Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics

Something old, something new…

I’ve already mentioned the staff turnover at Notre Dame.  When Georgia rolls into South Bend, the Irish will be playing for new coordinators on both sides of the ball.  In theory, that should put Brian Kelly a step behind Kirby Smart.

Maybe so, but in terms of the players on the field, Notre Dame will be anything but inexperienced.  In fact, Ian Boyd sets up what should be a fascinating match up between Notre Dame’s offense and Georgia’s defense.

I’ve broken down the basics of the Long RPO attack before. The biggest bonus of this attack is the way it will create opportunities for the Irish to fully leverage their absurd collection of talent on offense. For whatever reason, Notre Dame has two offensive linemen who were eligible for the 2017 NFL draft but stayed in school. Now the Irish return a left side of Mike McGlinchey (a 6’8, 310-pound, fifth-year tackle) and Quenton Nelson (a 6’5, 325-pound fourth-year guard).

In fact, the Irish figure to return four starters from a year ago across the line, along with top wideout Equanimeous St. Brown and starting RB Josh Adams. So as far as skill, talent and blocking, they can check off the RPO offense requirements of being able to beat man coverage and run on an honest front.

Doesn’t that sound familiar.  Georgia brings back every starter from last year’s defense, except for Maurice Smith, so you’re looking at two very experienced and talented groups facing off against each other.

The big questions may turn out to be whether Kelly’s new quarterback is ready to roll against that defense and how well Georgia’s staff prepares for what Chip Long will throw at them.  I bet you’ve got some staffers deep in the bowels of Butts-Mehre breaking down every inch of tape on Memphis’ offense last year as you read this.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Notre Dame's Faint Echoes, Strategery And Mechanics

‘Well, maybe you need new coaches, not new quarterbacks.’

This is a great read on the evolution of the spread offense, through the eyes of coaches.  There’s a lot of fun stuff in there — Hal Mumme’s confidence that his tinkering would work, Bob Stitt’s continuation of that confidence, the need to play fast to keep defenses on their heels, Dino Babers’ explanation of why he doesn’t use a playbook with his team — but what comes out more than anything is the motivation behind the increasing embrace of the spread.

It’s an equalizer.

In 1997, Mumme’s first year at Kentucky, his team played Steve Spurrier’s No. 1 Florida. The Wildcats offensive line was overmatched, so Mumme drew up a different kind of option.

Mumme: We couldn’t block Jevon Kearse, and so we told Tim Couch to either throw a bubble screen or hand the ball off. It was so easy to do. I don’t know why we didn’t keep doing it. We probably should have.

Which is what pisses off Nick “Is this what we want football to be?” Saban, of course.

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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

Today, in trick plays

Patrick Garbin turns up a scoring play from graduate transfer punter Cameron Nizialek‏ that would make Les Miles beam with pleasure.

Now, I’m not saying that’s in Georgia’s repertoire for this season.  But it ought to be.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Sometimes, it’s the little things that matter.

All the talk we hear about zone vs. man blocking, line splits, physique, and yet it’s thoughts like this that make you consider how a position coach can get the most out of his offensive linemen.

Maybe that’s something else that’s been affected by having three line coaches in the last three seasons.  Just sayin’.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

The spread’s been berry, berry good to…

college cornerbacks.

This is good news for general managers, because teams are so desperate that they’ll draft basically any corner these days. Last year, teams selected 31 defensive backs in the first four rounds — up from 22 from five years ago, during the 2012 draft, this despite the fact that last year’s crop was not considered particularly great. Prospects who could be drafted Thursday include Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore, Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie, Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey, Washington’s Kevin King, LSU’s Tre’Davious White, Florida’s Quincy Wilson, and USC’s Adoree’ Jackson.

There are a few theories that explain the cornerback boom (and why it will last at least a few years), but mostly it comes down to the proliferation of the spread offense. The point of the spread is to overextend the defense by putting more receivers on the field. With an increased demand for wideouts, there’s an increased supply, forcing more elite athletes to choose other positions to get noticed. Upon switching to corner, those athletes are testing the “10,000-hour theory” of defensive back play, chasing teams like Baylor, Oregon, and Texas Tech all over the place. During the 2016 college season, 26 teams faced at least 35 passes per game — in 2006, only two teams faced that kind of passing barrage.

It’s led to some rethinking on troop deployment, too.

College corners are seeing more passes and more snaps. The hurry-up craze has led some college defenses to adopt a rotation system. Back in 2008, Aliotti was the defensive coordinator for Oregon and he started to treat his defense “like a hockey team,” rotating players whenever possible to minimize the fatigue caused by the fast pace. “We got to a place where we had 20 to 23 guys we could count on each game,” he said. “You needed to combat the passing. We’d switch out a linebacker and one or two corners per play, I don’t think anyone did that prior to us.”

Aliotti is now an analyst with the Pac-12 Networks, and he’s since visited with many coaches, including Alabama’s Nick Saban, to discuss how to utilize a similar rotation system. The idea has spread throughout college, Aliotti said. Ohio State has rotated their defensive backs in recent years, and could have as many as three picks in the top 15 of this draft.

The result?  Mo’ backs and mo’ money for mo’ backs.

… Mike Farrell, national recruiting director at Rivals, said youth players have been figuring out what positions to play earlier on in order to “go where the money is in the pros.” The spread has made good corners a hot commodity in the NFL, and they get paid like it. According to Spotrac, there are 10 cornerbacks who average over $12 million a year; there are six receivers who average that. Josh Norman, Patrick Peterson, Joe Haden, Desmond Trufant, Stephon Gilmore, and Richard Sherman are currently on contracts worth at least $40 million guaranteed. Darrelle Revis is basically Warren Buffett.

Hmmm… I wonder if anyone’s shown Mecole Hardman this yet.

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

Get back

Amid all the Saban-Kiffin sniping that’s admittedly been amusing to follow, Alabama’s head coach had some interesting things to say about what he wants from his offense.

“I felt like we moved further and further away from what I wanted to do last year,” Saban told ESPN this week. “I think the first two years [under Lane Kiffin] we did what the quarterback could do. It was what we needed to do from a quarterback standpoint, but we still philosophically were doing the things I wanted to do in terms of balance and utilizing all of our skill players. And last year, and this is no criticism of Lane or anybody, but having a freshman quarterback [Hurts] and trying to accommodate his skill set, we got to where we weren’t very effective passing the ball.

“Some of it was him being a freshman and us protecting him probably too much, but I wanted to get back to where we could utilize the skill guys we have on offense and still do some of the things that are difficult to defend. The point is that we had Calvin Ridley and O.J. Howard, but they had very little impact on most games.”

I get his point about not wasting Ridley’s and Howard’s talents, but overall, the philosophy expressed there seems to go against the current grain of thinking regarding offensive scheming, which is using a dual threat quarterback to exploit defenses.  Say what you will about Kiffin, but I thought his greatest strength as an offensive coordinator was his ability to design the offense around his most dynamic players.  A couple of years ago, that was Amari Cooper; in 2016, it was Hurts.

But that doesn’t seem to be where Nick Saban’s head is at now.

“You’ve got guys blocking downfield when you throw a pass. How much better does it get for the offense?” Saban said. “You’ve got to do some of that stuff, but I also thought we needed to go back and make sure we were coaching the passing game like we needed to do it to be able to develop a quarterback so we could have more balance in what we were doing. We threw a lot of passes last year (an average of 27.8 per game), but they were the kind of passes Jalen could deal with, but really not the kind of passes that took advantage of the skill players that we had.”

“We want our quarterback to be able to make plays with his feet, but we also don’t want to have to count on a lot of quarterback runs to make our offense go,” Saban said.

That sure sounds to me like a man who wants to run a more traditional pro-style, run-based, play action passing game.  What I wonder after reading that is what’s on Kirby Smart’s mind in that regard.  After all, Smart spent years soaking up Saban’s wisdom.  Yet, Smart has indicated in his comments this offseason that he wants to get away (somewhat, at least) from that kind of offense, even as his recruiting has clearly favored beefing up the size of his offensive line and receiving corps.

I’ve always seen the value in contrarian thinking when it comes to offensive philosophy.  As defenses trend towards being structured to stop spread attacks, it sure seems like running a heavier pro-style attack would be an effective way to exploit the catch that comes with that.  When it comes to offensive schemes, does Saban know something that Smart doesn’t know, or is it more a case of the two of them meeting somewhere in the middle?

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Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules, Strategery And Mechanics

“As far as scheme, we’re not going to show scheme.”

Don’t jump to the wrong conclusion here — it’s not about control freaks gonna control freak.  Kirby’s just concerned that some kid’s poor ol’ mama’s gonna learn her son’s been asked to run a jet sweep before Kirby’s had the chance to let her know himself.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics