COMMENTARY| Air raid - (n) - a raid by aircraft, especially for bombing a particular area, an attack by a hostile aircraft.
If you were anywhere near a television last fall, there's no way you could've missed the statistics that the West Virginia Mountaineer's quarterback Geno Smith put up. Along with his wide receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, Smith and WVU made head coach Dana Holgorsen's life a little easier. Well, offensively anyways.
On September 29, the Mountaineers scored 70 points for the second time in five games. Smith threw for 656 yards and 8 touchdowns, all while completing 88.2 percent of his passes and throwing no interceptions. Bailey had 13 receptions for 303 yards and 5 touchdowns. Austin caught 14 passes for 215 yards and 2 touchdowns. Needless to say, this offense was clicking at its finest.
The Carolina Panthers should learn from this. They have all of the pieces to run the Air Raid offense. Let's break it down and compare the pieces of the Panthers to WVU's.
Quarterback - WVU had Smith. Smith was a second round draft pick. While he's accurate and mobile, he's so far had trouble transitioning into the NFL. Carolina has Cam Newton. Newton was a Heisman Trophy winner and a national champion who was the first overall pick. Both of these guys are mobile and have strong arms. The key to the Air Raid offense is to move fast, much like a blitzkrieg from World War II. Newton surely has the athleticism to run a fast paced offense; he just needs to take over as a leader.
Primary receiver - WVU's number one guy was Bailey. The Panthers have Steve Smith. If you remember any pre-draft talk, you'll remember that Bailey drew many comparisons to Smith. Both of them are smaller receivers who are feisty and have good hands. Smith is a quicker than Bailey and has a mean streak in him. This puts Smith in prime position to execute this offense along with Newton.
X-Factor - This is where the offense gets tricky. WVU's playmaker was none other than Austin. Austin was rendered as the league's most exciting player and was drafted 8th overall in this year's draft. Carolina seems to lack that x-factor guy, a guy who can do it all. This might be a stretch, but hear me out. Kenjon Barner could be that guy. Barner can make plays and has that breakaway speed. He could go out and line up in the slot, come in motion, or line up in the backfield. Smith could also become this guy if someone like Brandon LaFell can step up at receiver.
Now I know that the idea of taking a page out of a college team's playbook in the NFL sounds kind of silly, but just think about it. Could you imagine Newton throwing for, let's say, 450 yards and 5 touchdowns? Or Smith catching 12 passes for 280 yards and 3 touchdowns? And LaFell jumping in and catching 10 passes for 120 yards and a score? Obviously the numbers would be a little skewed because of talent level, but you get the picture. The Panthers have the pieces to lay out an air attack on the NFL and put some scary numbers up on the board.
Matt is a graduate of WVU. He covers Division II sports and the Washington Wild Things for Pittsburgh Sporting News, WVU football for Ohio Valley Athletics, and anything WVU for Pros Report/ WVU Pros. Follow him on Twitter @Welch1048.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Geno Smith
- Stedman Bailey
- Tavon Austin
- Cam Newton