The UNCC football team had an abysmal 2017-2018 year offensively. The system under then-offensive coordinator Greg Adkins turned out to exceedingly fall below expectations. During that year, the team ranked last in Conference USA in yards per attempt (5.5), quarterback efficiency rate (96.1) and total throwing yards (1,524).
However, the recent signing of coach Shane Montgomery brings new strategies and experience that could help propel the team’s offense starting this year. Here are the main points that the new 49ers coach brings to the table.
Montgomery had a well-accomplished collegiate career under center at NC State during the late 1980s. During his three years as a starter he racked up sizable numbers. This includes his senior season where, in just eleven games, he passed for 2,632 yards while throwing for 16 touchdowns. But, the success didn’t stop there. Montgomery also led his team to back-to-back bowl bids, where he was named Offensive MVP of both games.
This success from a quarterback serves a great advantage if they decide to pursue a coaching career after playing. The experiences learned under center allows for a better understanding of how to attack certain defenses in certain scenarios when drawing up plays. Players such as Lane Kiffin and Tee Martin took the same path from a collegiate quarterback to offensive coordinator and both have had great success.
This is where the bulk of Montgomery’s football resume lies: his coaching career. After two stints of assisting at his Alma Mater and the University of Chattanooga, he finally got to display his talents to the nation on a larger scale. From 2001-2004, Montgomery was the offensive coordinator of the University of Miami at Ohio.
This is where he quickly developed into one of the best X’s and O’s coaches in the nation. Using a pocket passer style on offense, he was successfully able to mold now-Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger into the player he is today. The result of Roethlisberger’s play in the NFL quickly turned heads back to Roethlisberger’s collegiate coach.
As a result, Montgomery was elevated to head coach at Miami Ohio. While Montgomery’s head coaching stint didn’t end well, he would land on his feet as the offensive coordinator at Youngstown State.
During his eight years as the offensive coordinator, he was able to amass 2,000 yards passing and running each season. That is an incredible feat to accomplish as you rarely see this type of offensive balance anymore. Montgomery led his offenses to historical performances in 2010, 2011, 2016, and 2017 by setting school records.
But besides those four historical seasons, two specifically stand out. In 2016 and 2017, the team had been decimated by injuries at the quarterback position. As a result, the team used four different starting quarterbacks during that time. But, due to Montgomery’s high IQ in the game of football, the team was able to withstand that lack of a long-term leader under center. He led the team to 18 wins during that span including a spot in the FCS National Championship, where they lost to James Madison University.
These seasons further exemplify Montgomery’s value to a football team. He had access to little to no talent but was able to turn it into one of the most historic offensive stretches in the school’s history.
Fit in Charlotte
In my eyes, I think Montgomery will be a perfect fit with UNCC early on. Ever since quarterback Kevin Olsen was forced to leave the program, things haven’t seemed to click anymore offensively. Gone were the days of pocket passing and vertical routes. Instead, the latest trend in college football, the run-pass option, was set in place for new quarterback Hassan Klugh. However, Klugh didn’t seem to fit that system of offense as he was seen time and time again scrambling down the middle of the field because of the lack of routes in that area.
With the institution of Montgomery’s successful offense, the team can go back to what worked in the past. By abandoning the fast-paced motion offense and going to a more balanced and traditional style of play, it can help the 49ers find a new sense of identity in their offense. If it’s with Hassan Klugh, or another quarterback waiting in the wings like Mic Roof, the style of dropping back and finding deep targets can help their confidence as a passer. No more will it be all about scrambling and looking for short passes near the line of scrimmage. Instead, the system of a pro-style offense will allow the quarterback to use their big arm down the field.
Not only will this help the team’s quarterbacks, but it will also help the team’s current leader on offense, Benny Lemay. Lemay has also been a victim of Greg Adkins’ system as he also wasn’t able to adapt to a short passing system. As a result, there is a good chance that Lemay would strive in this new offensive system by Montgomery as it would open up for more generated run plays for him. If it worked in Youngstown, it should translate to Charlotte. Furthermore, if the Lemay does adapt well to this system, then Montgomery could open up his arsenal of great play action plays that would allow the team to be multidimensional over the course of a game.
All in all, the hiring of Shane Montgomery will greatly help the UNCC offense. His playing and coaching experience will give the 49ers a new identity on offense, an identity that should lead to success early on.