Smart Notes – Gameday, Minnesota’s simplicity, tackling – 9/1/2011


Yes, that’s the ticket. I don’t know if Minnesota has the talent to succeed but new coach Jerry Kill will make them better:

“[The Golden Gophers’ new offense is] kind of hard to describe,” said quarterback MarQueis Gray, more comfortable with running the plays than labeling them. “It’s not an option, but there are a lot of decisions to make like that, real fast.” . . .

Better that the defense doesn’t know — which is sort of the whole point of the Minnesota Method, or the Gopher Go, whatever you want to call it. According to [offensive coordinator] Limegrover, the Gophers playbook includes stray elements of the West Coast, the spread, the pro-style — sort of a chef’s surprise of play design, with one bedrock principle: Can the players execute it, and execute it well?

“The important thing is that everyone is comfortable with it, especially the players,” Limegrover said. “You can have the greatest play ever designed, the Mona Lisa of offense, and if your quarterback can’t pull it off or your line can’t block for it, what good does it do you?” Instead, coach Jerry Kill’s staff drills their players in being fundamentally sound, concepts that are adaptable in a variety of offensive sets. The offensive line, for instance, is taught only three or four basic blocking schemes, giving the players time to polish them. And every offensive play must fit into one of the blocking blueprints.

“Last year, we had a ton of plays for the offensive line,” said left tackle Ed Olson. “Now we can focus on just a few and get it right. Coach Limegrover is trying to make it as easy as he can for us.”

Whither tackling? Tim Layden explores the state of tackling today:

“Coach Johnson taught us to never break down, just keep running through like knives,” says Brown. “And if I miss on the correct side, one of my teammates will be right behind me, running like a bat out of you know where, and he’ll make the hit and maybe force a turnover. One of the knives will hit.” (Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who worked under Johnson in Philadelphia, says, “Arrow through snow” that’s what Jim used to say: Attack like an arrow through snow.”)

As an Eagle, Brown lived Johnson’s credo. In January 2007 he laid out Saints running back Reggie Bush with a blowup hit by driving hard upfield on a swing pass, a shot so monumental it made the cover of SI six months later. But here, against the Jets, Brown hesitated. The previous month, after the notorious Oct. 17 afternoon so packed with violent, concussive hits that it became known as Black Sunday, the NFL announced it would stringently enforce rules against head shots. That clouded Brown’s mind. “I tried to break down and then come up,” says Brown of the play on Edwards. “He dipped his shoulder, and that got him lower than me, and I took the brunt of the hit. They talk about defenseless receivers. I put myself in a defenseless position, and I hurt my shoulder. I was confused with all the changes, and I made an adjustment.” (Though his forward momentum was stopped, Edwards never did go down—four other Cleveland defenders threw themselves into the play, and the whistle blew with the Jets receiver still standing.)

Planes: Does it make sense to board by rows?

Oregon/LSU: Stewart Mandel explores Oregon’s possible method of attacks against LSU (some guy named Brown gets quoted):

Nearly eight months later Oregon is about to face another vaunted SEC defensive line, this time minus three veteran offensive line starters from last year’s squad.

See any similarities, coach? “Uh huh,” said Kelly. “I keep watching that film and hoping some of those kids graduated, but they haven’t.”

Also, check out this video from last year’s National championship game, showing a multiple backfield look I wouldn’t be shocked to see from Oregon this year:

The creativity of anger, by Jonah Lehrer: “The larger story here is about the surprising benefits of negative moods. While sad subjects in this new study underperformed on the creative generation task, previous research has demonstrated that sadness increases creative persistence, allowing subjects to work harder for extended periods of time. (In other words, melancholy is bad in the short-term, but good for the long haul.)”

Spencer Hall: Business and pleasure.

Just want to use the word “sexagenarian”: A 61 year-old kicker.