HUNTINGTON - At this rate, Marshall offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey might need to jump in an ice bath after practice, just as his offensive players do.
Throughout this week, Cramsey has come off the field in a sweat as the energetic second-year offensive coordinator is busy running around, making sure that players at all levels of the offense thoroughly understand his scheme.
In addition to getting into pads on Wednesday, the team is installing the final pieces to its offense this week. So by the following Sunday's off-day, the Thundering Herd will be ready to go full throttle into the final week of camp and advance toward preparation for the Aug. 31 season opener against VMI.
"Step one of evaluation is to learn the offense so they can play fast," Cramsey said. "You can see them today and in the first few days, they are thinking a bit. The whole offense is installed by about practice eight [Saturday] so, right now, their heads are spinning a bit. You might think they aren't running that fast, but it's because they are thinking too much. Once they get into those No. 8 and 9 practices and on into next week, then we can get back to where they understand where a play is going and get those skill sets back to where it needs to be."
It's essentially a start-from-scratch for Cramsey each new fall and spring, even though some of the guys may already have working knowledge of what is going on within that scheme.
It builds the ground work for new players before adding elements step-by-step to enhance their abilities within the scheme. It allows veterans to clean up fundamentals and re-emphasize the basics as the keys to success.
"It's amazing to go back and learn the basics the way we learn," Cramsey said. "Every single spring, we install the offense like they've never heard it before and we put it in all through spring. Then, they go through summer workouts and we get back for fall camp and, again, we install the offense like we've never heard it before.
"For a guy like Zay (quarterback Isaiah Green), that's eight times that he's going to be able to learn the offense like he's never heard it before."
Cramsey said the growth of Green and fellow quarterback Alex Thomson from year one to year two has been pivotal in camp conversation.
With Green and Thomson each having an understanding - along with veteran quarterback Jackson White, whom Cramsey called possibly the smartest of them all - it allows for those guys to be coaches on the field, helping teammates get used to the intricacies of the offense.
After one particular play Monday, Green was seen speaking to his receivers and giving direction while just feet away, Cramsey and Thomson were going over a scenario and discussing what was desired within a play based on a look and positioning given from a safety.
"Right now, Zay and Alex have such a good understanding that, again, they know how I'm thinking and they see why we are doing things - they are doing this on defense - as opposed to early last year, it was more we are doing this because Crams said so," Cramsey said. "We can all communicate the same way, the same language, and we can talk intelligently about the game, as opposed to just As, Bs and Cs."
Green said it's all part of a pair of goals that he has within his role in the offense for 2019.
"Less turnovers, better completion percentage - those are the two main things," Green said. "That's how it should be. You just always want to grow. Those first few games, I turned the ball over a little, so I focused in on that. Over the years, I just want to get better and better."
While Cramsey's focus is often on the quarterbacks because that is also his position room, the other offensive positions have caught his eye throughout the first few practice sessions as playmakers rose to the occasion. There are several new pieces at wide receiver that Cramsey is excited to see grow with his quarterbacks.
Cramsey said one understanding for quarterbacks and skill guys alike is that balance is the key to success in 2019. Last season, much of the offense was hinged largely on two dynamics - wide receiver Tyre Brady and the running backs, who each were looked at 20 to 25 times.
"You know Tyre was an unbelievable football player," Cramsey said. "Now, we have a bunch of really good football players and defenses have to play their base and have to obey their balance. You are better off as an offense when you can attack at all positions, as opposed to trying to get the ball to one guy every other play."
With Cramsey seeing the pieces in place for a strong offense, he is pushing that much harder in practice to get guys executing the little things well, which in turn, will lead to production for all.
"If we're doing things right, X receiver is getting eight catches, A receiver gets eight catches, Z receiver gets eight, tight ends get 15 touches, the running backs are getting 30 touches and the quarterbacks get five touches, and that gets us to 75 plays, which is what we want in a game.
"We have the skill set for it. Now, we just have to do the little things right to come together as a unit for a sport that is dependent on team and the other guy. The receivers are only as good as the quarterback, the quarterback and running backs are only as good as the O-line and vice versa."