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What to expect from Willie Fritz’s Offense

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What kind of coach is Wake Forest going against on Thursday night?

South Alabama v Georgia Southern Photo by Todd Bennett/Getty Images

The Tulane football program has left a lot to be desired in recent years. Though they went 7-6 in 2013 and made a bowl game, that was the program’s first bowl eligible season since 2002. In fact, Tulane is just 26-72 (.265) since 2008. Former head coach Chris Johnson went just 15-34 in his 4 seasons, and it was time for a change. Tulane formally introduced new head coach Willie Fritz on December 15, 2015. What did they get in Fritz?

Let’s first take a look at the history of Fritz in terms of where he has been and what he has done. He began his collegiate head coaching career at Blinn College (school of Cam Newton fame), where he won back-to-back Junior College National Championships before getting hired to Central Missouri.

While at CMU he compiled a 103-47 record, including two ten-win seasons, and 11 seasons with more than 7 wins.

From there he was hired to Sam Houston State, where he turned the Bearkats into a FCS powerhouse. He led SHSU to back-to-back National Championship games, where he unfortunately had to play the dynasty that is North Dakota State, losing both times.

After two years in Texas, Fritz moved to Georgia Southern, leading the Eagles to a bowl game last season after an 8-4 year. He left before the Go Daddy bowl to become the head coach at Tulane University.

Overall, Fritz has compiled a 154-69 record during his 19 years as a head coach.

All of those numbers are fun, but the primary thing that most are interested here is what can Wake Forest expect to see on the offensive side of things on Thursday night? We have talked a lot over the years about option attacks, primarily the variance that the Armed Forces run that is the triple option.

Stopping these attacks requires great discipline from all eleven defensive players, and it will often lull a defense to sleep before hitting on the deep ball or a big run play to break a game open.

Well, the Fritz option attack is not the triple option, or at least it is not what most expect when they think of it. He has shown that he can adapt extremely well to his personnel, has shown a reasonable balance of run AND pass throughout the years, especially while at Central Missouri and Sam Houston State.

Team Year Record Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards Rushing TDs Passing Attempts Passing yards Passing TDs PPG Run vs. Pass Plays
SHSU 2010 6-5, 4-3 484 2,051 24 249 1,645 8 26.8 66% vs 34%
SHSU 2011 14-1, 7-0 700 3,839 46 274 2,274 22 36.9 72% vs. 28%
SHSU 2012 11-4, 6-1 742 4,025 46 334 2,853 26 40 69% vs. 31%
SHSU 2013 9-5, 4-3 655 3,710 40 333 2,598 33 41.1 66% vs 34%
Ga. So. 2014 9-3, 8-0 642 4,573 55 155 1,286 7 39.1 81% vs 19%
Ga. So. 2015 8-4, 6-2 660 4,267 47 129 742 3 34.7 84% vs 16%

The previous stop at Georgia Southern is likely a bit of a misrepresentation of what Fritz ideally wants to do, because the Eagles have been running the triple option for many years. The personnel was there, and Fritz utilized it to great success over two seasons.

Based on what we know about the Tulane Green Wave roster, there are a lot of unknowns at quarterback, and there is a lot of talent at the running back position. This seems to play into the notion that Tulane WILL in fact be more likely to run the ball, especially with a couple of very speedy quarterbacks who will play.

While there is a lot of uncertainty in what the Green Wave will throw at the Deacs from an offensive perspective, it is likely that there will be a heavy slant to the run game, and I will predict it will be about 65-70% rushes vs. 30-35% passes. I do think that there will be a fair amount of snaps out of the Pistol formation as opposed to the typical flexbone/wishbone option set up.

This gives the quarterback an extra step back to assess the defense instead of being under center. That will allow whoever is in the backfield an extra chance to survey the field pre-snap for a potential quick throw out of a Spread Option look.

While Willie Fritz certainly has his work cut out for him this year with a depleted scholarship roster, as well as implementation of a new system, based on his track record, Tulane looks to have a good coach for years to come.