Much has been made of the similarities between the offense Dan Mullen ran at Florida and the one he uses now, and there are a lot of them. The wide-open, spread running attack that won Tim Tebow a Heisman Trophy in Gainesville has paid huge dividends in Starkville, even before this historic season. If Dak Prescott can keep winning, there’s a good chance he’ll be the next Dan Mullen pupil to be accepting that historic trophy in New York.
Then again the Heisman ceremony is still a long way off, and so is any talk of a playoff appearance, especially if you ask Dan Mullen.
To the outside observer, though, the Bulldogs appear to be playing with house money. In a season where no one predicted they’d be anything other than a footnote in what was already considered to be the toughest division in college football, they’ve beaten three-straight top ten teams, and made it to the top of the polls faster than anyone in history.
To this day, Vince Lombardi personifies winning. The principles of toughness, perseverance, and leadership he laid down so many years ago are still taught by coaches everywhere. However, with so much of the Lombardi mythology based on intangibles, it’s often forgotten that he was an excellent strategist as well.
His offense, especially the Packer Sweep, like everything else was an extension of who he was. A simple offense that was repped over and over again in practice everyday allowed the players to have a huge amount of confidence in the coach and the plan each week. Having a reduced number of plays meant that they could be practiced and ran successfully against a larger number of defensive looks.
Contrary to popular belief, Lombardi did not simply run the Packer Sweep left and right no matter what the defense did. He had a system, simple but effective, with answers to whatever the defense could throw at him. Of course, the offense was built around the famed Lombardi sweep, but each additional play acted as a constraint to keep the defense honest.
The exact details of the sweep play are not as important as the reasoning that went into designing the offense, as well as the straightforward way the responsibilities are explained. Most of the defenses these plays are drawn up against are out of date, but what we’re seeing is a great example of the chess game in its infancy. Lombardi is playing the role of the technician with a small number of tools to fix a small number of problems, as well as anticipating a few more. The process is what’s important, not the result.
In Part 1 of this 2-part article on the Classic Packer offense, we’ll get into the x’s and o’s of the famous Lombardi Sweep, complete with diagrams from the actual Lombardi Playbook and video of the coach himself explaining the responsibilities.* Continue reading
In an interview conducted before the season started, but just posted on Thursday, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King had a great conversation with future Hall-of-Famer and pizza baron Peyton Manning.
The interview goes all over the map, including Manning’s take on the new laws out in Colorado that have directly affected pizza sales in the state (Hint: He’s doing very well).
Of course, my favorite part was reading what he had to say about playing the position that’s made him a very wealthy man. Manning was asked what advice he would give to rookie QB’s just starting in the league, and he had a great answer: Continue reading
Bill Walsh was a famous proponent of planning as much of the game as possible in the office during the week in order to reduce the number of decisions and potential headaches come game day. This post is full of ideas that I took from other coaches, including Walsh himself. A couple of the points I talk about here were inspired by things I read in clinic notes from the innovator during the 1980’s. You can read those here.
1. Vary your formations. Changing up your formations may not seem like a new idea (mostly because it’s not), but it’s even more important to do so early on in the game.
This is especially useful if you run a different offense than the rest of your conference, or conversely, if the film you watched features a defense playing against an offense that bears no resemblance to yours. If you’re a spread team, you probably won’t get too much out of film that has the opponent defense facing off against a Wing-T.
Don’t just think about the formations themselves, but also where you’re lining up your passing and running strength. If you’re facing a defense that likes to set their extra adjuster to the field, make them adjust right away. Continue reading
NOTE: This is a slightly modified version of a blog post that appeared on All22Video.com. Even though the site is no longer functioning I thought it would be good to preserve the information from that site.
Chad Morris has made quite a name for himself of late, especially during the last few seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Clemson Tiger football team.
Morris is a longtime Malzahn disciple, having learned the style of offense when both were still high school head coaches, and he credits Malzahn for saving his job when Morris was on the hot seat.
Read on to learn more about what makes the Clemson screen game tick… Continue reading
My latest post for FishDuck.com is up, and you can read it here.
In this one, I dive into some of the legalities surrounding the NCAA’s case, and why Mark Emmert and co. have already lost the foothold in the battle over the term “student-athlete.”
“Once the issue of money turns into an issue of wages, then the public (and, more importantly, the court system) will begin to see athletes not as students playing an extra-curricular activity in which the schools themselves have no responsibility, but as employees who are generating revenue for said schools, and who can draw workers’ compensation in case of injuries incurred while playing sports.”
One commenter below the story raised a legitimate fear, that by paying athletes the cost of attendance will rise because schools will be in a bidding war for the top players in the country. However, the O’Bannon decision suggested that a cap on compensation would be possible, and probably the most practical. It’s hard to imagine the leaders of the five power conferences putting a model in place that forces everyone to outspend one another.
The power conferences could seek some form of anti-trust exemption that has worked so well in other sports, thus allowing a form of salary cap, whether it would be a max per player or per school. It just doesn’t make sense that the schools would agree to bid against each other all day long. Nobody wants college football to follow Major League Baseball’s example, with a luxury tax instead of a true salary cap.
CLICK HERE to read the whole thing.
As you’ve probably heard by now, the San Antonio Spurs made history yesterday when Head Coach Gregg Popovich hired Becky Hammon to be the first full-time women’s coach in NBA history.
I have no idea how well this sort of thing is going to work out, though it’s hard to see Popovich hiring anyone if he didn’t feel they were qualified. The point of bringing up the USA Today article which covered the hiring wasn’t about making history, it was about something else in the article, a quote from a year ago when Hammon had been working with the Spurs after Popovich discovered that she wanted to coach after leaving the WNBA. Continue reading
Chip Kelly recently made an appearance on Ross Tucker’s podcast and talked about the kinds of things the Eagles are trying to accomplish this year, along with discussions about what worked well and what they need to improve on.
As always, Kelly gives meaningful answers to questions without being long-winded, and his take on something has a tendency to seem like the most obvious thing in the world once he’s done explaining it, to the point where you’re wondering why you never thought of it that way.
As most of you know already, I’m working on my next book, this time looking at Gus Malzahn’s offense, not just this past year, but over the past few seasons.
In going back and watching FSU-Auburn while researching the new book, I came away with about twenty pages of notes, and I wanted to share a few things that I found really interesting. One factor that stood out was the use of blitzing to contain the Auburn run game. Continue reading