Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Jim Harbaugh: Coaching Primer

I'll get into more things later, but wanted to at least give a brief primer on Michigan's new Head Coach, Jim Harbaugh.

Gregory Shamus, Getty Images
Jim Harbaugh, throughout his coaching tenure, has ran a predominately West Coast Offense based offense. He prefers to be a bit more run heavy than many of the WCO predecessors, but he's willing to mix it up. He favors FBs and H-Backs and loves to utilize a variety of man blocking schemes with them to make it more difficult to key on players as a defense. Pulls, short traps, long traps, whams, leads, kicks, seals, he'll use whatever he can to give a different look to the defense.

The Key Play

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Inside the Playbook: Ohio State's Split Zone Run Play

Ohio State essentially started their third different QB of the season a couple weeks ago. Most teams talking up this type of fact are on the wrong end of an unexpected season, however, in this instance it wasn’t following a disappointing season. In fact, this discussion happened before and after the Buckeyes were able to put up 31 first half points on offense against a previously stout Wisconsin Badgers defense. And this wasn’t just any regular season game, it was the conference championship game. But it wasn’t because Cardale Jones – the new starting QB for OSU – came in and played lights out with the full plethora of the playbook. Instead, the surrounding Buckeye cast stepped up their game, including the coaching staff. While receivers bailed out dubiously thrown balls, Head Coach Urban Meyer and Offensive Coordinators Tom Herman and Ed Warinner planned and called a simple, straight forward, and forgiving gameplan that allowed Jones to be productive while being protected, despite only a mediocre performance. In the next two posts, we’ll look at two plays that made up nearly half of the first half playcalls, how they work together, and how that benefitted Jones.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Film Review: Ohio State's OZ Pin and Pull BOB Read

Wisconsin utilized a one-gap 3-4 defense (and 2-4 Nickel package) this past season that forced a lot of teams to stagnate. This was done by having the three DL account for interior gaps, while keeping the inside LBs clean to crash down and scrape over the top. Meanwhile, the OLBs forced everything back inside to help. In theory this constricted the offenses the Badgers faced and forced them to play in a tighter area, which is an advantage for the defense. One of the proverbial ways teams adjust for this is by running what is known as pin and pull. The Buckeyes were well aware of that outside zone adjustment, and along with a change in the QB Read, saw them able to get to the edge of the defense for several big first half gains on the ground.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Football Fundamentals: Multiple Read Option Attack with Two Backs

We’ve talked about the basics of zone running; we’ve talked about adding an additional back into the backfield; we’ve talked about the various ways you can utilize outside zone and inside zone and multiple reads to make like more maddening for the defense; now let’s mash it all together and look at a zone read option based approach with multiple backs. Having multiple backs allows us to utilize all the advantages we talked about in the multiple back piece, but the threat of the read and the option allows for some other creative means of attacking a defense. In this post, we will explore those options.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Football Fundamentals: A Multiple Inside Zone Read Attack

Previously, we looked at how the Outside Zone Blocking scheme could be utilized with a variety of option reads to attack the defense. This time, we’ll move on to look at Inside Zone in the same manner. The options are a bit less up front, but note that it is typically a bit easier to cut back across the grain on inside zone (thus making it a bit more versatile in and of itself) and is typically easier to counter with man/gap schemes. So as pure zone variants go, there aren’t quite as many.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Football Fundamentals: A Multiple Outside Zone Read Option Attack

Previously, we looked at the basics of a zone scheme and the multiple ways a lead blocker can be incorporated into that scheme. This time, we’ll excommunicate the lead blocker if favor of some sort of option read. The option play – often referred to as a read play when the option is performed with a mesh point – is a way of essentially adding an additional blocker to the run game. The defender being optioned off must choose between two options, and either way he chooses, he is theoretically wrong (provided the correct read is made). Likewise, by adding the QB as a viable run threat, another defender is accounted for in the blocking scheme outside of standard play action. This post focuses strictly on outside zone blocking and doesn’t include inside zone (next piece), gap blocking (down the road), or other schemes.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Football Fundamentals: Zone Running Scheme Variety Utilizing Multiple Backs

Previously we looked at the basics of the zone blocking scheme. To do so, I drew up the plays in 12 personnel. While 12 and 11 personnel served as the catalyst for many of the early success of the zone blocking scheme, many teams began adding complexity and different looks to the scheme by implementing variety through the use of FBs and H-backs. Previously, in man/gap schemes, FBs used as lead/kick blockers or as deception for the backfield flow was deemed as a near necessity to run the football. Zone offenses saw this advantage, and as the scheme has developed, many of these advantages have been implemented into a zone based scheme as well. In this post, we will look at how tags can be used to modify the zone blocking scheme and attack defensive strengths and weaknesses and provide various looks for the opponent.

The player identified by the red box will be the player the back is attempting to block. I don’t show all the multiple options and formations (obviously) that you can run these plays from, but instead have tried to provide a variety of 12 (with an H-back) and 21 personnel from a variety of offset formations and looks to provide a feel for what you can do.

Football Fundamentals: Zone Blocking Schemes

Zone based blocking schemes have become the primary blocking scheme of many modern day football teams. As defenses have made their formations and run blitz packages more complex and confusing for offensive units to block, the zone blocking scheme provides simplification in some ways. While it may take more reps to get the feel for how to come off combination blocks, secure the first level, and attack the second level than a traditional man/gap blocked scheme does, it provides a relatively straight forward plan for how and who to block after the snap has been made. In this post, we are going to look at the basics of the zone blocked scheme before we get into some of the greater intricacies at another time.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Meta: Off-season Shenanigans

Alright, not quite off-season for all you folks out there, but I'm beginning prep on the things I plan to bring to the table for this upcoming off-season. With this brief piece, I want to lay out a bit where the path forward is for this off-season and this blog, plans for some different types of posts, etc.

Also, there is now a quite little Amazon link above. If you are doing some Christmas shopping, and want to click that link and then doing your Amazon shopping, that would be awesome and appreciated.

1. Continue to build the foundation of "Football Fundamentals"

This part is probably the most important thing for the off-season for me. The Football Fundamentals section should start: building on several position-by-position high level information; continue to break down specific concepts (coverage, route combinations, blocking combinations, etc). This will help for what I envision this blog going forward.

2. Go back and scout team specific aspects

In some aspects, this will help with part 1, and will also be a preview of what's to come. A few examples of what I'll be looking at are:

a) Every OSU TD from this season. I can do this because I have film on them. Initially, I will break down the concept of how they scored their TD, which then can be folded into game-by-game pieces with links. Unfortunately for me, OSU scored a lot of TDs, so this will be a pretty big project.

b) Look at the improvement of the Michigan offensive line. To do this, I will attempt to go back and watch the Michigan offense (yes, I know), preferably starting from some point last year, and grade out the offensive line specifically.

c) Do the same as above but with the Nebraska defensive line. I know Gregory is gone, but I was a huge fan of Collins and Valentine as well this season and, though I likely had very little impact, I like to believe I lead the charge on Collins getting 2nd team All-B1G honors this year. Also, it'll be nice with Gregory looking to make his NFL prospects known.

I was going to do a more in-depth Wisconsin blitz package, but that doesn't really seem all too relevant now. Wisconsin fans should be quite familiar with Paul Chryst, so there also isn't much preview content to be had there. Mike Riley will get his breakdowns as I watch Oregon St games that are available. I'll do the same for Michigan when they have a coach.

This is where I'd like suggestions. It doesn't need to be position breakdowns (and WR/DB breakdowns are really viable as I don't have the footage for it, so I can't go that route MSU fans). But I can do blitz packages, I can look at the run games, and do some different things in that way. Heck, if you want me to, let me know where there were blowouts and the backups got in and I can preview them if you want. I want this off-season to get into the ideas I want for this blog going forward, and what the readers want. But I want to be able to focus on all the B1G teams and start attracting readers from across the B1G. So teams that I haven't listed as having something for above, I really want your input (and I'd still like the input of teams I did list above).

Write a comment below here. Find me on twitter @SpaceCoyoteBDS, or e-mail me (e-mail at bottom of link).

3. I'll continue to try to breakdown some random things I see with "Film Review" posts when I watch games. I may created some very belated Coaching Points posts. If I begin seeing teams mesh together similar concepts, I'll try to bring that stuff together to formulate posts on it.

So again, suggestions are very much appreciated and wanted. Contact me however you want. I'll be starting some off-season stuff next week with what I hope is about 6 posts on zone running and being multiple within a zone blocked scheme, I'll be looking at Cover 4 fundamentals shortly as well. Going back and forth on bowl-game previews (previews tend to take more work because of the depth of film review I need to do). I'm already pretty familiar with Alabama, and to a little lesser degree, Baylor. I have some familiarity with UNC (Indiana's old OC), Tennessee (CMU's old coach), Auburn (lots of Auburn hot takes the past couple years), Stanford (power football), Boston College (Addazio, former Meyer OC/OL coach), and USC (Sarkisian, from his USC days and Washington time I have limited familiarity), but it's all limited to the point where anything I did would likely be high level, as I haven't viewed them a lot recently. But that's still up in the air.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

BDS 2014 All Big Ten Football Teams

I have compiled what I believe is the first and second team All-B1G team. This is admittedly highly subjective, as I combined stats with what I saw in the game action that I watched them in. I attempted to take the whole body of work into play, but gave more weight to how they played at the end of the season. Italics means that the player was the best of his position group.

First TeamOffenseSecond Team
J.T Barrett, OSUQuarterbackConnor Cook, MSU
Tevin Coleman, IndianaRunning BackAmeer Abdullah, Nebraska
Melvin Gordon, WisconsinRunning BackDavid Cobb, Minnesota
Tony Lippett, MSUReceiverKenny Bell, Nebraska
Stefon Diggs, MarylandReceiverLeontre Carroo, Rutgers
Tommy Olsen, MinnesotaCenterJack Allen, MSU
Kyle Costigan, WisconsinGuardPat Elflein, OSU
Zack Epping, MinnesotaGuardTravis Jackson, MSU
Jack Conklin, MSUTackleTaylor Decker, OSU
Brandon Sherff, IowaTackleRob Havenstein, Wisconsin
Maxx Williams, MinnesotaTight EndDan Vitale, Northwestern
Brad Craddock, MarylandKickerSam Ficken, PSU

First TeamDefenseSecond Team
Joey Bosa, OSUDEMarcus Rush, MSU
Randy Gregory, NebraskaDEShilique Calhoun, MSU
Michael Bennett, OSUDLMaliek Collins, Nebraska
Anthony Zettel, PSUDLAndre Monroe, Maryland
Mike Hull, PSULinebackerDarron Lee, OSU
Jake Ryan, MichiganLinebackerQuinton Alston, Iowa
Derek Landisch, WisconsinLinebackerDamien Wilson, Minnesota
William Likely, MarylandDefensive BackDoran Grant, OSU
Trae Waynes, MSUDefensive BackEric Murray, Minnesota
Michael Caputo, WisconsinDefensive BackKurtis Drummond, MSU
Briean Boddy-Calhoun, MinnDefensive BackAdrian Amos, PSU
Peter Mortell, MinnesotaPunterJustin DuVernois, Illinois

Click the jump to see honorable mention (there are players that I believe still deserve recognition but didn't make the first or second team and offensive and defensive MVP.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Film Review: Attacking Ohio State's Defense, 2014

The Ohio State offense is very good, as is the Wisconsin defense. In many ways, this could be the talk of Saturday's Big Ten Championship Game, similar to how the OSU offense against the Michigan State defense was the talk heading into last year's title game.

In my opinion, though, when two teams have very good opposing sides of the ball, they tend to cancel out in many ways, and where the game swings is on the other end. In this way, it is up to the Badger offense to step up and make the difference. In this post, we'll look at what the Ohio State defense brings to the table, areas in which it's struggled this year and how you can expect Wisconsin to attack.

Inside the Playbook: Ohio State's Speed Option Package

Originally poster at Land-Grant Holy Land on 12-5-14

Urban Meyer has developed the speed option into more than just a constraint play. Through the years, he has implemented multiple constraints that build off of the speed option threat. Against Wisconsin's 3-4 defense, the speed option can be a serious threat that isolates the OLBs away from the sealed defense. We'll look at the origins of the speed option, it's evolution, how OSU can work off of it, and why it will be so important in the 2014 B1G Championship Game against the Badgers.

The speed option is one of the simplest methods of attacking the edge with an option play. Smart Football describes it as "simple" and "inexpensive" in that both the concept and scheme are simple and it takes very little teaching and practice time to do well. This is why the speed option has crept into offenses that tend to shy away from option elements, because it's a simple enough way to attack the edge with speed.

However, the speed option is not merely a constraint play (though it can be used as such), and instead can be the basis of a group of plays. In this article we will look at the evolution of the play, the multiple methods of running the play, and the way teams -- including Urban Meyer's Ohio State -- package other concepts to set defenses up with speed option looks.