Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics

“Pick a good one.”

For all the bitching the NFL does about how spread offenses are a drag on player development, it sure seems like being a quarterback for Mike Leach has its pluses in that department.

Quarterbacks in his Air Raid offense are expected to know the ins and outs of every position on the field, but Leach affords them far more control in calling plays and making reads than most college (or professional) coaches would dare.

It doesn’t happen often, but Leach says there are games when his quarterback heads onto the field about 60 percent of the time with nothing more than an offensive formation. In those cases, it is the quarterback’s responsibility alone to give the offense his own play call, unless he decides to audible on the formation altogether.

It’s a level of trust between Leach and his quarterbacks that he calls “one of the strengths of our offense.” According to several former quarterbacks who played for Leach, it also serves to form what they describe as the most unique relationship between a coach and a player in all of college football.

“You don’t find that in a lot of offensive coordinators or head coaches,” former Texas Tech quarterback B.J. Symons said. “Some of them might be a little egotistical that you’re going to run what they call. … That freedom that Mike gave you — and it came from him trusting that you could make the right call — that was a big part of my success.”

Considering the level of micromanagement that goes on these days – everyone loves the get to the line early so the coaching staff can rework the play call based on the defensive set move, right? – you’d think that kind of responsibility would pay dividends at the next level.  Not to mention that Leach’s teams don’t have to get to the line early to check sideline play cards…

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Filed under Mike Leach. Yar!, Strategery And Mechanics

“What does a fullback do?”

At Georgia, the short answer is that he doesn’t get a scholarship.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Thursday morning buffet

Haven’t had one of these in a little while.  Dig in.

  • Florida hasn’t lost to Tennessee in over a decade, but that’s not stopping Jim McElwain from playing the lowered expectations card for all it’s worth.
  • Speaking of Tennessee, if you’re a player in need of legal advice, the school would be happy to point you in the right direction.
  • Judging from this fiasco, it looks like coaches can behave as moronically on social media as teenagers do.  Go figure.
  • Kirby Smart likes the idea of beginning a season against a top opponent in a neutral site venue.
  • Mark Richt thinks satellite camps constitute “illegal recruiting”.
  • And while we on the subject of satellite camps, it sounds like a lot of SEC coaches are preparing to stay and see Georgia.
  • Here’s a list of eleven characteristics of “outstanding high school and college offensive coordinators”.
  • If you’re a receiver on the short side, it might pay to ask your coaches to let you switch to the other side of the ball.
  • Pete Fiutak’s got his Georgia preview posted here.  Related pieces here and here.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Recruiting, See You In Court, Social Media Is The Devil's Playground, Strategery And Mechanics, The NFL Is Your Friend.

Run the damned ball, Chaney.

Good to finally get that off my chest.

Ian Boyd has a couple of good Xs and Os pieces for your reading pleasure.  First, a general piece on everybody’s favorite running play, power.

Systems that make power a foundational part of their offense and do it well are often rewarded with tags like “manball,” “power-coast,” or “smashmouth spread.

While inside zone can be a physical scheme when it emphasizes double teams on DL and lead runs like “Iso” have their value in making linebackers decide if they’re about that “blow up the block” life. Power usually has both features, a double team at the point of attack meant to drive a DL off the ball and then a lead blocker coming around looking to blow up a linebacker. Every coach that wants to base their run game around a non-power scheme will undoubtedly start by justifying how he can do so while still bringing a physical approach.

The way in which power creates new gaps at the point of attack and the physical nature in which that occurs both tend to trigger defenses to respond in a knee-jerk fashion, which is why power is probably the best scheme in football for setting up play-action deep shots.

That do sound familiar.

The second piece will be even more enjoyable, I suspect:  “How Georgia’s revised running game can make Nick Chubb even deadlier“.  Thought that might get your attention.

The predominant feature of the Mark Richt era in Athens: running backs. From Knowshon Moreno to Todd Gurley to Nick Chubb and next to Sony Michel, the Dawgs have been stacked in the backfield and keyed by their running game. Kirby Smart will undoubtedly want to make the most of this.

Two years in a row, Chubb has ran for 119 or more yards per game, with Michel, Gurley and Keith Marshall all getting plenty of carries as well.

He ran for 146 yards on 20 carries against Smart’s 2015 Alabama defense, good for 7.3 yards per carry. Alabama won 38-10, but it made Georgia the only team to break 3.9 yards per carry on the Tide D (5.1, in fact). They did this largely thanks to an 83-yard romp by Chubb when the outcome was no longer in question, but the explosive power of feature backs was one of the few consistent bright spots in Georgia’s season.

In 2016 the Dawgs return three starting OL, their tight end, and most of their skill talent. Chubb returns from injury as a top Heisman contender and one of the country’s biggest reasons this season is a year of running backs. The QB role could go to five-star freshman Jacob Eason, who impressed fans in the spring game.

With former Arkansas and Pittsburgh OC Jim Chaney coordinating the offense, it seems obvious that Georgia will make running the ball with Chubb a key strategy.

The amazing thing about Nick Chubb discussions these days is how naturally folks assume Chubb will be back contributing this season.  If that’s really the case, Jim Chaney’s gonna look a lot smarter.

The other part that’s really interesting is his suggestion of how Chaney and Pittman may make do with what is for them an undersized offensive line this season.  Talking about looking smarter…

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

I know I’m no defensive coordinator…

… but why, exactly, was that such a great idea?

By the way, Georgia was 11th and 8th in the SEC in sacks per game over those two seasons.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

“There is always a sense of urgency to get them up to speed.”

The NFL draft approacheth, so you know what that means: the whining about the spread will continue until the morale improves.

So, you have a quarterback who played in the spread and never took a snap at the line of scrimmage. And receivers who don’t understand route trees.

Not to mention linebackers who rarely played in tight quarters. And blockers who have not gotten into a three-point stance since high school. Or junior high.

Now turn them loose in the NFL? Good luck.

The way the spread offense has taken over college football has made the NFL draft even more of a crapshoot. In the past, pro scouts had seen college prospects perform in something similar to the NFL. Nowadays, other than rarities such as Stanford’s offense or Alabama’s defense, few schools are using formations or styles similar to what the players will face in the NFL…

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman notes how difficult it is “to teach them how to get into a three-point stance, how to run block’ because of the restrictions on practice time under the labor agreement.

Giants OL coach Mike Solari adds there is “a tremendous learning curve as far as technique and fundamentals for young offensive linemen coming into the NFL. There is always a sense of urgency to get them up to speed.”

I guess you guys will just have to work harder.  Cry me a river.

Some of this is interesting.

As more college coaches have gone with the spread, certain positions have morphed. Tight ends either are blockers or quasi-wideouts; rarely handling both duties as they may have to in the NFL. Fullbacks are almost nonexistent. Linemen just backpedal and pass block.

Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry is seen as a high pick because he blocked and ran routes in a pro system. Michigan State tackle Jack Conklin also showed he can run block and pass block, moving him ahead of some spread players.

Patriots player personnel director Nick Caserio notes that some teams “throw the ball 75 times a game, and they’ve never run blocked in their entire life.”

But defensive backs have prospered from the proliferation of wide-open offenses.

“The ball is in the air more, they are learning to tackle out more in the open grass,” Savage says. “It is a tough job for those college DBs, playing against three and four receivers every snap. Colleges run two receivers deep on one side, they exit the field and two fresh receivers are basically doing the same thing on the next play. The DB is the same guy. He’s learning from that.”

In the end, though, it always seems to come back to Nick Saban.

 

“I would say overall, you can’t grade schools, you have to grade individual prospects,” Savage says. “But when you go to Iowa or Alabama or Stanford, when scouts are watching the tapes, they are at least seeing what the players will be asked to do at the NFL level.”

“… I have always theorized the prospects that come out of some of these ‘NFL-like programs’ are probably getting half a round of elevation of grade in the draft. Because when that scout walks out of that school, he can better project what this player can do than for some other players who don’t have that background.”

If you don’t think Alabama’s selling that quote on the recruiting trail, you’re crazy.

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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics, The NFL Is Your Friend.

“Our thing is, when you go, you go.”

For those of you fretting over the wussification of college football, this Paul Myerberg piece on the evolution of tackling in practice is worth a read.

It’ll be interesting to watch over the next few years to see if those teams which have gone to rugby-style tackling are fundamentally sound in games.

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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics, The Body Is A Temple