Thursday, March 26, 2015

Inside the Playbook: Threatening the Width of the Field from Tight Formations

As many people know, a nucleate notion in the modern spread offense is to “spread the field vertically as well as horizontally.” They look at the formations utilized by Rich Rodriguez at Arizona or Art Briles at Baylor and they see at the snap of the ball a team that is spread along the width of the field. But this nefarious knowledge isn’t some cozened concept defined distinctly within spread offenses, this is something that dates back much, much further.



From a passing game standpoint, Jim Harbaugh’s offense derives very much from Bill Walsh’s “West Coast Offense”. Walsh had a trenchant affinity for forcing the defense to cover the width of the field in order to open up interior run lanes for the offense.

Harbaugh differs a bit from the Walsh philosophy in that he still generally prefers to setup the pass with the run. At heart, the soul of Bo Schembechler can still be found with his desire to run the ball first. Some will surely deride “three yards and a cloud of dust”, but if that “cloud of dust” equates to one foot, then getting at least three yards and a cloud of dust every single down will see an offense in the end zone without ever facing a 4th down.


Tressel, probably calling "Dave"
That doesn’t mean, however, that Harbaugh is going to line up in the same set every down and run power after power after power. Former Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel is famously known for calling “Dave” something like eight consecutive plays. Why? Because it kept on working. That talks to the preparation and execution that comes from establishing a true base play, that you can run at any time and any place and know you’ll be successful. But it worked for Tressel because the defense had to respect his entire offense. At a 2002 coaching clinic, Tressel talked about the importance of “run-pass balance” and “utilizing different personnel groupings”. Tressel also said:
“We must have the threat of attacking the entire field. You can’t get so caught up with being such an inside-run team that you forget to attack the rest of the field. If you do that, you allow the defense to play only the field you are using. 

“If the inside-run game is going to work, you better have some other plays to get outside with. Our inside power run worked this year because we could get outside with a stretch play or a toss-sweep play. 
“The offense must have the ability to change the launch point of the thrown ball. Defenses today have outstanding pass rushers. If they know exactly where you are going to throw the ball from each time, they will sack you.”

I don’t think Tressel and Harbaugh will agree about a whole lot of things, but at the heart of the philosophy and what it takes to constrain it, they are in absolute agreement. And when the chimera of Power O frightens an opponent, it becomes everything else that destroys them.
In this post we’ll look at how Harbaugh spreads the field horizontally, despite utilizing many tight and constricted formations and splits.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

OT: 50th Anniversary of Mankind's First Spacewalk


Hit the jump if you're interested in some discussion of Space Exploration for a brief interlude from our football talk.

Review of Eleven Warriors: "Where Cardale Jones Must Improve"

I thought this was a very interesting and insightful article from 11W that stressed something that is often overlooked by fans. Good performance and even great performance doesn't indicate a finished product, and for those that remember Devin Gardner against Notre Dame in 2013, fans often don't heed the warnings. In that game, Gardner showed an incredible ceiling, but he also showed he still had a lot of things to work on. Once things started breaking down around him - especially on the OL - and there was more tape on his strengths and weaknesses, more teams were able to understand how to attack him and the Michigan offense with quite awful results.

For Jones, the outcome likely won't be the same. The supporting cast and the consistent scheme will still allow the offense to perform at a high level. But the goal for Ohio State isn't merely to perform at a high level. A high level wins you most games, but the Buckeyes likely aren't keen on only winning most games.

Eleven Warriors

Football Fundamentals: The Many Iterations of Power O

Lots of people talk about the multiplicity afforded by a zone scheme. It can be run from a single back set or it can be run with several backs; it can be run in a straight forward way or with various tags; it can go to the strong side or the Weakside of the formation; and you can incorporate a couple of these aspects into a read based scheme. But the Power O scheme is really no different. Power O, at its heart, can feature any of the facets described above but maintain its principles. In this article, we are going to look at the many ways that Power O can be incorporated into an offense.


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Thursday, March 12, 2015

BDS - 2015 B1G NFL Draft Part 3

This is intended to be a look at the B1G players participating in the NFL combine (and a couple others that I think may get drafted). I include combine results, though that is only a small part of the equation for me. I put much more value into what I've seen on film rather than by how well someone has been taught to run the 40 yard dash. I try to give a basic overview of strengths, weaknesses, fit, and where I'd expect them to be drafted based on "norms". What that means is that I'm not really looking at mock drafts, I don't have my ear to the ground for what Mel Kiper is saying about a guy. It's just based on what I've seen on film. This will be five parts long, with teams coming in alphabetical order.

MARK DAVIS/THE WORLD-HERALD
Part I
Part II

Thursday, March 5, 2015

BDS - 2015 B1G NFL Draft Part 2

This is intended to be a look at the B1G players participating in the NFL combine (and a couple others that I think may get drafted). I include combine results, though that is only a small part of the equation for me. I put much more value into what I've seen on film rather than by how well someone has been taught to run the 40 yard dash. I try to give a basic overview of strengths, weaknesses, fit, and where I'd expect them to be drafted based on "norms". What that means is that I'm not really looking at mock drafts, I don't have my ear to the ground for what Mel Kiper is saying about a guy. It's just based on what I've seen on film. This will be five parts long, with teams coming in alphabetical order.

SB Nation
Part I

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

PODCAST: 1620 The Zone Nebraska Offense Preview


I joined Unsportsmanlike Conduct to discuss what to expect from Nebraska's offense. Needless to say, I was a bit rusty.

LINK