College Football's Fastest Offences
By the numbers, these 10 programs ran the most plays per game in 2023. Which ones are likely to repeat that trend this year, and will there be pigs?
Push it to the limit.
- Paul Engemann, Musician
Greetings, and welcome back to VolumePigs. In today’s article I am going to do a run through of College Football’s (CFB) fastest offences from 2023, as defined by offensive plays run per game. Within this rundown, I’ll provide some thoughts on the returning personnel, and assess which of these offences is likely to repeat as a top-10 fastest offence in 2024.
Oh, and yes, as I am from Canada, I will be speaking in the Queen’s English today (i.e. offences spelt with a ‘c’). Have a complaint? I’m sure one of the VP interns will be happy to assist you at one of the buttons below.
I’ve provided below some early considerations for draft round range on a lot of players, but we need to keep in mind that it is only January, and a lot of the important information we need will come out later in the year via spring and summer camps. So, needless to say, things will change. What I’m doing here is simply setting the stage, and providing some high level brush strokes on the players of each offence.
Although I may not always explicitly say it, if the play callers from 2023 are returning in 2024, then I expect the offence to continue doing what it did from a year ago. They may not land in the top 10 of offences in terms of plays run, but they should be pretty close.
Of note, as we’ll see throughout the exercise, being a top-10 offence by plays run is not necessarily a prerequisite to there being a CFF asset in place, however, almost all of these systems did have at least one CFF producer at a position of interest. From that standpoint, CFB’s fastest offences shouldn’t be confused as CFB’s fattest offences (article coming on that too, btw). Indeed, this is an important distinction!
Note: The points quoted are measured by 1PPR and four point passing TD formats.
South Florida Bulls — 82.1
2023 Play Caller: HC Alex Golesh
POS : PPG — QB1: 30 — RB1: 10.6 — WR1: 19.7
The South Florida Bulls topped the chart in 2023 with an average of 82.1 plays per game on offence. Those are heart racing numbers, and when looking back at the year they had on offence (scoring two out of three pigs in this article), the numbers aren’t that surprising. Head coach Alex Golesh was the primary play caller. He joined USF that offseason, coming over from Tennessee where he served as OC under Josh Heupel. The only thing that will be different this year is that the WRs coach— Joel Gordon, was promoted to OC, so he’ll presumably have a larger hand in the operation
Besides that, as far as I know, all three of those QB, RB, and WR return. The RB is the only one I’m not sure about (Nay’Quon Wright), the QB—Byrum Brown, and WR—Sean Atkins, both return for sure. That’s good because those are the two important ones here. There wasn’t a pig last year in the backfield, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be one in 2024. The concern is that Byrum Brown is essentially the RB1 of this team and it will be very difficult for any RB to capture a semblance of CFF relevancy playing behind him.
Besides Sean Atkins, Naeem Simmons and Michael Brown Stephens would be two names to keep in mind at WR. Simmons had three games with 15 or more points in 2023, and even had a 40+ point performance. Redshirt sophomore Jaden Alexis also started to come on stronger towards the end of the season. Alexis began his career at Texas in 2022, before transferring to USF.
The play calling shouldn’t change drastically with the WRs coach now also having a hand in things. After all, it’s still Alex Golesh, the wizard, who is running his system. It’s convenient for CFF players that both the QB and WR1 return. They’ll both be gone within two rounds in most drafts this summer.
North Texas — 79.3
2023 Play Caller: HC Eric Morris/OC Jordan Davis
QB1: 26.3 — RB1: 7.7 — WR1: 18.7
North Texas (UNT) was a pleasant (not so surprising) surprise in 2023. If you were reading VP back in March, you might recall there was an article on the impact that the new coaching staff—namely Eric Morris—could bring to this program. My read on who the relevant personal would be was completely wrong, but my heart was in the right place—and in the end, that’s all that counts, right? Yea…no. I’ve placed myself in the proverbial doghouse accordingly and vow to redouble my efforts going forward.
Like USF, UNT scores two pigs out of three here. The QB and WR1—Jay Maclin, did some nice damage in 2023. Maclin transferred to Kentucky this offseason, so we can scratch him off the list of potential names for 2024. QB Chandler Rogers also left, for Cal, in a head scratching move. The RB wasn’t relevant in the CFF context, so them returning or not is not of our concern. But as an FYI, the player was Isaiah Johnson.
UNT was sort of like a lesser version of USF. Each of the positions scoring slightly less than the USF counterpart.
As far as names for 2024, we know the system is good for QB/WR production, TCU transfer Chandler Morris is the presumed stater for 2024. I take it as a good sign that he shares the first name of UNT’s previous stud QB, and he demonstrated high rushing upside while at TCU. That’s good, because an integral part of Rogers’ profile at UNT was the dual usage. I like Morris in this spot, he’s a draft-worthy asset for me. A nice late round gem (assuming he wins the job).
I could be talked into seeing an angle for WRs Damon Ward or Landon Sides. Sides was a true freshman last season, and broke out in the last game of the season with nine targets, catching six for 100 yards and two scores vs. UAB (30.4 points). He’s 5’11, and 180 pounds, so he could be a slot option or boundary WR.
It should be noted that Maclin wasn’t a heavily targetted player as much as he was very efficient with his targets. He scored a lot of TDs. So I’m not expecting a WR to come in and reproduce that. But there could still be a value at the position, and the nice thing about turnover is that the new names can usually be acquired at a lower price. It’s not likely that Sides or Ward will be drafted in most re-draft formats, so each offer an intriguing dart throw option (especially if you’ve drafted Morris already).
Clemson — 78.2
2023 Play Caller: OC Garrett Riley
QB1: 18 — RB1: 15.5 — WR1: 10
We have our first one out of three pigs team in Clemson. The Tigers had a very disappointing season from virtually every metric in 2023. Team success, individual success, Dabo Swinney PR revival success… you name it, it was all a failure.
Most troubling is the fact that the QB—Cade Klubnik, has not taken the next step that was expected of him. I get it, expecting him to be Trevor Lawrence or Deshaun Watson is not reasonable (and to be fair, even Lawrence wasn’t a great CFF asset), but we now enter year three and Klubnik’s second as a starter, still waiting for him to hit his stride. He’s got a lot of intriguing ingredients, namely strong rushing upside. I still feel that there is a player here and it could finally be unlocked in 2024. But he’s not a guy worth drafting in standard re-drafts in my opinion, just based on what we’ve seen so far.
Of note, the primary play caller remains the same here, which bodes well for the RB position. In the backfield, you already know what time it is—it’s demon time for Phil Mafah, who looks to be lead pig for a Tigers team that is looking to get back to dominating its opponents in 2024. He should be a 200+ carry guy in 2024, and honestly—I would not be surprised if he ended up with 250+.
The WR room is an interesting one. They’ve got some players who broke out in their freshman seasons in Tyler Brown and Antonio Williams. Both of those guys are smaller types of players, and one will most certainly operate out of the slot. There is a path for one of the incoming freshman to get on the field in a boundary role. Tampa Bay four star TJ Moore had himself a very nice All-American game. Texas’ Bryant Wesco is a composite five star according to 247 Sports. I would lean to Moore as the more likely option to get on the field early, based on the buzz he generated in January.
I don’t know if I’ll draft any of the WRs in regular CFF formats. Tyler Brown would be the first one I’d want if I am. His production waned in the latter stages of the year, but he was red hot in late Sep/early Oct, and I like his rapport with Klubnik. Interestingly, his best production came in September when fellow WR Antonio Williams was also playing. There are multiple options here where the case can be made for a late round dart throw, but there isn’t one that stands out in particular.
TCU — 78
2023 Play Caller: HC Sonny Dykes / co-OC A.J. Ricker
QB1: 21.7 — RB1: 17.9 — WR1: 11.6
TCU is like Clemson in that they had a pig at RB, but the QB/WR production lagged behind. WR Savion Williams began to come on later in the season, which is intriguing.
The QB—Josh Hoover, took over for the aforementioned Chandler Morris later in the season. He demonstrated some monster upside in games vs. BYU, Baylor and Oklahoma.
Saving the best for last, the question you’re probably wondering about the most is: who replaces Emani Bailey for TCU this season? Well, first of all, just to cover our bases: the play callers from a year ago remain the same, so this bodes well for the RB position.
The answer to the above question at this juncture is not clear. Bailey was good last season in part because there wasn’t really another runner involved. I have no faith in Trey Sanders. Redshirt freshman Major Everhart was somewhat involved (though that was more as a pass-catcher), and he’s also small (5’11, 170). I don’t seem him being relied on to carry the load.
I could see a potential spring portal candidate being an option here. However, if I must look to the current roster, true freshman Cameron Cook (5’11, 195) could be the next up; or potentially 6’1, 210 pound runner Trent Battle out of Daphne, AL.
Honestly, at this point, it’s anybody’s guess. But what we do know is that we want to watch this backfield carefully over the spring and summer. And before you ask, yes, I’ll be updating on that situation as the year unfolds.