By Jerry Ratcliffe
Football coaches are always looking for an edge, sparing no effort when it comes to finding and preparing an opponent, especially a new opponent with new coaches, new players and new ideas.
Fans may not know how detailed the coaches are, not only in on-field preparation, but also in the research side of the equation. Virginia’s home opener against Richmond today is a perfect example.
No one outside of UVA’s inner circle knows exactly what the Cavaliers offense will look like until it’s revealed in-game, but UR coach Russ Huesman is definitely going to make a strong guess. Huesman said he and his team studied the film of Tony Elliott’s Clemson offenses, Des Kitchings’ offensive looks at NC State, South Carolina and the Atlanta Falcons.
Undoubtedly, there are more film studies from more teams in Elliott and Kitchings circles, but you get the picture.
What we anticipate is that Virginia and Richmond will come out with quick attacks that won’t give the fans time to catch their collective breath between games. But what will these offenses look like aside from the pacing?
Everyone will guess, even the coaches.
“I think everyone is going to see what my background is in the wide area, in terms of running, so I’m sure NC State in Atlanta, but you can go back to Vanderbilt and Air Force, I always been a wide zone guy,” Kitchings said. “It’s no secret. We’re going to run the wide zone.
“Now, [opponents] are going to wonder, what is Coach Elliott and [Kitchings] let’s do it together, because coach Elliott has been more of a guy who counts the gaps. So people will try to figure out how [Virginia] will attack. Will it be more zone or more gap-counter? Well, the mystery is still there.
Just because UVA intends to run the ball more doesn’t mean Kitchings and Elliott overlook offensive strength, a record passing game with quarterback Brennan Armstrong (see related story on Armstrong on the verge of breaking more Cavaliers records) and a fleet of dangerous wide receivers.
Remember that today’s game incorporates much of the short passing game as part of the running attack, replacing screens and short passing with sweeps and throws down. edge.
Kitchings has a background in running, but he loves throwing football.
“That’s what really turns me on with some of these guys, and you have to try to really slow down, like, ‘OK, you can’t be too happy…you can’t be the kid in the candy store and try to do everything,” Kitchings said. “Let’s get good at some things, master them and go from there. Let those guys play fast.
How did Virginia’s attacking staff, with such varied backgrounds, blend into the same style of play?
“We’ve known each other for a long time and all these years of competing against each other, even though we were competitors, there were always conversations because [Elliott] was interested in “Why zone?” Right? I was really more interested in learning more about the gap system.
“So this opportunity has arisen for us to work together and we’re excited about the kind of networking and sharing of ideas, bouncing things off each other and putting together a unique offense at Virginia.”
Ah, there is a clue. An offense specific to Virginia. It will be interesting to watch this afternoon. Richmond’s defensive staff will be watching closely, trying to figure out how unique he is and how to stop him.
In the meantime, it works both ways. Call it “Rudzinski vs. Udinski” in terms of the UVA defense trying to overpower Richmond’s offense.
Virginia defensive coordinator John Rudzinski and his team have broken down numerous VMI videos. This is where UR offensive coordinator Billy Cosh, quarterback Reece Udinski and wide receiver Jakob Herres terrorized the Southern Conference with Cosh’s version of the “Air Raid” passing game.
Cosh and his team have studied numerous Air Force videos of when Rudzinski built one of the nation’s most respected defenses in recent seasons. Richmond doesn’t expect many changes from Rudzinski’s approach, but the coaches always find a way to add unexpected twists to their plans.
For fans, it should be a game in game today to see how these guys play chess on the Scott Stadium gridiron and make adjustments throughout the contest.
Wide area or gap counter? Blitz or no blitz? Pass or run? It should be fun.
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