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New attack 'multitempo'
SUCCESS: While at Purdue, Bill Legg's offense led the Big Ten in total offense and scoring last season, and in total yards per game and passing yards per game in 2006. DAVID ADAME / FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

For those trying to figure out why Purdue led the Big Ten in offense the past two seasons, this could be your answer:

When asked to describe the offense former Boilermakers and new FIU offensive coordinator Bill Legg installed this spring, some Golden Panthers players will give you completely opposite answers.

"Coach Legg came out with a real complicated scheme," Golden Panthers linebacker and 2007 leading tackler Scott Bryant said. "He can do so many things out of it. It's really diverse."

Said FIU quarterback Paul McCall: "It's nice to hear from Scottie that he thinks it's more complex, because from the offensive side of the ball it's actually a more simple offense."

So is this new spread offense the Golden Panthers will run this season more complex or more simple?

"It's both," Legg said. "Number one, you need good players. Number two, systematically, our system has a flow to it that allows kids to process information fast, and when they can process information fast then they can play fast being relative to whatever their abilities are. And that's where it goes back to them being good players."

Under Legg, Purdue led the Big Ten in total offense (435.9 yards per game) and scoring (34.3 points per game) last season. And in 2006, Purdue also paced its conference, totaling 415.7 yards per game and leading with 291.6 passing yards per game.

Yet, despite all the offensive success, Legg was available after the 2007 season.

When Purdue coach Joe Tiller announced he was retiring after this season, associate head coach Danny Hope was named Tiller's successor. Legg was not retained.

"We're thrilled to have him on staff," said FIU coach Mario Cristobal, who hired Legg on March 11. "He's been a big-time impact. We have a double benefit from having Coach Legg.

"Not only are we improving on offense, but we're seeing an offense we play pretty often during the course of the season."

In Cristobal's first season as coach last year, the Golden Panthers ran the spread offense for the first time after employing a pro-set offense the first six years of the program under former coach Don Strock.

In former FIU offensive coordinator James Coley's version of the spread, the quarterbacks usually ran the offense at the same tempo.

Legg has said his spread is "multitempo." Legg also went through last year's playbook and eliminated some terms to simplify the offense.

"In this system we're asking our quarterback to be the coach on the field," Legg said. "They have to know not only what they're doing, but they need to know what everybody else is doing so that if somebody does get confused they can provide that help and leadership. Then we're asking them to make a lot of decisions, some presnap, some postsnap. We're trying to find the weakest link in every defensive scheme and it's their responsibility to be able to find it."

From the looks shown in spring practice and in camp this month, the quarterback appears to be more mobile and has more responsibilities in the new FIU offense. And with the past successes of Legg's offense, FIU quarterbacks can't wait for the regular season to begin.

"I grew up watching guys like [former Purdue and current Saints quarterback] Drew Brees," McCall said. 'Coach Legg coached Byron Leftwich and Curtis Painter and you look at those guys' styles and it's exciting to see that the quarterback has all the responsibility and he has the ball in his hand, and that's what you want."

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