Tag:New Mexico State
Posted on: January 5, 2012 11:49 am
Edited on: January 5, 2012 11:55 am

The man behind the hottest play in football

Late Wednesday night, Colorado School of Mines, a Division II school just down the road from the Coors facility in Golden, Co, was Trending nationally. The reason: Dana Holgorsen gave the school a sweet plug on national TV just a few minutes after West Virginia finished brutalizing Clemson 70-33 in the Orange Bowl. Well, actually, it's really because Holgorsen gave his pal, 46-year-old Bob Stitt, the Mines head football coach, a really, really sweet plug.

  Holgorsen was asked about the unique play that had devastated Clemson all night long, where WVU QB Geno Smith fields a shotgun snap and just flips it forward to a wideout motioning across the formation on a dead sprint. It's a variation of the Fly-Sweep that has caused defenses headaches for the past decade in major college football. Only in Holgorsen's play, the QB handles the ball for less than a heartbeat. Holgorsen explained to the country after the Orange Bowl that he learned that play from his buddy Bob Stitt from the Colorado School of Mines.

Back in Colorado, Stitt and his family were floored. "My 7 year-old just looked at me and his eyes were as big as saucers," Stitt told me Thursday morning. "My phone just starts blowing up with texts. I got about 30 in about 15 seconds."
  Holgorsen calls the play his "Quick" game. Stitt calls it "Fly". WVU scored on it four times Wednesday night. "Every time they ran it,  I told my wife, 'Yeah, that's the play that I showed Dana,'" Stitt said.
Of course, Stitt never expected to hear his name called out on national television. 

I've heard Stitt "clinic" with other top offensive minds over the past few years at the One-Back Clinic, a small gathering of some cutting-edge coaches each off-season. Whenever the soft-spoken Stitt walks to the front of those rooms, in front of some 20 coaches, most from the most prolific FBS programs, the guy commands their attention.

"These guys from some of the small schools are great, because they'll tell you everything they do because they want you to hire them someday," new UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone told me at last year's One-Back Clinic held at Houston a few minutes after Stitt talked about the pistol offense and back-shoulder throws. 

To guys like Holgorsen and Mazzone and Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin, Stitt is the real deal, a ball coach with some proven great stuff. For the newer guys in that room, Stitt was the guy from the one school they'd probably never heard of that plays in Division II's Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. But Stitt knew how to get their attention:

"If this stuff works with our guys, it'll probably work with the guys you have," Stitt would tell them. "We're an engineering school, and we only have one major, engineering. Our average ACT score in math is 29." That line would elicit the biggest "Oooh!" of the day. Well, that and Stitt talking about how his team averaged more than 356 passing yards in 2010.

The Orediggers were 8-3 this season, finishing No. 8 in the nation in passing. They had a 1000-yard rusher and a 3000-yard passer. Three of Mines' last four quarterbacks have been finalists for the Harlon Hill Trophy, the Division 2 Heisman.

Because his teams rarely have much speed, opponents often rush seven guys and play Zero-Coverage on them since they don't think Mines receivers can run by them. To counter that, Stitt resorted to the backshoulder passing attack. But, if he had to play against people afraid he's got the receivers who can run by em? Well, Holgorsen has 'em, as Clemson found out.
Stitt came up with his wrinkle on the Fly Sweep because he believed that it was more efficient than trying to have the quarterback hand the ball off after receiving the snap. Devoting all of the time to rep it to get the timing down seemed counter-productive to him. 
One day at practice, it came to him, 'Why not just put it (the ball) in the air?' He stopped practice and had his offense do that, and it immediately worked. And yes, that is one of the perks of being a small-college head coach. You can experiment with something like that in the middle of practice.

"The challenge of the Fly Sweep is meshing the handoff with the motion," he says. "With this, the speed of it's faster because you don't have to mesh the handoff, so that 4.3 guy (WR Tavon Austin) is going 4.3 as soon as he gets the ball. And the people that have to try and stop it are the inside 'backers, so you get that kid with that quickness, where he can stick his foot in the ground and get upfield, it's deadly."

  No kidding. Stitt first showed some of the FBS guys his play a few years ago at the One-Back Clinic when it was at UNLV. Hal Mumme, then at New Mexico State, loved it and installed it.  Mumme probably loves it even more because, technically, the play counts as a pass, not a run in the stat sheet. 
Holgorsen, though, didn't buy in until the spring of 2008. Stitt showed up at a UH practice after he'd flown down to Texas for fund-raiser. The Mines head coach was still in his golf gear and was checking out the Cougars practice from off in the distance. Holgorsen spotted him, 'See that fly sweep?'

  "Why aren't you putting that thing in the air?" Stitt replied.

Holgorsen said he'd forgotten all about that idea, but brought Stitt over, in full golf gear, to confer with him and quarterback Case Keenum. As Stitt gave them some pointers on how to run it, he couldn't help but think he was someplace he probably shouldn't be. But, a few minutes later, during the Cougars "Team" portion of practice, Holgorsen broke out the play on the unsuspecting Cougars defense. Head coach Kevin Sumlin was downright giddy. "Whoa, what was that?!?"

Houston got so good at it that Stitt smiled when he saw a few days ago in UH's romp over Penn State Keenum get a late snap and just 'volleyballed' it forward to the receiver without even controlling the ball.
As far as the specs of the play, Holgorsen and Stitt have different ways they dress it up. Stitt loves to run it out of a 3-by-1 (three receivers on one side of the formation) and run the play into the boundary side of the field. Holgorsen kept motioning one of his receivers into the backfield to set up in his diamond formation. The added benefit, Stitt points out, is what you can also do off the play. Holgorsen has taken that fly motion and run inside zone off it. "It is a great complement to the inside zone," Stitt says.

Stitt will run the fly motion and have his quarterback read the slot defender. If the guy doesn't cover that, they'll throw the bubble.
Just a hunch but you'll probably be seeing a lot more of this play in 2012. 
Posted on: October 27, 2011 2:17 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 2:24 pm

Hal Mumme's latest QB as talented as Couch?

Once again, Hal Mumme is leading the country in passing. No big surprise there that he's got a team piling up points, but it's the blossoming of his fell-through-the-cracks quarterback that is starting to get some attention for a tiny school in Texas.

Mumme, the former Kentucky coach, is now at tiny McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, a Division III program about to make the jump up to D2. The War Hawks (5-2) are in one those of those transitional years where they faced a few programs from bigger classifications, teams that can give scholarships. In their opener, the War Hawks were pounded 82-6 by FCS power Stephen F. Austin, but since then Mumme's team has been rolling. They came back the following week to beat another scholarship program from what used to be known as 1-AA, UTSA, 24-21. 

McMurry, running the prolific Air-Raid system, is averaging 380 yards per game. They've won their past four games by an average of 54-16.

Mumme's attack is led by an intriguing prospect named Jake Mullin, a 6-3, 225-pound junior quarterback already generating a little buzz from pro scouts. It's not often Division III players get that kind of attention, but Mullin's unique.

He was passed over by major college recruiters because he played in a run-heavy Wing-T system at Burleson High. The scouts who did notice him may have been scared off because Mullin's a standout baseball player and there was speculation he might get drafted and go that route. It also didn't help that he has a speech impediment and scouts are skeptical about QBs who struggle to bark out play calls in the huddle or communicate with teammates. He ended up on the baseball team at McMurry, a school of about 1300 students.

Mumme was hired in 2009 to take over a program that had gone 0-10 the previous year. He was grateful to find the big QB on the campus. Actually, when the coach arrived, he'd asked his players if there were any QBs on the team, thinking maybe there'd be a guy with some throwing ability that got switched to another position. Instead, Mumme was told by the players, the best QB at the school was playing intermural football and tearing it up. A few of Mullin's old high school teammates were football players at McMurry and informed Mumme that the QB could really throw it, but his coaches hadn't let him throw it. Mumme went to see Mullin play baseball and could see the kid's athleticism as the all-conference outfielder wowed the football coach.

Mullin had heard plenty from his buddies and was intrigued by the opportunity to play in Mumme's system. After some bad luck, Mullin, who has had to overcome a bout with the Swine Flu and a broken collarbone in his first two seasons of college football, has picked up the Air-Raid scheme quite well. 

"He's really, really good," Mumme told me Thursday morning of the QB with a 20-8 TD-INT ratio and a 66 percent completion mark this fall. "He's got one more year with us, but he's about as good as anybody I ever had."

When Mumme said that, it stunned me to hear the coach make such a statement about the DIII QB when he'd coached, among others, Tim Couch, a guy who was the first pick overall of the NFL draft.

"Jake is great with his feet," Mumme said. "He's probably 6-3, 225, runs about a 4.65 and has real live arm. He is a very accurate deep passer. He can throw the long out from the hash mark which we do a lot. He's a smart kid. He's just gotta learn to be more patient to dump it off because he's so good at spinning out of the pocket and making a play."

Yeah, but as good as Couch?

"I'd hesitate to say that," Mumme said. "With the competition level, it's hard to say that right now, but physically, he's definitely as good."

Word has gotten out. NFL scouts have already been to Abilene to take a look at Mullin, Mumme said. Last week, McMurry beat Texas Lutheran on the road 60-16 with Mullin going 43-57 for 614 yards and four TDs. 

Mullin and the War Hawks will face stiffer competition on 2012 when they move up to D2. They'll play McNeese State and Lamar and several other bigger programs.

Just how much of an issue Mullin's speech impediment may have in pro scouts' eyes remains to be seen. "His really isn't that bad," said Mumme. "When I first met him I actually didn't know he had one. It's more of a stammer than a stutter. He'll probably need some tutoring on that because in our system it's easy with the play calls because the plays are one or two words. In the NFL, it's like 18 words together."

For now, Mumme's just excited about how much better Mullin can get in his system. You can pretty much count on the QB to have a few more days with gaudy stat lines.
Category: NCAAF
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