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"|
“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.