Mick Delaney says it isn't so, but I have a feeling the Grizzlies' second-year coach had a tough time watching his team operate on offense last season.
Not because Jordan Johnson wasn't playing quarterback -- and that veteran presence was obviously missed -- but because Delaney is an old-school guy (call it Butte-old-school), and his vision of offensive football was (and is) far different from that of coordinator Timm Rosenbach that year. But, smartly, Delaney didn't make any changes because UM was already halfway through spring practice in 2012 by the time he took over for fired coach Robin Pflugrad.
Rosenbach is a big proponent of read-option, fast-break football, like so many offensive minds in contemporary college football are. As is previous Griz OC Jonathan Smith. The goal of this philosophy? To run the opposing defense ragged and score as many points as you can as fast as you can. It works for so many teams and programs, including the Griz, who used those schemes en route to a semifinal playoff appearance in 2011.
But Delaney, like we've said before, is much more of the mind of running the football between the tackles to set up the pass. On offense he prefers to use a quarterback under center, a fullback, tight ends, unbalanced lines -- you name it. It's the antithesis of the spread. His co-offensive coordinators, play-caller Kefense Hynson and run-game/offensive line guru Scott Gragg, have helped the Griz transition pretty seamlessly from perimeter football to playing more between the hash marks, a grind-it-out style.
To paraphrase a quote from Delaney in Sunday's Missoulian, the 70-year-old Butte native basically referred to the spread offense as "crap." Delaney spent 15 years at Colorado State as running backs coach, where he honed his philosophy working under friend and head coach (and fellow Butte native) Sonny Lubick. The Rams were a run-first, pass-second outfit for years, and they put together the greatest run success in school history.
As Delaney said earlier this season: "That's football. They know where you're going to run, and here we come. Man-on-man. One-on-one. Let's see who wins."
In a 55-27 win over Portland State, when they rushed for nearly 400 yards, Delaney and Montana said: "Here it is. Try to stop it." And so far only one team has (Northern Arizona). Otherwise, it's been all smash-mouth football coupled with Johnson's pinpoint, play-action passing (14 TDs, 0 INTs). You can't argue with the following numbers:
GRIZ OFFENSE (through 5 games)
Scoring: 40.6 ppg (1st in Big Sky)
Rushing: 234.8 ypg (3rd in Big Sky)
Per-carry: 5.7 yds (1st in Big Sky)
Pass efficiency: 188.0 (1st in Big Sky)