A page from Gus Malzahn’s (and Cam Newton’s) playbook (literally)

Say what you will about Cam Newton, but don’t tell me that Auburn doesn’t have NFL pass plays in its playbook (answer, they do).

Straight out of the playbook.

 

  • Turk

    Awesome stuff. NFL guys who say Auburn ran nothing but a “college offense” and don’t know what the pros are all about are idiots. Sure he ran a lot, but he did a lot of good things.

  • Jaime

    You think Cam Newton could even handle this? I’m pretty sure they told him who to look at and then took off running. Probably couldn’t even call these plays.

  • el_chupacabra

    As an AU alum, I watched every Auburn game last season, most several times. Anyone who thinks Cam had just one read, or just “took off running”, is either stupid or didn’t watch many Auburn games last season. His progression as a passer from game one through to the end of the season was obvious. Most of Cam’s running were designed runs, not the result of him taking off when his primary receiver was covered. Whether or not this translates to success at the next level remains to be seen.

  • DA Baracus

    It’s not that he didn’t run any NFL-type plays, it’s that he didn’t run enough of them to really evaluate his abilities in a pro offense.

  • Justmydj

    This the same stuff we run in high school.

  • shutyotrap

    And yet AU won the National Championship and Cam won every major Offensive Award in College Football. Amazing huh? Maybe what ever team you Einsteins coach, work for, or support should start running the same kind of plays. HUH? Every college QB has to have an adjustment period you bunch of Morons. And too much is made of snaps under center, 5 step drop, 7 step drop. Brady, Manning, Rothlisburger, Rogers, throw from the gun more than 60% of the time. Sorry to offend you experts.

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  • Anonymous

    Well, load any NFL playbook and you’ll see these same plays. This is obviously one sheet showing several plays; other pages in the book go into more detail for a single play against different coaches, and of course that is also what on field coaching and film study flesh out.

  • Dallas

    It kind of bothers me that people complain about what offenses college teams run with respect to how they prepare players for the pros. College football is an entity unto itself, where the vast majority of players won’t go to the pros. For them, it is the end, and they want to be on a team that runs what will win them games at that level, not what will prepare the two or three players on their team who may go pro for the next level. College football isn’t the NFL’s farm system. What happened to the days when people CELEBRATED the fact that college football had offensive diversity? I don’t want to watch college football where everyone runs the same offense like in the pros. I want to see the triple option and the air raid and the run and shoot and the fun-n-gun and the pistol and all of the other great offenses that make college football fun to watch for someone who’s interested in the strategy of the game. The fact is, Auburn won the national championship. Malzahn’s offense did exactly what it was supposed to do: win games. He didn’t get hired to get Cam or whoever else to the pros. He got hired to win games. If he sent his entire offense to the pros but the team went 1-11 he would get fired. If only two or three of his players go pro (Cam, Lee Ziemba and Darvin) but they go 14-0 and win the title, he has done his job. Maybe more coaches should be taking notes from what Malzahn was able to make work, rather than running a cookie-cutter pro system and getting beat by his teams.

    Also, notably, I saw the stat posted either here or Football Outsiders that said that Cam ran 43 times on designed passes all year. That’s 3 times per game. Stop acting like it’s the next iteration of Vince Young ghettoball. He was responsible for running an offense that operated at an extremely fast tempo with a fairly sophisticated run game and a wide variety of formations and special plays. Not to mention that, as you can see from this post, the Auburn passing game wasn’t much different than that of most of the pro-style teams, even if it was more play-action heavy and more vertically-centered than most. Also, he did lead the country in passing efficiency. If he was just another dumbass running QB who couldn’t handle a sophisticated passing game, how could he do that? Why wasn’t he making dumb mistakes and throwing tons of picks? 7 picks in 280 attempts vs. 30 TDs doesn’t look like a dumbass ghetto QB to me.

    Yeah, if you’re wondering, I’m an Auburn alum, but it just pisses me off to see people make nonsensical arguments about the alleged simplicity of Malzahn’s passing game (as well as assumptions that college coaches care if their offense is prepping players for the pros vis a vis winning games on the college level). In summation, haters gonna hate, players gonna play.

    /mike gundy

  • Tom

    So this page makes Cam look even dumber when Gruden asked him to name a single play from UA playbook he could not even do that and now we see they have do indeed have names for their plays.

  • Anonymous

    Well, the play name is exactly as Cam described: a two-digit number. He even says “36” which is shown above (for more background, the three refers to the player and the six refers to the route on the pass play, so 36 shows the “3” receiver running the shallow cross; note that 26 is the same play but with the “2” receiver running the shallow, and the other guys know their responsibility). The full words on there “Spread Rt 46″ includes the formation name, and in Auburn’s no-huddle that was called from the sideline often before the play name. So Cam was being accurate when he said he didn’t have a long play name, and used the example of “36” being a play name and you get up and run that.

  • Shakinthesouthland

    I suspected it had only 1 sight adjustment on most as a hot read, where did you get the playbook?

  • Chethammer

    I thought this very same thing. These are very basic HIGH SCHOOL pass plays. Every team has them, even the ones that run most of the time. This is just to keep the heat off after Gruden held him up for a half hour trying not to expose him too much. Come on people, he couldn’t name one single play they ran at AU. How is that possible. I’m not saying he can’t play QB in the pros. I’m saying that the team that drafts him in the first round on his physical tools alone is going to pay a huge price for doing it. 4th round at the earliest.

  • http://twitter.com/kacc56 Kevin Acciani

    I love looking at stuff like this, but honestly, those aren’t overly difficult concepts. Half of the routes are designed to clear defenders for another route.

  • Batsandgats

    I don’t know why you are spending so much time defending Cam Newton. The guy is an athlete but hasn’t shown that he has what it takes to be an elite NFL qb, and has further to go than Tebow, why weren’t there posts defending Tebow? Yes Cam can run, but I have only seen him use his legs to extend a play in the pocket TWICE. Jake Locker did this on the regular basis.

  • Mr.Murder

    Let the comp autodraft Cam for a mock I’m in controlling each NFC South team. Was on business but watched via cellphone, glad to get him but was relieved of the pressure to make that decision. Coach rivera loves a challenge and Cam is a work in that way, having him play his best would be a credit to anyone’s coaching career, Mahlzahn has hardware for it.

    He compares favorably to Freeman and the Bucs went 10-6. Mobile and likes big throws.

    Led a multiple set offense to the national championship and best in passing effeciency.

    Most of his actual mechanical breakdowns passing came in the workouts/combine without a passing coach around. Lost the bend in his knees and got too tall on throws, especially trying to simulate being under center. Look at his game tape and the emphasis was on throwing with bend in his knees most of the time, and those higlights are quite accurate.

    So being under center will correct some of that, emphasizing bend in the knees. Then it is pretty evident he was coached upon the point as well and operated with that intent in actual games.

    Thanks for the numbers explanation, Chris. Plays ending zero are mirrored or smash combo? When teaching plays I prefer to use actual combo names for install, combine combos with back routes and in three wide replace the back roude with your divide/crease for vertical combos or the option(jag) for you play shown on horizontal/control combos.
    Zip/zin motion(z-in motion) even/odd numbering tells which side.

    Wonderful. Remember watching a Mahlzahn team throw all over our local HS one year(double dig/ all verts) with no huddle and sideline signals. The HC here was big on Air Raid, he’s gone but much of the system remains intact. Interestingly Gus’ HS passer Mustain is also in this draft.

  • Anonymous

    Auburn’s offense doesn’t bother me. Cam’s inability to discuss and draw up plays does not bother me. Some players play at a very high level simply on athletic instinct, and he’s one of them. The reason I think Cam will fail in the NFL is because he’s late with his reads in the passing game. I saw it in every game…completed pass, went for yards, but was late. Cam’s adjustment period of getting rid of the football quickly in the NFL will doom him on the field. Off the field, I wouldn’t draft him simply because he doesn’t strike me as a guy that will handle 40 million dollars very well…if he wasn’t a QB I would be much less concerned about that. I also don’t think he will be as effective a runner in the NFL as people think. He’s simply too big. Escapability, yes…extend the play, yes….runner, no. Basically, I think he projects to be Daunte Culpepper at best, but won’t have Randy Moss in his prime….Ryan Leaf at worst.

  • Frank the Tank

    I’ve never been part of a system that uses numbers to communicate pass concepts: how are the rest of the receivers getting their routes from the call? I appreciate that a “36” is the 3 receiver running a 6, but how do the rest of the receivers get their calls?

  • SaturdayNightLights

    It was a summary of the sight adjust reads for wr’s and qb’s in the smash, z-drive, and mesh passing series. standard air raid passing offense at Auburn, not unlike many other FBS schools, for Cam Newton.

  • SaturdayNight Lights

    he drew up the glance route against single high!

  • SaturdayNightLights

    Gruden should have asked him to explain a concept rather than a play. That would have given the viewer more insight. He probably did and it probably fell on the cutting room floor because it was bad TV.

  • Idontwan2know

    First, I’m gonna go ahead and take this as an excellent sign that the reads in this offense were quite simple. If there was a page showing the progression reads against various defenses, *that’s* what we’d be seeing to defend Cam. Not a page with a few passing concepts that are used at every level of football.

    Spread guys seem to want to have their cake and eat it, too. They brag about gaining a gozillion yards per game with “10 base plays” (three guesses who said that), then get upset when people point out that the passing aspect of the offense is several orders of magnitude less complex than an NFL offense and that this will make the transition harder for QBs who played in it.

    It is not Rich Rodriguez or Gus Malzahn’s job to prepare a QB for the Patriots defense, or the Chargers defense. It’s their job to prepare their guys to play Ohio State, Alabama, etc. and they seem to do a pretty good job of it. So enough with the defensiveness. Achieving greater offensive success with fewer plays is a sign of a good scheming and coaching…but there is just no arguing that QBs from spread offenses have a much harder time transitioning to the NFL. Are some of the comments about the supposed simplicity of Auburn’s passing game inaccurate and over the top? Of course, but in the veritable ocean of inaccuracy and exaggeration that is the sports media and draft talk, it is but a drop.

  • Sven

    the thing is that it is like what killed the Run-n-shoot in the NFL anything “different” whole also being deceptively simpler makes the “geniuses” who run the teams look a lot less “genius”.

    The Gus bus would wreck about 2/3ds of the NFL IMHO assuming he could get enough people on staff to run a no-huddle that makes the K-Gun and Wicky-Wacky Wyche no-huddle look slow. Gus gets inside the OODA loop of the opposing defense to beat them not by having the grudenesque “Comet trusset 54 razor XL glide add on electro-shock passpro right……break” complexity.

  • Coryell15

    they probably don’t…..

    if I had to guess the routes the non called shot reciever run is tied into the formation calls sent in by hand signal when Gus is doing his version of the Peyton manning chicken dance…..

    Coach Malzahn uses zone passing from what I saw watching every Aubrun game last year and a several games during his run with Paul Smith at Tulsa…..the called shot reciever has two jobs….

    1) make the catch if open and

    2) draw someone off the backside or middle by sucking them out of their zone or man coverage….

    the idea that you have to be able to magically read five potential recievers prior to the snap or you are an imbecile is funny there are maybe 12 guys in the NFL that are “that good”, what you need to do is have two to three targets in your frontal brain and then the ability to recognize a blown play and adjust to the rush and find the open guy.

    You can make the argument that spread and R&S QBs are deficient in that skill from the Coryell school but I have to crank the wayback machine to find the last time a pro-set team won the Natl Championship with a non-spread athletic over read philosophy….

    what 2001-2004 so for the last seven years at the college level simpler and faster has beat what gruden wants.

  • Gabeh73

    Gruden had horrible offenses. He should be interviewing strong safeties.

  • Samcallan

    Plenty of college star QBs have not made it in the NFL. How many Heisman winning QBs have made it in recent history?

  • Idontwan2know

    Gus’s offense would work right up until your QB was broken in half. The NFL is an entertainment business and you don’t sell widgets with the face of your franchise on the bench.

  • Coryell15

    yeah I’ll tell Warren Moon about it….how long did he play?

    Fact is if it took having two workable spread QBs that may be the way it goes….

    the Lions R=S experiment was their last glory years…..the Oilers SHOULD have won a super bowl or two…..

    the Falcons are the Falcons.

  • Jacobmorris77

    Malzahn’s offense does not always run the QB. He did because of the kid he had. if they didn’t have Newton then they would of just used the RBs more. It just happened with his skills it added more things for the offense.

  • Coryell15

    what you think Paul Smith passing for 300+ yards in 14 consecutive games means Gus like the ball to be thrown some?

    heh

  • Brian

    I remember seeing most of these plays in NCAA ’03

  • Jonas Christiansen

    I think you got it backwards Frank. I think “6” denotes the concept they run (shallow/follow in this case) and “3” is the tag receiver, i.e. 3 runs the shallow. The backside receivers then have different routes dependent on formation and whatever. It is basically the same as saying Y Shallow.

  • Idontwan2know

    What does Warren Moon have to do with anything? Gus Mahlzan’s offense bears no resemblance whatsoever to what Moon ran in the NFL.

  • Coryell15

    Heard every criticism of the spread wrt to the run and shoot. “no TE means your QB will get killed etc etc” there are multiple ways to skin the cat.

  • Anonymous

    If anything, those “Gruden Camp” episodes illustrate the inefficiency of nomenclature that the ‘old guard’ coaching mentality clings to.

    If Cam can draw up some 9-word play or he can draw up a 1-word play…..BUT ITS THE SAME FREAKING THING, why would you use the long version?

    How many concepts do you really think you’re going to carry with you in a game?

    This is where Gruden’s pedigree and experience (the rote indoctrination of the 80’s Walsh system) has evolved (as Chris has pointed out repeatedly through the years) into the concise application of “Air Raid” – its essentially all the same thing

    http://brophyfootball.blogspot.com/2010/06/west-coast-offense.html

    Like Chris said, “open up any NFL playbook” and you’ll see how everyone is really running the same thing. So there isn’t any justification for making it harder than it has to be, other than “thats the way we’ve always done it”.

  • Anonymous

    “If Cam can draw up some 9-word play or he can draw up a 1-word play…..BUT ITS THE SAME FREAKING THING, why would you use the long version?”

    Exactly, if you drew up a shallow cross with a backside post and a dig route, and one team calls it “36,” another “Flanker Drive Scat X-Post” and another is “22 H Rip Z 4-stick H-scat X glance 82 fan BOB,” I think you might be better off with 36.

  • Anonymous

    As far as the board signals – it isn’t that complex and certainly speeds up the processing (so why slow it down?)
    http://brophyfootball.blogspot.com/2010/12/battle-of-boards-auburn-oregon.html#disqus_thread

  • Lop Huckawuckie

    An interesting look at Cam Newton as a passer prior to the National Championship game…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXe6m3TFIao&feature=player_embedded

  • JR

    God what a moronic post considering the body of work! What a moron you are.

  • shutyotrap

    http://www.youtube.com/v/DXe6m3TFIao
    Jaime…maybe you should watch this, since you obviously didn’t watch much of AU or Cam during the actual season. What a clueless statement that was..I thought this was “smart” football. Maybe not for everyone.

  • Mr Potato Head

    People need to get it through their heads….the NFL runs the most dated collection of offenses in football. True innovation comes from the High School level, esp in Texas. then it moves up to College…….the NFL is stuck in the 70s and 80s in terms of advanced offensive football.

    Sure, they may have bigger playbooks, but these are just variations and permutations of the same dated concepts….in the NFL you can be a couch potato and thrive at QB……you can’t do that in HS and you certainly can’t do that in college anymore.

  • Mr Potato Head

    People need to get it through their heads….the NFL runs the most dated collection of offenses in football. True innovation comes from the High School level, esp in Texas. then it moves up to College…….the NFL is stuck in the 70s and 80s in terms of advanced offensive football.

    Sure, they may have bigger playbooks, but these are just variations and permutations of the same dated concepts….in the NFL you can be a couch potato and thrive at QB……you can’t do that in HS and you certainly can’t do that in college anymore.

  • Mr Potato Head

    In 2007, the Patriots set an NFL record in points scored. They ran a spread offense and for the first time in NFL history, a team ran more than 50% of their plays out of the shotgun.

    Big deal…..HS and college has been doing that for decades. When these old fossil NFL types die off, you might see some new, advanced ideas progress. Until then, the NFL old white guy network will automatically dismiss anything and everything about HS and college, even though this is the true laboratory of advanced football ideas.

  • Mr Potato Head

    In 2007, the Patriots set an NFL record in points scored. They ran a spread offense and for the first time in NFL history, a team ran more than 50% of their plays out of the shotgun.

    Big deal…..HS and college has been doing that for decades. When these old fossil NFL types die off, you might see some new, advanced ideas progress. Until then, the NFL old white guy network will automatically dismiss anything and everything about HS and college, even though this is the true laboratory of advanced football ideas.

  • Mr Potato Head

    Kurt Warner the 2x NFL MVP wasn’t even a water boy in college….he couldn’t even hack D1.

    The difference between the NFL and college is huge and it mostly has to do with the NFL running a dated offense that requires crappy athletes….

  • Mr Potato Head

    Why can;t the NFL afford a minor league and develop players themselves? I thought the big bad NFL had it all….guess not. MLB can afford 5 levels of Minor Leagues, the NFL has zero.

    HAAHAH!!

  • Mr Potato Head

    The NFL is a wasteland of bad football ideas. If their pro system is so great, then why did 16 teams have a losing record last year…..? they all run the same crap……would it kill just one team to run something different than stick a statue back there and run a kiddy short passing game…?

    Can a single NFL run block anymore?

  • Mr Potato Head

    Jake Locker is a joke….check out his 3-20 vs Nebraska in Sept……wow….not surprised NFL teams think that can get it done in the NFL.

  • Mr Potato Head

    Now Ryan Leaf was a prototype NFL guy……never has a player with “college” skills been anywhere near as big a failure as Leaf…….Leaf exudes NFL….

  • Mr Potato Head

    Because the NFL does it this way…….whatever the NFL does is right….because they said so.