Maryland Football: A look at Walt Bell’s offensive schemes


New Maryland coach D.J. Durkin has made some solid hires so far.

The most intriguing certainly be that of Walt Bell from Arkansas State.

Bell may only be 31 years old, but he has already made stops at Louisiana-Lafayette, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, and Southern Miss. He has spent the last five years with coach Blake Anderson on staffs at Arkansas State, North Carolina, and Southern Miss.

Anderson has led the Red Wolves to a 16-10 record, including back-to-back bowl appearances. Under Anderson, Bell served as the assistant head coach, offensive coordinator, and quarterbacks coach over the past two seasons.

During Bell’s 26 games at Arkansas State, the Red Wolves had 300 total yards 24 times, 400 yards 18 times, and 500 yards on 11 occasions. In 2015, he helped get eight players selected onto the All-Sun Belt Team, including star wideout J.D. McKissic.

Bell also led an offense that finished No. 38 in the nation in total offense as the Red Wolves scored 58 touchdowns and accumulated 438.5 total yards per game.

Now that we’ve given you a little background on Maryland’s new offensive coordinator, let’s take a look at his offensive schemes and what he likes to do:


Bell absolutely loves to push the tempo. Think of his offense at Arkansas State like when Chip Kelly first came into the professional ranks with the Philadelphia Eagles. For example, I watched last year’s GoDaddy Bowl between Arkansas State and Toledo.

The Red Wolves started off their first drive at the 14:50 mark of the first quarter and at their own 20-yard line. The five-play touchdown drive only took 1:20 off the clock due to a 44-yard touchdown pass from Fredi Knighten to Booker Mays. Just to put things into perspective, Arkansas State ran 74.8 plays-per-game this past season. Maryland ran 69.1 plays per contest this season.

Creative running plays

Maryland didn’t exactly have a problem running the football in 2015. The Terrapins averaged 5.5 rushing yards per contest with star tailback Brandon Ross running for an average of 6.4 yards-per-carry, including 418 yards and six touchdowns in the final two games.

Bell doesn’t exactly use what you would call traditional running plays. He used a variation of the read-option with the Red Wolves. You certainly won’t see halfbacks running under center and between the tackles on a regular basis. Instead, halfback sweep runs out of the shotgun are very prevalent, and Bell definitely had the playmakers to do it at Arkansas State.

To run any form of the red-option, a quarterback that isn’t to run and can make split-second decisions is essential. Arkansas State uses a variety of running plays, including jet sweeps, read-option pitches, and halfback draws out of a shotgun formation. Bell also called several designed quarterback draws with Knighten, who is very quick and agile. If Dwayne Haskins does end up coming to Maryland, he’ll be a perfect match with an offensive guru like Bell.

Screen passes

Bell also used a variety of different screen passes to jumpstart his offense. However, Arkansas State wasn’t using traditional screens where the running back slips out of the backfield and follows a caravan of offensive linemen.

In Bell’s system, Knighten would toss a swing pass out to a running back or wide receiver. For example, in the GoDaddy Bowl last year, he flipped a short swing pass at the line of scrimmage to McKissic, and McKissic followed a bevy of different wideouts and tight ends that were running with him down the field. McKissic was able to cut back near midfield, and get the ball down to the Toledo 21-yard line for a 65-yard gain. Knighten also used the swing pass with his running back Michael Gordon that netted quite a few first downs.

Bell certainly could use the likes of Ty Johnson or even D.J. Moore out of the backfield on these types of plays. With the talent that Maryland has on the offensive line, the holes will certainly be plentiful for Terp playmakers.

Next: Has Jamaal Charles Lost a Step?