“We’re figuring that out,” Kiffin said on Thursday at Conference USA’s media days in Frisco, Tex. “He calls them now. It’s good practice for him. We’ll just kind of figure that out as we get closer.”
In January Kiffin hired the then-24-year-old Weis away from the Atlanta Falcons, where he served as an offensive analyst, making the coach’s son the youngest FBS offensive coordinator in NCAA history.
Weis replaced Kendal Briles, who successfully brought the Baylor spread offense to Boca Raton, leading to a program-record point total, along with the Owls’ first Conference USA championship and the Boca Raton Bowl title.
Kiffin insists that Briles called the plays during games all season, but admits to tinkering with the offensive game plans – something he said before the year he didn’t intend to do.
This year’s offense will contain many of those same Baylor principles, but Kiffin is tweaking them by adding tricks he gained as the offensive coordinator for NCAA title teams at USC and Alabama.
“We don’t want to change too much because we’ve been playing really well,” Kiffin said. “But at the same time you’ve got to guard about your ego coming in – that, OK, we’ve got this thing figured out because we did play so well. You’ve always got the be evolving and trying to keep up with things and change.”
Weis is part of that change.
“He’s brought some good ideas that they did at Atlanta,” Kiffin said.
Before Kiffin and Weis can determine who calls plays, they will first have to pick a starting quarterback.
Redshirt junior De’Andre Johnson, a former Florida St. Seminole, and Chris Robison, formerly an Oklahoma Sooner, are battling for the starting role.
Neither has ever started an FBS game, which will prompt Kiffin to simplify the Owls’ offense – at least early in the season.
“I think you cut back at the beginning with any new starter, especially if it is Chris, because he’s just a freshman,” Kiffin said. “But with both guys you want to cut back so that they will get off to a really good start.”
The 11 wins FAU posted last season are a program record for a season. One of the challenges Kiffin faced this summer was convincing his Owls not to be sucked into the expectations of people around them – noting that when the players walk around campus, the classmates, faculty and staff they associate with may have unrealistic expectations concerning how easy it is to repeat.
“It is difficult because outside of the building they hear it all the time,” Kiffin said. “The expectations get high. It’s like we’re not even an underdog in the opener against Oklahoma. You talk to people around there, they just think, You know, we’re going to go win the game.”
FAU is in fact a decided underdog on Sept. 1 in that season opener at Oklahoma, a team expected to be ranked in the Top 10 to start the season. Most oddsmakers have the Sooners winning that game by more than 20 points.
Kiffin, however, doesn’t expect an experience Owl team to be intimidated.
“These guys have played in big places before, last year, and finished playing really well, so I know they are excited for the challenge,” Kiffin said.