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Friday, August 29, 2008

Smart Notes

1.The Paul Johnson era at Georgia Tech started with a bang, as the flexbone ripped up the feared fighting Ryan Perrillouxs. (I'm actually at a loss for how to pluralize a proper name that ends in a silent "x" - the plural of "box" is "boxes," but the silent "x" throws me off. Oh well.) The question remains how the offense will do against the big bad BCS schools, though I'm of the belief that so long as the standard isn't that the offense must be #1 in the country and Georgia Tech must win multiple national titles in the next two years, then offense will most assuredly be judged a success.

For those of you interested in a clear explanation of the offense I would be happy to provide it, except it's already been done by SMQ (now Dr. Saturday), with the help of a football coach. It's an excellent explanation of the flexbone, so get your technical football fix there. If you're still not satisfied, there's an entire Flexbone Association with a robust playbook section for those of you who need more diagrams to help you for the next time you play as Georgia Tech on NCAA football.

One point on the offense. A lot of people don't really understand the whys of option football, and I think many of the spread teams now have further muddied the picture because they employ "reads" but don't really run "option football" in its pure form.

The regnant feature of option football, and the feature that makes the scheme so effective and timeless, is this: Instead of asking your team to successfully make a series of one-on-one blocks to gain yardage, you simply do not block multiple defenders at the point of attack, instead optioning off of them to make them wrong every time, and your other linemen double team and crash down on the rest of the defense. So instead of trying to win one-on-one matchups you may or may not win, you do things your kids can do every time: double-team blocks and successful options. As I've said before, you don't win by only creating one-on-one matchups. You put the numbers to your own advantage.

As far as the flexbone scoring against the big boys, I do remember a post-Paul Johnson Georgia Southern term scoring some points against Georgia a few years back:

2. Speaking of Georgia vs. Georgia Southern, those two square off this weekend. Georgia ought to win, but it's worth observing that Georgia Southern's current Head Coach is Chris Hatcher, an Air Raid guru whose named was for a time floated for the Florida St. offensive coordinator job. It'll be interesting to see if Hatcher's offense gives Georgia any trouble, because, under new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin (who coached with Hatcher at Kentucky), Auburn will be running the same offense, though presumably with more talent. For those curious about what the Airraid looks like, try here. (The nutshell version is that the offense is a derivative of the BYU LaVelle EdwardsWest Coast offense which Hal Mumme and Mike Leach studied, threw on some more shotgun, and stole a play from Mike Shanahan. Hatcher learned it while playing for and later coaching with Mumme and Leach, and Franklin learned it coaching with them at Kentucky.)

3. I don't like to make predictions, but here's one: If Rich Rodriguez wants to have success this year (or in any future year) at Michigan, his passing offense will have to get more sophisticated.

Now, this sounds like something Lee Corso might say, but hear me out. Many of the naysayers regarding Rodriguez's offense have based their opinion on no more than the last few seasons at West Virginia and Clemson. What they forget is that Rodriguez actually designed his offense back at Glenville State for the purpose of airing it out. He was a Run & Shoot guy, and his offense spread offense began as a simplified derivative of the 'shoot. So the naysayers overlook this history, particularly the stellar years he had at Tulane.

Yet, as much as it pains me to say, the TV guys are actually sort of right. When Rodriguez got to Tulane with Tommy Bowden they threw the ball all over the place, but (a) it was in Conference USA, (b) they were excellent at the 3-step passing game, but defenses are better at defending against those passes now than they were a decade ago, and (c) his downfield passing game left something to be desired. And in the years since, it's not that Rodriguez is at heart a running guy, it's just that was what worked and it masked some of the passing game deficiencies. When I study the route combinations, they do not appear to be designed conceptually, and instead are a kind of grab-bag of a few routes here or there. You don't see his schemes organized of horizontal, vertical, and triangle stretches.

Now, Rodriguez's saving grace is I've seen him in action, and he's an excellent fundamentals coach and is a great teacher. And I think he understands all these things - I mean the guy did exploit the zone-read spread stuff before anyone else - but hasn't had the chance to reexamine his offense with such a critical eye. This season, to be successful, I believe he will have to.

4. What's with this Dr. Lou business? I for one enjoyed the Lou Holtz pep talks on ESPN for the abstract insanity that they were, yet they've replaced them with some kind of Brechtian set-piece devoid of drama. And what is ESPN thinking? How can you meddle with this kind of genius:

"You wanna be happy? Eat a steak." - Lou Holtz

1 comment:

Unknown said...

After Vince left following the 2005 championship, Davis was put in an awkward position, having to choose between restructuring the offense to suit his new personnel situation and trying to see if Texas could still thrive in an offense similar to what worked so well with Vince Young.
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