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New FSU offensive coordinator Kendal Briles brings updates to Gulf Coast Offense

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Houstonizing the Gulf Coast Offense.

NCAA Football: Tulane at Houston Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Several weeks of speculation gave way to Tallahassee’s most open secret being announced in a statement this past Sunday: Kendal Briles is Florida State’s new Offensive Coordinator.

Briles’ hire is effectively a hire for continuity— the vast majority of Willie Taggart’s Gulf Coast Offense shares very similar stylistic roots. Taggart notably visited with Art Briles, Kendal, and the rest of the Baylor staff as he was implementing the GCO.

This feature is the first of many Tomahawk Nation will run regarding the Briles influence on FSU’s offense this offseason. This initial breakdown will be simple, and TN will dive deeper into the Xs and Os this offseason.

A basic summary of the commonalities of the Briles and GCO systems includes the following: a no-huddle offense run with high tempo, receiver splits wider than the numbers, a focus on one-on-one matchups on the edge, quarterbacks heavily involved in the run game both on designed runs and reads, a downhill running game featuring primarily gap blocking and inside zone, and a bevy of play-action passes based on these run concepts.

Kendal Briles has adapted his offense at Houston, however.

WR Splits

Traditionally, the Briles system and the GCO have used extremely wide receiver splits. This means that in four receiver “10” formations, all receivers — even slot receivers — would often be outside the numbers. The purpose of this horizontal split is twofold: it simplifies coverage and box number reads for the QB and stretches the defense horizontally, preventing slot defenders from “cheating.” An example from FSU vs. Boston College:

At Houston, Kendal Briles modified the splits to be more traditional, as seen here vs. USF:

While the outside receivers are still hugging the sidelines, the interior receivers are more aligned to traditional slot receiver splits between the hashes and the numbers.

This allows the slot receivers to become more involved in motion— Briles’ Houston offense heavily featured jet action and, to a lesser extent, orbit motion.

Window Dressing

Traditional splits allow the jet and orbit actions to play a larger part in both the run and pass game. Being outside the numbers makes jet action very difficult— it’s simply a long way to run and takes a lot of time.

The above play is inside zone read with orbit motion featuring an arc block from the H-back. It’s a microcosm of how Briles has taken his traditional spread option runs and added window dressing to improve it. The widest receiver runs vertically to open space to the field side, and the combined read/orbit freezes backside defenders who would normally follow the motion. The arc block frees up space to the field side and the back has tons of green grass to feast on.

The jet action also helps with the QB run game. The below concept is QB dart, where the puller attacks the C gap:

The jet motion attached to this moves defenders in a more traditional manner than the prior video: the backside defender is frozen by the motion, so not only does the offense have the number advantage of the quarterback running, but also has one less man in the box to contend with. The puller and the running back clear tons of space for D’Eriq King to attack.

Briles continues to use the same pass and run concepts that both his and Taggart’s system use, but has adapted formations and introduced more window dressing to improve the output of his Houston offense. Extreme splits are still featured, but it is always encouraging to see a coach adapt his offense to his personnel, especially when it succeeds.

As Briles takes over play calling duties, Florida State fans will see the FSU offense look very similar to the 2018 edition. Just with a little more window dressing and, hopefully, a lot more success.

Stay tuned for more as Tomahawk Nation continues to break down Briles’ offense this offseason.