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USF offensive scheme veering toward clarity

First-year USF offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert's system is expected to combine a power run game with a vertical passing component.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

First-year USF offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert's system is expected to combine a power run game with a vertical passing component.

16

August

So far, we've seen it only in glimpses, fuzzy snapshots in the form of public scrimmages. All we know for sure is, it's fast, and maybe that's fitting in a way.

Because if we know nothing else about new coordinator Sterlin Gilbert's offense, it's this: It has been a blur.

In 10 days, when the Bulls kick off their most anticipated season ever at San Jose State, we'll finally see the full picture. At that point, all the elements -- the pace, the power, the pass trajectory -- will be revealed.

Until then, we can only draw conclusions based on (A) Gilbert's history, and (B) what little we've seen to this point in practice.

With that in mind, we believe Bulls fans will see a solid likeness of the veer-and-shoot offense.

It's the spread variation Gilbert learned more than a decade ago at the foot of Art Briles, and polished under the employment of current Syracuse coach Dino Babers (at Eastern Illinois and Bowling Green from 2012-14).

As this SB Nation story indicates, the veer-and-shoot differs from other spread schemes in that it's essentially an option offense with a vertical component. A power -- but not necessarily ball-control -- run game lulls defenses to the box, creating mismatches out wide.

And if linebackers get sucked into trying to stop the run, well, tight ends can find themselves quarantined.

Moreover, Gilbert is a proponent of having his players execute without thinking, a process he has termed "mind-muscle memory." Such a philosophy, of course, doesn't lend itself to a thick playbook.

Which might explain why the Bulls have no playbook. Quarterbacks have said Gilbert diagrams a play, and they copy it down themselves.

But there are still other hints. Girth up front is an obvious prerequisite for a power run game, and USF has it.

If the Bulls go with the same starting offensive line they used in Saturday's public scrimmage, they'll average 317.8 pounds across the front -- a slight bump from the average weight (314.4) of the starting five in the 2016 opener.

Quite a sturdy wall behind which Quinton Flowers and D'Ernest Johnson (and other backs) can execute run-pass options (RPOs). Toss in the speed and/or ranginess of receivers such as Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Chris Barr, Deangelo Antoine, DeVontres Dukes, and you see where all this is heading.

Or veering.

[Last modified: Wednesday, August 16, 2017 9:46am]

    

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