The Navy blog "The Birddog" has a great post breaking down elements of Paul Johnson's flexbone offense. The videos he culls exhibit something I've tried to explain about defending Johnson's offense: you can't just play "assignment football." That term gets thrown around by announcers a lot, with the implication being that all you have to do is "assign" one guy to the dive back, one to the quarterback, and one to the pitch back. The problem is that Johnson will figure out your assignments and change his blocking schemes accordingly. For example, compare the two videos below, again, both courtesy of The Birddog.
Okay, so the safety ends up making the tackle on the pitch back, while the cornerback forced the pitch by taking on the quarterback. Johnson saw that, and on the very next play, called the same play to the other side, but with one important difference: the near slotback blocked the safety -- i.e. the guy responsible for the pitch back. So who now has the pitch back? Let's find out:
Answer: No one. That Paul Johnson, he's crafty. This is basically what happened when those Georgia Tech teams put it together last season and whupped up on teams. Indeed, his offense had a rather high degree of variance, considering that in some games against weak opponents it did little but in others, including against Miami and Georgia, the second half was defensive armageddon. I think the Miami game in particular was an example of a defense that had a plan for the flexbone going into the game, a decent one, but Johnson figured it out about halfway through and Miami lacked the ever important counter-to-his-counter. And once Johnson started messing with UM's defensive assignments, the defense got stretched out, and then plays like these happened:
(Ht Dr Saturday.) I will have more to say about Johnson's flexbone before the season begins, including some thoughts on defending it.(Preview question: how do you deal with the flexbone's triple scheme -- which can easily outflank the defense to one side of the field -- with the flexbone's immediate pre-snap threat of four-verticals? Keep in mind that adding another defender to the box tends to force you into a single-safety defense, which is precisely what four verticals is designed for. More on this later.)
But for now, savor last season's mutlifarious brilliance of option football writ BCS. The flexbone-triple:
End note: As a final bonus, it appears the good people at EA Sports have added more passing to the flexbone. In the video below, the old run and shoot "choice" route is shown. (Ht EDSBS.)
I'd like to think they got this from me, but all of us like to tout our self-importance, no?