Air Raid offenses explode in bowl games

IF THE FOUR bowl games featuring a version of the Air Raid offense Mike Leach is bringing to Pullman told us anything, it was this…

The scoreboard operators for Coug games are going to be getting a workout.

Even with a month or more to prepare for their opponents, the Air Raid offenses -- run by Baylor, Houston, Oklahoma State and West Virginia -- weren't going to be stopped.

It used to be that with that long to prepare for a bowl game, a defense would be able to take something away. The only thing Penn State, Clemson, Washington and Stanford took away from their bowl loss experience with an Air Raid offense was a thousand yard stare. Almost literally, in some cases.

Oklahoma State's quarterback threw for 399 yards and the three touchdowns. OSU actually gave up 590 yards…and still won. But that was pedestrian in comparison.

Houston, minus their head coach who left for Texas A&M, didn't miss a beat in racking up 600 yards in the win over defensive minded Penn State (No. 10 nationally in total defense.)

Clemson got ripped by West Virginia to the tune of 70 points and surrendered 589 yards, most of which West Virginia had (incredibly) tallied by early in the third quarter.

Baylor, too, went video game, with 777 yards and 67 points against the Huskies. Washington fired just about everyone left on their defensive staff in the wake of the loss.

IF YOU WANTED to see which Air Raid offense is most closely aligned to Mike Leach's, it was Wednesday's game featuring West Virginia. That's according to Leach himself.

"X-and-O wise, as far as being a clear-minded person under fire, (Holgorsen is) the best I've ever worked with," Leach recently told reporters. "You'd be hard-pressed to find two people whose offensive philosophies are more closely aligned than ours."

Before the game with Clemson, their defensive coordinator, Kevin Steele, told The Post and Courier that Holgorsen has added his own wrinkles to the Leach-Mumme offense but said "you'll see a package of this or that and say, 'that's Leach.'"

Hal Mumme, whom Leach mentored under, has said the Air Raid's guiding principle is to throw the ball short -- to people who score. Cougfans figure to see a whole lot of that in 2012 if the bowl games are any indication. And the Cougs' regular season opponents won't have the luxury of several weeks preparation.

And oh by the way, Houston, Baylor and Oklahoma State are 1-2-3 in the nation in total offense as of the latest NCAA statistics. West Virginia's tally hasn't been added in yet but it's a pretty fair bet 70 points and 589 yards will boost their statistical standing.

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