Mike Levenseller set several receiving records as a star wideout at
Washington State. He played in the
both the NFL and the Canadian Football League. He was an assistant in the CFL. And he coached the wide receivers at WSU
for nine seasons before adding the title of offensive coordinator to his
Except being an OC under Mike Price was a
little different than at anywhere else.
“This will not be Mike Levenseller’s offense,” he
said the day he assumed his additional responsibilities. Not that he minded the
arrangement. To the contrary.
He often joked about being the “assistant offensive
coordinator”. And he remains
supportive and devoted to the man who recruited him out of high school and who’s
had a great influence on his playing and coaching careers.
The offensive game planning and preparation operated
like a committee under Price.
Levenseller was the head of that committee, in a sense. Every offensive assistant had input into
the game planning. And that
probably won’t change a whole lot.
It may still operate in much the same way.
Because great observations and ideas come from a
tight ends coach, a quarterbacks coach - not just an offensive coordinator or
But the head coach who values input from every member
of the staff is now Bill Doba.
And Doba will not be the de facto OC. That responsibility is now Levenseller’s
- and not just the planning & prep.
More noticeable on Saturday afternoons will be this
change: the game day play calling.
In the past, the first ten plays were scripted with Levy and others all
contributing during the week to those first ten plays. But after that, the offensive
coordinator on the sidelines was the head coach.
Price called the plays. All the plays. And while he got input from Levenseller
during the game, the final call was made by Price. “He’s got the hammer,” said Levenseller
in ‘02, referring to Price as an offensive coordinator.
But that’s in the past. What does the future
Doba plans to continue a method favored by his
predecessor. He will allow
defensive coordinator Robb Akey the freedom to call his game. Unlike his predecessor, Doba intends to
also extend that approach to the offense.
This year we get to see what a Levenseller offense
Coach Doba has said he will not walk in the next
morning and second-guess his coordinators and assistant coaches. Doba has also emphasized he does not
intend to fix things that aren’t broken.
Wholesale changes? No. Changes? You bet.
Not everything has yet been revealed about the
offense. You certainly don’t want
to let opponents know your game plan in advance. But a few details have emerged publicly
that offer a glimpse into what we’ll see this coming year.
As a former wide receiver, one might opine that
Levenseller favors chucking it deep, throwing it early and often. Nothing could be further from the
truth. Sure, with the speed and
talent at receiver this season, there will be times the Cougs stretch the
But there is value in the running game and in the
short passing game. And the
offensive coordinator knows it.
The tight end will be integral in the passing game
this year; a welcome bit of news for Cougs that recall names like Pat
Beach, Butch Williams, and Brett Carolan. And it doesn’t end there for what is
arguably the deepest position the Cougs field in ’03. The tight end has another responsibility
this season, one just as critical as receiving yards.
There will be times the TE serves as the lead blocker
for the ground attack. Along with
- Jesse Taylor, Adam West, and Cody Boyd may all see playing time
this season. Taylor was actually
recruited by UCLA as a fullback - watch for JT plowing the road this
With two potential gamebreakers in Jermaine
Green and Chris Bruhn, Levenseller is looking to run the ball more
than in seasons past. To say there
will be battles in the trenches is not wholly accurate. Full-scale war is more like it. And line coach George Yarno
believes in smash mouth.
"We will be better up front," Levenseller said. "We
have a good group of veterans and we will be better at knocking people off the
football than we have the last two years.”
So along with Green and Bruhn, Jonathan Smith
and Allen Thompson may also have opportunities to run through those big
holes on the way to paydirt.
And let me close with this thought on Levenseller’s
offense. Some in Cougar Nation are
curious about the receiving corps after losing Mike Bush, Jerome
Riley and Collin Henderson to graduation.
Levenseller, entering his twelfth year coaching the
wide receivers noted, "One thing that I think we
are is pretty tough. It's a real
physical group of kids. It's a real
coachable group of kids that wants to get better…I think we have some real
exciting young guys that nobody has heard about yet."
Can’t wait. I simply can’t wait to see Mike
Levenseller direct the offense. For
the first time.