It looks like last week’s mailbag kicked up a little more activity. We picked up a few more questions, which will give us some talking fodder during these dog days of summer.
Today’s question came via Pat, who reached out via e-mail.
If you have any questions about UMass football, the Musket or anything else, don’t hesitate to send us an e-mail at (MaroonMusket [at] gmail [dot] com).
With what looks to be a talented and deep pool of running backs for the next few years, do you think the Minutemen should run more of a pistol offense than the traditional spread?
During the 2012 season, Charley Molnar brought out the Pistol formation on a number of occasions. Most notably, the Minutemen used the hybrid set in back-to-back weeks against Akron and Buffalo. On the ground, the results weren’t there, as Mike Cox rushed for 77 yards in the two games, combined.
However, Cox’s lackluster stats don’t exactly tell the whole story about this offensive formation. While Molnar used the Pistol to set up some run plays, the vast majority of handoffs came out of a traditional spread formation. In 2012, UMass would often rely on delayed handoffs and plays that – on the periphery - looked like read options. Many of these attempts were laid to rest at the line of scrimmage. This led many, including myself, to campaign for more up-the-middle runs.
In Molnar’s offensive philosophy, the Pistol may be the mechanism used to ground-and-pound, and I think he will continue to go back to it. UMass brought in a couple of bigger backs in Lorenzo Woodley and Daquan Mack, and I think these guys will be asked to gash out of the Pistol, while Stacey Bedell and Jordan Broadnax will dance and catch out of the spread. I was once told that, in his ideal offense, Molnar would throw a number of running backs with different attributes at opposing defenses. If next year’s depth chart is any indicator, he is in the process of implementing this strategy.
While Molnar will likely use the Pistol formation in 2013, it’s highly unlikely that UMass will ever look like Chris Ault‘s Nevada. When asked about the Pistol early last year, Molnar was quick to say that it was merely a wrinkle in his offense. In a way, it’s sort of like how UMass advertises itself as a 4-3 team, but then comes out in the Nickel depending on the situation.
So, to answer your question: I think UMass should bring out the Pistol formation to add a degree grind to the running game. The formation can also open things up in the passing game since the running back’s position doesn’t give any “tip” to where the play is heading. However, while the Minutemen will likely run plays from the Pistol formation, it will not run an overarching Pistol offense. The base will still be the spread, for better or worse.
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