“It’s a chess match.”

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.

42 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

42 responses to ““It’s a chess match.”

  1. Salty Dawg

    Thank you, Senator, for posting this! Last Saturday, the offense soothed my football soul after disrupting it the first half at Arkie. Maybe this 20 team will be like the 17 team and have a big, blow out season! I’m very optimistic after what we saw last Saturday. GO DAWGS!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Down Island Way

    Just got a feeling the UGA OC has the tool box and some really good tools to make the opposition dc worry more than usual, UGA’s “D” falls into the equation then…give up to much yardage/points the opposition oc’s life gets really difficult…throw a little Special Teams play as an appetizer…Let The Big Dawg Eat……

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  3. If you truly want to understand the Air Raid and how it works read The Perfect Pass. It’s a history of the Air Raid and how it came to be. Hal Mumme took a lot of concepts that BYU (Lavell Edwards) ran in the early 80’s and added to that. Essentially there are a handful of base plays that are run out of multiple formations. A lot of the reads are pre snap with coverage dictating which side of the field the QB reads. There are also route adjustments based on coverage pre and post snap as well as route adjustments that the QB can make based on what he sees. It’s a simple offense that has a counter for almost everything the defense will throw at it. You don’t need a QB with a big arm or that is particularly mobile to be successful in the system. Having a wealth of talent at RB makes it that more lethal.

    We are seeing a scaled down version of the offense due to the pandemic in addition to Monken adapting his offense to the talent he has. I’m curious to see how the offense evolves over the next few seasons as we hopefully have spring ball and a normal camp next year.

    If Kirby can continue to recruit at a high level on the defensive side of the ball we could be in for some very fun and special years coming up.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. So many terms that I don’t understand in that piece. Is there a glossary somewhere?

    Liked by 2 people

    • biggusrickus

      I just looked it up, so this may not be exactly correct, but Y-Cross and Y-Sail are just routes by the slot/tight end. On the cross, the short side receiver basically runs off the defense with a post or fade and the slot vacates the space created on a cross. On the sail the slot works in tandem with the wide side receiver and cuts out underneath the CB or turns it into a corner route if the CB sits.

      I can’t find 90/60-game in my search, so I don’t have any idea aobut those.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for posting this, Senator. That was great stuff! I really enjoy reading those types of posts that break down what is happening for us. It’s really exciting to think about how the offense will develop over the season as the reps increase.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. godawgs1701

    I don’t think anyone could write that many words about the Coley offense without repeating themselves repeating themselves.

    Have y’all noticed how much worse A&M got since he got over there? I know he’s only coaching tight ends, but I also know that you can’t prove to me that it isn’t entirely because he’s there. It isn’t like ol’ Jake Fromm suddenly got better when Coley became his QBs coach.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. ASEF

    Against AM, Alabama’s safety blew 3 coverages and missed an easy tackle, directly allowing 2 TDs and facilitating a 3rd.

    Monken and Pickens are licking their chops.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Derek

    We’re not going to out scheme Pruitt. Need to rtdb and win the one on ones. First down is key. Pruitt likes to take chances on early downs and get you behind the chains and make you predictable in second and third downs. If we can consistently win first down we’ll be fine. Keep it simple. Execute. Protect the ball. Let the talent advantages take over as the game progresses. We better get locked in or it could be usc 2019 redux. If we are and win comfortably like we should its a nice preview for the offense for the next week as pruitt and saban will be doing very similar things defensively.

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    • Is Pruitt going to out-scheme Monken?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Derek

        I hope not. I’m putting it down as an even fight at this point.

        Bill Walsh vs. Bill Oliver.

        Andy Reid vs. Dick Lebeau.

        That sort of thing.

        The next two weeks ain’t about stealing candy from a baby. That much I can tell you. With a former walk on qb, caution is appropriate.

        This isnt Monken vs. Pruitt and then Saban next week as much as its going to be about the on field performance of the players in executing the plan. No coaches will be taken advantage of these next two weeks.

        The good news? I think we’ve got the best roster.

        Liked by 1 person

      • theotherdoug

        My prediction is Pruitt’s scheme is to bait Bennett into some bad throws and interceptions. Winning the turnover battle is his only chance.

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        • Derek

          No doubt. He drew up a coverage vs Spurrier that was beautiful.

          Can’t remember the players name but Pruitt knew SOS loves one side of the field hi/lo reads.

          He took the db covering the left slot and at the snap rolled him under the post route the qb was going to try to hit on the opposite side of the field. Qb did everything right and never saw him. Pick! It was a thing of beauty.

          To do that you have to basically be in SOS’s fucking head. You have to know when and where he is going to throw that thing and call your defense at the right time.

          People forget that Pruitt played under Brother Bill and no one knew how to fuck with qbs and play callers like that guy. Dude was a fucking magician. He was playing chess while everyone else was playing checkers.

          There is an art to this stuff that gets missed.

          If a dc is smart enough and prepared enough and creative enough he can show you one thing knowing how you’ll react to it and then set traps for those things he knows you’re gonna do as an adjustment That’s Belichick level shit.

          Of course you still have to have relatively close enough rosters or it doesn’t matter what your draw up. They’ll just beat you with simple. If you cant stop simple you cant win.

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    • biggusrickus

      I mean, he couldn’t manage to outscheme Coley last year. I think he’s a good DC, but he’s not Bill Belichick or something.

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      • Derek

        And La Monroe out schemed Saban in 2007!

        UAB outsmarted Saban in 2000!

        Willie out coached Spurrier 4 of 5 match ups!!

        Sometimes there is more to the outcome of a game than the relative brilliance of the coaches.

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        • biggusrickus

          I think there’s almost always more to the outcome of a game, but you’re the one who scoffed at the idea of Monken one-upping Pruitt. I just don’t understand your assessment of him as some kind of genius. This is the same guy who couldn’t figure out how to stop Florida from running the same handful of running plays over and over, after all.

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          • Derek

            Pruitt should have made Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd bigger and stuff.

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            • biggusrickus

              Right. Because coaches aren’t expected to exploit or cover for mismatches. They just put them out there and say, “Go play.”

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              • Derek

                Bear should have just told his defense to tackle Sam Cunningham.

                What was he thinking?

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                • biggusrickus

                  Great analogy. There’s no difference between USC/Alabama in 1970 and Georgia/Florida in 2014.

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                • Derek

                  Ummm, seriously?

                  You cant fathom that certain players whether good, bad, ill-equipped create mismatches that no x’s and o’s can overcome?

                  If you’re light on the edge and the other team has nimble OL who can pull and block, then you’re in trouble. There’s no compensating for it on a white board.

                  Coaching can only maximize what you have. It can’t change what you have. Thats why recruiting is so highly valued. The more great players you have the less opportunities there will be to not be at a matchup disadvantage. Doesn’t mean the guy without the best players can’t coach and it doesn’t mean the guy with the best players is a genius.

                  Question: is UT worried that 74, our sec OL of the week, will pull across the formation and kick out their right side edge player Saturday? Why or why not?

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                • biggusrickus

                  I guess it’s a good thing for me that Florida played other teams that year, some of whom were as light, or dare I say, lighter on the edge. You know how many of them Florida ran on for 400 yards? None. You know how many of them Florida averaged greater than or equal to 6.97 YPC against? None. But I’m sure it’s just that Georgia’s edge players just couldn’t compete with the likes of Vandy and East Carolina.

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                • Derek

                  Remember when Walker had two td catches vs. Florida?

                  Every other team’s ILB’s covered him….

                  OR, and see if you can follow me here, we saw an opportunity to exploit UF’s ILB’s in that game that was better than the general toss right, toss left approach that had worked in other games, like fucking Vandy.

                  In other words, listen carefully now, coaches drew up a new plan for a particular opponent for a particular reason and then deployed it.

                  Is you mind like blown and stuff?

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                • biggusrickus

                  Wait, so you’re telling me that a coach drew something up on a white board, using x’s and o’s to represent the players? I suppose that only goes one way in your mind, that defensive coaches couldn’t possibly compensate for a mismatch through gameplanning and design?

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                • Derek

                  Are you asking if the Florida dc could have shat a ILB who could cover 34?

                  Most definitely.

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          • Tony BarnFart

            Florida was fucking holding that whole game and the pigs never called it.

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  9. I like it so far simply because we’re using the entire field and talent available. Running is still highly important but he’s not scared to pass to set up the run. It’s going to be difficult to box in the offense if we didn’t do it ourselves first. Maybe someone shuts us down and brings me down to earth but I already see night and day difference between Monken and the last guy. I don’t even consider his offense exotic. Again, he just uses the field and personnel available.

    Just don’t ever forget the staple of Georgia football- play action. We had some friends and family over for an outdoor somewhat distanced viewing Saturday and I was telling dad that we need to not get rid of PA and then they ran it a play and half later. I even called the Pickens td. The staff recognized the miss and went back to him. Kirby has always been good about recognizing and correcting mistakes or misses with the defense and maybe we now have a man for it on offense.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The TD pass was a perfect example of scheming (using formation and motion) to get the matchup you wanted. SBIV sends Cook from his left in motion to the wide side of the field to the right and moved the safety off the near hash and away from Pickens on the short side. Bennett had about as easy of a throw as it gets.

      Just beautiful scheme and execution.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. FlyingPeakDawg

    If we can run early we’ll be fine…Pruitt’s plans will go out the door. But if SBIV throws an early pick six losing confidence, our running game is stuffed and Kirby slows everything down then we may be in a bit of a fight we don’t want. For now I trust in our D, Monken and our depth to win this but with any poor weather it may be closer than we want.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. W Cobb Dawg

    I expect Bennett to see a LOT more blitzing the next few games. Opposing defenses are coming to the reality that their offenses aren’t going to score much against our D. Creating havoc may be the only way to upset the Dawgs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Derek

      The way he beat that unblocked edge rusher and threw a strike vs Auburn and set up our first score would say differently.

      The biggest thing other teams have to do is take away the run game and make Bennett throw into tight windows.

      Our job is to never be one dimensional.

      The team that worries me is the one that only gives you the deep ball. They shut the run down and everything from 0-12 yards is choked off. In other words, what alabama does.

      There’s a solution. It takes a lot toughness and guts to pull off. You need a qb who can be patient, wait, throw a strike and survive them taking your head off and/or extending the play so coverage breaks down and/or scrambling for a first down.

      But maybe that’s next week.

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    • Tim B

      Dropping a bunch into a zone is the way to defend Bennett. He’ll throw int’s. Rush and Play man and he’ll buy time with his mobility and find someone open. The problem with dropping seven or eight is the run game will thrive. In the end, good dc’s will mix it up.

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