First-year Boston College offensive coordinator Doug Martin is the latest in a long line of assistants tasked with turning around the Eagles' offense. Martin, who was head coach and offensive coordinator for seven seasons (2004-10) at Kent State, came to BC after one season as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach last year at New Mexico State. The Aggies ranked 25th among FBS teams in passing offense in 2011, averaging 273 yards per game, and averaged 398 yards of total offense per game. I caught up with Martin recently to get his take on what he has to work with when spring ball begins at BC on Saturday. Here are the highlights of our conversation:
How would you explain your offensive philosophy to BC fans and what you want to do there?
Doug Martin: We’re a multiple, one-back offense, which means we base out of a one-back, but we can easily, through shifts and motions and personnel changes get into two-back sets just as easily. But a very physical, downhill running game. I’d describe the passing game as a West Coast passing game.
How much are you changing?
DM: It will be quite a bit. The tempo of the offense will be a lot different, we’re much more up-tempo, fast out of the huddle, perhaps some no-huddle parts to the offense also. Just a lot quicker tempo than what they played at, a lot more shifts and motions, a lot more diversity to the offense than what they’ve had.
Have you gotten a chance to look at Chase Rettig, and what do you see in him as a quarterback?
DM: Yes. I really like a lot of the things I see in Chase on film. There are times when you watch him and say, ‘Man, there aren’t many guys who can make that throw.’ You see him throw a post route or certain things. I think it’s more him getting comfortable in a system, and having confidence, which means he’s prepared. I think that’s where we’ve got to get with him. Whoever the quarterback is, that’s how good we’re going to be, whether it’s he or Josh Bordner, whoever it is, that’s how good our offense will be, however good that guy is.
Are you opening up a competition then? I know Josh played a little bit last year.
DM: Any time you go into spring, especially as a new coach, you want competition at every position. I know coach Spaziani feels that way also. Everybody’s gotta go compete.
You mentioned a physical, downhill running game. I know you guys had one of the best backs in the ACC, but Montel was banged up last year. Do you even know what you can expect from him, or is it a spring-will-tell kind of thing?
DM: Well, when he’s healthy, he’s as good as anybody. That was a terrible blow to the offense last year, with him being hurt, but hopefully he’s going to be healthy. He’s doing everything now. He looks great. A lot of quickness, a lot of explosion. From what I’ve seen in the past, he catches the ball really well. He’s a difference-maker.
How much do you feel like you have to accomplish this spring, and what’s a realistic goal in terms of installation?
DM: We’ll get the entire offense installed, that’s not the issue. The issues to me are twofold: No. 1 the attitude of the offensive players. We’ve got to become a much more attack-oriented, aggressive, up-tempo offense, and a lot of that is the attitude that they play with. No. 2 is us establishing an identity offensively. I need to have these guys on the field to find out what they can do. What set of skills do our receivers really excel at? That’s the direction we’ll go. Us coming out of spring with an identity, being able to say, ‘Ok, this is what we’re good at,’ that’s what we’ve got to get done this spring.
How hard is it to get them to buy in because there’s been such an unusual amount of turnover at the coordinator position?
DM: I can tell you the same thing I told them: You don’t win with systems, you win with people. If they will buy in and we are all in this deal together going in one direction, then we’ll succeed. That’s where it is. We’ve got to check the egos at the door, and everybody has to be in this together, including me, and we’ll be fine. I think right now it’s a very hungry group of players offensively. I think they’ve got a little bit of a chip on their shoulder because they haven’t done as well as they wanted to, and that’s healthy. We’ve got to build off of that.
What’s the response you’ve gotten so far from them?
DM: I think a lot of excitement right now. They come in, watch film, see what the offense looks like. I think they’re excited about the possibilities. It’s kind of a fresh start for everybody. What I’ve seen so far has been very, very positive. I love what I see here athletically from the players we’ve got, and I think I can make them better.
Why did you want this job?
DM: No. 1, it’s Boston College. In my mind, it’s one of the best academic and athletic institutions in the country. Look at the tradition of it, both academically and athletically. Not many colleges can say they’ve done what this place has done. And then the chance to compete at a high level as a coach. To come to the ACC and prove to myself that I can coach at this level and put a good product on the field, that’s a great challenge to me.
What do you want BC fans to know about you?
DM: Just that I’m going to do everything in my power to make us an effective offensive football team. There’s no egos with me. It’s all a team-oriented deal. We’ve got a great group of assistant coaches here. We’re going to work as hard as we can to be exciting, but it will be an exciting offensive brand of football for them to come watch.