Friday, February 27, 2015

Mike Riley and Nebraska - Offensive Primer

Mike Riley was introduced as Nebraska's new coach in early December and I've been trying to get around to put up a primer for a while now.

This is a guy that has really been just about at every level of football, as long as it was on the west coast. He's coached in the NAIA, CFL, Division IAA (FCS), WLAF (that's the World League of American Football), Division I, and the NFL (he also played DB under Bear Bryant). He's also been in charge of both offense and defense at a high level, serving as the USC offensive coordinator and QB coach in the mid-90s, and as the New Orleans Saints DBs coach in 2002 (at the position where he rose in the ranks initially). The guy understands both sides of the football, and being an NFL head coach little more than a decade ago, combined with over a decade at Oregon St, he understands the wide array of schemes and concepts that can be used. That's a powerful coaching tool, even for a guy already 61 years old.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Football Fundamentals: RB and HB Blocking

In this post we are going to look at the complexities of blocking from the RB position. To the average fan, a FB tends to look like a meat-headed, helmet crunching, out of control thumper. Well, in some ways, that is true, but a FB must also be intelligent, quick to adapt to what is in front of him, and absolutely in control of every situation. Often times in two-back plays, the read for the ball-carrier is defined by the technique and capability of the FB. It is not an easy position, despite often being filled with walk-ons or lower recruited players at the college level. In no ways is this position easy, but that's what makes it so critical, and the variety of blocks that can be performed makes having the option of a lead blocker extremely powerful for any offense. For this exercise, an ILB should be considered a LB that's within the tackle box, while an OLB is a LB that is outside the tackle box. 

Return of the Fullback? Photo Courtesy of Detroit News

Monday, February 23, 2015

BDS - 2015 B1G NFL Draft Part 1

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.

Brian Spurlock, USA Today Sports

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Inside the Playbook - Jim Harbaugh's Rushing Attack

With the arrival of Jim Harbaugh in Ann Arbor, Michigan goes from a predominately inside zone blocking scheme back to a mostly man/gap blocking scheme. But it isn’t limited to that. Harbaugh’s offenses have been able to utilize zone as anything from a means of keeping defenses honest, to it providing the base run scheme for his offense. Furthermore, he has continually added elements to both his gap and zone schemes in order to keep them fresh and in ways unpredictable. Some of these schemes developed in his time at Stanford, while others became more prevalent when he arrived in the NFL. While all the run plays he used for the 49ers won’t likely make their way immediately to his Wolverines team, it is more likely that the Michigan offense features a similar amount of plays he incorporated at Stanford (fewer than he utilized in the NFL due to practice time constraints) but pull from both eras. In this article, we will look at Jim Harbaugh’s rushing attack.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Football Fundamentals: Pass Protection Schemes

Originally posted on Maize n Brew on 11/15/2013

One of the most misunderstood or little-understood aspects of the pass game in football is the protection schemes and how they work. If I went into all the complexities and calls of all the different pass protections, you would quickly realize why young players have trouble with this part of the game (to go along with the vast complexities of the run game). There is a reason that offensive linemen are often considered the smartest guys on the field. Well, we're going to go over the basics just to try to get you up to speed a little bit. For briefing sake, there are three different types of blocking schemes: man, gap (zone), and combination that we will go over here.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Let's Speak Technique: Pass Protection

Originally Posted on Maize n Brew on 11/20/2013

Last time we discussed pass protection schemes, but that's only a part of actually protecting the QB. The other vital part is technique, which many players lack coming out of high school. Pass protection is difficult, it's difficult for simply what it is, but it becomes especially difficult as defenses become more complex, defensive linemen grow bigger and faster, and defenders know they can pin their ears back and test your mettle. In this second part looking at pass protection we will focus on the technique that is involved in a standard pass protection scheme.

Former Michigan OT Jake Long

Monday, February 2, 2015

Football Fundamentals: 2x2 and Mirrored Passing Concepts

We are going to continue our look at various passing concepts, this time with 2x2 and mirrored passing concepts. In this post we are going to trim out the concepts that are designed to attack the middle of the field and put those into a separate post. 2x2 concepts allow an offense to attack a defense based on post-snap looks and coverages via a simple read of the safety. Completely mirrored concepts, when the same concept is run on the both sides of the formation (such as all-hitches), is something of which I'm not a huge fan, but there are advantages to it. You look at something like all-hitches, which overloads underneath zones, and you see a viable option in the short passing game against zone heavy teams; similarly, completely mirrored concepts can allow you to pick on certain defenders or to a certain side of the field based on defensive look. We'll also look at "base" concepts, which see the outside receivers run the same route, and a third receiver work the middle of the field. Additional receivers can be added to the structure via delayed releases and the like.