Smart Links – Trick plays, TESF, Gruden’s Game Plan, Play-calling Jargon, All-22 – 6/25/2012

Let’s bring this one back — the old “Starburst” play, run by, of course, Spurrier’s old Florida Gators:

- That said, not all trick plays are worth repeating. This one worked but, well, I think we can keep it on the shelf. The over-the-shoulder:

- The Crystal Ball Run reviews The Essential Smart Football. Also, Amazon dropped the price on the paperback version, and you can also find it on Barnes & Noble’s website.

- My small role in inspiring noted author and gamesman Spencer Hall to write this must rank among my greatest accomplishments.

- A scouting-report style look at Jon Gruden’s offensive gameplan.

- Kirk Ferentz now owns the “Stanzi.”

- Will NFL play-calling evolve into something simpler? I’m curious what role helmet-radios play in all of this. Also, there needs to be some argument for why they will not become simpler other than path dependence.

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Watch the left guard

While watching the clip below, that’s all you need to do: watch the left guard.

Getting excited for football season.

The Essential Smart Football: Now under $5 on Kindle

It looks like Amazon is running a deal on The Essential Smart Football for Kindle, as it is available for less than $5. The paperback is also available for under $10.

After the jump is a further update on the book (thanks to all!):

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Cool “trick” formation empty set series

Via Derek Leonard of Rochester high school. Note that the quarterback for Rochester was Wes Lunt, who is now the starting quarterback at Oklahoma State.

My favorite method for running a reverse to a wide (or slot) receiver

This method is very simple. I like it because it is not a reverse in the sense of being a true “trick” play, but instead you can actually count the blockers and evaluate your numbers at the point of attack and the associated leverage and numbers at the point of attack. The points are simple:

  • Fake an inside run to the side the reverse is going to, so the runningback can both fake a run and become a lead blocker to block an edge rusher.
  • Have the quarterback front out away from the side the reverse is going to.
  • The quarterback either fakes a quick swing or bubble pass or a true speed option away from the side the reverse is going to. Some kind of motion helps this; either “bullet” motion by a second runningback in the backfield or a slot receiver in “orbit” motion behind the quarterback, again in each case away from the side the reverse is going to.
  • The reverse player, the slot receiver, takes a narrow split and immediately begins his path towards the quarterback. His aiming point is two yards behind the quarterback. By taking the narrow split he can get to the opposite side quickly. The crease is often not all the way around end but instead just outside of it.

Gus Malzahn is the first I saw using the play, as shown below. Gus used it with orbit motion and a speed option look:

The above clip took place in Auburn’s spring game. In the first part of the video below, Gus shows how they used this very play to attack Alabama to the boundary side, as Saban and Kirby Smart have a strong tendency to bring a lot of “field pressure” — blitzes to the wide side of the field.

But Gus isn’t the only one I’ve seen use it. Dana Holgorsen has used it with much success the last few seasons, both at Oklahoma State and at West Virginia. In the first clip, Tavon Austin scores on an 80 yard touchdown run — in a blizzard — against Rutgers. In this circumstance, it is a great play in terrible weather conditions as it freezes Rutgers’ defensive players while West Virginia’s best athlete, Austin, gets the ball at full speed with blockers in front of him.

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Smart Links – MMQB, Newspapers, WVU, Fire Zones, Reddit, Solo Cups – 6/11/2012

Peter King of Sports Illustrated and Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe on The Essential Smart Football.

- Go vote for your Verbies.

- Bruce Feldman on West Virginia: “The biggest change is that everyone’s getting along with each other.”

- Is Buffett Right About Newspapers?

- Matt Bowen on fire zones from a Cover 2 look.

- Quickish and Dan Shanoff are now a part of Gannett. Congrats to Dan.

- The culture that is Reddit.

- Simon Schama on Shakespeare’s histories.

- The most important thing you’ll see today.

- Finance bloggers on what has changed or shaped how they think.

- Like Smart Football on Facebook.

Grantland’s One-Year Anniversary – Quickish’s Top 25 List

This list, from Dan Shanoff’s inimitable and essential Quickish (other than my little bits of course) is full of awesome stuff. All of them are great pieces, but I particularly recommend all the ones on here from Brian Phillips and Tom Bissell. I’m just honored to be a small piece of such a great group:

Grantland 1-Year Anniversary Greatest Hits Top 25

Today is the one-year anniversary of Grantland’s launch. After looking through the handy Quickish archive of Grantland tips, here is an assuredly incomplete list of the 25 best sports things the site has published, with designations appropriate for the occasion:

“Rushmore” — Four Things People Think About When They Think of Grantland:

“Growing Up Penn State” (Michael Weinreb)
“B.S. Report: Barack Obama” (Bill Simmons)
“The Importance of Ichiro” (Jay Caspian Kang)
“The Malice at the Palace: An Oral History” (Jonathan Abrams)

“Pantheon” — 10 More Things People SHOULD Think About When They Think of Grantland:

“The Garden of Good and Evil” (Katie Baker)
“The Future is Now” (Chris Brown)
“The Fiberglass Backboard” (Bryan Curtis)
“The Greatest Paper That Ever Died” (Alex French And Howie Kahn)
“Wilt vs. Elgin” (Dave McKenna)
“The Rise of the NBA Nerd” (Wesley Morris)
“The Long Autumn of Roger Federer” (Brian Phillips)
“Tim Tebow: Converter of the Passes” (Brian Phillips)
“James Brown’s Augusta” (Wright Thompson)
“Occasional Dispatches From the Republic of Anhedonia” (Colson Whitehead)

“Also Receiving Votes” — 11 Other Things That Represented the Grantland Ideal:

“The Murder of Tayshana Murphy” (Jonathan Abrams)
“A Requiem for the Dream Team in Philly” (Bill Barnwell)
“Madden and the Future of Video Game Sports” (Tom Bissell)
“Ode to the War Daddies” (Chris Brown)
“What Would the End of Football Look Like?” (Tyler Cowen)
“An Evening With Jose Canseco” (Bryan Curtis)
“Three Man Weave” (Chuck Klosterman)
“A Fighter Abroad” (Brian Phillips)
“Soccer’s Heavy Boredom” (Brian Phillips)
“Novak Djokovic: The Shot and the Confrontation” (Brian Phillips)
“Oden on Oden” (Mark Titus)

 

Grantland: Charlie Strong, Joe Lee Dunn, and the Birth of the 3-3-5 Defense — An excerpt from The Essential Smart Football

An excerpt from my new book, The Essential Smart Football, is now up over at Grantland:

Even with his success, Dunn’s career can also be a warning about the 3-3-5. He’s held down jobs with good schools, but he never was able to break out beyond schools like Memphis, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss. While at their best, his defenses were suffocating and hard to plan for; when the talent dropped off, the aggressiveness once viewed as a virtue seemed to bleed over into a lack of discipline and a penchant for giving up big plays. Since then, he has coached at Ridgeway High School, New Mexico State, and now Division III McMurry. In football, pragmatism rules, and inflexibility — even if it’s with a great idea — leads to the rest of the landscape passing you by.

His legacy is nevertheless secure. Dunn is essentially the father of the 3-3-5, and the coaches that now use it, even if only in certain situations, are his descendants. The original “30 stack” 3-3-5 is no longer the defense of the future. As with most schemes, age has exposed many of its weaknesses, and many of its leading practitioners, like Charlie Strong, have moved on to other fronts and use it as only a subpackage. But in the age of pass-first and spread offenses, the principles underlying it — movement, disguise, aggressiveness, and an extreme focus on speed — are more important than ever.

Read the whole thing, and the book can be purchased here.

Ray Bradbury has passed away

Sad news. I was never a big science fiction fan but I always loved Bradbury’s work, and even more than that I love his raw gusto for the act of writing. He described this in his short book, Zen in the Art of Writing, which is a must read for any person who has ever tried to put words on a page, and has both struggled with it and loved it at the same time. Bradbury was a firm believer in just a few things, but among them were doing what you loved and writing every single day. He wrote Fahrenheit 451 at the UCLA library on typewriters he rented for ten cents every half hour.

My favorite Bradbury story involved his writing of the screenplay for a film adaptation of Moby Dick, to be directed by John Huston and star Gregory Peck. Bradbury struggled with the writing; indeed, he struggled with just getting through Moby Dick. Until finally the dam broke:

It was seven o’clock in the morning.’

“I awoke and stared at the ceiling as if it were about to plunge down on me, an immense whiteness of flesh, a madness of unblinking eye, a flounder of tail. I was in a terrible state of excitement. I imagine it was like those moments we hear about before an earthquake, when the dogs and cats fight to leave the house, or the unseen and unheard tremors shake the floor and beams, and you find yourself held ready for something to arrive but you’re damned if you know what.’

“I am Herman Melville.”

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Smart Links – Approval Matrix, Phil Steele, Illiteracy, Food Trucks – 6/4/2012

My radio hit with Doug Farrar and Rob Rang.

- Iceberg lettuce remains in its rightful place while something else is surely mislabeled.

- The greatest 7-on-7 team ever.

- A great — and depressing — article.

- Phil Steele ranks the SEC’s coaches.

- What an article on bankruptcy looks like when the author has clearly never read through an actual bankruptcy docket.

- The globalization of food trucks. A good thing, in my view.

- George Soros’s buzzworthy speech on the euro and the Cliff’s Notes version.

- MLB and boy shorts.