Smart Football has moved!

Please check out the new site, All future updates will be made there.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Homer Smith on Tom Osborne's Nebraska Offense

Best excerpt I've read in awhile:

As former college football coach and general football historian Homer Smith once wrote, “Tom Osborne understood what made option plays (and other run plays) work and what had stopped them. So, he ran them — he ran almost all of them — but only when they would work. He checked to them versus vulnerable defenses. His smash mouth runs, run action passes, and QB runs kept defenses from mirroring properly against his options. The result was staggering totals of rushing yards. No matter how successful the options, etc. had been in their individual heydays, they were never better than when Coach Osborne “played a medley of tunes.” What would stop it? The only thing that could stop Bill Walsh’s passing attack, which was retirement of the man who made it work.”

(Hat tip: Trojan Football Analysis.)


Anonymous said...

Coach Smith's discussion of the triple option and the difficulty that defenses had mirroring is very instructive. His focus on the principle that all successful defenses must get the unblocked defender to the ball is a valuable framework for analysis. I think, however that there are times he places too much stress on it (not all the chess pieces have the same capabilities).

There also is a place for innovative ways that a defense can mix techniques and matchups to free up defenders.


Anonymous said...

btw, I think that Paul Johnson's marriage of some run and shoot with his option gives him the same type advantages. Reminds me of Watson Brown's Vandy offense in 1987 and 1988 with Eric Jones. They would go wishbone or empty without substituting. Jones led the SEC in pass efficiency, passing TDs, total offense, and was the only QB in the top 10 in rushing. And they didn't do it with superior athletes.


Anonymous said...

I never thought Osborne got the credit he deserved as an offensive tactician because his teams ran the ball. They would be called "Smash Mouth" and along with that came a sense that they were some how a simplistic offense of the past. When in fact they were highly complex, sophisticated, and diverse.

Anonymous said...

Simply put:
Nobody did the run game better than Tom.

Unknown said...

I think a lot of credit should go to Milt Tenopir as well.

Unknown said...

When Osborne first became coach at NU, and when he was OC under Devaney they threw the ball. Five wideouts at times and led the league in passing. Nebraska never ran the triple option.

Anonymous said...

When Osborne was OC under Devaney and his first few years as head coach NU threw the ball a lot. Five wideouts at times and led the conference in passing. Huskers never really ran a true triple option. When the NU fullback got the ball it was almost always a called play.