Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ssssh......Draft Guide

Don't tell no one, but here are two draft guides (680 pages of profiles) that NFL scouts are using for this weekend's 2010 draft.



Sacrilege, I know, but I absolutely love the new format. I was skeptical at first, being a long-time weekend draft party afficianado, but this Thursday - Saturday event generates some serious league buzz and excitement as compared to the Saturday endless seiges inciting mid-afternoon blood sugar comas, reclineritis, or alcohol blackouts. My only question is how will this affect subsequent drafts with enough PRESS time (leading into Friday's headline) to belly ache or opine about the first round or speculate on the second round leading into the weekend's media coverage? Will it pressure front offices to be influenced on making rash decisions (cough...cough...endless Claussen hype...cough) or entertain ridiculous trade scenarios they wouldn't have had the time to make in years prior? Who knows, but this more inclusive process is a welcome addition to help promote fan participation.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I want to start my treatment of the Run-N-Shoot by discussing the offense's diachronic (read: historical) development. (Please pardon some of my jargon. Much of my academic research focuses on historical writing as a type of literary event, thus I loath how "history" as a term is conventionally used) Here, in Part I of this section, I will talk a bit about Tiger Ellison's version of the offense. My purpose in doing so is not to provide an in depth account of his offense, but rather to demonstrate why it is really no longer relevant to the Run-N-Shoot as it is currently employed at the major college level.

Without question, Tiger Ellison's Run-n-Shoot was an innovative and dynamic offensive system, especially for its time (although, in some ways, especially in terms of innovation, I would say that what Dutch Meyer did was perhaps even more so). Tiger's version of the offense is predicated upon a four hot environment. And yes, much like what Mouse would later do, Tiger's offense utilized option routes that he packaged into series that would in time provide a very rough template of sorts for Mouse's system. Tiger also used motion, but not really as a means of decoding coverage, but rather because so much of what he created derived from the Wing-T. In many ways, if we were today to compare Tiger's Shoot to one of Tubby Raymond's later Wing-T teams we would find the resemblances striking. The reason for this is that Tiger still wanted to run the football, just not into an 8 man front. He also wanted take full advantage of the misdirection potential that his double-wing formation afforded him, something that Mouse would use only as a way of controlling the edge and preventing a hard end from crashing his protection from the backside.

Tiger's version of the Run-N-Shoot is still an effective offense at certain levels. In this regard, his offense really is like the Wing-T, an offense that is still very effective at the high school and small college level, but whose trap and cross buck run game is no longer feasible at the higher levels due not only to increased speed, but schematic evolution as well.

Clearly, some Run-N-Shoot purists will not be happy with these comments; especially my equating Tiger's offense to the Wing T. But I wish to stress that these comments are not intended to be dismissive; rather, they are simply predicated upon a close analysis of the deep grammar of Tiger's system.

Tomorrow night I will discuss how Mouse modified Tiger's basic structures and how in so doing he laid the foundation for the modern Run-N-Shoot offense.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Heading into spring (and other notes)

I, like you, am anxiously awaiting hemlock's dissertation on Run & Shoot (and you may not find a more qualified authority), and to kill time, I will share the recent developments of our spring program. Trust me, once Hemlock gets going, I'll do my best to STFU.

This post may be interesting to those without 6th period football and/or spring football (or program development, in general).

We have been using 6th period (final period of the day) for the last 5 months for lifting. The past month or so (since the weather has been gorgeous) we have been taking the kids out to run through skelly sessions twice a week. This certainly helps and gives a jump start on what spring football will actually be in the coming weeks.

We have one bonafide offensive player (our Y) returning from last season, who was our leading yardage gainer. We have our starting quarterback, and one developing split receiver, and a bevy of young sophomore skill and lineman talent. This largely would not be the case, had interim HC (now official HC) not pressed for a full-time freshman squad. Had he not been so adamant about the freshmen, we wouldn’t have much to be optimistic about this year. I preface that, because as we move forward making plans for spring ball, we are faced with a dilemma of what to do with this talent on offense. How does it define what we do? Do we change from what we attempted last year after losing a once-in-a-lifetime “do-everything” stud (Jacoby Moseley) and a DI skill position player (Jarrett Fobbs)? Losing two game-changing talents may significantly affect the direction we move towards, especially when both were the sole contributors to our run game.

Of note, current freshman, Joshua Hunt (tallest player in picture), looks to be the next rising star out of our program and may give us the luxury of supplanting our current Y, to allow Desmon to be featured as a more flexible threat. There are also two distinctive running backs up and coming, that will be relied upon to shoulder the burden of explosive plays out of the backfield.

Conventional wisdom says, "you should stick to what you do", right? Well, I agree, but we really didn’t have anything as a foundation to begin with, so where do you go? I could go in a thousand directions with a personal tangent, one that I have already shared when this came up last year, however, for the sake of sanity, I’ll just shut up and get in where I can fit in.

If you have a quarterback who is a thrower and not much of a runner, can you get away with a veer/option run game (* I would argue yes, especially with zone running) ? The argument is if you do not, then you must go to some type of 2-back, power/lead attack to get an extra body/threat at the point of attack. How does this hamstring you when you are deficient in the run game. The OC is exploring pistol/rifle looks to base the lead/power/counter/triple run game out of. If you are not that great of a running team to begin with, when you introduce 2-backs (from the gun or under center) you in turn, invite more defenders into the box, making a hard job even harder. So, have you really gained anything with that?

What complicates this even further, is that there are dispositions that exclude certain answers from being acknowledged. There is personal bias against TFS (even though we are basing much of what we do off of the package we initially introduced) as well as zone running (in favor of traditional base blocking). I don't see any absolute 'right' or 'wrong' answers in this and am enjoying the development of the program and players. I likely won't be involved in the offense much to begin with.

Maybe its a 'nice problem to have' (actually having talent), but one that I'm sure other staffs go through, as well.

Completely unrelated, but be sure to check out David Simon's new series, Treme, on HBO - a certifiable winner.


Even more unrelated, but something I found interesting, especially considering some of the recent Kabuki politics in America (not that I have one iota of thought regarding the matter, nor a desire to pursue one) - this is an interesting story and perspective.

Entirely unrelated to this event, but I have been exploring expating to South America in another decade or two, so if there are football opportunities let me know....

Friday, April 9, 2010

Forthcoming Run-N-Shoot Series

Much to my chagrin I've been mostly silent since joining this blog. This is about to change. Starting sometime next week I will begin a series that I suspect will run for about six months or so on the Run-N-Shoot offense. The Run-N-Shoot has been around for a long time, but it's still one of the least understood offenses in football today. There is a certain mystery that to this day enshrouds the offense. The one thing that is certain is that it remains a source of anxiety within the football community. Defensive coordinators from time to time will dismiss the offense publicly, but if you speak to them privately they will tell you that the Run-N-Shoot unnerves them to the same extent that the triple option does. By the same token, the Run-N-Shoot is also a source of anxiety for those coaches who wish to practice it, that is, those who are enamored by the offense, but still cannot find the will to commit to it all the way.

I've been around the Run-N-Shoot in one form or another for about 20 years. I learned the offense from its founding architects and I now believe the time is right to share what I know.

As suggested above, this series will be extensive. I will treat the following topics in detail:

1. Origins and Evolution
2. Problems and Responses
3. The Culture of the Run-N-Shoot
4. Structural Mechanics
5. Teaching Route Coversions Today
6. Protection
7. Route Concepts
a. Streak
b. Read
c. Switch
d. Divide
e. Rails
f. Banjo
g. Go
h. Slide
i. Choice
j. Hook
l. Levels
m. Quicks and Adaptations

8. Screens
9. Run Game

Each topic will be treated globally as a concept; individual plays will be discussed only within the context of specific examples.

10. Conclusions: Dealing with Challenges and Problems.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Blog (Defense)

If you like blowing shit up, setting fire to cats, and breaking whatever comes your way.....
Be sure to check out the always informative defensive-centric blogs:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Handout

I am nearing completion on this spring football's video handout/playbook.
Once I get this completed, then all I have to do is show up and sip margaritas at practice for three weeks.

I hope this ends up even better than previous handouts .

[Powerpoint animation captures courtesy of Camtasia ]

The only thing left is to add the important narration and some Easter eggs for the players (incentivizing watching the material). We will likely have no returning players to the secondary, so getting this new (sophomore-heavy) group ready (and avoid many of the unnecessary mistakes) right away will be a welcome challenge.

Introduction of alignment, assignment, keys, and leverage. Then followed up by pattern matching examples of common concepts we will face. The DVD will also feature the C1 and C3 video clips of NCAA teams, as well. I intentionally included clips of when a DB was 'wrong', followed up with a clip of correctly playing a route, so they could see what kind of common mistakes to avoid.

Here is the 10 minute overview with narration. Yahoo couldn't take the entire clip, so I had to break it into thirds. The audio was forced and I tried cramming a lot into short amount of time, but this is something the players can review again and again (ala a crash course in 'whats important').

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Distilled Offense

a great article out of Monroe (near Ruston) explaining how simple Louisiana Tech's Air Raid has become.....

by Ethan Conley

Talk to a few players and you’ll get the impression that Louisiana Tech’s old playbook was the college football equivalent of War and Peace. The new playbook? It’s more like a pamphlet.

That’s if you could even call it a playbook. The players don’t necessarily refer to what they’re running as plays, but “concepts.” Change a few details and a single concept grows into an offensive attack that looks overwhelming to opposing defenses, but could be executed by the Bulldogs with their eyes closed. Eventually, anyway.“Last year we had a lot on our plate with that offense,” quarterback Steven Ensminger said. “We had to learn a lot, we had to know a lot. This year it’s real simple. Everybody works together, everybody knows their assignment, and it’s working real well.”

Tech’s new philosophy is simple: If an offense practices a play 1,000 times that play is going to be very difficult for a defense to stop, even if it knows exactly what is coming. Execution beats variety. And if variety is needed, a little window dressing — different formations, sending a man in motion — can turn a single play into multiple plays.“You want it to look complicated, but to really be simple,” Dykes said. “What offense is all about is that it doesn’t really matter what kind of offense you run. It’s all about execution and having something to hang your hat on.”

Dykes left Texas Tech to be Arizona’s offensive coordinator in 2007, and stuck to the basic principles from the offenses at Kentucky and Texas Tech. He kept it simple. His offense at Arizona was built on just 23 basic plays: five run plays, seven intermediate passes, five quick passes, three play-action passes, and three screen passes.Now that philosophy is at Louisiana Tech.“It’s way less (plays),” running back Roosevelt Falls said. “It’s only a few. It’s only the details that you’ve got to remember in the plays. Little things change about the plays. It’s the same plays, but little things change about them — the formation, where you’re running your route from, who they’re tagging.”Another key concept in the offense is speed — and not just when the ball is in play. The Bulldogs rarely huddle, and instead make their calls at the line of scrimmage. They minimize the time between snaps and keep the defense on its heels. It’s essentially a two-minute offense for all 60 minutes.And it’s only going to get faster.

Dykes said he’d like to run 85 offensive plays each game. How fast is that? Only two teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision averaged more than 80 per game last season: Houston at 82, and Texas A&M at 81. Dykes’ offense at Arizona averaged 70 plays per game, and Franklin’s offense at Middle Tennessee State averaged 73.