What might new coaches mean for WSU offense?

FIVE EWU ASSISTANTS ARE HEADING to Pullman with new head man Paul Wulff according to published reports and perhaps the most talked about is offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy. A head coach for 12 years at NAIA's St. Ambrose, Sturdy's first year as Eastern's OC saw the hurry up offense transformed into a high powered juggernaut. How might the Cougar offense change in '08 under Sturdy and Wulff?

Perhaps quite a bit, and not so much.

If Sturdy should bring the no-huddle to Washington State -- and indications seem to be that he will -- and enjoys the same kind of success as EWU did last season, it will mean more points on the Wazzu scoreboard next year. In '06, Eastern ranked No. 1 in the conference in points scored and No. 18 nationally, at a 33.62 points per game clip.

Eastern in four of their games also took their foot off the gas peddle, where the winning margin was 39, 29, 28 and 27 points.

That should be welcome news to Washington State fans following a 2006 campaign that produced plenty of yardage, particularly through the air, but little points to show for all those accumulated hashes.

The philosophy behind the no-huddle is straight forward -- dictate the tempo, keep a defense on their heels and prevent them from substituting their preferred personnel packages.

If a defense has a run package in on first down, and then doesn't have time to bring in their best, say, nickel, dime or cover-3 personnel on second and long and when they normally would do so, the advantage clearly swings to the offense.

The mismatches that can be created -- both run and pass -- can result in not only long plays but long, scoring plays -- something that has been missing out on the Palouse.

Sturdy, a quarterback himself at St. Ambrose from 1987-90, was able to find success in the first year of his no-huddle -- no easy task -- at Eastern. He did it by keeping things simple for his players, stressing the communication and effectively teaching the concepts and varying shades of gray.

Conventional wisdom would seem to be against the Cougar offense enjoying similar success next season -- not only will the Cougs have a new starting QB, but the age-old argument is that a brand new system by a brand new coordinator simply takes time. But will that actually be the case?

There will be tweaks and changes -- there will be new stuff the Cougar offense breaks out in '08 -- of this there is no doubt. But Eastern's players didn't have to unlearn the terminology they had used before the no-huddle was implemented. The biggest change was they had to now do some things at the line rather than in the huddle.

And keep in mind '06 was Sturdy's first season at Eastern. The terminology wasn't something he brought over wholesale from Ambrose -- most of it was the terminology Eastern had already been using. And therein might lie the key.

Every school has a no-huddle package that they drill. But to go to it as your base is rare. That may change in the Pac-10 with Oregon's success this past season. Then again, it may not.

Oregon's offense fell apart after the season ending knee injury to Dennis Dixon, the Ducks going from a spot in the national championship game to the third place bowl in the Pac-10 in suffering three straight losses to close the regular season.

Oregon's fall naturally begs the question -- is the success of the no-huddle overly dependant on one person, the quarterback? And if you don't have an freakishly athletic QB, will your no huddle attack become a no points attack? How big a part does misdirection play in the success of the no-huddle?

Those are all questions that will be answered this coming year as Washington State enters a new era. And spring ball, always a critical time in terms of development, will take on even more significance this year out on the Palouse.

The spring session is about 13 weeks away and Cougar fans might be doing their own version of the hurry up between now and then. Hurry up and wait.


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