in the leading 15 in both classifications. The 2 permitted 79 offending points (TCU had two protective touchdowns)and 1,021 lawns in narrow playoff losses to TCU and Georgia.”Unless you’re playing Ohio State, you’re not going to get direct exposure to offenses like that,”a Power 5 defensive organizer outside the Big 10 told ESPN.”Michigan only plays Ohio State when. 6 Huge 10 groups are in the leading 25 defense-wise. Yeah, well a great deal of that is because there’s only one or two offenses in the top 25. “Now it type of make good sense, when you start translucenting some of the layers. “More offending innovation will show up in 2024 with the expansion additions of USC, UCLA, Oregon and
Washington. All four groups ranked amongst the nation’s top 6 offenses in 2022, while the existing Big 10 produced simply one top-20 offense(No. 9 Ohio State)and two in the top 30 (No. 24 Michigan)last season.”We need to have had Michigan and Ohio State in the [national] championship game, so certainly, we’re right there,”Indiana coach Tom Allen stated.”Generating a team like USC, you just take a look at how they hire
and the talent they have, it’s unique. Now you’ve got another team that’s going to have that SEC-type skill. UCLA’s not that far behind. That part helps us.” We’ve got to be able to have the athletes. You get exposed way too quickly if you don’t. That’s been the knock in the past, and it’s gradually altering.” Both Huge Ten groups presenting Air Raid offenses to the league this fall are led by head coaches with backgrounds on defense and
success within the conference. Wisconsin’s Luke Fickell played for John Cooper at Ohio State and then showed up as a Buckeyes protective assistant under Jim Tressel. From 2002 to 2010, Fickell assisted develop defenses to match Ohio State offenses that flaunted normal Big 10 traits– run-based, methodical, frequently conservative but efficient since of elite personnel.After going 4-8 in his first season as a head coach at Cincinnati, Fickell chose to pivot from his football roots. Then, another discovery came.”To alter from the Jim Tressel [approach] to be more aggressive, to do some things on fourth [down], we needed to do that at
Cincinnati, however then I realized, I do not know that I’m thrilled about remaining and constantly doing the important things, the exact same things you’ve constantly done,”Fickell stated.
“I want to win more than anything. A part of the advancement is not a bad thing. “ play 5:10 Is this the year Ohio State stumbles?Daily Wager breaks down the Big 10 and whether this is the year Ohio State falls, plus they look at win totals for various groups in the conference.Walters spent the past 2 seasons surveying Huge 10 offenses as Illinois’defensive planner. In 2022, Illinois led the nation in scoring defense(12.8 PPG allowed). But when Walters landed his first head-coaching job at Purdue, he selected a scheme that he had not truly seen in the league.”Philosophically, the basic thesis of the conference is: Control the clock, don’t
turn the ball over, limit ownerships and try to win the game in the 4th quarter, which equals success and that’s been proven,”Walters told ESPN.” But in today’s college football world, you see there are other methods to win games. Undoubtedly, I still am a protective guy and the goal is to keep points off the board, however I do wish to be aggressive on offense and require the concern.”Bret Bielema has actually observed Big Ten offenses for the majority of his adult life: as an Iowa defensive lineman, as a young Hawkeyes protective assistant, as Wisconsin’s defensive planner and head coach, and now as head coach at Illinois. Bielema followed Barry Alvarez at Wisconsin and continued using a run-heavy, clock-control, power-based style on offense. He saw the method result in overall group success, not only at Wisconsin, which won three straight Huge 10 championships under his watch, however at other programs like Iowa, Northwestern, Minnesota and, most recently, Michigan. Not remarkably, he’s taking the exact same technique at Illinois, which last fall leaned on Chase Brown, the country’s No. 4 rusher and No. 2 brings leader.Bielema has actually classified Big 10 offenses into those committed to comparable plans and principles, which seldom change much from year to year, and those who diversify. He’s also familiar with the major shake-up coming.”Wisconsin, in specific, you go from one extreme to the other, “he told ESPN.”That was a pro-style offense that was quite old-school, and now you’re going to
have this offense that is totally different from anything they’ve ever done. That’s a premier group in the league, so a huge difference.”A fresh method most likely was required at Wisconsin, which ranked 90th nationally in scoring and 103rd in offensive plays of 10 lawns or longer during the previous two seasons. The program has been undoubtedly constant, however with an expanded CFP coming in 2024, Wisconsin had to show it might keep up on the scoreboard.During Longo’s four seasons as North Carolina’s OC, the team ranked fifth nationally in
backyards per play, 6th in lawns per game and 12th in scoring. Last season, quarterback Drake Maye progressed under Longo, setting single-season records for passing yards(4,321 )and conclusions(342) while cementing himself as a top possibility for the 2024 NFL draft.Longo’s version of the Air Raid isn’t precisely like Leach’s. He has had numerous 1,000-yard running backs and productive tight ends, two positions Wisconsin historically includes on offense.Still, the Madison makeover has actually drawn uncertainty, from both within and outside the league. Several coaches and protective organizers informed ESPN they question whether the system will operate at a school that has hired a particular method for years. A defensive organizer called Longo”among the strangest hires”
he had seen in the Big Ten. A Big 10 coach questioned if Wisconsin’s defense, amongst the country’s finest, would have a more difficult time getting ready for the Big 10 offenses it generally sees after practicing daily
versus the Air Raid.Longo has heard everything previously.”There might be those that don’t believe we can run it in this league, maybe, “he stated.” It’s been proven to be run practically anywhere. That’s what the [Kansas City] Chiefs are doing right now. I look at the Chiefs, and I seem like I’m viewing our offense. There’s so much overlap. “This system is really a part of what everyone’s doing today.” Get your favorite live sports, stories and originals with ESPN+, Disney+and Hulu. Upgrade to a Disney Package plan and start streaming something for everybody today! The Air Raid’s arrival is the current stage in what Big 10 coaches consider a tiny offending renaissance, regardless of the league’s middling national representation.Former Purdue coach Jeff Brohm brought aggressiveness and development to the conference
, producing 3 wins over AP top-three challengers, 6 top-25 passing offenses
in the past 7 years(three in the leading 15)and a West Department champion last season, prior to leaving for Louisville. Maryland coach Mike Locksley, who coordinated top-10 hurrying offenses early in his career at Illinois, supervised the nation’s No. 13 pass offense in 2021 and returns one of the nation’s most knowledgeable quarterbacks this season in Taulia Tagovailoa.
Locksley pertained to Maryland from Alabama, where he spent 2017 and 2018 in an organizer role.”Some of the branding that the Big 10 had– of being run-the-ball and I-formation– are over-exaggerated,”Locksley informed ESPN.”It’s not your mom’s old Big 10. There’s a lots of groups in this league that understand how to throw the ball, that spread you out, that have fun with speed and pace. I don’t see a big distinction [with the SEC], having actually remained in both leagues, from an offensive viewpoint. What we do on offense, it’s the very same thing Alabama is doing, the same thing that Georgia is doing.”There are likewise more traditional Huge Ten offensive plans that just recently have elevated their
production, namely Michigan, which has actually bulldozed its way to successive league titles behind a hurrying attack that ranks No. 8 nationally considering that 2021. The Wolverines are No. 7 in scoring during the span.Nebraska is attempting to recover its offensive roots under brand-new coach Matt Rhule, specifically along the line of scrimmage, after a schematic pivot under Scott Frost never materialized. Penn State and Minnesota are attempting to open up their passing games with brand-new quarterbacks– Drew Allar and Athan Kaliakmanis– while preserving a strong structure on the ground. “Modification is inescapable,
“Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck stated.” You can have customs of this school utilized to do this, however that’s why the words’used to’are there, since you’re continuously evolving, you’re continuously changing. Even us. Your identity and your belief as a football coach? I do not know if that necessarily changes. However you can adapt to how the game is altering and what your team is going to need to do to win more.”