Disturbing Trends: Part II

This is the final installment of my Disturbing Trends series.  So as not to drag this out to long, I am going to finish the final three points in this post:

2. We are too slow to get plays in
3. We don’t try and confuse defenses at the line of scrimmage
4. We don’t stick with the hot hand

2. We are too slow to get plays in
This is not just in response to high flying, up tempo offenses out there, but more about getting the most of what you have.  Getting the plays in fast, allows your team to break the huddle with time on the clock and set up, see what the defense is going to do (or what it might do) and make all your calls.  it is very difficult to get your protections set up or to audible out of a play or formation if you only have a handful of seconds before the ball is snapped.

Getting plays in is also a symptom of something more important.  If you are calling plays that are intended to build upon each other or intended to promote each other, fumbling for plays or over analyzing them indicates a lack of fluidity in your plan. If  you look at play A, and give it certain scenarios, and then have an idea of what you do depending on how the results of that play compare with your scenarios, you should have just a handful of plays you want to use each play.

For example, if you call a stretch run, your thoughts are probably that this play will either:

1. Get a touchdown
2. Be a big play (20+ yards)
3. Be a first down
4. Get 6+ yards
5. Get 4+ yards
6. Get < 4 yards
7. Lose yards
8. Catastrophic (fumble, huge loss of yards, injury, whatever)

Of those eight scenarios, 1 and 8 require no additional plays, so you don’t really need to worry about them.  2 might be difficult because now you have to look at what the new down and distance is and where you are on the field.  (Like if you are starting in your own endzone and get a 40 yard run, or you are on the 50 and get a 40 yard run.  Where you are on the field requires totally different strategies).  First down gives you a fresh start to try something new or build on what you did but 4, 5 and 6, the most common scenarios, give you a narrow view of what you can do or allow you to have a few limited options you want to try based on the results of that play.

If I want to use the run to set up play action, then a gain of 6+ that is not a first down might make me want to run again and re-enforce that play action fake.  At the same time, while a gain of 3 yards might not be optimal, I now might try and do that play action pass or try another run to see if i can get a more manageable 3rd and less than 4.   Every play should feed of the ones before.  If you are constantly taking your whole play clock to call a play, that leads one to believe that there was not much preparation for the previous call.  There are always exceptions, but perpetually late calls indicate a break down in the play calling, not necessarily just isolated incidents or lack of hustle and communication by the players.

3. We don’t try and confuse defenses at the line of scrimmage
You have an amazing system with the fly sweep that can be far more than just a trick play as OSU uses it.  The motion is confusing, the mesh after the motion can be confusion, you have the option to roll out and bootleg off of it or just force the defense to cover the whole field by running away from the sweeper.

OSU has the tools to be tricky at the line of scrimmage, and when you are counting on very inexperienced receivers to make plays, why not help them out by making the defense think a little bit and maybe take a heartbeat longer to commit to their coverage.

OSU has never done truly effective fakes, and so this has been a systematic issue since the days of Derek Anderson.  It is a simple thing, but if all plays look the same, pass or run, defenses have to account for all options.  That is much harder than just seeing a lame hand fake and being able to peel back to cover.

4. We don’t stick with the hot hand
This one drove me the most nuts this weekend.  Storm Woods was playing like a man possessed.  He was running hard, catching the ball and blocking well.  As much as I like the other backs, there was no reason to take the ball out of his hands, or to keep him off the field.  If someone is playing well, and getting yards, go to them as much as you can. Same with Mullaney.  He was able to win those jump balls. If separation from the defenders is not happening, go to the guy that is making the plays while being covered.  I know you cannot do it all the time, but it just seems like OSU will do something well for a few times, and then when it gets stopped once, they dump it and go to something else.  We give up on things too quickly and end up looking disjointed.

This was a lot of negativity from me, and I hate it.  I just feel like it is important for us to look at what is there, look at what is just mistakes and what is systematic issues and address the latter as well as the former.  The players are shoring up their issues every week, but coaching issues that have lasted for three or four years need to also be addressed.  Even if it is heart wrenching and pride killing, one of the main duties of this team is to win games, and if the coaches could be doing a better job, they need to.  The talent is there because of changes they made to recruiting.  The experience is there because of the senior laden team they have, and the physical progress is there because of the work the players put in.

The work that is needed is on the sideline, and mostly on offense. The work needed is as much in game management as it is in what types of plays we have and how well the players run them. Fix that, and OSU will be far more efficient and will see much better results.


One thought on “Disturbing Trends: Part II

  1. blowcheese

    Great post Peter. And constructive criticism is not necessarily “negative”. It’s nice to get away from the pureforeskin.net groupthink. Let’s face it- the Beavs O looked like shit and that is on the coaches and it has become the norm.

    Anybody who has called plays in a football game (even in youth football like me) knows that you don’t always have a flow or have a play for the situation. There are too many variables and not enough time (more so for the professionals) to immediately have the right play call. But if you are going to be wrong, be wrong quickly. be more DECISIVE when you are unsure. Riley slows down on 3rd and long or during defensive changeouts or when its at a critical point. That is wrong. I am amazed and shocked his own staff allows this to continue. That goes to the heart of the question about who he hires and why. Is Garrett there because he doesn’t make waves? Well that’s not going to work.


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