Questions arose regarding Dan Enos’ offensive philosophy when he was named head coach of the CMU football team in January.
Having come from Michigan State, where he served as running backs coach in a system where the pass and run scheme was more balanced than at CMU, some wondered how much of a change would take place with the offense.
Would he continue a spread offensive philosophy that relies on a dual-threat quarterback in the shotgun, or completely overhaul the style that brought prominence to CMU football?
Instead, his staff has used spring practices to try and blend the two, implementing speed and size in an attempt to deviate from previous CMU coaching staffs.
While the quarterbacks have been lining up in the shotgun in practice, similar to previous seasons, there has been a heavy emphasis this spring on taking snaps from under center.
“We have a lot of both of those in our system,” Enos said. “I’ve always felt that being underneath center makes you more aware of your feet and gives you a better sense of balance with a quarterback. A lot of times, when guys are only in the shotgun, they kind of float around a little bit rather than being distinct on their drops for timing purposes.”
MAKING THE ADJUSTMENT
Sophomore quarterback Ryan Radcliff, now in his third year with the team after being redshirted his freshman year, is one of the quarterbacks and returning players that have had to change their approach with the new coaching staff and system.
Radcliff played in seven games and took 21 snaps last season. While he is the frontrunner for the starting quarterback position heading into next season, Radcliff said he has had some difficulty picking up the terminology.
“It’s been quite a learning experience, but I feel pretty comfortable,” he said. “I definitely have a long ways to go before I have it down and perfected. As far as getting signals and being able to regurgitate it back to the team, things have come a long way.”
Enos said he also hopes to implement more of a presence from the running backs and tight ends in future years, something former coaches Butch Jones (2007-09) and Brian Kelly (2004-06) shied away from during their time at CMU.
Former quarterback Dan LeFevour led the team in rushing over the past three seasons under Jones’ tempo-paced spread offense, geared toward getting down the field and scoring as quickly as possible.
Three running backs and three tight ends were in Enos’ incoming recruiting class, an attempt at adding depth and size at both positions, something the team currently lacks, he said.
In addition to running plays with three or four wide receivers like fans have become accustomed to in recent years, the staff wants to implement and use two-back sets.
“There will be a spread, but we’ll be multiple — that’s the best thing I can tell people,” he said. “We want to be able to do it all. Our system is such where we can run all the plays from all the different personnel groupings.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Cummings said the new playbook, featuring a lot of plays and a fast pace, is similar to the systems used by Jones and Kelly — something, he said, the players like.
“We’re not that different than what’s been done here in the past, but we’re more multiple in what we do in terms of formation and personnel groups,” Cummings said.