There’s been a lot of hype centered around W&M Offensive Coordinator Brennan Marion‘s patented “GoGo” offense this offseason. For context, Coach Marion was the Offensive Coordinator for new W&M Head Coach Mike London over the past two years at Howard, and boy did Marion impress in the role.
With Marion as OC in 2018, the Bison finished with strong national rankings (yes, these are stats for the entire FCS):
- 15th in in Total Offense (470.8 yards per game)
- 16th Passing Offense (278.0 passing yards per game)
- 21st in Scoring Offense (33.6 points per game)
- 4th in Yards Per Completion (17.27 yards per completion)
And oh, by the way, the Bison led their conference (the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, MEAC) in all of the above categories; and let’s not forget that they also led the MEAC in rushing yards per game (192.8). One year prior, in 2017, Marion’s offense ranked 13th nationally in Total Offense (446.0) and 18th in rushing yards per game (215.5). So yes, there is historical precedent for this success — last season wasn’t just a flash in the pan.
Overall, Marion’s offense has proven extremely successful (so far), and we truly think that his success will continue now that he’s at William & Mary.
So what makes his offense so good? What does this “GoGo” offense actually look like? Say no more. We’ve done the hard work for you — complete with inside scoop and visuals to get you pumped for this coming Fall. Roll Tribe Roll.
Introducing: The GoGo Offense
Two running backs next to the QB on the right, 3 receivers out wide
Now this is a very odd set, but one that we saw over and over again in the highlight reel. Not only are the running backs both on the same side, but they are also lined up right next to the QB. The QB and the two RBs make a horizontal line in the backfield, making for a bizarre look. In this set, there are too many offensive options to even count. In the play, one of the RBs in the backfield goes out for a pass as soon as the ball is snapped, while the other RB is involved in a play action pass with the QB. The ball ends up going to the RB that goes out for a pass — making for a huge gain. This play is so tricky for defenses because the LB doesn’t know if it is going to be handed off to the RB, whether the QB is going to keep it himself, or whether he is going to pass. Since there are two backs in the backfield, one LB has to cover the run and the other has to cover the pass. During this play, both linebackers sell out on the run, and forget about the other RB running the route — and you see the result: a big gain.
Two running backs behind the quarterback, both on the same side, one receiver out wide, 6 on the line
Again, I don’t think we’ve ever seen a look where both running backs are on the same side of a quarterback, but that’s how Howard lined up in this play. Throughout the course of the play, one running back goes straight ahead toward the line, while the other goes to the outside looking for a pitch. In this situation, the QB has several options: first, he can hand it off to the running back going straight ahead; second, he can fake the handoff to the running back, and keep it himself; third, he can pitch it to the running back going outside (essentially, your classic triple option). But fourth, he could fake the handoff and pass the ball. So, count ’em, that makes four different options that opposing defenses have to plan for on one play. While this play ended up stuffed at the line, it keeps defenses on their toes — and serves to open up the passing game in the long-term.
Two running backs to left side of QB, tight end on the right side of line, 2 WRs out wide
Similar to the formation above, two RBs are stationed right next to the QB. However, this time, they’re in a power formation. Not only do you have two running backs to one side of the QB, but you also have a TE right behind the right tackle on the line. On the play, the ball is run to the right; the left guard swings and becomes a lead blocker on the right side, and one of the RBs also becomes an additional blocker in the same area. Therefore, the RB that is given the ball has a guard and another RB blocking in front of him, leading to an easy 5-6 yard gain that would have gone for much more had a nice open field tackle not been made.
Two running backs to the right side of QB, 6 men on the line, 2 wide receivers out wide
Spoiler alert: this play ends up being a 35-yard TD rush. During the play, the first RB runs to the right side to block; luckily for the O, all three linebackers bite and go to the right with the first RB, thinking it’s a run that way. One of the opposing safeties comes down to cover the left side, but forgets one thing: the middle is wide open. Ultimately, the other RB gets the handoff up the middle, and with the safety already coming down and taking off the left side, the RB has nothing between him and the goal line — walking in untouched. Touchdown.
Two running backs to the right of the QB, stacked line, 2 wide receivers out wide
In a goal line/must-score situation, Marion dialed up a play with plenty of action and movement to throw the defense off guard. Just before the ball is snapped, a wide receiver sprints over to look like he’s running the sweep. The entire defense slants that way, but the QB hands it off to one of his two backfield-mates, who runs the opposite direction for the easy touchdown. At this point, the defense’s head is spinning, and ready to call it a day.
The “GoGo” offense requires a QB that can run the ball.
Last season at Howard, the QB was Caylin Newton (fun fact: he’s Cam Newton’s brother). But unlike his brother Cam, who stands 6’5″, Caylin is much smaller (5’11”, 185 pounds). Last season, Caylin rushed for 504 yards and 4 touchdowns, averaging 50 rushing yards per game. To put this in perspective, W&M’s entire offense averaged just 55 rushing yards per game last season. Therefore, whoever takes the helm for the Green and Gold this season must have the ability to run the ball.
The GoGo is a no-huddle, fast-paced offense.
At the end of each play, the QB and the offense look over to the sideline to get the call in from Marion. Once they get the signal on what play is next, the QB yells to his offense and they get set. There’s no huddling, and there’s very little time in between plays. If a team can do this and successfully gain first downs on a consistent basis, opposing defenses will get gassed very easily, especially in the 4th quarter. The issue with this fast, u- tempo offense, is that if your defense just had a long series and your offense rattles off a quick 3-and-out in a matter of 30-45 seconds, then your defense own ends up gassed. It’s a double-edged sword for sure, but when executed successfully, it can work magic in today’s NCAA game. So what does this mean for us fans? Don’t leave your seat when the Tribe is on offense — or you might miss several big plays in just a short period of time.
A lot will be riding on the QB in this offense.
Not only will the QB need to have the ability to run (as mentioned above), but he’ll absolutely have to make fast-twitch, smart decisions with the ball each and every play. This offense can not only be confusing for opposing defenses, but it can also be confusing for our own offensive personnel — especially as they pick up the new system at the beginning of the season. Essentially, the starting QB will need to know the playbook like the back of his hand to be successful.
At the end of the day, one thing is for certain: I do NOT want to be a Defensive Coordinator game planning for the Tribe offense this season. And overall, we cannot wait to see Albert Funderburke and Owen Wright in the backfield at the same time, providing defenses nightmares all season long.
LET’S GO TRIBE.