Coach Hal Mumme on Air Raid Offense: ‘Styles Matter’

By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor

Hal Mumme is in his fourth season as the Belhaven University head coach. In his first three seasons with the Blazers, Mumme’s Air Raid Offense has helped set team records in pass attempts, passing touchdowns and total offense.

Mumme is widely credited with being one of the innovators of the Air Raid Offense. He has been a head coach at Division 1 schools like University of Kentucky, New Mexico State, and Southeastern Louisiana. Mumme was also head coach at NCAA Division 2 Valdosta State, Iowa Wesleyan (NAIA), and most recently McMurry (Division 3). He also coached at the high school level in Texas from 1976 to 1979 and 1986 to 1988.

What inspired you to create the Air Raid Offense?

“Back in the 1980’s, I was coaching in Texas during the era of ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’. That wasn’t appealing to the kids. We started spreading the ball around and spreading the kids out. It was easy to tell parents if their kid gets hurt, it’s not going to be in practice. I’m a big fan of what we do. Styles matter. In defense, we teach kids the rugby-style tackle. If we can do that from the ground up, that would make the game safer all the way around. Players tend to not lead with the head with rugby tackling.”

Why do you say you could promise parents that players wouldn’t get injured in practice? Did you not have contact in practice?

“At the high school level, we had very little contact in practice. You don’t have piles. A lot of high school kids get hurt because they’re shoe-to-shoe along the line. We spread it out. Kids don’t fall on each other. We don’t run a lot of inside drills. We have big splits along the line to create more space.”

Do you think you would have had more stability in your career if you ran a more conventional offense? It seems the establishment has less patience for innovative ideas when they don’t work right away.

“That’s 20th century thinking. That was a question for 30 years ago. You have to think outside the box. What I’m suggesting now, so many high schools run it. It’s not risky anymore. When we were doing it in the 80’s, and 90’s, we were the only ones doing it. People thought we were crazy. Back then, it was risky. Now, so many high school teams are doing it, it’s not innovative anymore.”

Where did you get the idea for the Air Raid Offense?

“I was always a big fan of the BYU offense. We got to compete against them, so I studied their system. I got to know Mouse Davis and Bill Walsh, and I created the Air Raid with those three ideas. When Mike Leach and I were at Iowa Wesleyan, we got so good that the small schools wouldn’t even play us anymore. So, we had to play bigger institutions, and that’s when we started looking for an edge. We started playing fast. The book, ‘The Perfect Pass,’ kind of tells the whole story. I recommend that book.”

How do you balance running your scheme vs. catering to the talent on your roster?

“We just put in the scheme and coach it. The challenge is finding players that could fit each position. Sometimes, the hardest one is the quarterback. Mouse Davis told me a long time ago, if you don’t have a quarterback at the high school level, you should immediately try to get the shortstop off the baseball team. I would watch the kids coming along, go to Little League games, try to see who could throw a tight spiral. Then I worked with and developed them.”

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