SHIPPENSBURG >> Shippensburg football coach Eric Foust is used to all of the questions.
But considering his Greyhounds are changing offenses for the first time in his 14 seasons, excuse him if he's a little taken a back by the type of questions he's getting this preseason.
• What do you expect your run/pass split to be? His previous offense, the wing-T, is based primarily on the running game.
• How many points per game do you expect to score this season? The only time he's ever talked about points per game is on the defensive side.
• How many yards per game do you want to have?
• How many plays do you want to run?
Foust doesn't have all of the answers; all he knows is that he has the personnel to be dangerous on the offensive side, and he's going to use it.
Shippensburg is moving away from its run-heavy, power-blocking offensive scheme and introducing a more fast-paced, zone-blocking one that should take more advantage of the playmakers on offense.
"We're not really a trendy team, and I think we're a bit behind the curve on this, but it just involved personnel more than anything," Foust said. "We've got some dangerous weapons at wide receiver, and if teams are going to stack the box on us, they're going to be in trouble."
Foust is referring to wideouts Wade Mills and Cody Gustafson, who combined for 56 catches, 782 yards and three touchdowns last season. Those two, along with quarterback Tyler Gustafson, figure to form an explosive air attack for the Hounds.
"I love it," Mills said of the new offense. "There are a lot more routes, and we're doing a lot more reading coverages and deciding where to go from there. Our offense is so much more diverse now."
If you want a little preview of what this new offense could look like, flash back to last year's season finale against Greencastle-Antrim.
In a 42-28 win, Shippensburg racked up 431 yards – 338 through the air – and Tyler Gustafson finished with three touchdown passes.
"We just want to have that versatility in the offense," Tyler Gustafson said. "When teams put eight guys in the box, we want to be able to throw the ball. Then when they adjust, we should be able to have success with the run."
The running back duo of Zion Ware and Cole Friese – as well as a mix of Cameron Tinner – should also benefit from the new scheme. Ship will try to get Ware and Friese the ball more in space where they can use their speed to make plays.
"We don't have a William Burt or Toddé Statum, but we do have smaller backs that fit what we're trying to do," Foust said.
But the changes don't come only at the skill positions. They are also visible in the trenches, where the line will shift from a power, rule-specific blocking scheme to one that focuses more on quick feet and opening holes through movement.
"We have a bit of a smaller line, and this scheme seems to really be working well for us," junior center Nick Kubala said. "We really rely on our speed, and we have done a good job of opening holes so far. We want to be better at the point of attack and really fly off the ball."
Foust said, "The easiest transition for us has been in blocking. The wing-T is so specific, and going away from that makes things easier, and we're quicker because of it."
The end result of the new offense is still to be determined, but it's safe to say the team is excited about what's in store.
"Obviously I'd like it to be about 70-30," Mills said when asked about the pass/run ratio. "But really it's just about taking what the defense gives us. We just want to be an explosive offensive team."
Foust said, "We're still a work in progress, and we really don't know every detail. If teams don't cover Wade and Cody, the ratio could be very different. I think we're going to be much more balanced than we've been in my tenure, and that's taken me time to get used to."
So even though Foust doesn't have the answers to all of these new offensive questions, it shouldn't take long for this new-look attack to take shape once the season starts.
To view Shippensburg's full season preview, visit GameTimePA's digital football preview.