When the Miami Hurricanes hired offensive coordinator James Coley away from the Florida State Seminoles, many wondered what kind of system he would implement. Although he carried the title of offensive coordinator for FSU, head coach Jimbo Fisher called the plays and Coley’s duties were relegated to game planning and scripting practice. The offense wasn’t truly his.
Under previous coordinator Jeff Fisch the Hurricanes developed into a surprisingly high-powered offense. Quarterback Stephen Morris set all kinds of school records and true freshman running back Randy “Duke” Johnson was impressive enough to earn All-ACC honors. Coley inherits essential this same offensive unit. All starters return with the exception of running back Mike James who is replaced by Johnson. Offensively, the Hurricanes are extremely talented.
This returns us to the original question: what type of system will Coley implement? With so many weapons, who will he get the ball to?
Some answers can be found in Tallahassee. While not the play caller, Coley was certainly influenced by Jimbo Fisher. The Seminoles can be described one way: multiple. They use a multitude of formations and a plethora of plays. The strength of this approach is that you are prepared for whatever the defense gives you. The weakness is the possibility of mental errors on the part of the players due to simply not remembering everything they need to. Coley needs to guard against “over-coaching” while still being prepared for every situation.
Other clues at Coley’s offensive identity were seen in Miami’s spring game. The Canes offense looked very similar to last season with the addition of more vertical passes. The Canes also experimented with a hurry-up, no huddle approach, which gasses defenses while also providing more scoring opportunities for the offense.
The Hurricanes should be explosive offensively next year on talent alone. However, it appears that Coley will keep most of Fischer’s offense while taking more shots downfield. That alone should make many Hurricane’s fans very happy.