Democracy did not work for Vanderbilt’s offense in 2009.
This fall it will rely on something more like a dictatorship.
Coach Bobby Johnson made his most candid remarks to date about the reasons he recently redefined the roles of his offensive assistants during the Southeastern Conference coaches’ spring teleconference late last week.
The head coach implied that too many people had input into the play calling during games last season. With one person who actually called the plays (quarterbacks coach Jimmy Kiser) and someone else listed as the offensive coordinator (Ted Cain), there apparently was no absolute authority on what to run when.
“I think I had (Kiser) in a pretty tough situation last year,” Johnson said. “… He was play calling last year but didn't have the full power of vetoing certain plays or planning the game plan around the way he likes to call a game.
“…On the schemes, most of them are going to be the same. (Kiser) has some good ideas on things we can add easily and not overburden our team mentally.”
Back on Feb. 11, Kiser was elevated to offensive coordinator and retained play-calling duties. Running backs coach Des Kitchings was named running game coordinator, and wide receivers coach Charlie Fisher retained the title of passing game coordinator, which he had shared with Kiser.
Cain was given the role of special teams coordinator and remained tight ends coach.
“We still have a very collaborative staff,” Johnson said shortly before the start of spring football. “Everybody will have input into what we do. It’s just that some of the specific responsibilities have changed.”
The change did have an impact on spring workouts, he said. More often than not, particularly at the Black and Gold Scrimmage on April 10, the defense outperformed the offense.
Three more workouts followed that spring game, however, and the offense showed more life that week.
“It took us a little while in spring practice to adapt,” Johnson said. “We started clicking pretty good in the last five practices with three of those being scrimmages. We feel pretty good about it.”
The offense scored just five touchdowns in eight SEC games last season and ranked 110th in the nation (out of 120 teams) in yards per game. The Commodores also were 109th in first downs, 101st in red zone offense next-to-last (119th) in time of possession.
“It's not necessarily just the coaching staff,” Johnson said. “I think it's the whole offense, from coaches down to the players it has to get better, and that's including the head coach, too. That's why I made those (staff) changes.”