Jason Gesser, the 32-year-old former Washington State quarterback, is the new offensive coordinator at Idaho.
We've got all the details below, including lots of quotes from Robb Akey and Gesser.
My final story for the night can be read here. I was able to reach Robb Akey and Gesser this afternoon/evening, and here are a few assorted quotes from both — most of which didn't make it in the story:
On creating a family atmosphere: “The one thing that I’m a believer in and being around a bunch of teams I’ve been on … is that I’m really going to bring that flavor of our offense being a family. Being out there, playing for each other, caring for each other, knowing what the other guys are doing and really, really clicking. If you look at any successful team in the history of college sports and NFL sports, it hasn’t just one guy or two guys who have been successful. It’s been an offense, a group of guys that have been clicking. It’s been a team that clicks and goes together.”
On his style as coach: “Things are going to be pretty similar, but as always I’m going to have my own little flavor, my own little feel. History goes back to me playing this offense at Washington State. It was something very, very similar at Tennessee. Playing the offense at St. Louis High … Seeing certain things and being under certain coaches like Danny White of Arena League and understanding what philosophies and schemes may attack certain defenses — those are all things that I’m drawing my back on in my experiences.”
On holding players accountable: “One of the biggest things I learned is that the more you put on your players, the more they’ll respond. The more you take away from them, the more they’ll lean on you. Meaning that these kids are smart kids and they want to be thought of that way. They want to be given more freedom, more space, more accountability on certain things. And the more you restrict them and the more you say, ‘Hey, you know what, if we just tell him to do this, then he’ll just do that’ rather than just teaching them and explaining to them and giving them more a why than they’ll be more free-flowing and be able to play football a little better. I think that’s the biggest thing I learned this last year.”
On next year: “I feel very strong about the guys we have coming back. But you also have to look at we’re also losing a lot of great players. We’re losing Kama Bailey and Princeton McCarty, who did very well for us in the backfield last year. Bass did a great job for us and we’ve got Todd Handley and James Baker coming in as a JC transfer. The offensive line I think will be the most notable place with losing three starters up front. We’re excited about … AJ Jones and Mike Marboe holding things down at center. But finding out who’s going to compete for those starting jobs, who’s going to compete, who’s going to raise up in spring ball. The receiving corps, hopefully we’ll get Veltung back and get him healthy again and bring in some more experienced backup guys who played last year. We’re still going to be looking for a couple guys to step up and compete. At the quarterback position … we have two great guys coming up and competing for a starting job.”
On hiring Gesser: “There are obviously going to be three new coaches that come in here from other places. I’m going to hire guys that have the ability to get it done the way I want it done. We have two guys on the staff, Jason Gesser and Al Pupunu, who know exactly how we’ve been doing things — what’s been good about it and what we can do to make those other things better. If the offensive coordinator was to come from someplace else, then you end up with some additional transitions that make things a little bit more difficult.”
“As I bring coaches in, Al Pupunu and my line coach, obviously those guys will have a lot to do with the running. And he’s going to rely on those guys for help with that. My receivers coach and running back coach will be involved in that, as well as with protections. My receivers coach is going to have a lot to do with the passing game, and I’m going to count on Jason to pull it all together and make sure we’re aggressive during the course of the ballgame.”
On playcalling: “You have to have the guy that is the bottom line, and he’s going to be in that position.”
On Gesser's first year: “He proved to me that he can have the ability to teach and have the ability to help some things go. It wasn’t just the running game and running backs. It was a lot of good things being brought up that have to do with the passing game. And we talked about some things … that we can do to make the passing game a little bit simpler and I believe will make things more effective as we get into ballgame in the future.
On what to expect from the offense: “I expect it to be better than what we did last year because it wasn’t good enough. … The vision I had when I first got her five years ago, it will be able to be a multiple by formations, multiple by position grouping. We’ve got a group of tight ends that I believe we can do a lot of things with those guys and creating situations that help both the running game and the throwing game. The ability to be in open sets that we don’t have any tight ends — that’s something we’ve worked on at times and have to do with your personnel also.
“We’re not going to become a no-huddle, aggressive deal. We’re not going to become a gun read type of team. We’ll be single back, multiple formation — the ability to run the ball and throw the ball. And have the quick throwing game to supplement the running game and help when you’re getting blitzed; that’s an area that needs to grow for us. And then your play-action game also.”
On new hires: “We’ve been able to go through the process and I have the guys that I want and I am willing to wait out their contract situations before we hire them. It is going to take some time, yes.