The Mid-American Conference holds the reputation of being an offensive-minded conference, but this past week proved to be an offensive coach’s dream.
The University of Akron and Miami University combined for 1,334 yards, the second most in MAC history. Their combined 14 touchdowns and 107 total points tied for fifth and eighth in those respective offensive categories.
Every conference game produced at least 900 yards of offense, five teams scored 40 or more points and another eight produced 30 or more.
What’s a defensive coordinator to do? Zips defensive coordinator Chuck Amato called it a concern after the RedHawks outscored his unit 56-49 Saturday.
But right now, the Zips’ offensive coordinator, who is also head coach, knows exactly what to do.
“It’s about getting one more TD than the other guy,” Terry Bowden said at his Tuesday afternoon news conference.
Why have things evolved this way? Imitation might be a sincere form of flattery, but it’s quickly becoming a pain for coaches when it comes to game planning for offenses.
“It’s so sophisticated right now,” Bowden said. “The communication of plays and the tempo at which you can run plays is becoming so sophisticated that defenses are one step behind.”
Bowden said it has affected his strategy in various game situations.
In college football, it wasn’t unheard of for coaches to defer their decision if they won the opening coin toss; now most teams are looking to set the tone for the game. Much like basketball or the Arena Football League, college football is a game of possessions.
“Now with the explosion of offenses and you wonder how many at-bats an offense is going to get ... we need to make sure we get one more at-bat than the other team. I think it is affecting teams,” Bowden said. “I’ve seen some mighty fine defenses out there having to explain 45 points, and they probably want their offense on the field first instead of their defense.”
How the offenses played colored his thinking in the waning moments Saturday. With the RedHawks driving and inside the Zips 5-yard line, Bowden had the defense give up the score so that his offense, which had been just as prolific as Miami’s, got one more shot at tying the game.
“I wasted 25 seconds of clock management not knowing what to do — even to the point of [asking] does this look unsportsmanlike,” Bowden said.
The MAC and its member teams are playing the hand that the recruiting and NCAA prestige gods have dealt them as is every mid-major conference. You play the type of football that your talent dictates. And for the Zips, that means Bowdenball.
“If I was at Alabama, LSU or USC, I would still play great defense, ball-control football and power people because I would have better players at guard, tackle, end and cornerback,” he said. “I think you have to be in a position where you can physically manhandle people at all the positions.”
The MAC and college football also will have to wait for the next defensive innovation. Until then, football fans are getting lots of excitement. TV ratings continue to rise, and the viewing public isn’t watching for defense.
“I want to get back to defense. I want to build that defense,” Bowden said.
The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation added Zips senior receiver Marquelo Suel to its Biletnikoff Award Watch List on Tuesday.
The award is given annually to the country’s outstanding receiver. Suel leads the Zips with 40 catches for 457 yards, including 20 receptions in the past two games.
Defensive end Albert Presley, who left the game Saturday, practiced Tuesday.
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.