Is Bobo willing to take the blame for packaged plays?

Michael Elkon says straight out what I hinted at in a comment a week ago:

So, the question becomes “who in the SEC is going to take the first plunge into packaged plays?”…

From a local perspective, do any of us have faith that Mark Richt and Mike Bobo are going to start using packaged plays? The easy answer is to say “no” and then to break out laughing. However, there are a couple reasons why packaged plays would make sense for the Dawgs. First, Brown points out that the concept works best with a no-huddle approach:

The rise of “packaged plays” is important on its own, but it becomes essential when combined with the other trend in football – the up-tempo no-huddle. The no-huddle, especially when operated by quarterbacks like Rodgers or Tom Brady, is an invaluable weapon when combating modern defenses that rely on constant movement to maximize confusion. “In the no-huddle context, the advantage of packaged plays becomes particularly acute,” says Grabowski, adding, “An offense that can run these packaged plays at the fastest tempos can get a vanilla look that further simplifies the read on a key defender.” If you’re going to go fast-paced no-huddle to prevent defenses from substituting or setting up in something exotic, you have to do it, well, fast, and slow audibles with lots of words and gyrations at the line are not that.

Georgia is the best-equipped team in the conference to implement this part of the strategy. Second, Richt and Bobo have an experienced quarterback this year. If anyone in the league can be trusted to be a point guard on grass, it ought to be Aaron Murray. The logic will be even stronger next year when Georgia has the benefit of a four-year starter under center. Richt and Bobo managed to stick to their guns during the spread craze. Now, offensive innovation has come around in a form that jibes with their preferred style. Will they take advantage?

There is a lot to that, the only caveat being that Bobo tends to run the version of the no-huddle that Grabowski says is incompatible with a packaged plays concept.  But there’s a caveat to my caveat:

Well, Murray is entering his third year as a starter now, so we shall see. Richt has said that Murray will have the freedom to change plays on his own this year.

“Murray’s to the point in his career where he can change just about any play or protection if he wants to,” Richt said in June.

If Richt really means that – and if somebody should know when his quarterback is ready for the responsibility, it’s Richt – there’s no reason this couldn’t work.  I wouldn’t trot it out against Buffalo, though.  Save that surprise for our new conference brothers in Columbia.

(By the way, reading the first part of Michael’s piece will drive you crazy thinking back to the Outback Bowl.  Georgia had the perfect answer to Michigan State’s aggressive defense – deep passes out of a max-protect formation – and used it effectively to help build a 16-0 first half lead.  Then it was abandoned until late in regulation, when it worked again.  You know who I blame for that.)


Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

73 responses to “Is Bobo willing to take the blame for packaged plays?

  1. The other other Doug

    We have all seen it all to often; find what works and stop doing it.

  2. NateG

    This has definitely been on my mind since I read the Grantland piece a while back. I could honestly see this being a huge success for Georgia. It wouldn’t be a wholesale change over like moving to the no huddle was last year, plus most all of the pieces are in place already. Do I think it will happen? Eh, I’d say not likely. But I would be pleasantly surprised to see this in Columbia. Either one.

  3. HahiraDawg

    I see it happening one series each half against Mizzou, not more, even if those possesions are successful. So if successful, expect it to be abandoned, and expect the complaining. Because I bet they haven’t schemed/game planned to stay in this and make it their staple/bread and butter. It’ll be a change up, nothing more.

  4. SemperFiDawg

    My first thought was “Gee, I thought they had been running package plays for several years now. How else do you explain Carlton Thomas up the middle time after time despite dubious results.”

  5. Irwin R Fletcher

    Two games were on Fox Sports the other night…Miracle on the Plains (which is just fun to watch Bobo, Hines, and Robert Edwards play pissed off thanks to a benching and an early game deficit) and Hobnail Boot …couldn’t help but get excited watching the Dawgs play a real no huddle offense against Tenn prior to the rule changes, seeing Mark Richt calling plays directly into David Greene’s ear hole, and watching him mouth “We got it. We got it. We got it” as the final play to Verron was unfolding.

    This meme that Richt isn’t a smart football coach is stupid. The bigger issue is that in a time when the rules were being changed to favor smart defensive coordinators and athletic front 7s, UGA fell behind thanks to Willie and recruiting misses. I’ve got all the confidence in the world that Bobo and Richt can coach quarterbacks and call plays.

    • Irwin R Fletcher

      BTW- the easy counter to this argument is “Yes, it’s true but it is also true that they seem to forget to call smart plays whenever they have a 4 point lead or more.”

      But let’s take another example from the Hobnail Boot game…Jermaine Phillips’ late INT should have sealed the game with less than 2 minutes left, but Richt ran three straight times into the back of our O-Line and punted giving the Vols the opportunity to have the ball.

      Was that the right move or in hindsight, should Richt have gone for the first down to end the game in order to prevent the miracle 85 yard screen pass to Travis Stephens?

      • Irwin R Fletcher

        Final note…I’m aware that was 11 years ago so maybe this is stupid.

      • AthensHomerDawg

        85 yards was a pretty fair amount of real estate to cover. Was it that far? Maybe he felt that his D could hold them . Seems to me we do a lot of that now.

      • Krautdawg

        That’s the question, isn’t it? What’s the bigger risk: throwing a pass on your side of the field, or trusting your defense to prevent an 85-yard TD in the final 2 minutes?

        Richt trusted his defense — with the defenses he grew up with at FSU, why not? — and he made the same decision against Michigan State. What happened at Tennessee was, like you say, a miracle for the Vols. What happened against MSU not so much — their senior QB executed the perfect 2-minute drill he’d been practicing for 4 years. Still, we know which risk Richt would rather take. Now we just need a healthy, angry 4th-quarter defense.

        • adam

          If you need 1 first down to ice a game, throwing it is still safer than giving the ball to the other team. Game-winning pick 6s are rarer than game-winning drives or last second big plays.

          IMO, it’s a lot less stressful to never give the ball back. Get the damn first down. If we has gotten one final first down against Vandy last year we would’ve avoided the blocked punt and the near loss. 10 yards. That would’ve sealed the game with no drama. So, I disagree.

          • Mayor of Dawgtown


          • MinnesotaDawg

            Yes. Yes. Yes. At least TRY for the first down. If you get it, game over. If not, then by all means trust your defense. Anytime you forego the chance to win the game on offense and choose to give the ball back to the other team with +1 minute left and less than a TD lead (and especially a FG or less lead), you are asking for a minute of stress at the very least.

            Off the top of my head, in addition to UT in 2001, I can think of several minute or less end-of-game scoring drives against us to give up a lead: MSU in last year’s bowl, AU in 2005, Arky in 2010, LSU in 2003, UF in 2003, LSU in 2009. Those last minute drives, where you’re playing soft for fear of giving up the home run, and the other team has 4 shots at making a first down, can be tricky as hell to stop.

            Don’t throw if b/c you’re afraid of the pick-six? That’s the epitome of coaching scared. Oh, and by the way, bad stuff can happen when you’re running the ball up the gut at the end of a game, too (e.g. Colorado in 2010, Purdue in 2004, GT in ’99–although we all know what that wasn’t).

    • AthensHomerDawg

      I think we sometimes forget CMB and CMR pedigrees. Bobo’s dad was a pretty good HS ball coach and Mike played for him. He did a pretty fair job for Georgia too. When CMR was OC at FSU they won nearly 90% of their games and I believe he has a few rings from that tenure. “Not bad…. not bad at all.”

    • Cojones

      Hell, Irv you had me at “I’ve got all the confidence in the world…..”.

  6. Gravidy

    I don’t completely understand the nomenclature, here, Senator. Back in the Stafford days, he would routinely line up with two or three pre-called plays, and he would “call an audible” at the line to get the offense into the one which should work best against the current defensive alignment. How is that different from “packaged plays”?

    • Sanford222view

      If I remember correctly from the Grantland piece there really isn’t an audible as much as it is a read once the ball is snapped as to which of three plays is executed. I could be wrong though.

    • You check into an audibled play before the ball is snapped. With a packaged play, the quarterback makes the decision on where to go after the ball is snapped.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        Senator, other than the formation how is this different from the old “veer” where the QB also had a wide receiver and a pass option on top of the belly and pitch options?

        • Gravidy

          I was thinking the same thing, Mayor. Offensive plays with multiple options contingent on post-snap defensive behavior are not new. I guess the sorts of plays described in the Grantland article are a different and more exotic spin on the concept.

        • I think that the difference is that you have three different plays on the same play. With the old option plays, everyone would be running one play and then the QB would decide whether to give to the FB, keep himself, or pitch to the trailer. It was no different than a QB dropping back and making a read before throwing the ball. What makes the package play different is that instead of a run play with multiple options or a pass play with multiple options, you have a run, pass, and screen option all in the same play. Defenders are taught to read their keys when defending the option, but what keys do you read when the offense is doing three different things? This has to be a hell of a tough play for a front seven defender because he’s watching the offensive line run-block, but there are two different passing concepts to the left and right.

    • HahiraDawg

      G – Here’s a complete amateur, outside the action take. Maybe its accurate, maybe not, but here goes. The Stafford system as you describe would be multiple play options with one chosen at the line based on the defensive read. D lines up, O reads and calls this, the d could then adjust or they could be trying to decieve in their pre-snap set-up. However the play is decided and called in the pre-snap.
      The package play is not this chess match as much as it is player/field context exploitation. You line up with one play ‘tree’ called. Then you call a particular branch from that tree. Hypothetically the package play might target two or eventually three particular defenders or 2, eventually 3, zones of the field. It would attack it in layers. In other words, run something that requires a flood on a the OLbr, target/exploit him. Then another layer would bring in another compent like a corner playing flats (like cover 2). Actually, all package plays would involve at least two defenders with three options for the qb to make. The last layer might not come in until later, which would involve two or three more options to the original three. These options are not decided upon at a pre-snap read necessarily but they are clarified between qb, who would clarify where he’s exploiting and call the blocking scheme appropriately. Then in play exectution, the option is decided upon by the qb, but his variable are limited by his pre-snap read.

      I just don’t believe we will have enough of these play trees in a particular game plan and feel confident enought to run all of them (experience) to stay in this scheme no matter the success. It requires a whole sale embrace of this technique that I don’t expect or would even prefer, to maintain.

      maybe I’m comletely in left field.

      • HahiraDawg

        You can also see how zone blocking schemes work best with package plays. The older two style run blocking vs. pass blocking won’t work with package plays. I believe the evolution presently isn’t wholesale one or the other but has an integrated approach, requiring some zone blocking on a certain side (play-side?) with backside variations. However, blocking is not my forte at all. But you certainly can drive/run block and then throw a pass, especially if the drop requires 5 steps or more.

        • HahiraDawg

          cerainly “can’t” drive/run block”, in a hurry, trying to get work done simultaneously. I’m toooooo hyped. Also, “completely” in my last sentence of first post”. Ok, ’nuff already.

  7. Will Trane

    Watched part of the Miracle on the Plains while on the trip to the Georgia Dome to see the Corky Kell games. The blocking in that game was just outstanding in the second half. There were some players on that squad.
    Bobo and Murray have some common faults. They drift off during the game and they do not trust their abilities. The offense can be productive if they get their personnel packages in the game. Murray’s game experience [D players, D packages] couples with the play book and the personnel to be used in the game plan should make the no-huddle productive. But the question becomes the O line blocking and reading the D. I would like to see a 8-10 O line substitution in the first half against Buffalo. They will do that because of the weather, but I want to see how many of those guys can handle the pace and assignments.
    Friend is a good O line coach, but I have heard Neil Callaway has been in Athens lately. I’d like to see him some where on the payroll. I want to see the Dawgs to start turning out All-American and All-Conference, top O line players. Somehwere Searels and Bobo never hooked it up. Friend looks like a coach who knows talent at the high school level and can bring it to Athens. Brice Ramsey out of Camden is the real deal. His hands and footwork are tops. He is a game player.

  8. Cojones

    It just isn’t kosher to pin a tail on a spot and wait for a point in the game for the play to match the prediction. That’s plain dumb and isn’t fair to coach and leading player(QB). The coaches will use packaged plans when their team knowledge is matched to the dynamics of the game. Nuff said.

    Hahira, your explanation was good and lucid when explaining the play setups. Your last paragraph in the first posting was appreciated by those of us who don’t like the nit-pickin’ play-callers who sit in the stand or watch on TV.

    Every coach has reasons for changing his attack from time to time because they can see situations matched to players that none of us know. Yeh, yeh, I know it’s an “in the arena” statement, but it makes more sense than trying to reverse guru the game.

    When the day comes that a coach must tell us what he is thinking during a game, the magic goes. An after-the-game explanation isn’t necessary unless you want someone else to coach. But I would just love for Bobo to get on a phone-in talk show with some of the would-be “coaches” and argue these merits of play calling; not for the purpose of showing anyone up, but to get both sides’s explanations on the table. Right now we just see one side voiced and that side disdains the “arena” side.

    • HahiraDawg

      Thanks C,
      My secondary point might have been missed but it was this: our fan base has clamored for the abandonment of the zone technique but seems now to be asking for more package plays. But these are mutually exclusive.
      My point supports the fact tha an arena understanding/perspective is important, I am one though that thinks playing D-1 isn’t a necessary pre-requisite to arena understanding/perspecitve.

  9. Skeptic Dawg

    It is well know by now that Bobo and Richt will completely ignore any offense set/system designed to produce large numbers of TD’s. The defense is required to give maximum output for 4 quarters, yet the offense strives for 2 to 3 “good” quarters before calling it a day. On day in the hopefully near future this program will demand excellence from both sides of the ball. Until then, I can only dream.

  10. Gamecock4ever

    I can hear bobo and richt now “how we gon beat a top twenty team nothing we seem to do works Running into the end zone to cheer wid the players didn’t work. Runnin’ up the middle didn’t work all these top notch thugs er I mean playas not working I know I know how bout package plays not sure what dat is but if we don’t know what it is nobody else will either”

  11. Hackerdog

    Package plays work best in a fast no-huddle offense so that the defense can’t substitute. But doesn’t the SEC have a rule that defenses be given time after each play to substitute from the first time Richt tried to run a no-huddle system?

  12. Todd

    When was the last time we saw a wrinkle from Richt and Bobo? So we are to believe this can be down with the youth in the backfield? Zone blocking is not the answer for Clowney and co.
    Think about how many times we watched Georgia’s “big” OLine hurry to the line to wait in a stance for Murray to get the call. The D was resting and then went into their scheme right before the ball was snapped?
    Blocking and tackling, is all it is. Oh the days of I-formation, between the tackles, toss sweeps, and throw to keep ’em honest. Play percentages and bad ass D.

    • HahiraDawg

      I believe we can do it minimally since we have experience at qb, but generally I am completely with you Todd.

    • Hackerdog

      Blocking and tackling are great. But Saban isn’t the most successful coach around because he teaches fundamentals. He teaches fundamentals in addition to a complicated, NFL defensive scheme. Take the scheme away and you get less success.

      Mike Leach doesn’t use an NFL scheme, but it’s not just pitch and catch. It’s complicated. And it scores boatloads of points.

      • Irwin R Fletcher

        The I Formation and running between the tackles wasn’t the birthright offense created as the perfect system by the Almighty…it was an offshoot of strategic innovation that was perfected in the 60s by John McKay.

        In the same way coaches are going to clinics to learn the spread and packaged plays, coaches in the 60s would go to clinics lead by Coach McKay about the I-Formation…and most certainly there were critics that bemoaned the good ole days of the T formation and Split Wing.

      • Todd

        Is Saban’s offense complicated and NFL like? No, it isn’t. He pretty much has recruited OL and stud running backs. Basically, he says I am running it and you are going to have to stop me. 3 things can happen when you throw the ball and 2 are bad. Defense wins championships. Saban has 2 fresh crystal footballs he can show you.
        Have you noticed something about Leach and Saban? Neither gives a shit what people think. They are not politically correct. I enjoy both.

    • Not sure if it holds, but Clowney and co. look like they could be very weak against the run, and we can neutralize their pass rushing threat with lots of power runs for Samuel, Gurley, and Malcome.

  13. Todd

    The bowl game with Dick Sam IV 3 times in the middle only to come out in OT with that shit. All I needed to know. Reference the other bowl game with Mich. St.. Stafford, Moreno, Green and the clock management at the end of the 1st half. 2 TOs and the ball with these guys in a “meaningless” bowl. Again Richt goes conservative.

    Think about Bobo’s resume along with McClendon. Now, look at the other side of the ball and their resume. Georgia’s D coaches have pro experience, but the O has been……………you guessed it…….just Georgia. Same old story, loyalty to a fault.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      Mike Bobo has been a good Georgia son.
      “A man is not an orange. You can’t eat the fruit and throw the peel away.”

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        I hate to say it because Bobo is a good guy but his conservative playcalling and search for “offensive balance” are holding back the O. Don’t throw Bobo away. But we can hope that somebody offers him a HC job, can’t we?

        • Dog in Fla

          I thought the general overall off-season consensus among all of us internet offensive coordinator and quarterbacking geniuses* here was that it’s not Bobo, it’s Big Mark. So even if Bobo goes somewhere else, don’t expect much of a change because the replacement OC will still be reined in by Big Mark. Also too, if Bobo were an offensive coordinator under Nick, Bobo would have had meaningful head coaching job opportunities by now I bet. After all, Bobo already has kicked Boom’s ass a couple of times. But I’ll still continue to blame Bobo

          * “Genius (plural geniuses) is something or someone embodying exceptional intellectual ability, creativity, or originality, typically to a degree that is associated with the achievement of unprecedented insight.”

        • AthensHomerDawg

          “But we can hope that somebody offers him a HC job, can’t we” Ima let that go. Bobo was five years younger than CMR when he became OC. Age wise now he is just a little ahead of where CMR was when he started. Thats five more years and better of experience that Mike has gained. I’d like to think he is shifting into that gear that CMR found while winning 90% of his games with FSU. He has the ring hardware to go along with the record. Slow and steady wins the race my man. I raised two sons that were fortunate to letter in 3 sports in hs athletics. I’ve sat in the stands and heard their praise but I heard the grumbling when they didn’t perform. I met Bobo’s dad when he coached for a short while at Stephens Co HS when Charles Winslette was the head ball coach there. I liked him. Dismiss me from the jury pool. Until Saban’s complete conversion of college athletics to semi-pro I’m gonna enjoy , pull, vote, homer, college football the way I think it is suppose to be. AHD. I’m a homer. Old school baby…old school all day.

        • Todd

          I guess Bobo’s buyout clause is so big that it keeps even the big programs away.

  14. IveyLeaguer

    I’m on record as being a fan of the Richt no-huddle, when used wisely. And as disliking the Bobo design. They are very different. I was hoping we had scrapped the Bobo version after its disastrous debut last year. But instead, we’re now in all the way.

    It’s not that it can’t work. It’s just that the design has some inherent flaws, IMO. Add a new dimension (packaging) to it?

    Let’s see the basic version work first.

  15. Skeeter

    With the UGA “no huddle”, I just can’t stand to watch all those O-linemen looking like they’re about to take a dump before every play.

    • IveyLeaguer

      I know, while the QB stares at the sideline with a stupid look on his face, waiting for the call. Our system was designed to put the game in the hands of the QB, and we have recruited for that.

      I like having a Pro-Style QB manage the game with his head and stay in a good rhythm. That’s why I like the Richt no-huddle so much better.

      And I don’t see how all that time spent in that static crap-stance could help but have an effect on the explosion of our OL as the game wears on.

      There a lot more, but I’ll quit. Too late now, anyway. We’re running it, so we have to hope for the best.

  16. lrgk9

    Seems like Bobo went for a few 4th down passes in the UF game last year.

    I blame him for that too. Oh, wait – he was taking great risk and we were rewarded….

    Especially on the 4th down when we kept possession late.

  17. Bobo will say that there is lack of execution.

    • IveyLeaguer

      Doesn’t that make you crazy? Who gets paid, who’s responsible, for the execution of the offense, anyway? Who’s job is it to see that they execute? Why can some OC’s take the SAME players and get them to function and execute like they’re supposed to?

      • adam

        Oh, I’ve made that argument here before. It’s not always received very well.

        • Cojones

          Yeah, I think it went along the lines that the coach isn’t permitted to play in the game. And that ain’t something you argue about.

          • adam

            You’re right. Coaches can only tell the players what to do and hope. There’s one simple reason that some coaches get better execution from their players than others: luck. After all, they can’t go make the play for them!

            Does that argument sound better or worse than mine: Coaches are responsible for how their players execute because they’re supposed to teach them how to execute and design the offense/defense (and call the plays) in the way that best sets those players up for success. Execution, therefore, is a logical result of preparation and scheme. Success should be achieved as easily as possible. A play that requires extra practice time that only gets run once a year is a bad play, IMO. That’s just one example. A play that is so complex that the players consistently have difficulty executing it perfectly is a bad play, IMO (even if it’s a play that, when executed properly, is unstoppable!).

            I think that you and I have a difference of perspective at least as much as we have a difference in opinion.