Leafing Through Pages: Analysis of Sports and Other Topics

07/25/2009

Links and Quotes Regarding the Spread Offense

Filed under: College Football — David Hunter @ 12:23 PM
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ESPN’s Tim Griffin Interviews Missouri Offensive Coordinator David Yost

How do you think those things will be changing this season without Maclin and Coffman?

DY: We feel like there will be a lot of catches to go around and we tell that to our recruits. Sure, Maclin caught 102 balls last year, but a couple of other guys had 60 catches for us. Three years ago, four guys had 60 catches. It’s whatever you have, you can take advantage of. But look at [tailback] Derrick Washington. He’s not just a guy who catches screens or flares. He goes out and runs a lot of routes. But this year, we’ll be using a receiver-by-committee plan. We should have six-to-eight guys capable of catching 40-to-70 balls. We’ll run a little more. We’ve got more guys who can help get us a little faster. And we’ll be getting back to the kind of offense where we have a lot of interchangeable parts.

What specifically do you guys demand from your receivers?

DY: You line up with five guys [receivers] and we stress after they get the ball in their hands that they can make something happen. We want a guy who runs with a purpose. And since we don’t line up with a tight end on every play, we really value blocking among our receivers, too. Our H and Y [receiving positions] have to be high-level blockers.

ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg Interviews Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno

Second year of this system. Are you able to do a lot more with the offense now with an experienced quarterback, an experienced running back, or is it going to be a wait-and-see thing?

JP: But the one thing about our offense is we’re able to do some things to keep it simple for the offensive line, but it puts more pressure on your wideouts and your running backs to line up in different places and different formations, those kinds of things.

Scout.com Randy Moore Talks With Mississippi State Head Coach Dan Mullen

DM: Through personnel and through formations, we want to create advantageous one-on-one matchups, where I get a player in the open field matched up against someone that he’s better than. That’s the Spread Offense, the offense we’re going to run.

DM: You don’t have to be five receivers or four receivers to run a Spread Offense. You can run it with three backs, two tight ends, get in the wishbone formation one time and spread the field to create the matchups the next time.

DM: If you take our playbook, only 60 percent of it applies to the given team you have. What we have to do is make sure we pick the right 60 percent of it to apply to the personnel that we have, then use that 60 percent to the best of our ability and have our players execute at a high level.

ESPN’s Chris Low Talks With Mississippi State Head Coach Dan Mullen

What type of player are you looking for at the skill positions?

DM: The first thing we look for is a guy who’s multi-talented, a guy that can play a crossover position or hybrid position. You want a receiver who can also line up at tailback or a tailback who can flex into the slot or move up to the fullback position.

Q & A with Auburn Tight End Tommy Trott

What’s the offense going to look like under Gus (Malzahn)?

TT: I think you’ll see from the offense that we use the run to set up the pass a little bit more. In coach Malzahn’s offense we’ll have much more of a downfield running attack.

Where do you see yourself in the offense?

TT: Coach Malzahn’s told me that 25 percent of the game will probably have a tight end in there with his actual hand on the ground. He says hopefully I’ll give them the ability to split me out some into the slot and even out there to a wide receiver. It’s very demanding for a tight end in this offense to split out and get all the way wide and get open and avoid coverage and then at the same time put his hand on the ground.

ESPN’s Brian Bennett Talks With South Florida Offensive Coordinator Mike Canales

Can you tell us about the role of the receivers in the spread?

MC: The biggest thing I look for with receivers in the spread offense is, they’ve got to be able to block. It’s so crucial to the success of the run game, because you’re going to get to that second level of defenders, and if you get the running back to that position you need to create angles.

People think throw-throw-throw with the spread, but as a coordinator, what I tell our receivers is, you’re not getting on the field if you don’t block. These guys are basically your fullbacks down the field, but they’re not built like fullbacks.

How difficult is it for receivers to learn the proper spacing and timing in this offense?

MC: We talk all the time about minimum, normal and maximum splits and how it fits the scheme. We teach it so they understand the full scheme. People have been describing us as a “Spread Coast,” because it’s a spread with West Coast concepts.

The spread creates favorable matchups of receivers against linebackers and safeties, but doesn’t that also mean that smaller wideouts have to block much bigger guys sometimes?

MC: I tell our guys that the big thing is just to get in the way and become a nuisance. Get in their chops, try to hand battle and get in a position to create leverage. It’s not about being so aggressive and making a block too early. It’s about getting in position for a back to make a move off it.

ESPN’s Ted Miller Talks With Arizona Offensive Coordinator Sonny Dykes

Is there a fundamental difference in the way you guys line up versus Oregon and the spreads that are more of a spread-option running attack?

SD: What we’re doing here is kind of a combination of both. We double call a lot of stuff, so depending on how many people are in the box, we’re going to throw it when we’ve got good numbers and run it when we’ve got good numbers to run it. That’s really what Tech is doing but they are more inclined to throw it.

What is your base formation?

SD: Now, we’ll be a little bit more of a two-back team because of [H-back] Chris Gronkowski. We’ll be a mixture really. So our base formation will be with a tight end and a fullback, which is a little bit more old style football.

So that’s the big difference between you guys and Texas Tech — the fullback and tight end are just role players for the Red Raiders, right?

SD: Our offense has evolved and a lot of it is because of Robbie. We started running some power and a little bit more of a downhill run game just because he can block a defensive end at a point of attack. We’re evolving. We’re probably a little bit more like Oregon now than Texas Tech, just because of our ability and need to run the football.

How about with receivers? Does the spread require different things out of them than if you were lining up in a pro-style set?

SD: If you run the ball, guys are going to try to sneak more guys in the box. When they do that, you need to find a way to get the ball on the perimeter, whether it’s throwing the [bubble screens] or whatever, to try to get the ball away from the guys packing the box.

If you’re going to run 35 times a game, you need receivers to block well. But, in general, does a spread receiver need to be a better blocker than a pro-style receiver?

SD: I think so because of the screens. A lot of that stuff maybe forces them to be more effective blockers. Our guys are really just trying to get in the way more.

One way guys recruit against spread teams is they tell recruits that if they play in a spread offense they are not going to get the respect from the NFL in the draft. What do you say to that?

SD: I think anytime a quarterback can drop back and throw the football, that’s important. All that does is make him better, whether he does it under center or out of the shotgun. I don’t see how a quarterback can be faulted when he takes a snap, avoids a rush, shuffles in the pocket, goes through reads, finds a receiver, throws an accurate ball, and does all the things you have to do to drop back and throw. I don’t see how he becomes a better quarterback by being under center and handing it to a running back.

ESPN’s Heather Dinich Talks With Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson

How are the receivers’ responsibilities different?

PJ: I don’t know that they are. What they may call their [Urban Meyer, Rich Rodriguez] receivers sometimes we call A-backs. Their slot receivers are like our A-backs. Most of the time we’re lined up tighter, not always. We change formations, and those guys are in the same spots.

Why do you think then, that most college football fans, when they think of your offense, probably don’t automatically think of what Urban Meyer and Rich Rodriquez do?

PJ: Because one is under the gun and the other is under the center.

That’s it?

PJ: Yeah, and most fans, quite honestly, couldn’t tell you what plays they ran out of the gun. It’s like anything else — if you’re successful and you have big plays, then it’s great. If you’re not moving the ball and you’re not scoring then it’s no good. If you look at last year with what Rich did at Michigan, it’s the same offense they ran at West Virginia, but it was a learning process, different personnel and they didn’t have near the success. In fact they had very little success. But nobody was questioning whether it would work or not. As soon as we have one game where we don’t score 30 points, boy it’s like, I told you this wouldn’t work, everybody figured it out. That’s what drives you nuts.

Because it’s going to be the second year, a lot of players feel so much more comfortable in the system, would you like to pass it more?

PJ: If we become more efficient at running the ball, then the passing game will open up because people will say we have to play the run.

Is there anything else I didn’t ask you that would help explain any misconceptions about the offense to fans?

PJ: If you execute it properly it’s going to be good, and if you don’t, it won’t. There are no magic ways to line up and play the offense. There’s nothing magical about the offense. If we don’t block people and execute right, it’s not going to work. It’s no different than the BYU passing or anything else. It’s a system and if you do it correctly you’ll be successful and if not you won’t. We’ve done it for 26 years. It’s not like it was a one-time thing. I get a kick out of people saying, ‘Well they’ll have another year of defending it.’ Gosh, they’ve got 25 years, and we haven’t changed much.

ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg Talks With Indiana Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada

Do the responsibilities of the wide receivers change in the spread offense versus a more conventional scheme?

MC: In the spread, it’s more of a quick-passing game, you’ve got more of the screens.

From a blocking standpoint, is there anything unique about the spread as far as responsibilities?

MC: Obviously in the spread, you’re going to have more wideout screens and screens down the field. They’re going to have to block those more, but I don’t think there’s any good wideout that wouldn’t be able to do that.

07/24/2009

2008 College Football: Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt On Offense

Filed under: College Football — David Hunter @ 1:30 PM
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Pro-Football-Reference has a stat called Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt, a statistic that has good correlation with winning football games when above the average (note that this post doesn’t include defenses that held teams below average). The formula is: (Pass Yards + 20*(TD) – 45*(INT) – Sack Yards) / (Attempts + Sacks). Here are how the college football teams did with this statistic in the 2008 season. A number over 7.0 is very good while a number over 8.0 is amazing. It’s no surprise that several teams in the National Championship race (Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Texas Tech, USC) all did really well.

1: Oklahoma: 10.29
2: Florida: 9.64
3: Tulsa: 9.22
4: Oklahoma State: 9.21
5: Texas: 8.86
6: Ball State: 8.83
7: Rice: 8.63
8: Georgia: 8.57
9: Houston: 8.56
10: Texas Tech: 8.52
Southern California: 8.49
Boise State: 8.36
Penn State: 8.30
Missouri: 7.86
Nebraska: 7.86
Brigham Young: 7.74
Rutgers: 7.44
Mississippi: 7.42
Central Michigan: 7.39
Utah: 7.32
Western Michigan: 7.28
Texas El Paso: 7.27
Kansas: 7.19
Arizona: 7.10
Kansas State: 7.04
Nevada Las Vegas: 6.90
Air Force: 6.75
Illinois: 6.72
Buffalo: 6.70
Nevada: 6.62
Baylor: 6.52
North Carolina: 6.49
Navy: 6.44
Florida International: 6.41
Florida Atlantic: 6.36
Cincinnati: 6.30
Ohio State: 6.24
Arkansas State: 6.20
Southern Miss: 6.19
East Carolina: 6.18
Oregon State: 6.18
Middle Tennessee State: 6.12
Oregon: 6.11
Iowa State: 6.08
Texas Christian: 6.04
Fresno State: 6.04
Bowling Green: 6.02
West Virginia: 5.97
Colorado State: 5.97
Memphis: 5.94
Ohio: 5.92
Texas A&M: 5.88
South Florida: 5.88
Notre Dame: 5.87
Troy: 5.87
Iowa: 5.85
Akron: 5.81
Louisiana Lafayette: 5.80
Minnesota: 5.79
New Mexico State: 5.76
Temple: 5.66
Alabama: 5.66
Eastern Michigan: 5.57
Michigan State: 5.55
Wisconsin: 5.55
Wake Forest: 5.53
California: 5.46
Northern Illinois: 5.42
Louisiana Monroe: 5.37
North Carolina State: 5.36
Georgia Tech: 5.35
Kent State: 5.31
Arizona State: 5.28
Maryland: 5.15
Toledo: 5.11
Southern Methodist: 5.07
Clemson: 5.05
San Diego State: 5.03
Pittsburgh: 5.00
Arkansas: 4.97
Louisiana State: 4.94
Utah State: 4.93
Purdue: 4.91
Hawaii: 4.86
Florida State: 4.77
Northwestern: 4.73
Louisville: 4.72
Tulane: 4.70
Duke: 4.67
Marshall: 4.67
Indiana: 4.49
UAB: 4.48
Miami Ohio: 4.44
Louisiana Tech: 4.37
Colorado: 4.35
San Jose State: 4.35
Miami: 4.31
Kentucky: 4.19
Boston College: 4.15
North Texas: 4.09
Tennessee: 4.01
Stanford: 3.94
Auburn: 3.87
South Carolina: 3.77
Idaho: 3.75
Mississippi State: 3.58
Virginia Tech: 3.54
Michigan: 3.54
Syracuse: 3.53
Virginia: 3.49
Vanderbilt: 3.33
UCLA: 3.10
Connecticut: 3.09
New Mexico: 3.05
Washington: 2.91
Central Florida: 2.62
Wyoming: 2.34
Army: 2.03
Washington State: 1.86

07/23/2009

Texas Tech Air Raid Offense: Intelligence Required

Here are a handful of quotes and paraphrased quotes in regards to Mike Leach‘s Air Raid Offense at Texas Tech. At the bottom will be a list of resources.

“He has two blocking reads to make even before he can think about going out for a pass.” – QB Cody Hodges on RB Taurean Henderson.

“Leach wants all four of his receivers to have 1,000-yard seasons and his running back to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving.”

“In all, Hodges said, there are no more than 25 primary passing plays, but each can be run using five different formations. The challenge is for the quarterback to know when to switch plays at the line of scrimmage.”

“The key, Leach said, is running the same play again and again, almost a monotonous routine.”

“Most people think we run 50 different plays, but when it comes down to it, and you’re watching the tape, it’s like six different plays but in a lot of different formations.” – G Manny Fernandez

“We just make sure that we run our certain plays the way we’re supposed to and we run them accurately.” – WR Joel Filani

“Most teams run 70 plays in a game; Tech runs 90.”

“It took more than three minutes to explain what goes through his head in a single play. ‘Go x, y, f to the flat because no one is over there because they’re all trying to stop this guy. And he runs right over and we complete the pass and we’re about to get some yards there.’ Asked in how many seconds he does that, Harrell said, ‘I don’t know, two seconds?”

“We’ll take what they give us and be happy with that.” – QB Kliff Kingsbury

“The running back’s got to be able to catch in this offense.” – QB Kliff Kingsbury

“In the Air Raid, the quarterback is given the responsibility of calling the plays at the line.”

“The system can be adjusted to fit a team’s strengths, but the offense’s 50-play ‘call-sheet’ usually stays short. For every three or four plays that get added, another three or four get taken out.”

“The Z receiving position primarily runs the deep threat patterns. The Y receiver is one of two inside receiver positions that primarily take care of the shorter yardage routes including curls, slants and outs. When the quarterback is in trouble, the Y is usually the first direction that he looks. The H-back uses his speed and elusiveness to turn the nickel and/or dime corner inside out. The H TE is the only skill position that doesn’t catch a fair number of passes. The player at this position is a very good run blocker and physical pass blocker, who is willing to assist the tackle in pass rush situations or blow open holes for the backs in running situations. The X receiver gets the majority of the fade passes thrown to them since the physicality inherent to the position makes it a logical destination for that pass. The F-back is also required to pass block on nearly every pass play. The F-back is also the primary threat on screens or shovel passes, which effectively slows down the pass rush in Leach’s offense. Many opposing teams are appalled at the wide splits that Tech’s O-line uses, but it’s hard to argue with the success that they have had. This system forces pass rushers to run further to reach the QB, and has proven to be effective in protection. It also enables the quarterback to see through these lanes to find the open receivers.”

“Sometimes he will only signal the formation from the sideline and the QB calls the specific play at the line. For example, over 90 percent of Tech’s running plays were checked to at the line of scrimmage.”

Amarillo.com 2002-08-18 QB Kingsbury Is Texas Tech’s Ticket

ESPN.com 2004-04-29 Leach and Tech Flying High

USA Today 2005-10-18 All Systems Go

ESPN 2005-04-25 Leach Charted Own Path To Success

Washington Post 2005-08-07 QBs Reading Done On Field

Scout.com 2006-07-25 Offense of The Genius

Washington Post 2006-08-09 Red Raiders’ Fate Rests on Right Balance at QB

Covers.com 2006-10-27 Texas Tech Ready To Raid Longhorns Defense

Arizona Daily Star 2006-12-30 Hope From Above?

CBS News 2008-12-31 Mike Leach Mad Scientist of Football

07/12/2009

The Effect The Zone Blitz Had On the Run and Shoot Offense In the NFL

Dick Lebeau is most famous as being the defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1995-1996 and 2004-Present. He also came up with the Zone Blitz in part to counter what Detroit, Houston, and Atlanta were doing with the Run & Shoot Offense. The Zone Blitz is largely credited with partly being the reason why the offense as a base use was driven out of the NFL but is there any proof? I’ve decided to take a look at the game logs from 1989-1991 when LeBeau was defensive coordinator for Cincinnati and 1995-1996 when he was defensive coordinator for Pittsburgh.

Successes
1989 Cincinnati @ Houston: Warren Moon was 17 of 33 for 198 yards and 1 TD vs. 1 INT. I’d call this a success for the zone blitz, although Hoston won 26-24.
1989 Detroit @ Cincinnati: Bob Gagliano and Rodney Peete combined to go 13 of 27 for 171 yards and 0 TD vs. 2 INT.
1989 Houston @ Cincinnati: Warren Moon and Cody Carlson combined to go 16 of 34 for 181 yards and 0 TD vs. 3 INT.
1990 Houston @ Cincinnati: Warren Moon went 25 of 48 for 288 yards and 1 TD vs. 1 INT. Cody Carlson went 1 of 6 for 12 yards and 0 TD vs. 1 INT.
1990 Houston @ Cincinnati (Playoffs): Cody Carlson went 16 of 33 for 165 yards and 2 TD vs. 1 INT.

Failures
1990 Cincinnati @ Houston: Warren Moon went 21 of 33 for 369 yards and 5 TD vs. 1 INT. Cody Carlson came in and was 3 of 7 for 32 yards with 0 TD vs. 0 INT.
1990 Cincinnati @ Atlanta: Chris Miller went 13 of 18 for 124 yards and 2 TD vs. 0 INT.
1991 Houston @ Cincinnati: Warren Moon went 22 of 37 for 315 yards and 1 TD vs. 1 INT.
1991 Cincinnati @ Houston: Warren Moon went 24 of 37 for 289 yards and 3 TD vs. 2 INT. Cody Carlson came in and went 4 of 7 for 92 yards and 1 TD vs. 0 INT.
1996 Pittsburgh @ Atlanta: Bobby Hebert went 24 of 36 for 234 yards and 2 TD vs. 1 INT. Although Pittsburgh won 20-17, Hebert had a good game.

As is the case when looking back, Dick LeBeau and his Zone Blitz scheme had its share of successes but also had a fair bit of failures as well when going up against the Run & Shoot Offense. The key statistic when measuring defense is of course how the team did in the win/loss column. Here’s how Dick’s teams did: 5-5 for a .500 record overall.

So while the Zone Blitz had some impact and may have slowed down the Run & Shoot Offense at times, it’s clear looking back that it wasn’t as shut down as many pundits and media members seem to remember it being.

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