Western Kentucky won’t be necessarily moving in a different offensive direction in 2017. But it may veer off down a different path.
Junior Adams was brought in by first-year coach Mike Sanford to help concoct a multiple attack based mostly on what the assistant coach worked with this past season at Boise State.
“We’re gonna start with the Boise State system,” Adams said Tuesday. “Mike (Sanford) being at Notre Dame, being at Stanford, myself at an Eastern Washington prior to Boise State, we’re gonna try to melt those systems together.”
Adams’ background is steeped in wide receiver play. He himself ran routes and caught balls at both Oregon State and Montana State before beginning his college coaching career.
For the past 13 years he’s been working with wideouts while climbing the steps of the coaching ladder. He was the passing game coordinator in 2016 for a BSU squad that threw for 298.3 yards per game and had two receivers – Thomas Sperbeck and Cedrick Wilson – that finished in the top 27 in both receiving yards and receptions per game.
The Broncos also ranked ninth in team passing efficiency (161.37).
“I’ve been exposed to a lot of different parts of the country and coaching,” Sanford said. “So I’ve gotten to know a lot of the receivers coaches in America, and I truly believe this – a lot of people have press conference fodder and what not – I truly believe that Junior Adams is one of the two or three best wide receiver technicians and developers in the country. I think the proof is in the pudding.”
Adams will take over a WKU offense that has plenty of holes to fill. The team’s two best wide receivers – Taywan Taylor and Nicholas Norris – graduated, as did leading rusher Anthony Wales and offensive linemen Forrest Lamp, Max Halpin, Darrell Williams and Joe Manley.
Western also loses three tight ends in Stevie Donatell, Desmond Maxwell and Shaq Johnson.
Quarterback Mike White, however, will be back for his senior year and will have running backs Quinton Baker, Marquez Trigg and D’Andre Ferby (and maybe Leon Allen) in his arsenal. Nacarius Fant and Lucky Jackson are the team’s leading returners at receiver.
“We ran through personnel a little bit. But this last week we’ve just been trying to hammer in on recruiting, where we’re all going, we’re planning our trips and our visits and who we wanna go see,” Adams said. “This offense – what were they? The highest-scoring offense in the country last year? We got some big shoes to fill.
“We’re ready for it. We got a quarterback. That’s where we start at. We got some good depth at wide receiver, so we’re excited to work with them. But, what? Back-to-back 10-win seasons? We know what we’re getting into. We’re excited about it. We’re accepting the challenge. That offensive staff (Sanford) put together? I like who we got in that room. There’s a lot of great minds.”
Western Kentucky has ran variant offenses over the past five seasons, starting with Willie Taggart’s West Coast system to Bobby Petrino and Jeff Brohm’s multiple attacks. Taggart, Brohm, Tyson Helton, Tony Levine, Brian Brohm and Bryan Ellis all had a hand in formulating one of the best offensive programs in the country over that span.
Adams must make sure he keeps the ball rolling in that regard.
“Being with Beau Baldwin at Eastern Washington, he made it easy. We took whatever the defense gave us. Quick-game pass game was really good. I love that part of it,” he said. “We put guys in the right position to make plays. We put ‘em toward their strengths.
“With Bryan Harsin at Boise State, that offense is fun to play in and fun to coach in. I’ll never forget him saying it’s like legos. We kinda wanna piece it up and put it together and build it. It’s high-flying. We do lean on the run game a little bit. We wanna be physical up front and run the football and establish the run. We wanna be able to take our shots vertically down the field and, most-importantly, just execute in plays and win each play.”
— Follow WBKO sportswriter Chad Bishop on Twitter @MrChadBishop