Rodriguez knows spread, not West

2011-11-22T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T15:42:56Z Rodriguez knows spread, not WestPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 22, 2011 12:00 am  • 

In his years as a major-college head coach, coordinator and assistant, Rich Rodriguez has coached one game west of Houston.

And that was in Dallas.

Rodriguez brings a lot to his new job as Arizona Wildcats head coach, but a strong regional background isn't on the list.

As the head coach at West Virginia and Michigan, Rodriguez played as far west as Iowa City, Iowa.

As the offensive coordinator at Tulane and Clemson, he stayed in the Midwest, South and East.

As the UA prepares to introduce Rodriguez at noon today, here's a look at what the coach brings to his new job:

Offense. Rodriguez first ran the spread offense at Glenville State in West Virginia, where he served as the head coach from 1990 to 1996.

When he left to run the offense at Tulane, he took the scheme with him and became one of its most revered practitioners.

Before it became trendy in college football, Rodriguez used four wide receiver sets and no-huddle pacing to rack up monstrous numbers - in the air and on the ground.

Previous quarterbacks under Rodriguez - Tulane's Shaun King, Clemson's Woody Dantzler, West Virignia's Rasheed Marshall and Pat White and Michigan's Denard Robinson - have been tremendous rushing threats.

Dantzler ran for 1,798 yards in the coach's final two years at Clemson.

UA redshirt quarterback Matt Scott, a senior next season, should fit the Rodriguez scheme well. As a starter for two games in 2010, Scott ran for 65 yards against Washington and 71 at UCLA, both UA wins.

• Defense. At West Virginia, Rodriguez watched defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel run a 3-3-5 defense, which features three down linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs.

The "stack" scheme is designed to put the best 11 athletes on the field, and enables a defense to blitz from anywhere, any time.

When Rodriguez was unable to get Casteel to leave for Ann Arbor, Mich., Rodriguez used coordinator Scott Shafer and then Greg Robinson.

Robinson ran the 3-3-5 in 2010, with little success, before Rodriguez was fired.

• Coaches. Lacking severely in Western credentials, look for Rodriguez to consider those outside his traditional coaching family.

He had one coach with any Western experience on his last Michigan staff, and he likely would be well-served to improve that total at Arizona.

Under former coach Mike Stoops, the Wildcats focused their recruiting on California and Texas.

This year's roster features 40 Californians, 16 Texans and 16 Arizonans. UA interim coach Tim Kish recruited Phoenix and the Inland Empire in California, and quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo focused on Fresno and Bakersfield in California, as well as Houston.

Rodriguez may try to hire Casteel, still West Virginia's defensive coordinator, to run the 3-3-5 at Arizona.

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