A Quick Review of the Sonny Cumbie Offense

A quick look at what we could expect.

Happy New Year! Yes, I’m here to bring you content. Good, sweet clean content.

One of the things that I’ve been thinking about, other than a cocktail drink, is how different a Sonny Cumbie offense is going to be than a David Yost offense.

And even this thought carries with it some caveats, which is that there are suggestions that last year’s TCU offense may have been heavily influenced by Doug Meachum and Jerry Kill, more than Cumbie. Not only that, but Gary Patterson has a reputation of maybe meddling with the offense to run a certain way, hence the hiring of Kill and Meachum. That’s speculation both ways. Cumbie was the offensive coordinator for TCU so his name is on TCU’s offense, whether you like it or not.

Thus, with that being said, I’m going to take a full game and chart the plays once I get some more time, but for now, I’ve charted every offensive play for TCU’s game against Oklahoma State. Granted, these are all highlights, not completely representative of the TCU offense overall, but at the very least it might give you an idea as to what the TCU offense looked like on a regular basis.

Down and Distance Formation Pass/Run Result Notes
1st & 10 3 WR / 1 RB / TE Run Fumble TE was flexed out b/t 2 WR’s; was returned for a touchdown by OSU
2nd & 19 2 WR / 1 RB / 2 TE Pass 45 yd comp WR on right went deep & single coverage
2nd & 10 3 WR / 1 RB / TE Pass INT IR motion; QB throws to flexed TE, who had single coverage; bad pass
1st & 10 3 WR / 1 RB / TE Pass 52 yd comp WR & TE go vertical; WR has single coverage
4th & 1 3 WR / 1 RB / TE Run 1 yd TD Zone read by QB
4th & 1 3 WR / 1 RB / TE Run 41 yd TD Zone read by QB, such a strong & fast runner
2nd & G 3 WR / 2 RB Run 1 yd TD Zone read to RB for TD
1st & 10 3 WR / 2 RB Run 3 yd Fumble by RB
3rd & 10 3 WR / 1 RB / TE Pass Sack Too much pressure
3rd & 4 4 WR / 1 RB Pass 72 yd TD Terrific throw to IR on a post route
1st & 10 4 WR / 1 RB Run 1 yd run QB was striped and fumbled.

Some thoughts:

  • The first thing that should be noted is that there’s more variance in the formation. As you all probably know, David Yost ran 99% (totally making up that percentage, but consider it a figure of speech) of his offense out of 11 personnel.
  • With Cumbie’s offense, you get a bit more varied of an offense, namely that there’s a 2 tight end look, a large number of 3 receiver and 1 tight end looks, a traditional spread of 4 receivers and 1 running back, and even a few 3 receiver and 2 running back looks.
  • There’s probably only so much that can be invented here, but it is more than Yost would run.
  • The one thing that appears to be a constant is that the tight end will still be heavily involved if this offense resembles what Wells wants from Cumbie. The tight end would be flexed out, and that’s something Yost did as well. Texas Tech will have Travis Koontz returning, as well as John Holcomb in for his second year. Holcomb showed more promise as a pass-catcher than Koontz did, but obviously needed to add weight. Hopefully that happens during the offseason.
  • The one thing that Yost never did was vary from his 11 personnel grouping. If he did, it was rare, maybe a goal-line situation, but there were times during the games where the tight end was giving you absolutely nothing and it would have been nice to be able to play with 4 receivers rather than a tight end. The versatility is perhaps a good thing. I also appreciate the idea of doing different things, even running with 20 personnel, used to love that look and Texas Tech has 2 talented backs to do that with.
  • Perhaps the biggest point here is that perhaps we will see a more varied look and there’s two school’s of thought: 1) Using the same personnel package means that the team reps from that package over and over; or 2) Having multiple looks makes it more difficult for defenses to prepare for. There’s really not a right or wrong way, Leach was more of option #1, while Kingsbury was more of option #2. Both great offenses, but different wrinkles to the offense.

The strangest thing about about all of this is David Yost’s insistence of only utilizing 11 personnel 95% or more of the time. And I get the idea behind it, which the LA Rams also utilize, and the idea that if you run the same thing and run different things out of it, then the defense will be confused. After seeing it in action, I’m not so sure this is the camp that I fall in. I ran across this tweet from Brian Baldinger where he broke down how the Packers attacked the Rams based on the formation that the Packers ran out of multiple times, including motion.

This? Yeah, this makes more sense and I don’t know how creative that Cumbie is in terms of this sort of stuff, my look at the offense hasn’t been that intensive. But give me an offense that is more versatile than one which is predictable for the offensive players (and maybe the defense too).


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