Bears look to emphasize wide zone offense

Baylor football will have a fresh offensive strategy as the new offensive coordinator, Jeff Grimes, prepares for this upcoming season. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

“We’re an attacking offense that runs a few plays a lot of ways — more misdirection than anybody in the country,” senior wide receiver Tyquan Thornton said in a press conference on Aug. 10.

That’s the kind of offense new Baylor offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes wants the Bears to have. Coming from Brigham Young University after winning the 2020 Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach, Grimes is known for his belief in the wide zone offensive scheme.

“Coach Grimes, his emphasis on wide zone and the play action is like something I’ve never seen before,” junior quarterback Gerry Bohanon said.

The wide zone scheme is based on horizontal motion by the offensive lineman, allowing him to stretch the field in a certain direction and create gaps for the running backs to read the field.

“The wide zone is something that I believe in,” Grimes said in a press conference. “I’ve been fortunate to have been in a lot of different offensive systems, and the wide zone is one that has been the most consistent play in the NFL for the past 20 to 25 years.”

Part of the reason Grimes loves the wide zone scheme is that anyone can run it as long as he’s “coachable and athletic.”

“They don’t have to be any specific skill set — just be coachable and willing to execute the play,” Grimes said. “It’s something that I have really become a believer in and fits with a lot of the things that I like in the passing game as well, so it will be something we hang our hat on.”

Last season under Grimes’ scheme, BYU had one of the top offenses in the country. It averaged 43.5 points per game, which was No. 4 in the nation, and 522.2 yards per game, which was No. 6 in the nation. BYU also ranked No. 2 in offensive touchdowns with 68 and No. 1 in yards per play with 7.84. Comparatively, Baylor’s offense struggled, ranking No. 118 in the nation in total offense. However, the new offensive approach has the players excited.

“I love this offense … it stretches everybody out, and off of that, we can get play action passes … and the receivers just come open from that,” sophomore quarterback Jacob Zeno said.

Even with all of the excitement, there are still a few things the veteran players are getting used to.

“I can’t tell you the last time I’ve been in a huddle,” senior wide receiver R.J. Sneed said. “I mean, we get in the huddle sometimes during the season, but when the QBs have wristbands on and they say, ‘Huddle up,’ that’s one big change.”

With all of the offseason practices and camps, the players have had the chance to gain a better understanding of the offense as a whole. The players have already noticed the difference it has made.

“You can just tell guys’ knowledge of the offense is so much better,” senior running back Trestan Ebner said. “Even where we left off in the spring — with the studying we did during the summer, the extra workout sessions we did together — everybody’s knowledge of the offense is good, so we’re able to come in and hit it fast.”

All that’s left for the Bears to do now is to show that knowledge on Saturdays.