While I think it’s a bit of a misnomer to label Todd Monken’s scheme (at least from what we’ve seen so far) an Air Raid attack, it’s not inaccurate to say it has elements of the Air Raid in it.
That being said, you’ll find a surprisingly deep dive into what Monken does and how Pruitt will try to defend it in two posts at Volswire.
The first of them is a preview of some of the offensive and defensive components of what each coach does. Here are some specifics from someone who played for Monken at Southern Miss:
Allan Bridgford played for Monken at Southern Miss in 2013. Bridgford understands what Monken will bring to Georgia’s offense this season as the Bulldogs are all-in to revolutionize its offense and attack split safety coverage schemes…
“What makes the Air Raid is how simple you keep it and how well you do it. There are half field reads where you are looking pre-snap at what the coverage is and what side of the field you are going to work. Let’s say you have a two-high beater to the left and a one-high beater to the right, there is a certain look you could get and you choose that side. Then you have full field scans where you are basically just counting numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 to the running back for a checkdown. Monken is just really good at teaching progressions and what you are looking for. He is really good at dissecting defensive tendencies and how to identify them — he helps you play fast.”
Bridgford also discussed Georgia attacking Tennessee’s split safety coverage.
“You have to take the top off these coverages and work underneath,” he said. “The Air Raid has an answer to everything. There are so many nuances and only a handful of plays.
“You can have four verticals where there are two different types of four vertical calls. You have all-go, which is just 4-verticals, where the inside guys bend versus 2-high and the quarterback has the ability to put an outside receiver on a deep post versus Cover-4. Then you also have a streak variation, where if the chemistry between the quarterback and inside receivers is there, the inside receivers can either hook up, run inside, run outside, continue straight and basically just find the open hole in the defense based off their defender’s leverage. That takes chemistry, reps and practice. Every quarterback Monken has coached for an extended period of time has had that with his receivers.”
Chemistry, reps and practice. We saw a fair amount of the first against Auburn with Bennett and Jackson. Time should address the other two.
The second piece contains post-Auburn analysis from Bridgford and Rush Propst (I know, I know). The perspective here is from the vantage point of Monken running Air Raid concepts, as opposed to a purely Air Raid scheme.
Through the first two games, Monken has been able to run Air Raid concepts with Bennett, while maintaining a physical ground game. Monken has featured Y-Cross off play-action instead of in a straight drop back, along with mesh early on this season.
“In the system, whether it be Y-Cross or Y-Sail, it starts with that guy,” Propst said of Air Raid concepts and the signal-caller. “So what they did against Auburn, they did a lot of that off play-action to protect the quarterback and they were wide open. When Auburn had to sell out to stop the run, it left the play-action.
“The scheme stays the same, whether you are in the gun, taking a three-step drop, playing 90-game, or you are under center and play-action — the concepts are not going to change a lot. I did see mesh in a third down deal. There are about seven or eight concepts in the 90-game which is a three-step drop out of shotgun and then it is 60 protection which is quick game stuff. There are tons of things he can do out of that to get the ball out to the wide receivers very fast.”
It’s funny how we never saw anyone break down Coley’s offense like that. But I digress.
In the Air Raid, wide receivers have the ability to post in a direction they feel a safety is not headed. There is a lot of freedom within the Air Raid offense to make these decisions, placing a large burden on defenders as they need to be able to cover in open space.
Freedom in route-running for Georgia’s wide receivers was on display against Auburn last week to go along with the Bulldogs’ running attack.
“Monken did not come in to blow things up, he came in to add bits and pieces to make it better,” Bridgford said. “They have had tremendous success running the ball the past few years with pro-style concepts. They are only going to get better when they are adding these spread-type concepts that Monken brings in.
“Every quarterback loves play-action. There is nothing better than making a play-fake then looking down the field and seeing all of the linebackers that have been brought up from that play-fake because there is actually a threat there. You just have guys that are on crossers, dig routes and running naked because you can just throw the ball in there without having to maneuver around anybody. The spread concepts can still remain with a pro-style-type set under center with play-action – you can still run Y-Cross and Y-Sail. I think it is a good combination for Georgia.”
I mock Coley because play action, which had been Georgia’s offensive bread and butter for years, occupied a diminished role last season. Monken restoring its place is a welcome development.
So is this.
“Monken has a strong background in coaching wide receivers. He is as good as it gets when it comes to coaching receivers. He obviously played quarterback, so he has that perspective and quarterbacks know what they like. Certain guys give certain indicators better for when they run their routes than others. The best thing he does is teach.”
As much fun as it was to watch what Georgia did on offense last Saturday, it’s going to be even more so in a few weeks. In the meantime, take a look at both pieces to get an idea of how Georgia will try to attack the Tennessee defense.