Kansas offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki was asked on Tuesday if he had a name for the KU offense that has quickly become one of the more explosive units in the country during the past couple of years.
The short answer was no.
No West Coast. No Air Raid. No nothing.
“Kansas offense,” Kotelnicki said laughing. “If I’m going to give you the elevator pitch I’d tell you it’s a multiple pro-style offense that uses spread concepts. That’s it. But I don’t have a name for it. I’m open for ideas.”
Kansas wide receiver Luke Grimm had one.
“I’d call it the Kotelnicki Offense,” Grimm told R1S1 Sports. “He’s the one that’s the mastermind behind it.”
Whether it’s constant motion, creative route concepts, trickery utilized by both quarterbacks or misdirection that Kotelnicki likes to incorporate into so many of KU’s plays, the Jayhawks have become a team that’s tough to stop.
They’re even tougher to stop when they pull out looks like the one called “Smoke Break” that they used last week against Illinois.
“I’d call it the Kotelnicki Offense. He’s the one that’s the mastermind behind it.” — KU WR Luke Grimm
With KU leading 31-7 and driving for more early in the third quarter, the Jayhawks faced a 2nd-and-7 play at their own 44-yard line. After breaking the huddle everyone in a Kansas uniform shifted before the snap except center Mike Novitsky and quarterback Jalon Daniels.
That included the four other offensive linemen lining up at the left boundary as decoys. Therein lies the origin of the name of the play, as Kotelnicki said it was called “Smoke Break” “because the linemen just got to stand over there and do nothing.”
The shift and motion in the play came from Kotelnicki’s player-pitch meetings with the KU tight ends and was the brainchild of Trevor Kardell. And special teams analysts Zach Barton and Aaron Miller found similar looks on film from other programs across the country.
“We said that’s cool so we put our own little flavor on it and just (tried to) do some things that add stress (to the defense),” Kotelnicki said.
Offensive lineman Ar’maj Reed-Adams, who started last week but was not on the field for “Smoke Break” said he correctly anticipated when Kotelnicki would call it and loved it when he saw it.
“That definitely makes us special,” Reed-Adams told R1S1 of Kotelnicki’s offensive creativity. “It makes us unique and it makes us very stressful (for defenses). You’ve got to know how to line up to that and if you don’t we’ve got something off of it that’ll make it an even bigger play.”
Grimm loved it, too. And he loved the fact that he wasn’t alone in that either.
“When we ran the play everybody went, “Ooooh” and was awed by it,” he said, referencing the crowd. “And then we got 25 yards on it. But it’s really cool to see because 90% of us grow up playing Madden all the time or NCAA Football. And you’re your own play-caller in that game.”
Through two weeks of the 2023 season, the unbeaten Jayhawks rank 10th nationally in total offense, at 530 yards per game.
KU also ranks in the top 22 in several other statistics — tied for first with a perfect mark in 11 trips in the red zone, 4th in third-down conversion percentage (62.5%), 5th in rushing offense (253.5 yards per game), tied for 9th in fewest penalties committed (7), 11th in completion percentage (75.4%) and 22nd in both passing efficiency and total first downs.
— The play appears 24 seconds into the video in the post below and you can hear the crowd reaction that Grimm was talking about. —
The Jayhawks will head to Nevada on Saturday to take on the 0-2 Wolfpack in their first road test of the season.
Kickoff is slated for 9:30 p.m. central on CBS Sports Network.
— For tickets to all KU athletic events, visit kutickets.com