Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics

What is a pro-spread offense?

Ian Boyd looks at the key elements that comprise a state of the art college offense these days, which he labels a “pro-spread”:

Pro-spread tactics generally work along these lines:

  • The goal is to break down defenses with dropback/progression passing.
  • The key to doing so is with receivers who can reliably get open in 1-on-1 matchups.
  • A deep threat is the most valuable piece, as in every offensive system, but then your “running back” or “run game” is often divided between the literal run game and then your possession receivers who do heavy work every week moving the chains.
  • Hybrid weapons, particularly at tight end, often do some of the heavy lifting by moving around to create distortions in the defense the quarterback can use to diagnose the structure and find the open man.

Given that last characteristic, I thought he’d spend some time talking about what Georgia did last season.  I mean, this kind of rings a bell:

The emergence of the RPO (run/pass option) has been key here. When you can pair a power run from 11 personnel with a fullback/tight end hybrid in the backfield and a vertical threat in the slot, you can really put safeties and defenses in a bind.

Defenses are getting wise to RPO football and run/pass conflicts though. What they don’t have great answers for is problems like “how do we cover Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney at the same time if the offense insists on throwing the ball to them regularly?

As I argued in the last post, dropback passing from the spread is a higher form of offense with fewer answers from defenses. If you can get a skilled quarterback on the same page with NFL caliber receivers and multiple hybrid weapons at tight end and running back, you can solve most anything the defense tries to do.

The catch is that building these offenses is very difficult. You need a left tackle, for one, to build your protections around so your five-man crew can keep the quarterback upright long enough to get to his second or third read.

A deep threat wide receiver is extremely valuable as well. There’s no better way to clear out space underneath for your timing or option routes than to hold at least one safety deep on a hash to prevent a one-throw score.

The hybrid tight end who’s a matchup problem in space is sort of akin to a star running back in a power run game. You want a volume chain-mover who can pick up first downs regularly. Overall you want two really high level passing targets and then a few others who can do something when the defense focuses elsewhere.

But, no, it’s all about you know who.

Alabama went all-in on sophomore Bryce Young last fall and were still pretty sporadic on offense until the end of the year when they started to put it together. Watching them in their close loss against Texas A&M I could seen signs they were close to breakthrough and made a note they might have the best team in the country by the playoffs. They did, obliterating Georgia in the SEC Championship game, but then they lost their NFL receivers and couldn’t get the ball across the finish line.

Can we go ahead and elect Metchie and Williams to the College Football Hall of Fame already?

Sigh.  Well, if you can get past that, there’s good stuff from Ian there, as usual.  Take a minute and read it.

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Today, in play fakes

I’ve never seen a quarterback execute this better.

Edwards did a great job of selling it, too.  I, like everyone else in the stadium that day, was totally fooled.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Make play action great again

Here’s Todd Monken, returning play action to the rightful place it occupied… under Jim Chaney?

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“We had really good players at Georgia.”

Sure, it’s good salesmanship for Dan Lanning to link himself to last season’s national championship, but I think there’s a little more to it when he mentions Georgia.

For example, take a look at this clip about some of his scheme design.

He starts off with some NFL tape, but things get fun when the clip hits the 1:25 mark.  That’s when Lanning goes to the Georgia Tech game — always a good start — and keeps referring to the Dawgs as “we” and “us”.

You can’t help but wish the guy a lot of success after the opener.

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Boxed in

When you think about the defensive tactics Georgia faced just three or four years ago, this is a surprise.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think it’s slowly beginning to dawn on defensive coordinators that selling out against the run to stop Georgia’s offense isn’t an optimal strategy any more.  Not to say there still isn’t a ways to go in that regard, at least until Monken and Bennett do some more convincing.

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You can’t keep a good offensive coordinator down.

Graham’s breakdown of the first explosive play of the national championship game is terrific.

Remember, before this play, Georgia’s first two series went three and out, gaining a total of one yard.  Georgia had just picked up its first first down of the game immediately before Monken called this.  The o-line had been shaky, especially trying to handle Will Anderson, and because of that, Bennett seemed a bit gun shy.

On top of that, Pickens, the team’s best receiver, is still limited as he recovered from his injury.  (As Graham mentioned, he was only on the field for a total of 18 plays.)  And yet, look at what Monken dialed up — he got the Bama secondary just confused enough with all the eye candy to free up Pickens on the outside and also caused Anderson to hesitate just enough to give Bennett enough time to make a great throw downfield.  It’s a brilliant play design and his charges executed it perfectly.  It changed the tone of the game for the rest of the night.

I had hoped this was the kind of stuff we’d get from Monken when Kirby brought him on board.

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Today’s edition of Dawg porn…

… is brought to you via David Ubben ($$), who asks a simple question:  “Why has no one ever thought to build an entire offense out of athletic tight ends who are almost impossible to cover and even harder to tackle?”

Like this, you mean?

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken is going to be able to do a lot of creative things with that trio this fall. Good luck to opposing defenses, nearly all of whom will lack a single player who matches up well with any of the three tight ends.

Not sure luck’s gonna have much to do with that.

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Pass pro, 2022 edition

I wouldn’t say I’m at the point of losing sleep over it, but, if pressed, I will admit to a concern I have about Georgia’s offense this season.  It’s an area that’s lost a lot of experience, as this tweet indicates.

Okay, those aren’t particularly big numbers either way, so what’s the big deal?  Let Rollins explain.

Why examine something that is an extremely small percentage of plays, especially for Georgia? Because one of the biggest plays in school history (above) doesn’t happen without James Cook’s pass protection. Cook picked up Bama’s Christian Harris and allowed Stetson Bennett the extra second or two to hit the free play shot/go-ahead touchdown to Adonai Mitchell.

The above play was actually something Bulldog backs were rarely asked to do. In total, the running backs only had 67 total pass blocking reps last season, good for the fourth-fewest in the Power 5 despite the additional games. Only Florida left their backs in to pass protect fewer times in the SEC.

It’s not something the Bulldogs did particularly well either. The team’s running back pass block grade was 36.6, seventh-best in the SEC and just 41st in the Power 5.

It doesn’t matter until it does, in other words.  No doubt Monken will scheme around this deficiency — and when Kenny McIntosh is your best returning back in pass pro, a deficiency is what it is — until more experience brings more consistency.  And he’ll do a good job in that regard, but still, good ain’t the same as perfect.

Like I said, I’m not losing any sleep over it, but when you like to take deep shots the way Georgia does, it’s something to consider.

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“Five guys in the closet”

Man, I love hearing Dan Lanning talk about how prepared his defense was for the national championship game.

Of course, none of that would have mattered if Metchie and Williams weren’t injured, amirite?

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All I want for Christmas is a 14 formation in the red zone.

Seth Emerson brings the schwing! today ($$).  I guarantee you won’t be able to finish his piece about the transformative potential of Georgia’s tight end-oriented offense without needing a cigarette or a cold shower.  Or both, maybe.

There’s talent…

How loaded is Georgia’s tight end from? There have been 11 tight ends over the past three years ranked among the top 150 overall recruits in their respective class, per the 247Sports Composite. Three of them now play for Georgia: Gilbert (fifth overall) in 2020, Bowers (105th in 2021) and Delp (105th in 2022). And that doesn’t include Washington, who was listed as an athlete in the 2020 class, where he was the No. 23 overall prospect.

There’s also the mad scientist/evil genius ready to deploy the talent.

There’s also a reason Todd Monken, the offensive coordinator who also has a new deal coming, is known for dynamic thinking. It was a little over a year ago, when someone asked him about getting Washington more involved, that he offered a hint of what was to come: “You’re hopeful we have enough skill players that they have to defend the whole field, and all the players on the field are capable of making plays, which is a sign of a really good offense. The best offenses have that in terms of weapons, tight ends, wideouts and running backs, which gives you the opportunity to take advantage of mismatches and make them defend the field.”

Monken’s offense has already been making liberal use of the tight ends: The Bulldogs had at least two tight ends on the field 51.7% of the time last season, the highest rate in the SEC and eighth-highest nationally. Of those plays — 492 in all — 85 of them were with three tight ends on the field, which was also the most in the SEC, and fifth-most in the nation.

It can’t be that hard to lead the country in four tight ends on the field, can it?  I mean, in for a penny, in for a pound, and all that.

Seriously, after all the shit talking we’ve heard from rival fan bases about how stodgy and unimaginative Georgia’s offense has been under Smart (not without some justification, admittedly), it’s gonna be a real treat to hear your Daily Gator whine about how difficult it is to defend Manball 2.0 this season.

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