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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Smart Football's Guide to the BCS Championship

Okay, so it's not really a guide at all, but instead just some stuff I've previously written that happens to have some tenuous link to the title matchup between Oklahoma and Florida.

1. Rhythm Nation: Auburn Hires Gus Malzahn. Money quote:

Is Chizik Trying to Copy Oklahoma?

So, you can see why this might be appealing to Auburn, even with a defensive minded head coach. As Dr Saturday recently pointed out, "only Oklahoma's 1,036 total plays bested the Hurricane's 1,007 this year, though TU led the nation in yards per play." I think this is no coincidence.

Oklahoma too has a fairly basic system as far as schemes go. They don't do anything that a lot of teams don't. Their passing game is kind of a derivative of what they did under Mike Leach and Mark Mangino, but they have gotten away from the pure faith of the Airraid and now use a lot of rather traditional (meaning, common) concepts. Labeling them spread, pro, multiple, or whatever is a bit futile. (When asked what offense Oklahoma runs, Bob Stoops said simply: "The Oklahoma offense."). They use both the "I" and other traditional sets, though are probably still more "spread" than anything else. But before people jump down my throat, I note that I think Wittgenstein was accurate when he said most arguments boil down to people's different uses of labels and language, in this case what spread or pro means to one person versus another.

Kevin Wilson, OU's offensive coordinator, is not known as a passing guru, and few would confuse him with one. But he knows one thing extraordinarily well: the no-huddle up-tempo offense. He ran it at Northwestern with Randy Walker, and that's how OU killed people this year. They have all these great athletes, they have solid schemes, and they go so fast they mow you down. I have to think Chizik envisions this kind of result.

The Urban Meyer/Florida Gator Offense. Money quote:
Just click the link already.

3. Discussion of OU's drubbing of Texas Tech. Money quote:
Further, [one] storyline is that Stoops, Venables, and others basically have Leach's number, they've figured his out, and don't expect all that stuff to work against them. Stoops even reinforced this storyline after the game, by noting that most games between Tech and OU haven't been close. But this too is overblown. The game wasn't a referendum on the offense, it was a battle between two teams. OU clearly has a talent advantage of some kind, and although the offense didn't do nearly enough to even approach winning, it was only a few bad drives before the game was 21-0 and was basically out of reach.

That said, there's a kernal of truth to Stoops' theory about knowing that offense. As I've pointed out before, Leach ran his offense at OU exactly how he wanted. If OU does "get" Leach's offense, he doesn't get it in a way that another team could just pop in the tape and pick up. The Airraid, as much as it is certain schemes -- and no doubt OU's defense sat in zone a lot of the night working on their ability to pattern read the traditional Airraid concepts -- but the Airraid is an approach to football as much as it is an offense. If the OU guys have this heightened familiarity, it's not just schemes, it's knowing how Leach runs a practice, how they practice screens, indeed, how he approaches the game. Again, I don't think OU has the offense or Leach figured out once and for all (I mean, Tech did beat OU the year before and scored over thirty on them), but I can't completely discount this.

4.What does (should) it mean to be crowned National Champion?(Another self-explanatory one).

5. Probabilities, Pragmatism, and Football. Money quote:
"They say statistics are for losers, but losers are usually the ones thinking that. Statistics are great. Our whole game plan is based off statistics. Our management of the game is based off statistics. Our recruiting is based off statistics. Everything we do is analyzed. Is that the bottom line? No. You can't analyze the heart of Tim Tebow." - Urban Meyer

Auburn's offense might be bad, but don't call it the spread, the Airraid, or the Tony Franklin System. Money quote:

To highlight the absurdity of this situation, let's think of the last time a big name school hired an offensive coordinator to run the Hal Mumme offense: Bob Stoops, when he went to Oklahoma from the U of Florida, hired Mike Leach as his offensive coordinator. Why? Well as defensive coordinator with Florida, Stoops said that they only team that had an incommensurate level of success against them was Kentucky. Stoops noted that UF's talent level was far superior, yet stopping Kentucky was maddening for Stoops. So Stoops said: I want that.

Compare this to what is happening with Tuberville and Franklin. Back in 1999, Stoops hired Leach and gave him free rein to install his offense. (In fact, I have a coaching clinic talk where Stoops said that he ordered Leach not to change anything that first year, because he wanted exactly what he saw with Kentucky.) And who was Leach's QB at OU? A noodle-armed guy named Josh Heupel. And their receivers were a bunch of converted running backs and defensive backs. Yet I didn't hear the same cry that "Oh, we'll spread it out when we get the athletes." (News flash: if that's your approach, it'll never happen.) Now, I also observe that Stoops too wasn't entirely comfortable being a spread it all the time guy, and Leach happily went on to Texas Tech where he could be as much of a mad scientist as he liked. Yet OU stuck with the exact same system the next year with Mark Mangino as OC, and won a National Title. But Stoops knew what he was getting when he hired Leach, and most importantly he let him do it.

Not me, but everyone should read EDSBS's Orson Swindle on Rick Reilly's status as walking gag-reflex inducer. Money quote:

Tough call, but I gotta go with

Also, we never read Reilly growing up and don’t read him now, since he largely comes from the school of hackneyed one-liners (occasionally scoring) and the aesthetic of Mitch Albom’s School for Guys Who Ponder the Beauty of Life, Put One Hand on Cheek, and Lean On Said Hand Wistfully.
Looking forward to the game.


Anonymous said...

good stuff

squirrelyearl said...

Love it. Thanks.