College Football

Hawks place priority on creating right tempo

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 10, 2019 12:10 am Updated: Aug. 10, 2019 8:48 pm

QUINCY -- Start fast. Play fast. Finish fast.

With such a mantra, the expectation is the Quincy University football team should be entertaining.

Initial impressions are the Hawks will be, at least moreso than it has anytime in the recent past.

The official first practice of the fall camp took place Friday at QU Stadium, offering a glimpse into how the Hawks want to run their offense. They were aggressive, at times frenetic, and always intent on making plays downfield and not getting bogged down in the backfield.

"I think we started fast, and it was great to see," senior quarterback Andrew Rund said. "It started right from the get-go. We went over it in past team meetings, just how fast we want to go. I think it showed today."

In the first 7-on-7 drill, the defense didn't get a cornerback onto the field during a changeover.

"That's what happens when you're going fast," Rund said. "You want to put the pressure on the defense and look for them to make mistakes."

Such a style adaptation began during the offseason, when Keith Barefield was hired as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach and Ryan Olson to be the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach.

They installed a scheme designed to generate 70 or more plays per game, giving a sluggish offense more opportunities to score.

Last season, Quincy averaged 15.4 points and 65 plays while going 4-7.

Friday, during a 30-minute team session in which the coaching staff scripted 72 plays, the Hawks ran 75 plays in just 25 minutes.

"We were rolling," QU coach Gary Bass said.

It wasn't done haphazardly. It was accomplished with control, balance and efficiency.

"It isn't the scheme stuff," Bass said. "It's getting the guys to understand tempo. If we get them to understand that, we're going to be able to go pedal to the metal. I tell people all the time it's no different than an option offense.

"In an option offense, you better line up and do what you're supposed to do every single play. When you don't and there's a physical failure, it kills you. That's why we have to have the tempo right and everyone playing at the same pace."

It's a carryover from the spring practices when such a tempo was first introduced.

"It's such a positive that we've been able to learn from the spring and apply that here," Rund said. "And seeing all the depth we have is incredibly encouraging."

That depth was easy to see at wide receiver and defensive back, but Bass pointed out how the Hawks have created depth along the offensive line and at running back. That wasn't the case in the past.

"I've got nine guys I might as well call starters up front," Bass said. "We have a lot of interchangeable parts. There's a ton of competition at a lot of key spots."

That will continue to be the case if the Hawks maintain their intensity and their tempo.

"It was a very crisp and clean first practice," Bass said. "I was very happy with our transitions, how hard everyone competed and how we were able to do things properly."