After spring camp 2012 wrapped up, several members of the Huskie coaching staff spoke with Huskie Outsider to give their assessment of how things looked on the practice field, and to provide an outlook towards the 2012 season. First up is Brent Schneider, who serves as both the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The 2011 season is often remembered by the inconsistent, and sometimes disappointing, performance of the offence. Coach Schneider spent some time discussing the offence’s troubles from last season, as well as why Huskie Nation can be optimistic about a stronger unit in 2012.
Observers at spring camp noticed a ground game with a lot of promise; this will be an important factor for re-igniting the Huskie offence in 2012. “I think we saw some dividends be paid to the attention we gave to our run game this winter,” commented Coach Schneider. “I think we showed a lot of improvement in that area. Obviously, we need to solidify the personnel up front, and we need someone else behind Dexter (rb Janke) who is going to be able to take the ball for us. But I was most happy about our ability to get positive yards running the ball. I think we were only stopped behind the line of scrimmage a couple of times throughout the entire camp. We put the ball on the ground only once in the entire camp, and that really hurt us last year. A good running game is a quarterback’s best friend because it takes a lot of the pressure off.” Coach Schneider went on to describe the problem that the Huskies had in this department last season. “We found ourselves in 2nd and 10, or 10+, probably more than any team in the history of football,” Schneider stated with a light chuckle. “It’s tough to play like that.”
Coach Schneider indicated that the passing game wasn’t the main point of emphasis, for the offence, during spring camp. “We need to turn our attention to the pass,” he stated, “we haven’t done that as much. We’ve got young quarterbacks, and we’re going to find some ways to help them be successful and make that work in our favour.”
Like Huskie fans who attended the camp, Coach Schneider is upbeat about the backfield recruits who took to the field, for the first time, in Huskie jerseys. “There’s about four of them who really stood out this weekend, and hopefully somebody steps up now and is going to help us right away. I’m not sure who that’s going to be right now, but that is a good group of guys that we’ve got coming back this fall.”
When asked about the offensive line, Coach Schneider echoed the comments made by others that the unit should see improvement, but he was quick to add that there were several other factors that contributed to the offence’s woes in 2011. “A better OLine is going to help us. But a lot of our problems weren’t the fault of the offensive line. A lot of our 2nd and longs happened because of us dropping the ball, or maybe not going through progressions. The offensive line also takes the brunt of the blame for sacks allowed, but that’s not always the case; there’s other factors that contribute to sacks such as a good pass rush, good coverage, or quarterbacks not getting rid of the ball when they should. The running backs are involved in the protection as well. Having said that, you’ve got to have a good offensive line – that’s where it all starts, up front. Even though we’re going to miss Ben Heenan – you can’t replace him – I do believe that once we get settled in we’re going to be good. As a unit, we’ll be better than last year. I guarantee you that with the kind of coaching our offensive line gets, somebody is going to emerge. Out of those young guys, we’re going to be talking about somebody who emerged and is going to make a big difference.”
Sticking with the offensive side of the ball, over the next few days you’ll hear from from position coaches Dan Houle, Bart Arnold, and Jason Sulz.