OK, according to multiple reports, the USC Trojans have hired Kliff Kingsbury as the new offensive coordinator in a move that is generating a lot of excitement for a program that hasn’t seen much positive news lately.
Kingsbury is known as one of the sharpest coaches running the so-called Air Raid offense, a scheme that revolves around throwing the football, and one that has put up big numbers under his tutelage with quarterbacks such as Case Keenum, Johnny Manziel. Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes.
He was recently fired as coach at Texas Tech after three straight losing seasons but it wasn’t for any lack of offensive production. The Red Raiders averaged 484 yards and 37 points per game in 2018. They averaged 44 passes per game (352 yards) and 36 runs (131yards) and were 16th in the country in scoring offense (#2 in 2015, #5 in 2016).
As far as reasons why many Trojan fans are embracing the move is that the offense produces excitement, it plays fast, and it stands to reason that recruits will want to play in this system, especially with the prevalence of quarterbacks and receivers from the southern California area who are taking part these days in the 7-on-7 system. And different variations of the spread are even starting to infiltrate the NFL, with a recent shootout game between the LA Rams and Kansas City Chiefs providing an example of two offenses who have embraced it with much success.
To be fair, we must acknowledge the reality that this move is even more of a departure from the traditional power, run-first offense that has long defined USC, but one that we started to move away from with Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian. Clay Helton was an assistant coach under both of them, but the less than ideal offensive results on his watch have helped lead us to the hire that was made today. I’m as much of a fan of the old-school USC offense as anybody having spent my formative USC years watching guys like Charles White and Marcus Allen but here are some bullet point thoughts from Darrell Rideaux on the reasons why the Trojans will now be looking to take even more of a step into the spread them out, Air Raid era.
Thoughts from Darrell Rideaux on Kliff Kingsbury
* He’s a chess master with the ability to place skill players in isolated match-ups designed to get the ball out in rhythm and in space.
* As a defender, a guy like Kingsbury keeps you up at night because you have to defend all three dimensions; vertical, horizontal and angles, If you run zone, he has zone beaters, if you run man he can beat you with match-ups. And he runs different plays out of the same formations.
* He uses the running backs out of the backfield (Stephen Carr should thrive) and they will also benefit from the spacing of his offense. Defenses can’t remain in base coverage and smaller, quicker defenders won’t want to tackle Markese Stepp.
* All of his QB’s had different skill sets yet thrived in his system. He close to Norm Chow in that regard because he can build his system around the skills of his quarterback.
* He brings a swagger to the quarterback room. His energy is infectious and it helps when you’re walking into a living room to sell a new era of football. Skill players are in abundance in southern California and look for USC to become even more of a destination in coming years.
* We should really see him pay off for the quarterbacks in terms of growth and development. Johnny Manziel was a raw product at A&M and Kingsbury turned him into a Heisman winner. A guy like J.T. Daniels should be primed and poised to exploit the passing game in his second year.
* There is a thoughts that the offense focuses on quick bubble screens but Mahomes threw deep, the offense can still do that. It’s an offense that forces defenders to have to defend the full scope of the field.
* I’m excited for what this offense can do for our defense. An offense that is capable of putting up big points allows the defense to play aggressive without the pressure of not making mistakes.