OC Cramsey’s offense progressing in year two
HUNTINGTON — Marshall University offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey knows the importance of a quality home.
Over the last decade, Cramsey’s football coaching career has taken him to six different locations and the last seven years have taken him to three different time zones, spanning states from Montana to West Virginia.
That makes Cramsey a bit of an
expert on finding what makes a good home, for which there is one answer: a good foundation.
In the 2018 season, Cramsey built his foundation to his liking as Marshall won nine games and showed improvement late in the season, especially in the bowl game when the Herd racked up 500-plus yards, including 280 on the ground, en route to a 38-20 win over the University of South Florida.
Now that the foundation has been set, Cramsey is focused on adding details to his new home in Huntington, which he thinks could take Marshall’s offense to the next level.
“It’s easier now that you know each other, No. 1,” Cramsey said. “With the Tyre (receiver Tyre Brady) factor last year, you tried a lot of different things to get him the ball. Now, you are in a situation where you have a lot of different targets. For the quarterback, the read will take you to who it is.”
The key to Cramsey’s offense — and most any offense — is the quarterback position, and Cramsey’s ability to expand the offense is based on the comfort level of the quarterback in play.
Isaiah Green was in camp with Cramsey last spring while Alex Thomson was still finishing up his course load at Wagner College before coming to Huntington in the summer.
Green’s additional few months on the field within the system helped him emerge into a Conference USA All-Freshman selection while leading the team to nine wins.
For Cramsey, the offseason was big because he got into the position room with all of his quarterbacks, working on the intricacies of the offense, so all of them were on the same page when spring practice started.
The evidence can be seen as Cramsey has built on the success of 2018 by testing out wrinkles in spring practice.
“It’s a lot easier in year two with the amount of time I’ve spent with the quarterbacks,” Cramsey said. “Both Isaiah and Alex are 100 percent on the same page right now, helping each other out and talking to each other. It’s a good room right now. Grant (Wells) has been able to come in and pick things up very easily, which is exciting. Luke Zban always has the ability to pick it up easy and Jackson White is the smartest of all of us. He wants to be a coach one day and that’s what he is right now. He’s in there with guys telling them what to do.”
Cramsey said the growth of the quarterbacks and the ability for each to be on the same wavelength has built trust within the room — both with the coaches and with each other. That allows Cramsey to focus his efforts on getting the other 10 guys on the offense synced up and in position.
“It’s easier with the quarterbacks talking alike, thinking alike and knowing what’s going on,” Cramsey said. “An example the other day, I started calling a formation and Isaiah finished it. It wasn’t a scripted play. That’s kind of where we’re at. We were thinking the same and doing the same. Once they know what’s going on 100 percent, then I can just tell everyone else what to do with signals. When you hold back, you hold back because the quarterback isn’t there yet. Once the quarterback is there and thinking like I’m thinking, we can really go.”
It remains to be seen whether that growth means an advance in tempo or variation in formations for 2019, but Cramsey is excited about the returning pieces within the offense, which includes receivers Obi Obialo and Willie Johnson, tight ends Armani Levias and Xavier Gaines and running backs Bren-den Knox and Tyler King.
Knox said it isn’t just the quarterbacks who are more comfortable within the offensive framework.
“It’s much more comfortable for us and it’s also pretty exciting because you just never know what he’s going to pull out of the toolbox,” Knox said. “It’s always something to look forward to.”
With many of those guys being veterans and needing less reps, the spring also gives Cramsey a chance to work with young talent, such as receivers Naquan Renalds and Talik Keaton, tight end Devin Miller and running back Sheldon Evans.
It is a situation that is ideal for Cramsey, who is starting to see the pieces come together.
“I really like where we’re at,” Cramsey said. “We have a long way to go, but I like where we are heading. There’s a strong foundation in place.”