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Cal Football

Offensive Coordinator Musgrave Will Bring Changes

February 6, 2020
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Cal’s football offense has been among the worst in the Pac-12 in the last couple of years.

New offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave says this year things will be different.

Better? Probably.

Different? Most definitely.

"I'd say significantly," Musgrave said Wednesday at the National Signing Day press gathering when asked how the Cal offense would change with him, running things. “Different approach, different language.”

Musgrave is coming to Cal after 20 years as an NFL assistant. He says he uses the MO that he learned when he was a backup quarterback for the 49ers under Bill Walsh. 

“We are going to have a system that has stood the test of time that I feel very comfortable with,” he said. “I definitely keep the language concise for the players so we can play fast, so we can get out of the huddle quickly or operate at the line of scrimmage.”

That said, Musgrave is not one who pounds square pegs in round holes. “We will present that to them, and we are going to engineer the offense to their strengths,” he said. “A lot of our concepts are right up their alley.”

No one will be more affected by the coaching and philosophy change than the quarterbacks, specifically Chase Garbers who will enter spring ball next month at the top of the depth chart.

Ron Chenoy - USATODAY
Musgrave as Denver OC

“I am excited to work with him,” Musgrave said. “And the entire quarterback room, a sharp group. They’ve got a lot of good questions, and each one of them has a lot of ability.”

Musgrave has studied the video of Garbers over the last two years.  He sees a clear progression from 2018 through last year. 

“Most of us have improved with time on the task, the more turns that you get,” Musgrave said. “And you can tell he is not a mistake-repeater. He gains from his experiences, whether he has a triumph or not. I love the way he uses his legs if it’s not there. You can see he has a mind that works very quickly. If the play is not there, he knows exactly what to do. He can salvage it.”

Many of Garbers’ rushing yards last year came via the RPO (run/pass option) play that was such a mainstay of former offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin’s playbook. While probably seldom used by Walsh’s teams, the play does have a spot in Musgrave’s game plan.

“We did a lot with the Raiders and Derek Carr the two years (2015-16) I was there,” Musgrave said. “A little bit in Denver and especially when I was with the Eagles. There have been run-pass options in football for 15 or 20 years. They have become more popular now with the technical TV shows and discussions all the way back to when I was playing for Coach (Mike) Shanahan and coach (Mike) Holmgren, whether we were under center or in the (shot)gun.”

While known as an expert on quarterbacks and the forward pass, Musgrave also realizes the danger of being one-dimensional. 

“We want to be balanced,” he said. “You can paint yourself into a corner by being a total running team or a total passing team.’

And when his team runs, Musgrave has shown a bias toward larger backs. “He always like bigger backs,” said a long-time observer of the Raiders. 

That would bode well for Christopher Brown Jr, the 6-1, 230-pound junior who was Cal’s featured back most of the season.

Although most of his coaching career has been at the pro level, Musgrave does have college experience. He was OC at Virginia in 2001 and 2002. He doesn’t anticipate a difficult re-transition.

“When I moved to coach at Virginia a million years ago (19 actually), it seemed like a seamless transition,” he said. “I expect this will be the same. These guys are sharp, they really love football, do a great job in the classroom. Of course, they’ve got great momentum on the football field so I think it will be a seamless transition. I am ready to make whatever adjustments I have to make.”

In theory, college involves more teaching, stressing fundamentals. But Musgrave said he was giving instructions to those on the highest level, so that will not be something foreign.

“You are always working on your techniques, your fundamentals. And try to develop your craft,” he said. “It is definitely important in high school and college and the good NFL guys continue to work on that. That is why they can stay in the league for a long time.”

Of course, one element that separates NFL coaching from college is recruiting. That part of the job doesn’t scare Musgrave.

“I really am looking forward to it,” he said. “In the NFL I always enjoyed the draft. I enjoy those evaluations, the draft is similar to a signing day like today. A positive time for young men and their families as they pursue their dreams.”

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Musgrave as a Raider, where he coached Derek Carr to9 his best season

Home visits are something he enjoys. “I always loved meeting the families,” he said.

A four-year starter (1987-90) at quarterback at Oregon, Musgrave went 1-3 against the Bears of Bruce Snyder. 

“I had a rough one down here my senior year,” he said. “Rhett Hall had a late hit, at least it felt like it was late, and he planted me in the turf like he thought it was Arbor Day. I had to make my way into the X-ray room in Memorial Stadium so that wasn’t the best of days. Also against Ken Harvey my freshman year, he got a few licks on me.

“It’s always a great rivalry when the Ducks take on the Golden Bears.”

Discussion from...

Offensive Coordinator Musgrave Will Bring Changes

6,256 Views | 19 Replies | Last: 3 mo ago by 01Bear
91Cal
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Can't wait for the season to begin! Go Bears!
Big C
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David Bush (or anybody), how exactly would you say the offense under Musgrave is going to differ from that under Beau Baldwin? Even though you write of "significant" differences, their approaches sound quite similar.
MoragaBear
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Staff
Big C said:

David Bush (or anybody), how exactly would you say the offense under Musgrave is going to differ from that under Beau Baldwin? Even though you write of "significant" differences, their approaches sound quite similar.
He's quoting Musgrave with the term significant. He didn't elaborate too much on the differences.
LACalFan
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The part about using concise language to play fast sounds promising. I don't want a massive learning curve for Garbers and the rest of the O.
joe amos yaks
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Will Coach Musgrave's Cal offense deploy the hidden ball trick, the statue of liberty play, or the fumblerooski?
kad02002
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Simplest explanation: one is at core a spread offense no matter what anyone says, the other is not. There are not many similarities other than what most coaches say (balance and diversity are good).
Big C
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MoragaBear said:

Big C said:

David Bush (or anybody), how exactly would you say the offense under Musgrave is going to differ from that under Beau Baldwin? Even though you write of "significant" differences, their approaches sound quite similar.
He's quoting Musgrave with the term significant. He didn't elaborate too much on the differences.

Yes. I'm wondering if anyone would care to speculate as to what those significant differences might be.

(thanks kad02002)
CALiforniALUM
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I just hope the significant difference is simply that we score more points. Like a lot more.
cyrusthebear
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He's from the Bill Walsh family, so I'm expecting more of a west-cost spread style with emphasis on short, horizontal passing routes and less emphasis on run plays to stretch out the defense. Hopefully this translates well.
UrsineMaximus
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Big C said:

MoragaBear said:

Big C said:

David Bush (or anybody), how exactly would you say the offense under Musgrave is going to differ from that under Beau Baldwin? Even though you write of "significant" differences, their approaches sound quite similar.
He's quoting Musgrave with the term significant. He didn't elaborate too much on the differences.

Yes. I'm wondering if anyone would care to speculate as to what those significant differences might be.

(thanks kad020020
Sure I'll take a crack at it, "we will actually be multiple and fit the system to the players to put them in a position to succeed".

As importantly the cerebral and complex scheme we have experienced with our defense will actually arrive for our offense, which should be quite offensive to all PAC 12 opponents.

It will be Epic and the lamentations and destruction of our enemies won't phase ole Blues.
calumnus
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kad02002 said:

Simplest explanation: one is at core a spread offense no matter what anyone says, the other is not. There are not many similarities other than what most coaches say (balance and diversity are good).


This.

Plus, It is one thing to say you are going to tailor your offense to your players' strengths and another thing to actually be able to do it effectively. Musgrave did not say much in this interview, but from everything I know about him he is much more cerebral, more of an introvert, which is what I want in my OC, more of a chess master/mad scientist/genius. Baldwin was more rah, rah, pump the players up, was knowledgeable, but not super smart, which is a better profile for a HC than an OC.

Rushinbear
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calumnus said:

kad02002 said:

Simplest explanation: one is at core a spread offense no matter what anyone says, the other is not. There are not many similarities other than what most coaches say (balance and diversity are good).


knowledgeable, but not super smart, which is a better profile for a HC than an OC.


"I resemble that remark." JW
calumnus
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Rushinbear said:

calumnus said:

kad02002 said:

Simplest explanation: one is at core a spread offense no matter what anyone says, the other is not. There are not many similarities other than what most coaches say (balance and diversity are good).


knowledgeable, but not super smart, which is a better profile for a HC than an OC.


"I resemble that remark." JW


Wilcox is definitely on the introverted side but that is one reason Cal is a good fit for him.

The future is looks bright.
BancroftSteps
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Eh ... more of a fluff piece ... not much here. One thing caught my attention and has me a little concerned:

Quote:

That said, Musgrave is not one who pounds square pegs in round holes. "We will present that to them, and we are going to engineer the offense to their strengths," he said. "A lot of our concepts are right up their alley."
The challenge is going to be Musgrave's ability to get the offense to buy in. And I'm hoping he's not too old. Couple that with the fact that his only experience coaching in college was 19 years ago and I wonder how much of a challenge this will be.

I do think a significant portion of our current offense does coalesce nicely with an old school, west coast offensive philosophy - if that's what we're looking at. Maybe that's what he means by "right up their alley" \_()_/
Cal_79
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Cal_79
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01Bear
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BancroftSteps said:

Eh ... more of a fluff piece ... not much here. One thing caught my attention and has me a little concerned:

Quote:

That said, Musgrave is not one who pounds square pegs in round holes. "We will present that to them, and we are going to engineer the offense to their strengths," he said. "A lot of our concepts are right up their alley."
The challenge is going to be Musgrave's ability to get the offense to buy in. And I'm hoping he's not too old. Couple that with the fact that his only experience coaching in college was 19 years ago and I wonder how much of a challenge this will be.

I do think a significant portion of our current offense does coalesce nicely with an old school, west coast offensive philosophy - if that's what we're looking at. Maybe that's what he means by "right up their alley" \_()_/

You're suggesting college kids with hopes of making it to the NFL are going to tell a guy who spent roughly two decades in the NFL that they know better?
calumnus
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01Bear said:

BancroftSteps said:

Eh ... more of a fluff piece ... not much here. One thing caught my attention and has me a little concerned:

Quote:

That said, Musgrave is not one who pounds square pegs in round holes. "We will present that to them, and we are going to engineer the offense to their strengths," he said. "A lot of our concepts are right up their alley."
The challenge is going to be Musgrave's ability to get the offense to buy in. And I'm hoping he's not too old. Couple that with the fact that his only experience coaching in college was 19 years ago and I wonder how much of a challenge this will be.

I do think a significant portion of our current offense does coalesce nicely with an old school, west coast offensive philosophy - if that's what we're looking at. Maybe that's what he means by "right up their alley" \_()_/

You're suggesting college kids with hopes of making it to the NFL are going to tell a guy who spent roughly two decades in the NFL that they know better?


These players have been in, or committed to, one of the least productive offenses in college football over the last three years, one that wasn't helping anyone get to the NFL. I am sure they will be very open to what Musgrave has to say.
01Bear
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calumnus said:

01Bear said:

BancroftSteps said:

Eh ... more of a fluff piece ... not much here. One thing caught my attention and has me a little concerned:

Quote:

That said, Musgrave is not one who pounds square pegs in round holes. "We will present that to them, and we are going to engineer the offense to their strengths," he said. "A lot of our concepts are right up their alley."
The challenge is going to be Musgrave's ability to get the offense to buy in. And I'm hoping he's not too old. Couple that with the fact that his only experience coaching in college was 19 years ago and I wonder how much of a challenge this will be.

I do think a significant portion of our current offense does coalesce nicely with an old school, west coast offensive philosophy - if that's what we're looking at. Maybe that's what he means by "right up their alley" \_()_/

You're suggesting college kids with hopes of making it to the NFL are going to tell a guy who spent roughly two decades in the NFL that they know better?


These players have been in, or committed to, one of the least productive offenses in college football over the last three years, one that wasn't helping anyone get to the NFL. I am sure they will be very open to what Musgrave has to say.

If anything, that's an understatement. I'm betting the offensive players (with NFL aspirations) will be soaking up every bit of knowledge they can from Coach Musgrave. I fully suspect they'll be picking Coach Musgrave's mind and mining the nuggets and kernels of Musgrave's wisdom.
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