Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson and offensive coordinator Phil Longo already seem to be developing a good working rapport going into their first season together this fall.
And that could spell a lot of trouble for opposing defenses.
In a recent ESPN.com article, it was suggested that Patterson may be able to match the success Johnny Manziel had at Texas A&M in Longo’s version of the “Air Raid” offense. Manziel ran the same type of offense during his time with the Aggies.
Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury and Washington State’s Mike Leach, two noted coaches who run Air Raid offenses, seemed to agree.
“It could be a match made in heaven,” Kingsbury said.
Longo picked up the Air Raid scheme from Leach when he drove from New Jersey to Kentucky to attend a coaches clinic and learn more from the then-Wildcats offensive coordinator. Longo now visits with Leach, as well as Kingsbury, annually.
“He’s a real focused student of the game,” Leach said of Longo. “Most waking hours, football is right on the surface.”
Though he apparently didn’t outright say it, Patterson’s debut performance last November at Texas A&M may have played at least a small factor in Longo’s decision to take the Ole Miss offensive coordinator job this past December.
In that game, Patterson threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns in a 29-28 upset of the Aggies. He had his redshirt burned to start the game after Chad Kelly was lost for the season with a torn ACL.
“I think the A&M success is a true barometer of what he’s capable of doing athletically,” Longo told ESPN.com. “Because he went into that game – and I don’t know this from talking to him, but I just know it from experience and coaching guys in that situation – you go into that game with no fear because you’ve got nothing to lose and with very little preparation. And you play on instinct and athletic ability. You saw that.
“But there’s more to being a successful quarterback than just being a good athlete. Now he has spring ball. He has the entire summer. He’ll be well-prepared when the season comes.”
Longo never has worked on the FBS level but put up big offensive numbers during his coaching stops at the Division II, III and FCS levels. He most recently was at FCS powerhouse Sam Houston State from 2014-16.
Patterson, for what it’s worth, has said that Manziel was his “favorite player growing up.” Patterson threw for 880 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions in three games last season (all starts). He also rushed for 169 yards.
(You can follow Dan Mathews on Twitter @DanMathewsATL)
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