Successful offenses don’t just happen overnight in college football. It takes time, practice and most importantly chemistry. Simply put, a perfect connection is just impossible to stop.
Looking ahead to the 2021-2022 season, there’s definitely some player pairings that will shape their teams’ success in the Fall. Let’s take a look at some of these dynamic duos:
1. Oklahoma Quarterback Spencer Rattler and Wide Receiver Marvin Mims
The 2020 season brought Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley into unfamiliar territory. It took four seasons for him to finally get one of his own projects under, well, behind center (Oklahoma is all shotgun offense). Riley’s previous quarterbacks of Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts were all transfers into the program.
Spencer Rattler didn’t have a seamless transition into the starting role, and quite honestly it was a rocky road. His first four games as starter saw many overthrows and misreads, coupled with gut wrenching interceptions. He actually got benched for a little bit against Texas, which essentially lit the fire. From that point on, Rattler was drastically better.
He is is very animated and ultra confident as seen from his appearance in the Netflix series QB1: Beyond the Lights. He can make unbelievable off balance and jump throws into impossible throwing lanes and windows. That superstar mentality had to be toned down a bit for his success, but fortunately he found a perfect balance.
Rattler and the offense immediately became a real threat with the emergence of the previously mentioned Marvin Mims. He is an absolute burner and can create so much space underneath by running off the coverage. Without a doubt, Mims is Rattler’s favorite target.
With a full offseason these two Sooner stars should develop some serious chemistry. Riley knows how to get playmakers the ball, as seen with previous wideouts CeeDee Lamb and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. Both guys were able to achieve multiple 1,000 yard seasons under Riley’s tenure.
Look for Mims and Rattler to have bilateral success in Norman in the future.
2. Ohio State Wide Receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave
Historically, Ohio State’s offense has always been anchored by successful running back play. That is until Ryan Day was hired by Urban Meyer, three days after Ohio State’s 31-0 loss to Clemson in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl. Since that day, no pun intended, the Buckeye offense has been potent through the air.
Wilson and Olave made Ohio State history this season by becoming the first wideouts to both record consecutive 100 yard receiving games. Surprisingly, it only took them the first two weeks to accomplish the feat. Wilson actually went for four straight 100 yard games to start the season, while Olave finished with 729 yards and seven TDs in only seven games.
Having these two wideouts will really help transition the offense into the post-Justin Fields era. Both Olave and Wilson are technicians that can beat the defense deep, or find a soft pocket in the zone. They should be targeted early and often by the new signal caller in Columbus next season.
3. USC Wide Receivers Drake London and Bru McCoy
Under offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, USC has all but abandoned the running game. Over the past two seasons, the Trojans saw their passing game triple and then nearly quadruple their rushing numbers. Quarterback Kedon Slovis certainly has no issues with these numbers, but in order to continue the efficiency he needs help on the perimeter.
Look no further than London and McCoy to help lead the charge. Both wideouts are ultra talented and up to the task. Each attacks the defense in their own way, so let’s see what makes them unique:
London stands at a towering 6’5” which makes him a massive target. He has an elite basketball background too, which only helps him with body positioning to shield off defenders. There is one interesting thing about him though that is quite odd given his traits.
London operates and generates the majority of his numbers out of the slot. Usually those roles are reserved for the smaller and twitchy guys. Even though he’s not the ideal framework for a slot guy, London makes it work.
He possesses an incredible set of hands that allow for contested catches. For a taller receiver he’s a great route runner and creates a good bit of separation out of the break. Also, London doesn’t go down easily, as seen from his valiant effort to find the end zone vs UCLA, breaking numerous tackles.
When it comes to McCoy, it’s a whole different story. Speaking of story, McCoy’s unrivaled path to Los Angeles is a whole separate article in itself. Regardless, the young man can straight up ball.
He possesses elite athleticism which makes him a matchup problem for anyone. He can out jump the defenders and run past the coverage on deep balls. Also, he acts like a running back with the ball, showcasing the strength to break multiple tackles.
If these two players live up to the hype heading into the 2021 season, USC should find itself with two possible candidates to win the Biletnikoff.
4. Old Dominion Quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. and Running Back Ricky Slade
This tandem is probably not appearing on anyone’s board outside of Norfolk, Virginia. The Monarchs quietly possess one of the best backfield duos in the Conference USA (C-USA). Both Mack Jr. and Slade chose other destinations out of high school, but thanks to the transfer portal they’ve found common ground at Old Dominion.
Mack Jr. hasn’t even taken a snap yet in C-USA but has already played in a New Year’s Six game. He led UCF toe-to-toe with LSU in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl, due to the injury of starting quarterback McKenzie Milton. Though he wasn’t highly efficient through the air, he showed he can get the job done with his legs.
Pairing Mack Jr. and his running abilities with those of Slade is an ideal match. Even though Slade saw limited action in his short stint for Penn State, he showed a lot of promise. He was the top all-purpose back and a highly regarded five star recruit coming out of high school.
Slade has incredible footwork and utilizes that to make quick cuts and spins. He is also a dynamic threat in the receiving game by being able to run the full route tree from the back field. Utilizing him in a read option attack would really showcase is skill set.
Obviously this duo is a projection due to not taking the field together. However, Old Dominion was one of the handful of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs that opted out for the 2020 season. That should allow a fresh slate for all incoming and previous players, allowing both of these players to claim the starting roles.