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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Urban Meyer Q&A on his offense

The Orlando Sentinel's Chris Harry has a great Q&A with Urban Meyer. I hope I don't get in trouble for this but it's basically all worth reading. See the original link here:

HARRY: You hear a lot in the offseason about coaches going to visit different schools and exchanging ideas with other coaches for the sake of the program and professional development. How's that work here?

MEYER: "That's a big part of what we do. For example, our strength coach and my administrative assistant, every year -- and they have no choice -- have to get on a plane and go visit the best places in America and find out if we're doing the right stuff. I've always encouraged our trainers, our academic people. It's the ones who sit around and do nothing. At some point, [everybody's] going to catch you. No, that is a must. You are graded on your professional development. That's part of your evaluation. And we don't want to be frivolous. We run a certain style, so we don't want to waste time. Go see your buddy? We don't want to do that. There has to be a reason. [The concept] is kind of amazing. I tell people, I'm sure Pepsi doesn't visit Coca-Cola and figure out how to make pop"

HARRY: Where do you draw the line?

MEYER: "It's hard. We've drawn it more. It got out of control a little bit. You have so much work to do. All of a sudden, people are walking in saying, 'Hey coach, you got three hours?' No. You just don't have time. So the last few years we've kind of made it off limits. We do allow some in. If Jon Gruden calls? Absolutely. Bill Belichick comes down every year. We're certainly not going to say no to them. So we handpick who we allow to come in."

HARRY: A guy like Gruden, you never know. He could be standing across from you on a sideline one day.

MEYER: "True. But you have to get something. This is a two-way street. For Jon Gruden to come in and just take? We're not going to do that. We're not into supplying information. We're into exchanging information. A guy like Bill Belichick? I get 10 times more than what he gets from us. Same for Jon Gruden. . . . I could go on and on and on. [California's] Jeff Tedford. He's one of my great friends. We always do it. Rich Rodriguez? We used to do it all the time [when he was at West Virginia], but now he's at Michigan and a competitor in recruiting so we don't anymore. [Rutgers'] Greg Schiano. I could go on and on. Mike Leach at Texas Tech. We often have conversation. [Utah's] Kyle Willingham and I talk twice a week."

HARRY: Give me an example of something Bill Belichick could share with you.

MEYER: "Where do I start? I am amazed at the how he handles elite athletes. You never hear about issues with off-the-field stuff. I am amazed to the point that I got on a plane and I went up and watched over three days and saw how he handled these, um, some of these elite guys. For some reason, the Patriots do this, but you hear about the Cowboys and these other teams just falling apart because of chemistry issues. And then there's Bill Belichick. Our whole program is based on what we learned from him; the core of the team has to be strong."

HARRY: When was the last time you saw a play or a formation where you went, "Wow! I've never seen that before."

MEYER: "Forty-five minutes ago. I've been watching Oklahoma tape all morning."

HARRY: Really? You often hear coaches say that nothing is new; that everything has been used before. Yet when the Wildcat showed up in Miami last year, it was like the NFL freaked out. But it was old-time single-wing football, which is lot of what you do here. What was the genesis of your offense?

MEYER: Part of it is single wing, yeah. I would say there's a spread element and a single-wing element. We've combined them both. We want to have a run component. At any time, anybody can stop the run. It's just taking one more defender than you can block and putting him right there [on the line]. Unless that guy is not very good and you have a great running back, like a lot of the Big Ten teams when I was growing up. Everybody would say, 'BYOB: Bring Your Own Blocker.' He's on scholarship too, and you have to run him over sometime. That's OK. But to simply say we're going to do that all the time and score points, I can't disagree with that more. So how do you take advantage of the guy that's the extra defender? There's two ways to do it. One: you run a single-wing offense, which means you spread a guy out so that [extra defender] has to go cover him. Two: you spread out and throw the ball. We're going to do both."

HARRY: What about the single wing has given it the staying power?

MEYER: "The fact you can run the ball when everybody is blocked. You'll hear a saying around here: 'Never run the ball against an unblocked defender.' Never do it! And I'm kind of giving you everything we do here." (The next few minutes involved some scribbling and lots of X's and O's, the bulk of which, without the diagrams, doesn't translate very well in print. I can promise you, though, it was as interesting as it was informative.) [Ed. Note: Darn! I guess this is why my site exists.]

HARRY: Option football has universally been written off as something that cannot work in the NFL. There are other offenses people say, flat-out, can't work in the NFL.

MEYER: "If you know me, you know I think any offense can work if you have the right personnel back. Offenses are overrated. People are not. The NFL will take a quarterback and put him on a very bad team and call him a bust. Never mind that the defense ranks last in the league and there's no offensive line. Chris Leak [in 2005] had about as bad a three-game [stretch] as we've had at Florida that I've ever had as a coach and it just so happened that Bubba Caldwell broke his leg, Jermaine Cornelius sprained his ankle, Chad Jackson had a bad hamstring and Dallas Baker broke his ribs. And so Chris Leak struggled the next three games when we're playing LSU, Georgia. It doesn't matter what you run. It's personnel based."

HARRY: You kind of just told the Alex Smith story. Your guy at Utah. No. 1 overall pick just four years ago. Goes to a bad team. A lot of folks already have written him off as a bust already.

MEYER: "I don't want to give you names, but I can list 10 other quarterbacks who aren't doing great, too. They're West Coast [offense] quarterbacks. It's about who's on the team."

HARRY: It seems what's happened with Alex is held up as the standard for spread quarterbacks projecting to the NFL. Obviously, you've heard that rap with regard to Tim Tebow's future there, and heading into the draft people were wondering if Percy Harvin's three years of running bubble screens meant he couldn't run a simple dig and the rest of the routes on the passing tree.

MEYER: He can run it better than most; and if someone is paying him $20 million, he'll run a great dig route. It's interesting that you say that. I don't hear it a lot, maybe in recruiting once in a while, but I did hear a NFL coach saying something about that. I like to do my homework. I went and checked the record of that coach and the guy barely had a .500 record. [Ed Note: Reminds me of what Mike Leach said about Mangini.] There are certain people I'll have a discussions with. And if I hear something like that, that's not a person I want to have a discussion with. That's nonsense. That's someone putting too much value on scheme rather than personnel."

HARRY: Is your offense easy to teach?

MEYER: "Again, it's based on people. I keep going back to that, but if you have really good players, it's really easy. If you don't, it's really hard. Is the West Coast offense easy to teach? If Joe Montana is throwing to Jerry Rice, yeah, Daffy Duck can teach it. I don't want to de-value teaching. It's absolutely critical, but I'm still going to go back to personnel."

HARRY: Are you a NFL fan?

MEYER: "I'm a fan of some players, some coaches, not necessarily teams. I try to watch the Patriots, but Sundays are such a busy day. Maybe on bye weeks."

HARRY: But you study some teams during offseason, I'll bet. That constitutes professional development, right?

MEYER: "Absolutely. Every year I go to a camp or two. I've already been up to Jacksonville. Spent five hours with Jack Del Rio. Phenomenal coach. I like this new guy [Raheem Morris] in Tampa Bay. I've been invited down there. And I'll get up to New England again."

Copyright © 2009, Orlando Sentinel


Tyler said...

So Meyer's key to success is having his administrative assistant go out and see what other teams are doing? What type of influence does this have on performing clerical tasks? Typing drills? Getting pumped up to call orders to WB Mason? Sharper cuts on the Dunkin Donuts route?

Anonymous said...

Someone get a copy of the x's and o's!
I love it (sarcasm)when coaches downplay coaching and teaching. I know big time players make coaching easy, but it is the process and organization of things that make the difference. Those are the secrets that I need!

Ted Seay said...

Chris: "'Never run the ball against an unblocked defender.' Never do it!"

Excellent philosophy...

Trader Kevin said...


We've added you to "Friends of Penn State Clips" and gave you props for alerting us to this interview.

Would you consider linking to Penn State Clips on your list of "Other Stuff to Read"? Thanks in advance.

Trader Kevin

Stan said...

Interesting. An NFL coach doesn't know what he's talking about because he has a .500 record. Yet, personnel is everything and you can't judge a QB without accounting for the players around him.

Urban, pardon me, but your hypocrisy is showing (and a logical fallacy as well).

You can run the option in the NFL if you are willing to risk your QB. Not many coaches are. Make that zero.

I'm still waiting for the team with a std dropback passing QB(even in college) who incorporates the option run by a WR or RB who was an option QB in HS. It would be very easy to use a motioning WR or the backside RB in a two back spread to create a speed option with a back in a 5 and 5 pitch relationship.

In fact, the RB can attack the DE with a better downhill angle. QB takes the shotgun snap, hands off to the backside RB (or motioning WR) crossing his face who attacks the inside shoulder of the EOL defender. Playside RB runs the std option pitch relationship. QB threatens boot, WR screen or keep backside.

Anonymous said...

Good points, Stan. I think your idea might have so many moving parts that it might be a timing problem. If that back is in motion and takes the handoff, I think the playside back would not be able to keep the pitch relationship if you are drawing it up like I am in my mind. Anything is possible to workout I know and your idea allows any offense to get to that edge even with a dropback QB but that's what my 2 second response is..

Anonymous said...

I figured if you want to run the option you get 3 college running QBs who the NFL has no interest in otherwise and you pay them low.

Disposable, interchangeable parts.

squirrelyearl said...

Either Urban doesn't really know who he's talking to up at Utah or Harry needs to make sure he quotes Urban properly. The Utah coach is Kyle Whittingham. There's Ty Willingham, but I don't think Urban is probably wanting to talk to him much lately.

Mr.Murder said...

Urban warfare, house to house fighting in the school of tactics.

A Florida paper has references to pro coaches in Florida. It6 sounds as if the writer is trying to sell copy.

Great of Meyer to see that fact, he can use the emdia as a recruiting tool, this is part of the game.

Michigan may recruit nationally, but they are not exactly tht much of a rival at this time in terms of prestige or within the region. Why is Urban so set on addressing them in these terms?

The scheme. The downplayed, unimportance of scheme, is Michigan's chief recruitment tool vs. Florida. They are using the same scheme and dictates, a spread/wing mixture for athletic quarterbacks. Thus Meyer affords them a status of reszpect that many in the media do not at this time.

Again, his words and method of operation conflict some of the statements, in other words.... ISN'T ABOUT SCHEME, except for, of course, the times that it is about scheme. It is what it is.