MCGILL: New OC Cramsey Excited About Herd's Talent
The Word on the Herd -- March 29, 2018
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Tim Cramsey, wearing a black short-sleeve jacket with a green Marshall logo and black shorts, darted around the field inside the Chris Cline Athletic Complex on Tuesday afternoon.
It was the first practice of the Thundering Herd’s spring football drills, thus the first practice for Cramsey, the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The native of Allentown, Pennsylvania, who was born on Oct. 8, 1975, laid eyes for the first time on the team’s offensive potential in between the lines.
“We got some talent,” Cramsey said. “We have a lot of the same stuff from last year and a lot of new stuff going in, and I thought day one was pretty OK. The tempo was OK, we were in the right spots.”
Cramsey assessed each room quickly, saying the receiving corps and running back corps he likes “a lot.” Quarterbacks Isaiah Green, Garet Morrell and Jackson White “played within themselves” at the first practice, Cramsey said. He relishes the depth along the offensive line, which returns seven players with starting experience who have combined for 103 career starts. The surprise, the new offensive coordinator said, will be the people in line to replace one of the most productive tight ends in school history, Ryan Yurachek.
“People are going to kind of look past (tight end) a little bit,” Cramsey said, “but there’s talent that that tight end position. It’s just young talent.”
The offense has a pair of 800-yard rushers (senior Keion Davis and sophomore Tyler King) and an 800-yard receiver (Tyre Brady) back. The entire starting offensive line for Marshall’s bowl game – tackles Will Ulmer and Tarik Adams; guards Jordan Dowrey and Alex Mollete; and center Levi Brown – returns. So does Nate Devers, who has 14 career starts. Dowrey has started 36 games, Brown 24 and Adams 13.
Sam Houston State, with an offense coordinated by Cramsey last season, led Football Championship Subdivision teams in scoring offense (43.3 points per game), total offense (538.1 yards per game) and passing yardage (362.7 per game).
“We have a lot of the same ability right here and the same talent right here,” Cramsey said. “We’re playing at a good tempo. To me, that’s one of the biggest changes is the pace. We want to be able to control the tempo of the game. The way we’re describing it as a staff to our players is we want to be able to control the tempo of the game. We want to get aligned fast, get in our formations fast, and then sometimes be able to control when we snap it, other times snap it quick … we’re going to be able to control the tempo of the game.
“What you want to do, and I know it sounds a little bit both ends of the spectrum, but you want to play at a good tempo but still control the ball and win the time of possession battle, keep your defense off the field as much as possible. That’s what we’re headed for; that’s what I, personally, have done most of my career.”
Cramsey’s coaching career dates back to 2001, when he started at Allentown Central Catholic High School. He reunited with one of his college coaches, Sean McDonnell, in 2003 as the tight ends and fullback coach at the University of New Hampshire. Cramsey was a quarterback and long snapper when McDonnell was the offensive coordinator at New Hampshire, and then McDonnell landed the head coaching job at the school in 1999. Although Cramsey is frequently mentioned as a Chip Kelly disciple, he credits McDonnell most often. Kelly was an offensive line coach and running backs coach when Cramsey was a player, and then the offensive coordinator when Cramsey returned as a position coach.
After New Hampshire, Cramsey had stops at Florida International, Montana State, Nevada and Sam Houston State. He worked under Mario Cristobal, Rob Ash, Brian Polian and K.C. Keeler.
“There’s been some good head coaches I’ve had the ability to work with,” Cramsey said.
Cramsey has adapted his philosophy to personnel at each of his stops. Upon his hiring at Marshall this year, fans embraced the “All gas, no brakes” motto that seemed attached to the 42-year-old coach.
“That’s something we started at Montana State,” Cramsey said. “At New Hampshire it was a Chip Kelly-style system. When I went to Montana State that’s a different type of kid, '12' personnel, physical brand of football. We had a QB change. We started picking the tempo. All gas, no brakes started. At Nevada we adapted my system to the personnel they had. Sam Houston, that’s what they were when I got there and that’s what we kept doing. Spread them out, snap the ball, throw it around.
“When we went to Montana State, they were basically a senior team,” Cramsey continued. “Coach Ash wanted me to do what they were doing and throw in some wrinkles, and we had a good year, but once those guys graduated he told me to do what I wanted. We got a good quarterback in there and we started building it.”
Continuing with Thursday’s second spring practice and throughout five weeks of drills, Cramsey will continue installing an offense that is sure to excite Marshall fans long enamored with the program’s rich history of explosive offenses. Cramsey has tried to keep terminology similar to ease the transition on players, while putting his fingerprints on the offense.
“What I’ve done and who I am is a multiple set offense,” Cramsey said. “Multiple personnel groups, multiple formations, multiple pre-snap movements of motion and jet sweeps and stuff like that. Play at a good tempo and control the tempo of the game. We did it last year playing the ultra-fast snap-snap-snap-snap-snap, and that worked for that program. What my true philosophy is having the ability to change the tempo of the game. Play fast, align fast, and then have the ability to go at whatever speed. Go at a good pace, go at a good pace, fast, fast, go at a good pace, fast. That helps program out, in general. We can use tempo as a weapon offensively.”
Marshall ranked No. 79 nationally in scoring offense and No. 92 in total offense last season. Cramsey was drawn to Huntington and the Marshall program because of the high expectations in 2018 and beyond. He embraces the challenge.
“Everybody loves offense,” Cramsey said. “We have the weapons to be able to do that, play at a good tempo, play at a fast tempo and put stress on defenses. We want to be great in the red zone, great on third downs and put points on the board.”