Harrell’s Air Raid allows quarterbacks to thrive

first_imgTo move the chains and create manageable second and third downs, the traditional Air Raid elects to throw short, often to the running back, rather than run the ball. Compared to sophomore quarterback JT Daniels’ numerous end zone heaves that seemed to be the focus of USC’s offense last season, Trojan quarterbacks have been more surgical this year, completing short passes at an incredible 72.3% clip between Daniels, freshman Kedon Slovis and redshirt junior Matt Fink. Though Harrell has elected to not completely cut out the run, giving redshirt junior tailback Vavae Malepeai around 15 carries per game, the offense looks primarily to move the ball by passing rather than running.  USC’s offensive coordinator Graham Harrell threw for 15,793 yards and 134 touchdowns during his time at Texas Tech University — the fourth and third most in NCAA history, respectively.  While USC head coach Clay Helton rejects the notion that USC uses a true Air Raid, the offense has looked like one through its first five games. Even though their top two quarterbacks on the depth chart are injured, the Trojans are not calling the season — primarily because of their faith in the scheme.  The Air Raid offense, as the name suggests, maintains a commitment to the air attack by passing the ball frequently. Mike Leach’s WSU offense has been known to pass the ball around 50 times per game. While USC is only averaging about 35 pass attempts per game, many of the core concepts remain the same.  Texas Tech has employed the spread offense to great offensive success. When last year’s NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes played at TTU, he had over 5,000 yards in a season and an outrageous 734 yards passing in one game.  While Art Briles has had a career mired with scandal, his scheme turned a Baylor team that consistently finished at the bottom of the Big 12 standings into a perennial contender. Briles’ Air Raid was so effective that in 2015, after two quarterbacks went down with injuries, a third-stringer led the Bears through four games to a bowl win against No. 10 UNC.  In summation, the Air Raid works very, very well. Harrell previously worked under Mike Leach, his college coach, as the outside receivers’ coach at Washington State, where Leach’s spread offense has often boasted the leading passer in the nation despite underwhelming recruiting. Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II, who has taken the NFL by storm with his famous mustache and atypical background after being a three-star product out of high school, threw 4,779 yards and 38 touchdowns for the Cougars in his final college season. Redshirt senior Anthony Gordon, WSU’s current starting quarterback, is averaging over 400 yards passing per game — further proof of the scheme’s effectiveness.  “You’re not going to sit there and try to out-scheme people,” he said. “It’s an identity. It gives you an identity and says, ‘This is who we are, and we’re going to be good at what we do.’”  Now, he hopes to impart the spread scheme that helped him achieve video game numbers onto a Trojan offense that was devoid of life last year. The X’s and O’s of the Air Raid offense are simple: pass a lot, play fast, identify good matchups and execute. The spread offense has been keeping the Trojans competitive with a third string quarterback, and with Harrell calling the shots, the ceiling is high for USC’s offense. The offensive scheme is intentionally simple; there aren’t many plays, and it’s designed to let players play loose. In his introductory press conference, Harrell said just that about his offense.  Pre-snap, the quarterback reads the defense and determines which matchups are favorable given the formations. Then he snaps the ball and pulls the trigger. It’s that simple. Offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, in his first season at USC, has reshaped the Trojans’ offense, and the early results are promising. (Tal Volk | Daily Trojan) The Air Raid offense maintains a fast tempo and stresses getting in and out of the huddle quickly. The Trojans have been consistent with this tenet, churning through plays quickly and keeping defenses tired. last_img read more

Warriors’ Shaun Livingston contemplating retirement as knee pain becomes tougher to manage

first_imgLivingston fractured his patella and tore three ligaments in a 2007 matchup with Charlotte and could have lost his leg. He missed nearly 20 months recovering and went from a bright young prospect to a player simply trying to contribute in any way he could to a number of teams.And he has played for a lot of them, spending five years in Golden State, three with the Clippers, two with the Wizards and Thunder and at least parts of one each with the Rockets, Nets, Bucks, Cavaliers, Heat and Charlotte.He has never been the type of impact player who made an All-Star team or an All-NBA roster, but he has always been a contributor in some way, averaging 11 points, 5.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds in his career. But at this point, the gruesome knee injury is fully catching up with him.”Any time it gets swollen now, it’s more about being able to move,” he said. “It’s stiff. I can’t move. It’s sore. I come back, it’s aching. And this is all before the game even starts.”So then it becomes about building myself up so I can be functional on the court. Once I get to the arena, I got to do all this work. And it’s fine. Because it’s part of your job that you have to do. But the emotional part of it, at this stage of my career, it can be tough. Like, at 22, yeah, all right, I knew I had to grind. It was part of what came with it. But now, at this stage, it’s like … shoot.” “It’s just all the signs on the wall,” Livingston told The Athletic in an extensive Q & A session. “And just more so from a physical standpoint. If I’m healthy and having fun, then I want to play. But physically, if I’m not … Like, I put so much work in my body just to get back to playing basketball, let alone get to this point where I’m at. So now that it’s getting harder. Like this year, I’ve struggled with injuries more than any other year I’ve been on the Warriors.”Unfortunately for Livingston, he may be best known for getting hurt. He suffered a gruesome knee injury as a 21 year old with the Clippers, which nearly put an end to his career altogether. Related News Warriors control their destiny, Stephen Curry says Shaun Livingston has had a good, long NBA career, winning three titles with the Warriors and spending 14 years as a contributor to 10 different franchises.But he is thinking it may be time to hang it up.center_img Livingston has not made a decision whether this will be his final year or not. It has crossed his mind when he goes to certain arenas this could be the last time he steps foot on those courts, but nothing is definitive.But, for the 2004 No. 4 overall pick, he can see the writing on the wall. He has had a long, and in some ways, grueling career and he’s put his body through a lot. But, when all is said and done, he is a three-time NBA champion and has a chance of getting to the NBA Finals for the fifth year in a row this season with Golden State, which hasn’t been done since the Celtics did it in the 60s. If he were to retire now, he has done more than enough to say he had a successful career and to finish it with the Warriors may be perfect for him.”I tell people this, especially the young guys, Golden State, this is like basketball nirvana,” Livingston said. “The opportunity to play for this organization, live in the Bay Area, great fans, great ownership, committed to winning, coach that knows what he’s doing and superstars that are selfless. We have a great situation. So going to another organization at this point? It doesn’t sound like the greatest thing to do.” Warriors star Stephen Curry says wearing contact lenses ended his shooting slumplast_img read more