Simple is as simple does.

For all the talk of balance you hear from offensive minds, whether it’s the Mike Bobo or Mike Leach flavor, this is what I’d prefer to hear about the guy calling plays for my team’s offense.

McElroy, who led Alabama to the 2009 national title, said he believes Saban “very much respects” what Malzahn does, adding that Malzahn’s genius is his simplicity, which allows the Tigers to play fast.

“The looks and things change from week to week but they’re not necessarily doing different schemes, different plays,” McElroy said. “You can often almost overanalyze it. Watching the film, it’s like: They just ran that; it was just a little bit different formation. They just ran the exact same play four times out of the last seven. It’s amazing to see him being able to do that. Once he finds something that works against a defense, he definitely exploits it and credit to him for being able to do that.”

Don’t get cute. Don’t overthink.  If you can run something the other guy can’t stop, why worry about balance?  Plus, it’s demoralizing as hell for the defense.  At least until it adapts.

How will Saban and Alabama adjust?  “I assume that Nick Saban will probably have some simplified calls in his defense this upcoming season in order to better prepare…”

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29 Comments

Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

29 responses to “Simple is as simple does.

  1. Don’t get cute. Don’t overthink. If you can run something the other guy can’t stop, why worry about balance? Plus, it’s demoralizing as hell for the defense. At least until it adapts.

    Agree. I’d like to see a little more of this from Bobo. Richt’s offensive system doesn’t allow the kind of repetition Malzahn’s does, but we could often take better advantage of what other teams can’t stop.
    ~~~

    • I’d argue Bobo has gotten much better about this though. Remember his first few years, something would be working consistently, then all of a sudden Bobo would just go away from it for no reason, and never get back to it? It was one of the two things that drove me the most crazy about him (the other being going into a shell and turning super conservative every time that was a crucial drive that we needed to put a game away). But Bobo has improved DRASTICALLY in both of those areas. He doesn’t necessarily run the same play over and over, but once he finds a weakness, he continues trying to exploit that weakness now until the D proves they can stop it. Again, he doesn’t necessarily do that by running the same play over and over, but it accomplishes the same thing. In my eyes, Bobo has turned into one of the top 5 playcallers in the country, including head coaches like Spurrier and Malzahn.

      • DawgFaithful

        Agreed. Top 5 is interesting. Not sure about that but he’s close. Love me some Bobo

      • I’d argue Bobo has gotten much better about this though.

        And I’d agree, Reverend. Bobo is way better in that regard than he once was, tot he point where he’s pretty good at it now. It’s just there are times when I’d like to see just like to a little more of it. But he’s not missing many opportunities these days.

        he doesn’t necessarily do that by running the same play over and over, but it accomplishes the same thing.

        It does. Our offense doesn’t lend itself to doing that, as I mentioned above, though we will run the same play out of a different formation occasionally. But it’s as you so aptly describe.

        In my eyes, Bobo has turned into one of the top 5 playcallers in the country, including head coaches like Spurrier and Malzahn.

        No doubt in my mind about it. I’m one who has never bashed Bobo about his playcalling, except for the super-conservative or “dud” series, as I called it, and what you described above. My criticism of Bobo during his OJT years had to do with other areas of his job, not playcalling. He’s always had brilliant moments as a playcaller.

        But it’s been fun watching him come into his own as both a playcaller and gameday strategist of his offense. Years ago I used to say, ‘just hope when Bobo finishes his OJT that he doesn’t leave, because he’s going to be one of the good ones’. And it would have been almost cruel for him to leave after we all experienced the growing pains of his training with him.

        But he’s still here. And I hope he’s our OC for years to come.
        ~~~

        • adam

          I agree with you guys on a lot of this, but I have absolutely seen Bobo call the same play multiple times in a row. I’ve definitely seen lots or twice in a row and I think I’ve seen some 3 times in a row as well.

          He has improved in lots of ways. I still get frustrated with games where the offense falls apart or experiences a long drought (Vandy and Florida this year, for example), but he has definitely improved in many ways.

      • Cosmic Dawg

        “…the other being going into a shell and turning super conservative every time that was a crucial drive that we needed to put a game away).

        This is the biggest change to me – it’s a wonder I have any hair left. When aggressive play is what is helping you win, the best thing you can do for the other guy is let him get back in the game.

  2. Eventually, you have to prove you can throw the ball down the field with consistency. That’s what we did to them the last 20 minutes on the Plains last year. Auburn could have buried us if they could have thrown the ball a little bit against our defense. Marshall ends up as the goat with the way he played the last part of the game if the two Keystone Kops don’t absolutely screw up and give them the game.

    Balance is being able to run any play in the playbook regardless of situation (score and down/distance) and expect success. It’s being able to run J.J. Green on a draw during a 2 minute drill to set up a game winning touchdown when everyone in the building is expecting pass. It’s throwing a back shoulder pass to a freshman when you’re trying run out the clock against your biggest rival and getting the first down to ice the game.

  3. Derek

    Malzahn’s offense will work as long as talented players choose to play in it. Uga and bama and uscw etc… Do what they do because it is thought to attract qb’s, wr’s and rb’s who want to play in a pro style offense. When wr’s and qb’s and rb’s from auburn are told by scouts that the system hurts their draft status then he’ll dry up just like urban started to see at UF.

    • When wr’s and qb’s and rb’s from auburn are told by scouts that the system hurts their draft status then he’ll dry up just like urban started to see at UF.

      Interesting thought.
      ~~~

    • Bulldawg165

      Yeah, I bet Cam Newton really regrets his decision.

      • Derek

        … and there are literally dozens of Cam Newton’s out there. Can’t hardly walk outside without running into a 6’5″ 255 lb. guy that can run a 4.5 and sling it. Of course, a much, much lesser known player by the name of Tebow I think may regret not learning how to be a pro qb in the four years of college he spent in a similar system, but I hate to throw out such obscure references like that. Maybe someone out there’s heard of him.

        • Bulldawg165

          You specifically said Auburn in your post, so Tebow is irrelevant. Don’t set up straw men. We’re talking about Auburn’s ability to put players in the league.

          How about Greg Robinson, Auburn’s offensive tackle who was picked number two overall this year. Is that better? Tre Mason was picked in the third round and I doubt he would’ve been drafted at all if not for that offense.

          Just because Malzahn was forced to craft an offense around a non-NFL caliber QB in his first year as a head coach doesn’t mean he can’t develop players for the NFL.

          • Bulldawg165

            But if you wanna talk about spread offenses with Meyer, Percy and Hernandez say hi ;)

            • Derek

              The talent dried up on offense under Meyer that’s why he left and the bottom fell out. If you want to say that there is some huge gulf between Meyer’s spread and Malzahn’s such that the latter develops pro skills that the former doesn’t then state your case. From a skills standpoint there isn’t any material difference. The truth is that the spread offenses do great until you have to deal with the fact that your offensive players are less pro ready. It isn’t a universal fact that applies to every player. Doesn’t mean no one can get drafted. Its on the margins and those margins matter. If you are a QB a WR or a RB and you are looking at what systems teach the skills you need at the next level, you aren’t looking at Auburn or Ohio State, or Georgia Tech, CPJ could show up at Tuscaloosa in February, go through the spring with that talent and no one would stay within 4 TDs in the fall. That system is that hard to defend. Its that system that led Erk to dominate 1-AA football at southern. With good players it becomes nearly impossible. Morons would declare CPJ the greatest coach ever. Then the inevitable would happen and the talent would dry up on the offensive side of the ball. The defense would regress because you couldn’t prep them for pro style systems. Its no secret why CPJ’s best years were his first two. UF and Auburn do have more draw and there are guys who will go there no matter what, but there will still be a slow talent drain at the skill positions over time. The inevitable regression will be attributed to everyone “figuring Malzahn out”, but that won’t be the truth.

              • Bulldawg165

                How does our offense prepare receivers, running backs and offensive linemen better for the NFL than Auburn’s? If you’re stating that there is a difference in running/catching/blocking skills (excluding Georgia Tech) between the two offenses then back it up.

                Plus, they have started using spread/HUNH concepts in the league now too.

                Double plus, I’m pretty sure Auburn is killing it in recruiting despite the fact that the “OMG career ending spread” has been around for close to a decade.

  4. DawgFaithful

    KISS… If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Make em stop you. Exploit exploit exploit. It ain’t rocket science. He dresses it up different but runs the same play. Simple but genious. He’s going so damn fast it’s hard to recognize. In high school it was probably unstoppable.

  5. 69Dawg

    They have about 5 plays but they run them out of every formation. They can run them fast because their are so few of them. This means the D can’t necessarily know what is coming since they run all the plays from all the formations. This is not unlike Tech, the difference is the quality of the players. If Gus can teach Nick M to throw down field with some accuracy Auburn will be a tough out. Saban is not dumb and remember Alabama had them beat and we had them beat if not for two of the wildest plays in SEC history. If Gus can keep his Mojo working Auburn will be right in the fight for the SEC West. So in summary, if Nick M can pass and if Mojo’s working we had better look out.

    • I wouldn’t argue against that, 69. You’re probably right. I’m not sure Malzahn can keep it going without changing up his offense, but he may well do it again this year. They should be a tough out, no doubt.

      What I’m counting on this year, and what I’ve been waiting for so long now, is for us to be a tough out once again. Not just for Auburn, but anybody. And not just now and then, or even most of the time, but ALL the time.

      We should be a tough out for any team, even on our worst day. It’s happened before, and it’s happened under Richt. They key is learning how not to beat ourselves. A defense and ST’s, etc., will certainly help and is part and parcel of that formula, but that one thing is still the key.

      If we can get that way, and play solid ball consistently, week in and out, through the schedule, we’re very tough to beat. Even right now. And we’ll get tougher to beat as the changes take hold (as it appears they’re now doing), because that is what will allow us to take advantage of that key.

      Take an offense like ours, with the system we have and the personnel we have, add a little defense and ST’s, and don’t do much or anything to lose the game? I like our chances against Auburn or anybody else. Regardless of how good Auburn may be on offense.

      I think our defense will be settled in nicely by the time we play Auburn. They don’t scare me at all if we’re what we should be at that point (not saying they scare you in any way, either, though that offense with a QB like Marshall can be very scary).

      One thing about playing it, is you better be good in space, and we’ve been pathetic. But even that is something Pruitt is working on, and one big reason I expect to see some new faces in the secondary and elsewhere.
      ~~~

    • Bulldawg165

      Alabama didn’t have them beat.

      • Mayor

        Alabama had them beat if the Tide kicker would have been able to kick it through the uprights on the final play. I remember when Kevin Butler kicked a game winner of 60+ yards.

        • Bulldawg165

          Too big of an “if” IMO. It was a back up kicker too, right? No way it’s fair to assume he typically makes that kick.

  6. Interesting that McElroy has so much insight into the mind of Saban. Sounds to me like he is preparing for that ESPN college football coach analyst role. Hedging his bets? Wonder how he’ll do pairing up with Pollack. Meanwhile at KC our boy has his nose to the grindstone preparing to lead the Chiefs to a Super Bowl!!!