Top 5 Things State Needs this Year; #5: Better Offensive Play Calling

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Over the past couple of years it seems as though the offensive play-calling for MSU has slowly deteriorated. It may just be trying to fit Tyler Russell into a spread offense, it may be Les Koenning and Dan Mullen aren’t on the same page, it may be lack of creativity – whatever it is, there is room for improvement.

It’s true that State is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Tyler Russell is a pro-style type of quarterback; a drop back passer who operates from the pocket. And in a spread option attack that has featured a mobile quarterback in past years under Mullen’s guidance, it seemed to have some hiccups last year.

But it’s more than just the type of offense that is being run. As long as players execute the plays as they are meant to be run, there are enough plays in the playbook to suit Russell’s strengths. It’s also about play-calling. Sequence of plays and types of plays that are being run.

Where’s the screen pass? This is a great play that we hardly ever use. LaDarius Perkins – perfect candidate to excel with a screen pass.

Play sequence seems like it doesn’t flow very well. Sometimes I wonder if we are just playing pin the tail on the donkey with the play card. Who is calling the plays? Is Keonning planning 3-4 plays ahead and Mullen vetos one and he has to start back over again? Who will call the plays this year? To be honest, I’d like to see Mullen take the reigns full time. Spurrier does it, you know Malzahn will do it, Richt used to do it.

What we’ve heard out of training camp is more plays under center. This will be something entirely new for Russell as he’s been a shotgun QB since his high school days running the spread offense. But with a veteran offensive line, good tight ends and a solid stable of RBs, why not use some pro-sets. If Russell is under center more than 1 out of every 5 plays I’d be surprised, but it gives the defense a little different look, and may suit Tyler better.

The Bulldogs have a versatile group of athletes on offense. This should be an offensive coordinators dream scenario…

  • 2 different kinds of quarterbacks – pocket passer (Russell) and mobile (Prescott)
  • 4 tailbacks with experience – one a scat back with strength (Perkins), a bowling ball (Robinson), speed (Milton) and an all-around back (Griffin)
  • Experienced O-line – 4.5 returning starters with 98 career starts between them including 1st team all-SEC LG Gabe Jackson
  • Good TE – Malcolm Johnson will be among the best in the SEC, Brandon Hill will be solid two – six TE on the roster
  • All kinds of WR – the quick (Lewis), the fast (Holloway), the reliable (RoJo), the highly touted (Fred Ross), the tall (Joe Morrow), the extra tall (DeRunnya Wilson), the good-sized Juco (Chappelle)

One thing that hurt State last year was the holes Chris Wilson’s bend but don’t

break defense put them in. When you’re starting deep in your own territory there’s just not much of the playbook you can open up. Hopefully that will change a little this year and allow for a more aggressive approach from the offense as well.

There are plenty of weapons on this side of the ball. Experience at WR is a question mark, but hopefully it will come around enough so it doesn’t put a damper on what plays Koenning and Mullen want to call. But good, solid play calling will be needed this year to get on the board against a SEC West loaded with good defense.