Due to various life commitments (new job, moving to New York City, getting engaged) 2010 wasn’t quite as productive as 2009 was in terms of pure volume of articles and words produced, but the site continued to grow and, in the process of writing it, I learned a lot from the great readers here at Smart Football. Below, in no particular order, is a list of some of the best and most popular pieces:
- Strategic trends for the next decade? Start with defense – I riff on a great piece by Stewart Mandel and Andy Staples. For now, as evidenced by the BCS title game between Oregon and Auburn, the chalk remains in the offense’s hands, but the next move will be by the defense.
- The zone read of the defensive tackle (a.k.a. the midline read) and Combining the “midline lead” and the zone read – The two biggest trends in the spread run game this season were the rise of the inverted veer and the increased adjustments of the traditional zone read, primarily to read the inside defenders instead of the defensive end (see also this piece from last year). The two pieces cited focused on this trend, which I expect to continue.
- Can the West Coast Offense be taught anywhere besides the NFL? - Musings about the complexity of Walsh’s famed offense and how to fit your offense to your players.
- The Pistol Offense – For awhile, early in the college football season, everyone was raving about the pistol. As I more or less predicted, it would remain a useful tool — and Chris Ault at Nevada would use it as a true “offense” in the systematic sense — but otherwise the dabblers would revert to other methods and people would realize that moving the runningback a feet backwards and two feet to the side doesn’t magically change the offense.
- Tressel’s new calling: Ball control… passing? - A look at how Tressel continued to try and develop Terrelle Pryor into a better and more patient passing quarterback. This was evident at times but Pryor remains a work in progress; the article remains of interest because of the discussion of the “snag” passing concept.
- Running and throwing the fade against press coverage - Very simple discussion of the technique behind one of my favorite passes.
- Did the spread really evolve from the single-wing? – Self-explanatory; intention was to show the diverse origins of the spread. A decent companion article was the also popular article, Visual evidence of the evolution of the spread offense.
- How do you beat Cover 2 with trips? Let me count the ways – This article was fun for me to write as it involved me making digital what the margin of every document I touch already looks like.
- Teaching a quarterback where to throw the ball - More nuts and bolts stuff. In a strange way I enjoy the offseason more than the season as I can focus on this kind of thing.
- Deconstructing: The night the spread ruled the world - This one is over at Dr Saturday/Yahoo! but is one I really enjoyed writing. The BCS game was an odd one but I still enjoyed it, and I think what the two teams over the season is enough evidence that better mousetraps exist and Oregon and Auburn had them. Next year is always next year. Expect their stuff to immediately show up at your local high school (for better or worse). Also check out my piece earlier this past season about Denard Robinson and Cam Newton as new prototypes (in Hinton’s words, “Omnibacks”), with plenty of discussion of outside zones and inverted veers for the geek-minded.
- The Ski-Gun (or “Skee-gun”) - Mostly videos, this piece showcases (after a digression about Paul Johnson using the shotgun that went unfulfilled) the offense of Muskegon, MI high school, which uses the flexbone option from the pistol set.
- Nick Saban breaking down film - Always worth it to learn from the master.
- Packaging three-step and five-step passing concepts into the same play – This was one of my personal favorites from this year. I really think this is a tactic that can be the core of the passing game for many, many pass-first teams.
Lastly, I simply must highlight two very popular guest articles for the site:
- Breaking down Boise: How the Broncos use leverage, numbers and grass to gash the opposition, by Mike Kuchar – This was one of the site’s most popular pieces, and the reason why is that it was great. The title is self-explanatory, and it’s a shame that Boise was a missed field goal away from at least making a BCS game this year. But everyone, coach or fan, can learn from Mike’s piece.
- Eliminating “daylight” from the axiom, “run to daylight,” by Jerry Gordon – It’s no secret that Smart Football is a bit offense heavy, but Coach Gordon helped fill that void with his excellent piece about his 4-3 Under defense. I highly recommend this piece, as well as his book, Coaching the Under Front Defense.