Smart Links 12/9/2009

1 New coaching blog: Coach Mac’s blog. It’s still in its early stages but there is some very good info here, particularly about the “power shotgun spread” stuff his team uses. Check out part I and part II of his series on their “power” play from shotgun.

2. A week late but, Brophy has a good post showing some of the plays Drew Brees used to carve up the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football.

3. A bunch of people have sent me this link about how Nebraska supposedly bottled up Texas via “pattern reading.” To be honest the article is difficult to understand and the routes shown don’t look like ones that Texas actually uses. And besides, almost every team uses some kind of pattern reading. My biggest issue is — and this could be me misunderstanding the article — is that it appears to confuse two different things. Pattern reading is where zone defenders use sort of “match up zone” principles to identify and attack specific route combinations that they have prepared for, rather than simply react to wherever a receiver happens to run. What is described in the article instead is the idea of “bracket coverage” (also sometimes called banjo coverage), where two defenders account for two possible receivers, and ignore any initial stems or criss-crosses and take the receiver that goes to them — i.e. one goes in and the other out. This is a legitimate technique and you have to be prepared for it, as it is designed to stop basic “you go in; I go out” type routes. But, and I haven’t broken down all the details of the Nebraska-UT game, that didn’t appear to me to be the main issue. And even if was a tactic Nebraska used, much of Texas’s passing game is designed to counteract such schemes. Instead the narrative is the same one you’d think it was: Nebraska’s defensive line dominated the game both for pass protection and the run game (save for a few draws), and that freed up the rest of the Blackshirts to roam and play tough, physical coverage and keep everything in front of them. But it all began up front.

4. Advanced NFL Stats with more on run/pass balance and game theory. I promise to address this topic, even if it’s just to summarize the good stuff coming out, but in the meantime go continue to read what Brian has been putting out.

5. My guess is this is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve both seen some outrageous things of this sort first hand (much moreso than what’s described in the article), and in general nothing will compare to what used to go on back in the day. But for now this is another bit of unwelcome light shining onto the recruiting practices of the University of Tennessee.

6. Charlie Strong to Louisville. Tough to have anything negative to say about this hire, though “Emperor Charlie” has his work cut out for him. Obviously on defense he’ll bring his rugged, multiple “4-3 under” scheme that has the ability to shift to a three-three (or even two-man line) against spread sets, but on offense it is anyone’s guess. Will he go the Bo Pellini route, whereby the defensive coach hires a random number generator as his offensive coordinator, or will he try to match his defense with an equally potent offense? (Here’s a hint Charlie: You coached under both Bob Davie and Urban Meyer. Which strategy worked out better? (Until the rise of Addazio, of course.) Time will tell.

7. It’s not a link but, my Heisman vote is for Suh.

  • Absolutely! King Kong Suh for Heisman!

  • Dan

    Suh is the man. I watched all of the candidates and up until Saturday I would have placed my vote (if I had on) for Gerhart….until I saw a man on the playground with children.
    As a Bucs fan, I am seriously cheering for Tampa to get the first pick so this guy can come in and make the Pro Bowl in his rookie season.
    If the Heisman goes to the BEST college football player, Suh is IT.

  • Herb

    I was hoping you’d write something on the SECCG. Not necessarily an I-told-you-so on Saban’s one-deep matching up to the Meyer offense, but maybe touch on the playcalling. It seemed to me Florida went away from their bread and butter plays and tried to pass more and play the counter-to-their-counter too much, without first establishing their base offense.

    The one thing I don’t think you’ve specifically addressed in this blog, though you’ve made oblique references to it, is how important repetition is to your constraint plays. The biggest problem with GT’s passing game, for example, is that they probably don’t practice it enough. When you spend 85% of your time practicing the triple option and other runs, you’re simply going to be unpolished at the downfield throws. So when GT goes to their passing game (whether as constraint plays or as catch-up-it’s-the-4th-quarter plays), they are much less accurate than a pro-style or spread team would be.

    I think the same thing happened to Florida in the SECCG. They got too cute, went away from what they’re built around, and couldn’t get any points on the board doing too much of what shouldn’t be more than constraint plays.

  • OldSouth

    Hopefully Charlie Strong will make the transition from DC to HC as well as Greg Robinson did. Go Cats.

  • Homyrrh

    You say Suh for Heisman and I say it’s a shame you’re not forming the majority here. Seriously…can any of us remember a more dominant defensive player in a recent frame of time? Did you see what he did to Texas’ O-line? IT was like every play–throw the guard down with the left and envelop the carrier with the right…and some scoop-the-QB-and-toss-like-a-rag-dolls. He’ll dominate in the NFL from day one.

  • Marinelli

    Coach Strong will be bringing Coach Gonzales with him to L-Ville to run the offense.

  • Marinelli
  • Brian

    I can’t agree more with the Suh pick, he is the most dominant defensive player I have ever seen. His stats are ridiculous and he faces constant double-teams. He actually returned two picks for TDs last year. Unbelievable. Too bad Nebraska’s offense is such an embarrassment, causing them to lose to Texas, Va Tech, and Iowa State by a combined 4 points. If they had last years offense (35pts 450 yards per game average, 2nd in the country in time of possession) they would be playing for a national championship.

  • Dan

    I think he may be the most dominant player period. Not just defensive. Who else has changed games single handedly. You might make a case for Gerhart with his power running style.
    I haven’t seen a college player, especially at DT, be in on every play like Suh was on Saturday. If he played the whole year like that then he should get all the first place votes for the Heisman and most of the second place votes too.

  • James

    Potent offenses are potent because of players. I doubt that Louisville has anyone explosive on offense so it really doesn’t matter what they run immediately. The blame on Addazio is pretty unfair considering the loss of Percy Harvin- he was clearly Florida’s best offensive player.

    I’d posit that the blame on Shawn Watson at Nebraska is pretty unfair as well. He isn’t exactly working with great talent at quarterback, although I suppose you can blame him for poor quarterback development. NU chose to reduce variance and ride their defense to a great season

    I think it’s extremely unfair to paint him as just “another guy.” I mean, NU’s offense was pretty awesome a year ago. They just don’t have very much talent on offense right now.

  • Kyle

    Chris- Thank you for mentioning my blog. I’m honored to have it mentioned on a website that is so well written and popular as yours. Take care

  • Spy Scheme

    For Charlie Strong bringing the multiple “4-3 under” scheme is one thing.

    Bring Florida caliber players is another. He will be challenged.

  • Anonymous

    Before UF, Strong did a great job at South Carolina under Holtz without UF level talent. He came in under Holtz in 1999 and turned one of the worst defenses in the SEC around, finishing in the top 20 nationally in total defense. He then moved to the 3-3-5 scheme to cover for lack of DL depth, get additional playmakers on the field in the secondary, and moved Kalimba Edwards from DE to OLB where he could make big plays; Carolina continued to finish near the top of the SEC in defense through his tenure. Louisville should be fine defensively.

  • mark

    I wonder how much of this at UT is due from Kiffin’s aggressive nature in the press towards other coaches and Slive especially.

    The Hosstesses by themselves are not a problem nearly every team has them and they can legally escort players around/near campus during official and unofficial visits even to prearanged parties. None of the previous constitutes a recruiting violation. The problem UT faces is the report these Hosstesses traveled hundreds of miles to visit games take players out to eat and that one received a university credit card.

  • Hor

    I think the barking carnival post was about what routes Texas should have run to try and beat Nebraska coverage not what Texas actually runs.