Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics

Too pooped to stop pop

At least for another season, the republic is saved. (h/t)

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel has tabled a proposed football rule that would have adjusted the ineligible receiver downfield rule from 3 yards to 1 yard on Thursday.

Panel members, who met on a teleconference Thursday, felt more discussion about the rule should take place within the college football community before a final decision is made.

They go on to note that only 65 of the FBS head coaches participated in the initial survey, so I guess they didn’t buy Troy Calhoun’s puffery.

In any event, officials can go back to ignoring the rule, just like before.  Except in Georgia games, of course.

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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics, The NCAA

Chicks dig the pop pass.

Gus Malzahn, brave defender of the status quo, touches the last base in opposing the downfield lineman rule change.

“Scoring will be down. You’re not going to see teams scoring as many points, and when it’s getting harder all the time to get fans to come to games, is that something that college football wants?”

I dunno.  I kinda enjoyed it when Georgia held Malzahn’s offense to seven points.

Seriously, I figured that was coming.  And it touches on a nerve.  There’s some point when you cheapen the ability to score so much that it debases the game.  I’m not saying we’re at the point – although I don’t doubt there are plenty who would say otherwise – but arguing that the more pinball action to the game, the better doesn’t give me the warm and fuzzies, either.

Besides, I thought you were Mr. Creative, Gus.  Surely a little setback like a rule change won’t be an insurmountable block for a guy with your offensive vision.  Even if you only finished fourth in the conference in scoring last season with the rule the way you like it.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Strategery And Mechanics

Gus Malzahn, selfless and sensitive

Auburn’s coach wants you to know that his objection to the proposed rule change about linemen blocking downfield is more than just about him.  He’s doing it for the children high school coaches everywhere.

“That’s part of the creativity of the game,” Malzahn said. “I’m not into anything that takes the creativity out of the game. You know, you see a lot of coaches around the country, specifically high school coaches that are coaching in college, that’s very important to them.”

Isn’t that how life is sometimes?  One minute, you’re pulling down $4 million a year and the next the Man has a boot on your throat.

Speaking of the Man, here’s the NFL knocking his system.

The divide between offensive philosophies in the NFL and college football is still very wide, especially when it comes to the quarterback position.

Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was very critical of no-huddle offenses during last month’s NFL Combine.

“So many times, you’re evaluating a quarterback who has never called a play in the huddle, never used a snap count. They hold up a card on the sideline, he kicks his foot and throws the ball,” Arians said. “That ain’t playing quarterback. There’s no leadership involved there. There might be leadership on the bench, but when you get them and they have to use verbiage and they have to spit the verbiage out and change the snap count, they are light years behind.”

Gus strenuously objects to that.

As the innovator of the Hurry-Up, No-Huddle philosophy, which utilizes play cards and signals from the sidelines and an incredibly simple verbiage, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn stood by his system.

“I think every coach has their own opinion,” Malzahn said. “Obviously I like what we do, I agree with what we do. That’s where the game is going, regardless of anybody’s opinion. But we feel strongly with what we do.”

Obviously.  And when quotes like Arians’ get thrown back in his face on the recruiting trail – it’s the SEC, so you know they will inevitably – what’s the rebuttal, especially when you see the pros looking at moving Nick Marshall to defensive back?  Why, it’ll be to place the fault on the NFL.

“I know he can be a quarterback at the next level,” Malzahn said. “It needs to be the right system. You’re talking about a guy who’s probably one of the best zone-read quarterbacks in the history of college football.”

If only some owner would just go ahead, bite the bullet and hire a high school coach…

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Strategery And Mechanics, The NFL Is Your Friend.

“It’s an edge. Everybody wants to be Bill Belichick, I guess.”

Oh, the games coaches play, yeah.

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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

The new law of coverage?

Ian Boyd has an interesting post up about pass coverage in this new era of offense.  It boils down to one rule for him:

You have to have three good coverage players on the field to survive against the better passing teams.

Now I would come back and argue that there’s more than one way to skin that particular cat, but Boyd has an answer for some of that, too.

In the modern era teams can often get by while just having solid players along the DL but there’s no escaping your doom if you don’t have some good players in the defensive backfield. An opponent will get their good receivers and passing game fixed on your poor DB play, run the ball well enough to keep you from diverting resources, and shred you.

Try to blitz them and you can just exacerbate the issue by short-manning the coverage against quick game staples that QBs can execute in their sleep. Unless you have players that can hold up long enough to take away the quick throws and buy an extra second for the blitzers, yes the rule of three makes for a better blitzing team.

Most opponents don’t stack their two best receivers on the outside, 2014 West Virginia excepted, but will often put their 2nd best or even best receiver in the slot where they can counter-balance the outside receiver and help a team execute a quick passing game to march down the field.

How many college defenses these days can put three good secondary coverage guys out there?  (And if you’re Georgia, how many great in state defensive backs are there in a recruiting class?)

It would be nice to have them, but I think a top flight defensive coordinator gets paid the big bucks to figure out ways to hamstring a passing attack even when he doesn’t have the numbers.  Or he has to manufacture the numbers.

When a team can match up with the offense’s top three receivers with solid to good coverage players, it really complicates things and can send a collegiate QB to a dark place, mentally. Some teams will do this with tight pattern-matching, most all are trying to do it by recruiting and developing as many good coverage players as possible, and perhaps more will try to match cross-trained receiving studs with cross-trained secondaries and “Ace” DBs.

Kinda sounds like what Pruitt’s up to.

In the end, it all comes back to something we’ve heard every DC at Georgia say.  You’ve got to confuse the quarterback just enough.

That’s where Boyd winds up, too.

At the end of the day, defenses that want to survive in the modern game will have to get back on the offensive and attack the quarterback’s ability to quickly deliver the ball to open targets by either observing the rule of three or finding another cheat.

Ain’t no cheat like a monster pass rush.

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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

Tuesday morning buffet

A little snow, a little buffet…

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Big Ten Football, Fall and Rise of Bobby Petrino, Georgia Football, Georgia Southern Football, It's Just Bidness, Recruiting, Science Marches Onward, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

“Let’s just enforce the rule that’s in place.”

If you’re a Georgia fan, perhaps it’s worth considering the Law of Unintended Consequences as it may apply to the proposed rule change about linemen blocking downfield.

Freeze said shifting the rule from three yards to one would severely limit play-action passing. “If you’re selling the run like you’re supposed to on the front side, that center’s got to come out hard with a low hat,” Freeze said. “If that defensive linemen goes away from him [the center’s] momentum is going to carry him past one yard.”

I don’t know about you, but if the effect of the rule does in fact restrict play-action, that strikes me as a big problem for what is Mark Richt’s bread and butter offensive play.

What may an even bigger problem is how slapdash these major changes seem to be presented to the coaches.

Freeze would also like to throw a flag of his own on the process for changing the rules. Coaches were blindsided by the 10-second rule proposal last year, and were blindsided by this proposal this year. Freeze said a survey conducted while most coaches are heavily involved in the home stretch of recruiting isn’t going to get the most thorough response. “Half of us don’t even see the survey,” Freeze said.

“I never saw a survey,” said Arizona’s Rodriguez, who noted that this proposal has no impact on player safety and doesn’t need to be implemented so quickly.

Judging from the vote tally, they have a point.

In a text message, Calhoun noted that in a survey of FBS coaches conducted last month, only two issues received a majority of support. He said “around 80 percent” of coaches were in favor of expanding instant replay review on onside kicks — and 57% approved of altering the rule on linemen downfield.

Rogers Redding, the NCAA’s coordinator of football officiating and the secretary-rules editor for the football rules committee, said 42% opposed and 1% had no opinion. Sixty-five coaches responded (approximately one-half of the FBS coaches; the actual numbers were 37, 27 and 1).

I love how Calhoun inflates the impact of the vote.  The reality is that his 57% is much less than that, as only a little over half the coaches responded in the survey.  That’s hardly a mandate.

There are a couple of things I’d be interested in learning here.  One, unlike last year when Saban and Bielema stepped up to own the 10-second substitution rule change proposal, we haven’t heard any coach say this year’s change is his baby.  All we’ve heard is that Redding wants the change to make it easier for officials to do their jobs.  If that’s all there is, that strikes me as weak sauce to rush to make what could be a dramatic change and bolsters the case coaches like Freeze and Swinney are making that officials should be instructed to enforce the current rule properly.

As Staples puts it,

But the hurry-up coaches make a valid point. What happens if the rule changes and the officials decide to call it by the letter of the law? Then play-action passes do change dramatically. The game would start to look more like the NFL, which has creativity-stifling rules that make it less fun to watch than the college game. So, why not try a season of simply enforcing the existing rule, and, if the problem persists, make a change? Freeze believes flags for linemen drifting past three yards would cut down on the problem, just as ejections for targeting helped cut down on head shots. “We put a point of emphasis on targeting, and you’ve seen it drastically go down,” Freeze said. “All the coaches started coaching it better.”

Second, I’d be very curious to hear what Mark Richt thinks about all this.  Will the rule change put a serious crimp in what Georgia does, or is this issue being overblown?  Does Richt have an opinion about how the rule is being currently enforced?  (For that matter, I’d like to know if he participated in the survey in the first place.)  Someone in the media, ask the man.  Inquiring minds want to know.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics