Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt will reportedly interview Houston’s Kendal Briles for UT’s vacant offensive coordinator position.
Briles is an offensive savant who has led some of the nation’s most prolific offenses in recent years.
In 2017, with Briles calling plays, Florida Atlantic had the No. 8 scoring offense in the nation. This past season, Houston had the No. 4 scoring offense in the nation.
That kind of offensive production probably sounds pretty good to Tennessee fans.
But hiring Briles won’t mean instant offensive success for the Volunteers.
For Briles’ offensive system to work, he has to be given complete autonomy over the offense. That might not be an easy thing for Pruitt to do.
But for the sake of argument, let’s say Pruitt hires Briles and lets him do his thing.
Briles’ offensive system is based on spreading the offense out, typically using at least four wide receivers. The goal of spreading the offense out is to create running lanes. Briles’ offense doesn’t do a lot of east and west running, it’s still a physical downhill running game. That part probably lines up with what Pruitt wants to do. And throwing the ball down the field to fast wide receivers, explosive plays essentially, is another key element of Briles’ offense.
Sounds good, right?
Of course it does. But the only way this offense works is if the wide receivers are fast — like first round NFL talent fast.
When Briles was at Florida Atlantic, there was no offensive playbook. The receivers are basically told to get upfield and get open.
From Sun Sentinel:
“If there’s something new, we’re going to draw it up,” McNeal said. “It’s so simple, that once they draw it up, you go ‘Okay, if it’s this, you have that, if it’s that, you have this.’ It’s just like that.”
McNeal said the receivers’ job in Briles’ offense is simple: get open and get up field. Kiffin has said before that receivers have more freedom in Briles’ offense than he’s seen in any offense before.
Baylor’s offense was stacked with speed on the outside. KD Cannon ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Corey Coleman was clocked at 4.37 during Baylor’s Pro Day in 2016.
For now, the Vols don’t have the kind of speed at wide receiver that is necessary to run Briles’ offense in the SEC. Even incoming recruits, like 2019 four-star wide receiver Ramel Keyton, don’t have the elite speed necessary (Keyton runs a 4.60 40-yard dash).
Tennessee has some talented wide receivers, but Marquez Callaway and Jauan Jennings aren’t necessarily for Briles’ offense. Now, does that mean there can’t be adjustments made? Of course not. Any bright offensive mind can adjust the offense to the talent they’re working with.
But to think that Briles could come in and immediately turn Tennessee’s offense into one of the nation’s best is a bit shortsighted. Hiring Briles is a move that would require some patience from Vol fans.
In the long run, I think hiring Briles would be a wise move for the Vols. But it would take a total commitment to playing this style of football. It would also mean Tennessee would need to identify a successor to Briles and start grooming him early, because a bright offensive mind like Briles will end up with a head coaching opportunity sooner than later.
By the way, just because Pruitt is interviewing Briles on Friday doesn’t mean he’s automatically the leader in the clubhouse to be Tennessee’s next offensive coordinator.
Pruitt is taking his time with this hire, making sure he leaves no stone unturned.
Featured image via 247Sports