Friday, January 05, 2007

What's in an Offensive Coordinator?

As everyone knows we are without an offensive coordinator with the departure of Steve Hagen to North Carolina (who seems to horde all of our coordinators for some reason). However the question I want to pose to all Bulldog fans is will it really matter if we hire someone outstanding as our offensive coordinator? Let's take a look back at the past three offensive coordinators under Pat Hill. The first memorable coordinator was Andy Ludwig who is pictured to the left with Mike Bellotti. Ludwig had the opportunity to coach David Carr and was given relatively free reign to run the offense. This would also be the last time Fresno State had any type of an open offense that featured both the passing and running games as a viable offensive option. Ludwig served as coordinator from 1998-2001. Ludwig would move on to Oregon where he would run the Ducks offense into the ground.

Fresno State countered losing Ludwig by hiring the New Orleans Saints QB coach Frank Cignetti. Cignetti took over an offense without David Carr but still had Bernard Berrian. Unfortunately this also seems to be the time where Pat Hill began to take over the offense. It would be here where the run first mentality was born. Fresno State would win at least eight games in each season that Cignetti ran the offense. However the offense entered into it's so called "Vanilla" phase where it currently sits today. Mike Price of UTEP after defeating the Bulldogs 24-21 in 2004 called the offense as predictable as any offense he had seen up to that point in his career. As Bulldog fans we all know that Price was not that far off base to make a statement such as this. With the amount of talent the Bulldogs put on the field year after year a three game losing streak should never occur and it continually happened during the tenure of Cignetti. Cignetti's term as offensive coordinator would lead to the run-run-pass offense that Fresno State currently operates under today.

Although Cignetti's offense was termed vanilla it still prospered for the most part at Fresno State. In 2004 Fresno State scored over fifty points in four straight games tying an NCAA scoring record. At the same time the Bulldogs finished 9-3 and ranked in the top 25. In 2005 the Bulldogs started 8-1 and took the Trojans down to the wire in a 50-42 loss. Unfortunately win number eight would be the Bulldogs last win with Cignetti as their offensive coordinator. He would depart for North Carolina in the offseason beginning the tenure of Steve Hagen. Hagen only lasted one season with the Bulldogs as he led an anemic offense to a disappointing 4-8 record. Hagen's offense lacked creativity and would feature a run first, run second, and run third mindset. Teams would stack nine men in the box yet the Bulldogs would continue to run. Hagen also departed Fresno State to take over the offensive coordinator duties at North Carolina. So where does this leave the Bulldogs with respect to the new coordinator duties?

In this blogger's opinion it does not matter who Hill hires as our coordinator, our offense will look the exact same as it has the past four seasons. Hill has repeatedly tried to dumb down the offense so the players can understand it better. While I can say I am not the biggest fan of trick plays, there is no way Boise or Hawaii's offense has ever been dumbed down. In order for Fresno State to compete in the WAC in the future Hill will have to hire a coordinator and give him the offensive duties with near free reign as he did with Ludwig. Whether that happens or not will remain to be seen as this coordinator search has taken far longer than anyone could have imagined. You have to figure Hill will go for an NFL guy as he always seems to value the NFL tough man attitude. Unfortunately college football is about gimmick offenses and finding your niche as an offense together. Hawaii is successful because they have the players to execute their offense. Boise State is successful for the very same reasons. Even Nevada has an offense with their own flavor to it. Fresno State must find an identity on offense because the pro style does not work in college football. Regardless I have a feeling our next offensive coordinator is already at Fresno State and has been for the past ten years. I just hope he opens up the offense some because if he doesn't the 2007 team has no Dwayne Wright to fall back on.


Anonymous said...

That's a really good post on your part. I would only add, by saying that if this offense doesn't change, we will see two things. The Bulldogs getting worse, and we will no longer see this team recruiting top notch QB's for which we were becoming accustomed to...Chris

nsc said...

Well Chris to be honest with you I already feel like the top notch QB's have stopped looking at the Bulldogs. I think they stray away because they know the offense has very little passing involved and unlike the days of Dilfer-Volek-Carr there is no way a QB is going to be playing on Sundays if they attend Fresno State.

I just dont see Hill changing the offense because he is not that creative to do so. I wish he were but that would be living in a pipedream and as we all know I live in Fresno.

MB said...

Solid post, Chris and you both make a good comment that how is recruiting on the offensive side of the ball going to go as far as it pertains to skill position players?

Would you come to FSU knowing you would be the 3rd WR at this point knowing the run first, second, and third too philosophy of coach Hill?

There is so much to prove and riding on this upcoming season I dont think many out there quite realize it. Also, while the landscape of CFB has changes as far as base offensive formations and also in philosophy, the Bulldogs seem destined to continue to "stay the course" and do it Pats way.

nsc said...

I don't see any incentive in attending Fresno State as either a QB or a WR. We have no passing offense and if that is going to continue players such as the Paul Williams types will come to Fresno State and disappear. We all want Chastin West to be the next great receiver at this school but we do not have the offensive production to warrant that happening.

The Bulldogs coaching is mired in the type of thought process that will never prosper in today's college football world. Innovation and creativeness is what works in the college football world. I am not saying run Boise's offense, we just can't do that. However, stretch the safeties out, open up the middle and start throwing the slants that every college football team allows you to throw. Take what the other team gives you and if that is the passing game then take advantage of it. By air or ground a win is a win and in Fresno we just want the team to win.

Anonymous said...

Last time I checked we had David Carr, Paul Pinegar, Billy Volek and Trent Dilfer still in the NFL so I think the tradition of acquiring good QB will continue. The Dogs get a lot of TV attention but that is a double edged sword. This last season turned off a lot of prospects and Hill has to make things right by securing a great offensive Coordinator and let the O.C. run the offense,period.If he decides to run the offense, his days at Fresno State are numbered.
MR.Hill,Hire great minds and let them give you all the credit by doing their job right. Don't do an "Al Davis" to the Dogs, Mr.Hill.

nsc said...

Pinegar was cut by the Jags so he is not in the NFL anymore. Yeah we had Carr, Volek, and Dilfer but now we have Brandstater and Colburn. You tell me where you see NFL talent in these two guys? One has never played a college down and the other threw 13 td's and 14 int's last season after being in the program for two years prior to this season. We have one two star QB coming in and another that is not ranked. Hmmm, sounds like a couple of top flight QB's to me.

bulldog1 said...

I also think we have been pretty QB rich. Of the four mentioned, Only Carr as highly recruited. Recall Cal wanted Dilfer to play tight end. I think Hill's recent comment about not developing the QB's properly last year is pretty telling. Hopefully, this will be reversed with a new OC.

As to the OC position, what about Birk Koetter of AS? I believe he is still looking for a gig and could be a great help to us. Unlikely he sticks around for long but his offenses have been very solid and imaginative. Any thoughts on Sarkisian(SP?) of USC or Trestmen at NC State?

Has anyone heard of a front runner?

Anonymous said...

As I posted on the BB: Our current QB status showcases just how far we have fallen in talent, reddiness, and expectation. Knowing we were going to lose our starter to graduation, the much-ballyhooed talent evaluation and recruiting ability of PH provided: Tom Brandstater.

I am sure TB is a nice young man--he seems like it, and that IS a valuable trait--but for our QB we need a take-charge, cool and collected, leader able to read defenses and then exploit them. That requires talent, preparation, and "intangibles." Moreover, with two years of heir-apparent status under his belt, TB should have displayed these traits LAST year, if he had them. After the San Jose State game, it should have been apparent to PH that he does not.

Instead, Hill blames others (Fresno Bee article): OC, receivers, etc. for our current QB mess. QB reddiness is one aspect of the game that must be paid attention to. When PH implies that our OC did not do his job, he is misplacing the blame; it should be his responsibility to insure that we have a proper QB reddy for the task. After all, PH takes credit for the winners (see David Carr).

To the point: With our QB fall-from-grace following DC's departure, our QB recruiting will now have to rely on 1 and 2 star recruits with big dreams, and Fresno State will have to hope to get lucky (no, not THAT kind of lucky). Our "Quarterback U" identity is gone.

Steve Burnes

Anonymous said...

put bear in at QB