Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics

“… a pro-style concept that hints at where the sport is going.”

Here’s an interesting piece about Carson Wentz, the Eagles’ quarterback, who came out of North Dakota State.  The Eagles were particularly enamored with the system Wentz played in at NDS.

The ultimate prospect in Childress’ eyes is a quarterback that ran some spread concepts in college that can be incorporated into the offense for whatever NFL team he plays for.

The NFL game has become much different from college football because of the way the offense gets into a huddle and has a play called. In college, many of these quarterbacks are playing fast break style football without a huddle and calling plays with hand signals.

While it may seem sexy at the college level, this kind of football can hurt a prospect’s adjustment to the NFL.

“[College spread quarterbacks] never had to say ‘red switch right closed end right split z halfback flat’ — they don’t know who to talk to when and when to take a breath,” Childress said. “You don’t realize how big a problem the center-quarterback exchange is until the ball is rolling on the ground at practice and you’re saying ‘Oh my God.’”

Carson Wentz is the rare prospect that was able to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage, call actual plays in the huddle and execute some spread concepts. Childress mentioned Wentz as one of the prospects that will benefit from running a scheme in college that blended spread and pro-style concepts.

I’m not so much interested in Wentz per se as I am in whether the real difference these days in what goes into calling a college offense a spread or a pro-style attack is the type of responsibility placed on the quarterback’s shoulders.

Listen to what Wentz says about this.

While many knock Wentz’s college playing days because North Dakota State is an FCS school, his scheme there actually gave him an advantage over others. Wentz pointed out how his time in college will help him make the jump to the NFL.

“You know, it helped me tremendously,” Wentz said at his introductory press conference in April. “I think the transition for me will be a lot smoother than most would think and than [it might be for] most other prospects.

“At North Dakota State, I was in charge of a lot of things at the line of scrimmage, a lot of play-action pass; I was in charge of the audibles, run game checks, you name it. I think that helped me tremendously, set me up for an easier, smoother transition.”

I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds a lot like comments we heard from players such as Matt Stafford when he transitioned from Georgia to the NFL.  Maybe the spread ain’t nothing but a state of mind.  If so, how does that translate on the recruiting trail when you’re chasing quarterbacks who have dreams of playing on Sundays?

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

A pictoral guide to defensive front alignments

If you’re like me, a visual learner who finds it easier to understand a concept with graphics than simply words on a page, then you’ll probably find the information at this link helpful.

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“There’s not much he can do this offseason to grow a couple inches.”

I missed this quote when it came out, and it’s a good one.

Malkom Parrish and Deandre Baker are returning starters, and Parrish will be a senior who has started the past two seasons. Their only, uh, shortcoming: They’re short, or at least shorter than Kirby Smart and company would like.

That’s why they went out and signed five — yes, five — cornerbacks last week, all of whom are 6-foot or taller. Parrish, on the other hand, is listed at 5-10 (and when we write “listed” hopefully the skepticism is conveyed) while Baker is 5-11.

Smart, a safety listed at just under 6 feet, admitted last week: “I wouldn’t sign me, ever.”

He was laughing, but did not back down from his point.

All of which makes for a good question — will last year’s starters at cornerback lose their spots to taller, greener players?  As much as I’d like to dismiss that, seeing how Parrish and Baker played last year, Smart has concerns about them physically.

“I do think longer DBs are the trend. Foot quickness becomes a problem with length. Can he move quick enough to cover quick, fast, receivers,” Smart said. “So many of the wide receivers we faced, and we struggled with, have length. When you play against length, you want a guy with length. Uniquely, we were able to get some guys that we thought had good length to help in this class. I think that’s a trend across the country.”

Maybe it’s just about giving Tucker a greater ability to mix and match his corners against opposing receivers.  But maybe last year’s throwaway season at quarterback will turn into this year’s throwaway season at defensive back.  Either way, I sure hope somebody gets coached up in a hurry.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Dual-threat quarterback is the new black.

In more ways than one, I’d say.

In an interview with Bleacher Report, Watson said, “People think, ‘Oh, he’s a black quarterback. He must be dual-threat.’ People throw that word around all the time. It’s lazy.”

Really looking forward to as much uninformed commentary on this subject as we’ve seen on the spread over the last decade.

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“You have to have big, grown men…”

Kirby tried to tell us what’s coming.

Offensive line coach Sam Pittman has put an emphasis on size at his previous stops, including having the biggest offensive line of any NFL or Power 5 team for two-straight years.

Team/Year LT LG C RG RT Total
Arkansas/2015 6-5, 340 6-5, 334 6-3, 322 6-5, 312 6-10, 331 1,640 pounds
2014 6-10, 326 6-5, 350 6-3, 315 6-5, 337 6-7, 314 1,642 pounds
2013 6-6, 318 6-4, 315 6-5, 315 6-7, 330 6-5, 345 1,623 pounds
Tennessee/2012 6-6, 329 6-5, 310 6-3, 310 6-5, 324 6-6, 323 1,596 pounds

 

One thing the above offensive lines have in common – they led the SEC in sacks allowed per game. In 2016, even though Georgia was 10th in the SEC in pass attempts, the team was just seventh in the SEC and No. 47 in the country sacks allowed per game.

Georgia/2016 LT LG C RG RT Total
Starting lineup 6-6, 314 6-2, 285 6-3, 293 6-2, 301 6-6, 325 1,518 pounds

That’s some difference there.  Pittman prefers to work with beef and it’s pretty clear that size was lacking across the middle of the offensive line last season.

Then, there’s the issue of a change in approach.  I don’t want to get too in the weeds about what was different about Georgia’s blocking schemes in 2016 from the previous season, but if you want to get a flavor for that, here’s a nice post outlining the differences between gap, man and zone blocking.

Bottom line, Georgia’s getting the personnel Pittman prefers and should see its linemen buying into his approach over the next two seasons.  I just wonder if Georgia quarterbacks will know how to act if they’re getting consistent pocket protection.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Dual-threat? I’d settle for any kind of threat.

I sort of hate to pick on Chip Towers, but this recent post of his suggesting there’s nothing ailing Georgia’s offense that a dual-threat quarterback couldn’t fix on his lonesome, drives me up the proverbial wall.

The writing is on the wall. Or, rather, the scoreboard. Georgia needs relent and join the masses. It needs to convert to a spread offense and start recruiting dual-threat quarterbacks to run it.

I’m not basing this just on Clemson’s recent accomplishments, though that is certainly a compelling argument in and of itself. The Tigers rode the considerable dual-threat skills of quarterback Deshaun Watson all the way to the mountaintop twice. They finally won the whole shooting match this past season by out-scoring Alabama 35-31.

The rules and trends in college football all simply favor this style of play. You can either embrace it or get left behind.

And Georgia’s getting left behind.

It’s dramatic.  And there’s no question we’ve witnessed a steep decline in Georgia’s offensive production since Mike Bobo left town.

Offensive scoring and production last five years:

Year, points per game (SEC rank), yards per game (SEC rank)

  • 2016—-24.5 (11th)—-384.7 (11th)
  • 2015—-26.3 (9th)—–377.2 (8th)
  • 2014—-41.3 (1st)——457.8 (4th)
  • 2013—-36.7 (5th)—–484.1 (4th)
  • 2012—-37.8 (3rd)—–467.6 (3rd)

You can already see the problem with his argument there, though, right?  The 2014 offense, the most prolific in Georgia’s history, was quarterbacked by the notoriously fleet-footed Hutson Mason, who managed the staggering total of 3 rushing yards on 43 carries that season.

There’s just a ton of lazy thinking throughout.  Let me count some of the ways.

  1. There are all kinds of spread offenses.  The Air Raid is a spread offense.  Rich Rodriguez runs a different scheme, but it’s a spread, too.  Bottom line is that you don’t have to have a running quarterback to run a spread attack.  Even Towers seems to acknowledge that when he writes, “Chaney is the type of experienced coordinator who can implement whatever the head coach directs him to do. He was orchestrating a spread offense for head coach Joe Tiller and quarterback Drew Brees at Purdue way back in the 1990s, before it was cool.”
  2. For that matter, you don’t have to run a spread attack to throw effectively out of the shotgun.
  3. Further, you don’t have to have a running quarterback to employ RPO plays.  In a post I linked to before, Chris Brown points out a wrinkle Matt Canada came up with to do just that:  “But maybe the most creative thing Canada did this season was to find a way to run the Inverted Veer while eliminating the QB as the inside runner, namely by replacing him with a player trailing as the pitch man. It’s obviously a tricky read for the quarterback as it happens so quickly, but Pitt’s QB was an effective decision maker.”  [Emphasis added.]  (I’ll come back to that “effective decision maker” point in a minute.)
  4. As far as Georgia employing RPOs goes, maybe Chip needs to go back and read one of his old columns.

Everybody gets wrapped up in flavor of the month schemes, and I get that.  There’s also no question we see plenty of college offenses out there that have done well deploying a running quarterback to make their teams go.  But there are other ways to go about skinning that cat.

Georgia’s had problems on offense of late, no doubt.  But I’m not buying in to the idea that a dual-threat quarterback is the silver bullet to cure all those woes.  The Dawgs have been through three offensive coordinators in the last three years and three quarterbacks in that same period.  Georgia started a true freshman in Jacob Eason who had to learn how to play under center for the first time in his career.  None of that suggests Chaney had any confidence he had an effective decision maker in Eason to run his offense in 2016.  (Remember, Chaney coached Nathan Peterman at Pitt before Canada.)

Would I let my quarterback run more if I had a Watson or Newton taking snaps?  Hells, yeah.  Is that the only way to go about being productive on offense?  Georgia’s track record during Bobo’s last three seasons suggests otherwise.  Even Mike Leach has acknowledged that you can get away with running the I-formation successfully if you’ve got the right talent for it.

The job of an offensive coordinator is to design a scheme and a game plan that creates mismatches in the opposing defense and take advantage of them.  It’s not rocket science, or at least it shouldn’t be.  You can do that with Deshaun Watson; you can do that with Jacob Eason.  Georgia’s problem has been not having everyone on the same page with an offensive philosophy to do just that, along with an offensive line that’s been subpar.

A second year with the same coordinator and quarterback working together, along with a significant talent infusion along the o-line, should begin to address those shortcomings.  If things start clicking, I bet we’ll find that all sorts of quarterbacks can succeed in a Georgia uniform.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

An offense by any other name…

Ian Boyd suggests events have overtaken the meaningfulness of using the expression “pro-style” offense and thinks a change in nomenclature is due.

Personally, I’d leave it up to Sheldon Richardson, if we need a new label.

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