OU football: A look at TT’s ‘genius’

By Jake Trotter Modified: November 15, 2008 at 9:22 pm •  Published: November 15, 2008
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Hal Mumme received two applications for his vacant offensive coordinator job at NAIA Iowa Wesleyan.

The first applicant was a Los Angeles semi-pro coach/gang leader, who vowed to bring several of his players/gang members with him if hired.

The second was a law school graduate, who never played a down of college football.

Mumme was forced to hire the latter.

"Nobody wanted that job,” Mumme said. "It was slim pickings. But I ended up with a really bright offensive mind.”

That mind belonged to Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach, who 20 years later has the Red Raiders ranked second and in contention for a national title heading into next weekend’s showdown with fifth-ranked Oklahoma.

This season’s success has been the culmination of Leach’s offensive ingenuity, which centers on four precepts: aggressiveness, ball distribution, spacing and tempo.

Last weekend, Tech perfected Leach’s precepts, scoring on seven straight possessions to pummel Oklahoma State, 56-20.

Ten different Red Raiders made receptions as quarterback Graham Harrell peppered the entire field with completed passes in an assault that lasted through the fourth quarter.

"His strategy is good, his scheme is good, but what makes him a genius is his belief and confidence in it,” said former Tech quarterback Sonny Cumbie, who in 2004 threw for 4,742 yards. "The players have taken on the personality of coach Leach.

"They believe strongly in what they do.”

On television, Leach’s scheme seems complex because of the various spread formations.

But in reality, his scheme is rather simplistic, built around a handful of plays and routes that Leach ingrains into his players with concentrated repetition.

"That’s what’s crazy about it,” said Kliff Kingsbury, Leach’s first quarterback at Tech. "At first you’re like, ‘There are only eight plays?’ But you see how he installs it, teaches it and breeds confidence in his players that it should never be stopped.”

From week to week, Tech’s game plan rarely changes. Even though Leach will have two weeks to prepare for the Sooners — both teams have byes today — his offense won’t adjust to OU’s defense.

"Most coaches get wrapped up with who they’re playing, what the opponent is doing defensively and that can consume you,” Cumbie said. "Coach Leach has a great understanding of what defenses are doing, but at the same time, he’s more worried about his offense and how they’re executing.”

That’s why the Sooners aren’t concerned with what plays Tech will run. It’s just a matter of stopping them.

"It’s not so much you don’t know what they’re going to do, it’s that you have to execute against it,” OU coach Bob Stoops said.

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