In one of his first moves as CU’s latest head coach, Coach Prime hired Sean Lewis to be the Buffs’ offensive coordinator.
Lewis was the head coach of Kent State from 2018-2022 when Coach Prime and Colorado came calling. The Buffs were willing to buy out Lewis from his head coaching contract for $750,000 to lead the offense in Boulder.
In his five years at Kent State, the Golden Flashes only went 24-31. With Dustin Krum as Lewis’ starting quarterback from 2019-2021, despite the record, Kent State was one of the most dynamic and explosive offenses in the country.
In Krum’s final year with Lewis in 2021, Kent State ranked 5th in the country in yards per game (494.6), 10th in plays per game (75.1) and 30th in points per game (33.0).
In this edition of Buffs Film Room, we take a deep dive into Lewis’ offense and how his scheme is an even more modern take on current college-football trends.
Everything has an option
RPOs, read options, pre-snap motion and misdirection have become commonplace in college football but Sean Lewis cranks it up another 10 notches.
Nearly every single play Lewis calls has an option attached to it, sometimes multiple options. Lewis had good success at Kent State with Dustin Krum at quarterback but as Krum got wiser and more experienced, the Golden Flash offense began to soar.
As I noted in the Shedeur Sanders film room, Sanders is a smart and cerebral quarterback but don’t be surprised if there are some growing pains as he settles into Lewis’ offense.
This play has three options for the quarterback: a shovel pass to the h-back, tucking and running or throwing downfield. Watch how this play affects Buffalo’s second level. No matter what those linebackers decide to do, Lewis has a counter.
Later on against Buffalo, Lewis adds another wrinkle to this shovel option. Kent State flows heavily into the boundary with the shovel and speed option aspect we saw before but now the slot player comes back around on an end around with two linemen leading the way.
Pre-snap, this look screams QB sneak. But Lewis is one step ahead and calls a perfectly timed speed option out of this formation.
This clip is from 2022 with Collin Schlee at quarterback. The play starts off like most zone-read options do but Kent State lines up their h-back to the boundary and then run him underneath the line to the field side flat.
Here is another variation of that same RPO flat option.
Lewis also has these funky, outside zone, read options that almost look like inverted veer. Instead, Lewis’ wrinkle is having the left tackle wrap around for an iso/insert block. The left tackle creates a massive lane for Krum to run through on the read-option pull.
Here we have a power RPO to the field with a slant flat concept attached to the backside. This is a more convenient RPO but as you’ll begin to notice, Lewis loves pulling his backside linemen at nearly every opportunity.
Now we have a jet sweep read option that plays out beautifully. The sideline-to-sideline action of the jet sweep in conjunction with the left tackle and guard pulling upfield and kicking out create a natural crease for Schlee to run into. The left tackle has a free run up to the safety!
Power run game is the backbone of the offense
As previously mentioned, Lewis loves pulling linemen across the formation to gain a numbers advantage in the run game. Guard/tackle (GT) power and counter are the base plays that make most of this offense work and make sense.
But as we will get into, the h-back and center are also utilized to pull across and make big blocks in Lewis’ offense.
There is jet motion and an h-back lead across the formation but this is essentially a power read. Lewis also has the weakside receiver tagged to run a curl on this play also.
Here is the play in its most bare form, GT counter-read. Krum reads the strongside end, pulls the ball and
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