Offensive minded: The Buffs could be LSC contenders if the offense takes a leap
A brand new on-campus stadium brings a new level of expectation to the West Texas A&M football team.
No pressure for third-year head coach Hunter Hughes and his staff, right?
After rebooting the program from scratch in 2017, Hughes has brought the Buffs back to where a Lone Star Conference title is closer to reality than a pipe dream.
Hughes has done everything he has told fans he’d do at his introductory presser.
He’s recruited the right way, brought in exciting talent and has a very hard-nosed defense, which is reflective of his persona.
But the looming cloud hanging over the third-year coach has been his offense.
Hughes wanted to be physical, and establish a dominant run game. That hasn’t come to fruition due to injuries, inexperience on the offensive line and struggling quarterback play.
WT, which was once known for its high-powered offensive attack, has now been toward the bottom of every conference stat category the past two years.
What’s hurt the Buffs the most is third down and long situations. For the past two seasons, WT has been dead last in the LSC, going a combined 96-of-309 (31 percent) on third downs.
Another category Hughes wants to never see again, is his offense averaging 4.3 yards a play. Two enormous low points teams can’t overcome when seeking to win games.
Former offensive coordinator Ryan McDonough resigned on his own accord at the end of last season. That decision gave Hughes a huge opportunity to give his offense a fresh-look.
Hughes hired Jake Brown, an offensive game analyst under Gary Patterson at TCU.
Through the spring and first week of fall camp, anyone who has been out to see the Buffs can see a much faster tempo, and a much more multi-faceted offense.
WHO WILL QB
So far, Levelland graduate and former Texas Tech quarterback Nick Gerber seems to have a good handle on what Brown wants out of his quarterbacks, though an official decision hasn’t been made. Gerber is a smart decision maker that delivers the ball quickly to his receivers. Senior Mitch Hood returns, as does redshirt freshman Maxwell Perez.
WT did have bright spots on offense last season. That came in the form of senior running back Duke Carter IV. The shifty Carter was one of the top rushers in the LSC with 818 yards, before suffering a season ending leg injury after nine games. Brown also has plans for 6-foot-1, 230 tight end Jordan Johnson. Johnson is explosive and a mismatch for defenders.
A big strength for WT will be on the offensive line. Led by Stratford graduate and 6-foot-5, 296 pound Parker Hanna, WT will average close to 300 pounds across the board. The real question is, can the wide receiver position step up? That’s a spot that’s struggled over the past few seasons. Senior and Hereford grad Peyton Gonzales, senior Semaj Mitchell and sophomore Jamaal Hamilton want to change the perception.