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The Josh Heupel era at Tennessee will kick off Sept. 2 against Bowling Green at Neyland Stadium.
Heupel’s uptempo spread offense has been on display during spring practices at Tennessee. His offense has been a staple throughout the sport since becoming an offensive coordinator and head coach.
Jonathan Keathly, head coach at Crossings Christian School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, has studied concepts of Heupel’s offense. Heupel’s offense has similar concepts to Baylor’s veer and shoot during the 2010s.
Keathly joined the show “Tennessee Two-A-Days” to discuss the offense.
“I have spent quite a bit of time looking at what Heupel has done and the Baylor coaches have done,” Keathly said. “As I studied them, I think the key for any offensive coordinator and play-caller is it looks complex, and to a defender or a coordinator it looks like they are doing a lot of different things, but the more I got into it the more I appreciated the simplicity of it. Being a high school coach, coaching 15-18-year-olds, I have really appreciated that.
“We have used a lot their sniffer stuff. You can call it fullback, inverted tight end, whatever you want to call it, we have been using that on and off for the last four or five years. We found some easy ways to go from a 10-personnel look to an 11-personnel look. As I studied it, they do not always change personnel, they often find a hybrid guy and move him in different places. It looks different, but as you map out what they are doing, it is very similar.”
Nov. 18, 2000, Oklahoma quarterback Josh Heupel sets up to pass during the top-ranked Sooners’ 27-13 win over Texas Tech in an NCAA college football game in Norman, Oklahoma. (AP Photo/Jackson Laizure, File)
Chuck Long served as Heupel’s quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at Oklahoma in 2000.
He came to Oklahoma from Iowa following the 1999 season, essentially replacing offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Leach. Leach departed Oklahoma to become Texas Tech’s head coach in 2000 and Long kept his Air Raid offense intact for Heupel.
Long discussed how Heupel has been able to continue to progress offensively as a coach, implementing and studying the Baylor 2010s offense like Keathly has done.
“You knew he was going to get into coaching and you knew he was going to be an excellent football coach being raised that way,” Long told Vols Wire of Heupel. “He knew what it took to study the game. He has also progressed. He has taken the Leach offense, our offense, and tweaked it to his own personality and what he wants to do.
“They were really good at Central Florida the last couple of years offensively, so you can’t sit still as a coach and he has not done that. He has progressed forward in a good way.”
Nov 7, 2013; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Bryce Petty (14) throws a pass in the first quarter of the game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Floyd Casey Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Keathly discussed the Air Raid mesh concept and how Baylor of the 2010s, as well as Heupel, do not run it often, an example of Long detailing his former quarterback progressing offensively.
“When I was a true 10-personnel, Air Raid coach, we ran mesh a lot,” Keathly said. “When I did shift more to a sniffer-type look and a tight end, it has been at least six or seven years since we have ran it.”
The entire show with Keathly can be listened to here or below as he further details offensive concepts.