RENTON, Wash. – When Pete Carroll’s offense at Southern California was clicking at a record rate, there was a set schematic makeup behind its efficiency.
Carroll’s offense relied on two or more running backs, some bigger to run between the tackles, some shiftier who could use their speed on the edge. USC also regularly had a larger receiver able to use his height advantage on shorter defensive backs.
And orchestrating it all was a smart, talented quarterback.
Even though Carroll was a defensive coach by trade, his offensive beliefs were unwavering.
“At the end of that first year (at USC) I vowed that if this is my last coaching job I ever have, I’m going down with the stuff I want to be my offense instead of just hiring the offense as I had done in years past,” Carroll said.
That was nearly a decade ago.
Fast forward and Carroll is unabashed in bringing that same approach to Seattle. With the arrival of bruising running back Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks’ offense is starting to take on a similar appearance.
Seattle’s offense still has a long way to go before it even remotely approaches the potency Carroll’s teams at USC displayed, especially between 2003 and 2006. The 2005 Trojans rewrote the Pac-10 record book in nearly every offensive category – a team that featured Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White and Dwyane Jarrett and scored 638 offensive points in 13 games.
“They always had electric backs and Coach Carroll found a way to get them the ball,” Seattle running back Justin Forsett recalled about the USC teams he faced while at California.
The Seahawks enter this week against Arizona ranked 27th overall on offense. But the case could be made that last week’s win over Chicago was the first time Seattle’s offense looked anything like the unit Carroll projected having. The framework of Seattle’s offense is almost a carbon copy of those USC teams.
There’s the two-headed attack at running back of Lynch and Forsett, each bringing complementary styles – Lynch the bully running between the tackles and Forsett the speedy change up. While their numbers weren’t overwhelming, the former California teammates combined for a season-best 111 yards rushing last week. Seattle also ran 31 times, another season-best.
On the outside is 6-foot-5 receiver Mike Williams, who once held the same role in the Trojans offense. After being quiet for the first few weeks, Williams broke out with a career-best 10 catches for 123 yards against Chicago.
And quarterback Matt Hasselbeck proved again to be the distributor, throwing for 242 yards and a touchdown.