Kasey Dunn brings a new type of excitement to Stillwater. The longtime wide receivers coach has become a sort of wide receiver savant. He’s coached Biletnkoff Award finalist Tylan Wallace, winner James Washington and two-time winner Justin Blackmon.
The accolades go on and one for one of college football’s hidden gems and the Cowboys’ new offensive coordinator.
As OC, Dunn will be tasked with a different role. While he still holds the title of wide receivers coach, Dunn will now be calling plays while he takes on a bigger role in game planning.
But that begs the question: what does a Dunn offense look like?
In the media’s first — and only — interaction with the OSU football team during spring practice before the pandemic hit, Dunn talked about how this was Mike Gundy’s offense, and he’s just here to call plays.
While it’s true, Gundy has his imprints all over this offense, each OC has their own style and pace to how they go about a game plan. Each play-caller has favorites — maybe they rely on a particular concept, formation or receiver. Or maybe they prefer to run more than pass or vice versa.
To figure out Dunn’s tendencies, we have to circle back to what’s now noted as the “elevator drive.”
During OSU’s 52-36 victory over Oregon State on Aug. 30, 2019, offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson and others were stuck in an elevator during the first drive of the second half. And so, Dunn called the plays during the 10-play drive.
The result? A touchdown.
But it’s not so black and white. The drive gives us some suggestions as to how Dunn may calls plays in 2020, but it shouldn’t be taken as an absolute — we don’t know how much of it was previously scripted.
Taking a look at the 71-yard drive that went for a TD, a few things stuck out to me.
The first was the pace. The Cowboys often went no-huddle and pushed the tempo — a staple of many high-powered offenses.
Dunn got it started with a Hubbard run to begin the drive. But from there he went pass-heavy.
That doesn’t simply equate to 7-step drops where Spencer Sanders launched the ball down the field, most of those the dropbacks were to quick passes or screens. Which we saw a lot of in 2019.
There was a QB draw mixed in there, which appeared to be the perfect play call against a man-to-man Cover 1 look.
While Dunn didn’t necessarily dial up any deep shots, some of that may have had to do with the fact it was Sanders’ first game ever.
OSU went pass-heavy for the first half of the drive, but that changed when the Cowboys got in the red zone. They rushed the ball four of five of those plays. The one pass play was a back-shoulder to Tylan Wallace where he came down with the ball, but his foot was out of bounds.
With those four Hubbard runs, two were zone runs — where offensive linemen are blocking a particular zone — and the other two were power runs — where a guard will “pull” and set up as a lead blocker for the running back on the other side of the formation.
Both have their merits, and different play-callers prefer using different schemes based on their personnel and style.
As I said, this one drive doesn’t definitely tell us how Dunn is going to call plays on Saturdays, but it at least gives us a jab at what we might see.
One thing is for sure, Dunn knows OSU inside and out. He’s been in Stillwater since 2011 and made a huge impact in those 9 years.
I’ll be interested to see how the plays are split out at receiver. Before the ACL tear, it was really the Tylan Wallace show last year. At times it felt like Cowboys were too reliant on Wallace.
Don’t get me wrong. Wallace should absolutely be the alpha dog given his efficiency with a high-target share and blistering talent. But spreading the ball a bit more to other receivers helps open up the field, open up the run game, even open up the coverage for Wallace.
And this is what I was alluding to earlier — every play-caller has their own style.
Nobody knows these receivers better than Dunn. After Wallace went down, Dillion Stoner showed out as No. 1 guy with 3-93-2 and 5-150-2 stat lines against TCU and Kansas.
Stoner has talent, it’s just about drawing up plays for him.
Then there’s Brayden Johnson, who Dunn talked up during that one media availability. While he’s raw, Johnson has the size and speed that you simply can’t teach.
Dunn knows how to develop these guys and all the other receivers at his disposal. He knows them better than anyone else. He knows their strengths, their weakness and how to get them in the best position to succeed.
That’ll be one interesting thing to see, but there’s obviously still a bunch of unknowns.
How the offense adapt with the loss of left tackle Dylan Galloway? Does Chuba Hubbard take on a bigger role as a pass-catcher in 2020? Will Sanders operate as more of a pocket passer?
We don’t know the answers to these things yet. But they will surely play a role in how Dunn’s offense looks.
Whatever direction Dunn takes this team, it’s going to be exciting to see.