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The Gran Plan: New OC starting from scratch

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CINCINNATI -- Upon arriving at UC on Dec. 28, new offensive coordinator Eddie Gran had exactly 63 days to find and retain as many recruits as possible, implement a new offense and begin organizing, evaluating personnel for spring football. 

All this while moving to a new city, new job, new life. Yeah, enjoy that. 

With files upon files of video offering looks at the current collection of returning players in Bearcats uniforms at his disposal, Gran could have spent the majority of his time clicking through game after game after game of footage to asses his talent.

Instead, he only glossed over it. 

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"For me, I wasn't going to assume anything," Gran said. "I wanted to make sure I see it with my own eyes and go from there. I didn't want to have a preconceived notion because somebody said this guy can't play. That's not what this is about right now."

Right now, Gran's plan revolves around finding which personnel pieces from Butch Jones' spread puzzle fit into this pro style with multiple sets concept. That means considering any player an option, not only at their position, but any other position on the field. When instituting a new style of play, the slate must be completely clean and the mind wide open. 

"We got to do the puzzle," said Gran, a 26-year veteran of coaching who spent the last three years heading running backs and special teams at Florida State. "That's why we got coaches." 

That's why QB recruit Patrick Coyne now lines up at fullback as does Jordan Luallen, who could possibly play every position on the football field by the time his career is over. Brendon Kay stands under center consistently for the first time since high school, defenders are moving to offense, running backs spread out to receivers. 

Tendy college spread and gimmicks, even those which filtered into NFL playbooks, aren't necessarily a part of this scheme. Still, the correlation between this offense and those run in the league sparks excitement in players hoping to end up there. 

"The routes we run, the same plays is like the NFL," WR Anthony McClung said. "We watch film of the NFL and we are running the same, exact routes. We try to perfect that to help us for the next level."  

The system change and evaluation will take time. The only rule in this transition is to throw all rules, limitations and previous accomplishments out the window. 

As much as the 7.6 yards per offensive touch for Ralph David Abernathy IV or 10 touchdowns to two interceptions for Kay left a lasting impression on fans, they mean far less in the eyes of the new coaching staff. Because a player thrived in the spread of Jones and Mike Bajakian does not mean they'll fit into the Tommy Tuberville version. 

"It's just like coming from high school again," Abernathy said. "You are starting with a clean slate. You have to rebuild your reputation. Have to show these coaches what you can do because the old coaching staff is gone. You are starting from ground zero and you have to prove yourself all over again."

These 15 practices essentially act as a month-long tryout. Show what you got and then the coaches gather the information to construct a plan for the season. Gran's looking for athleticism, technique and toughness. The difficulty in that comes with sifting through the learning curve of a new offense to find whose shining despite the information overload of new terminology and concepts. 

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Tuberville understands the difficulty, more specifically on the reactive defensive side of the ball to play all out when still processing information. He plans to scale back scrimmages to a base number of plays so the offensive players can feel free to show off their skills. 

"There's a lot of guys that really won't show their potential this spring because they are going to be thinking so much," Tuberville said. "Football is all about reaction, doing things instinctively."

Simplicity works for scrimmages, but regular practices will involve piling on information. 

"There's two ways to go about that, you either throw it all up on there and see what sticks," Gran said. "About the third or fourth day there is going to be an overload. It will slow down, you just have to get through that third or fourth day then we will come back and start re-installing from the beginning. Then we will start to see what we can do."

For now, however, nobody knows quite what that will be. But they are learning, one of 15 practices at a time. 

I want to hear from you! Shoot me any questions, comments or successful triple-reverse-flea-flicker-throwback plays you'd like me to pitch to coach Gran to pauldehnerjr@gmail.com or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr. 

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