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Friday, January 09, 2009

Smart Notes - Florida wins the BCS edition

Florida wins, 24-14. A few thoughts:

  • In the first half, I thought Tebow consistently misread his keys on option plays. (Though this was only having viewed it once; a second view of the tape often reveals many things.) Oklahoma's defense seemed to be designed to take away the running backs and let him keep it. Maybe he just wasn't used to that kind of strategy, but when they ran the inside veer he kept giving it to the running back who would then be crushed by the man he was reading, and similarly on the speed or outside two-man option plays, the defense keyed almost exclusively on the running backs but Tebow kept pitching it. In the second-half, of course, Tebow kept the ball far more often and gashed the OU defense. (The announcers incorrectly said that in the second half the coaches were "calling Tebow's number," though they might have told him to keep the ball more on his options.) After Tebow kept it a few times, when he did let the runningback keep it, someone like Harvin had more room to then romp for big gains.

  • Bob Stoops was absolutely correct when he went for it on fourth and one. He didn't get, but he did have Florida pinned down. The fact that they managed to get out with a big run is irrelevant to the decision whether to go for it or not. We can discuss the play-call as a separate matter.

  • Overall, the game seemed there for Oklahoma's taking in the first half. Florida wasn't playing that well, OU ran the ball consistently and had a few big passes, and they got down into the red zone. I already mentioned the fourth down, but it should also be noted that both of Bradford's interceptions (including the one in the second half) were in his receivers' hands before they landed in the hands of Florida people.

  • The headlines already read "Oklahoma offense at fault in defeat." Well, yes, they didn't score that many points, and I agree that at times the offense lacked identity. And much has already been made about the slowness of their no-huddle tempo. I agree that they probably spent too much time in their check-with-the-sidelines no-huddle, rather than the faster version where they just get a play and go. The TV views are always bad, but I thought Florida disguised well and didn't give away too much that you'd learn from the sideline or the booth. Insofar as reliance on that look was a crutch or conveyed timidity by OU, I don't know. They used both speeds all year, and no coach is clairvoyant in the weeks leading up to a game. But, it was just a tough, well-fought game. And people shouldn't be surprised when these great offenses play each other and the game winds up being somewhat low scoring; since both good offenses hang onto the ball for awhile, they both eat up clock and eat up the number of possessions both teams would normally get.
  • That said, although I thought OU's pass protection was not bad, whenever there was a breakdown it always seemed to come right up the middle. OU's tackles did a fine job, but I'm not sure I can say the same for their interior three linemen.
  • Florida used all their run game staples, but they also ran a lot of a play I didn't exclusively cover recently: the shovel triple-option, also known as the "crazy" or "shovel triple-option." See the post immediately below this one for more on it.


Sainte said...

I thought Tebow should have held on to the ball more in the first half as well. Demps and Rainy were gaining nothing when they got the ball.

It also seemed to me that Tebow started moving out of the pocket a little on his passing plays in the second half , where he seems more comfortable. Don't know if it was planned or just Tebow doing that on his own.

Anonymous said...

I admire your insight. I feel/think that I learn something every single time you post a new entry.

SJT said...

Agree about the overuse of the "check with the sidelines" thing, especially on that goal line stand in the first half. Oklahoma is 3rd and goal from the one and instead of just lining up and going they fiddled around with the sideline check, which allowed Florida to get set.

On another play later in the game Oklahoma had a second and short situation, and Florida didn't even have a tackle down in A gap on the right side. Instead of just going, Oklahoma again checks to the sideline, which allowed Florida to get a tackle in place. They then proceed to run right up the middle, which would have been vacated if they hadn't taken so long.

I'm all for complexity in offenses, but there are times when its best to just line up and go.

Another thing that struck me was that on two different important plays Oklahoma threw to pass patterns which were short of a needed line of gain. The interception at the goal line was a pass thrown to a reciever who was well covered and two yards short of the endzone. Even if he catches it, he's likely tackled prior to the endzone and time runs out. The same thing happened on Oklahoma's last offensive play. On 4th and 4 they threw a 3 yard in. Even if he catches it, the reciever would be tackled short of the first down line.

Anonymous said...

Question: on several Florida plays, it looked like there was a covered-up receiver on the trips side, since there was no tight-end on the other. Of course, the few times I noticed were all running plays, which leads me to ask: is this something Florida normally does, and isn't it kind of a give-away, schematically?

Anonymous said...

Joel, I haven't seen Florida do it before (noticed it last night too), but Navy/GT do it quite a lot and I have never been able to figure it out myself.

Defenses tend to cover that guy like a reciever, which doesn't make sense to me. I guess the threat is that you can shift that guy back into the backfield and another guy on to the line and then snap the ball if the defense does not cover him.

But I would think a defense would play that guy as half a man until he shifted so only send your defender out half the distance you would normaly send him if the guy was elligible. Then if they shift you move your guy into the normal position.

Mr.Murder said...

Had a split back offense and was told that using that option/shovel play "would never work."

Lead the first back on a swong pass to get more space between the reads, leave the DE unblocked and rad the shovel inside of him if the SAM or WILL or safety moves out with the halfbackback swing pass.

Works just like wing penetration in basketball, most skill players love hoops. Drive, if they come up to you then you dish it off.

Hope that 'coach' liked watching the play run all game for a championship.

By making a swing/shovel pass you remove the option's risk of fumble and creat more space between players to force defenders commitment.

There's a way to seriously reduce the option's effectiveness but I'd rather save item at this time and look at it drawn up in more detail. You'll probably see it in use more in coming seasons since everyone trends the thing now.