Six months ago many of us were wondering what new OC Todd Galloway’s offense would look like. Descriptors like controlling the ball, using multiple looks to keep defenses guessing, exploiting potential mismatches, etc were great but I still needed to see it in action to really know what we had. It was encouraging to talk to some veteran Guelph coaches back in training camp and hear their excitement about the new O.
Even while the Gryphon offense struggled, particularly early in the year, I still liked what I saw of the offense itself. And the play calling. We were going to have issues on offense this season regardless of what system we ran. Having to change OCs further complicated that. Justin Dunk wrote a post for this blog – Gryphon offense in transition again – that forewarned us of the difficulties. I was guilty of being overly optimistic in hoping we could replace Nick FitzGibbon while working with a very young O-Line and learning a new offense, and not struggle.
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Back in November I had a chance to talk with Galloway in his Alumni Stadium office about his offense. He explained for me how it had developed.
Essentially the offense he started with was the offense he had played in and coached in at Laurier. It had been developed by WLU OC Stefan Ptazsek (now McMaster head coach). Apparently some of it Ptazsek had adapted for the Canadian game from NCAA sources. It was a version of this Golden Hawk offense that Galloway ran with the Guelph Bears in the OVFL. Galloway took the same offense with him to Nova Scotia and used it at Sackville High School and with the NSVFL Metro Mustangs.
During his years in Nova Scotia he experimented extensively with it. When he found successful things he incorporated them going forward. While in Halifax Galloway also worked on the St. Mary’s Huskies coaching staff. [He coached in the 2007 Vanier Cup.] It was then that he switched to the Pistol formation in the backfield, something he picked up from Steve Summarah.
A couple of the biggest enhancements he made to his offense came from CFL sources. Galloway desired to make more use of motion than the original system allowed. He found the solution with simplified terminology from assistant coaches with the Montreal Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts. He also added better systems for pass protection that he picked up from the Als.
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Much like the Gryphon offenses under Kyle Walters & Perry Marchese the Galloway version can be characterized as a spread offense. Head Coach Stuart Lang had pretty much made that a prerequisite if you remember what he said when he was hired. But there were some new wrinkles – the pistol formation, a continued shift away from a FB to an H-back, for example.
Galloway’s system utilizes four receivers (two WRs and two slots), an H-back, a tailback and, of course, a quarterback. The wide receivers – W & Z – are essentially split ends, in that they always line up on the line of scrimmage. The W always is on the boundary side, ie. the short side of the field, and Z plays on the field side, ie. the wide side. The X receiver is usually on the boundary and the Y on the field side but they move around depending on the motion calls. In Galloway’s system the slotbacks are used to carry the ball more than in previous Gryphon offenses.
W – boundary side receiver, best one-on-one guy, [2011 – Saxon Lindsey]
Z – field side receiver, top possession receiver, [2011 – Dillon Dimitroff]
X – slotback, #1 slot receiver, [2011 – Aaron Haid]
Y – slotback, #1 utility guy, best multi purpose athlete, [2011 – Jedd Gardner]
Q – quarterback, lines up 4 yards behind centre, receives a shotgun snap
T – tailback, lines up behind QB [2011 – Steve Lagace, Rob Farquarson]
H – hybrid back or H-back, a combination of FB, TE & WB, doesn’t have a set starting position [2011 – Kevin Campbell]
We used to work primarily out of a 1-back set with five receivers. Changing occasionally to a 2-back set meant a fullback went into the game and a receiver came out. In the new offense that fullback and fifth receiver are the same person, the H-back. The fullback had become almost exclusively a blocking back. Now the H-back carries the ball and catches the ball more than Guelph fullbacks have in recent years. But blocking remains a key requirement for an H-back. The tailback is the principal ball carrier but not used as often as a receiver as RB Nick FitzGibbon was.
While an H-back is expected to catch and block more than carry the ball Galloway told me it is his preference to convert a running back for this position rather than a receiver. But, in 2011, fifth year slotback Kevin Campbell had his best season as a Gryphon at this new position. Galloway arrived too late to have any involvement in last season’s recruiting but I expect we will see Guelph focus on offensive players who fit this system in 2012.