this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
LSU on offense against OSU
I have proposed the theory that the major Big Ten teams play an archaic brand of offensive football which has propped up the defenses—most notably of OSU and M. These defenses were then unmasked in post season play. Tressel’s defense, in particular, has been shredded by a more modern offensive philosophy in the past 2 bowl games. Rather than using labels like ‘shot gun spread’ that will leave me open to snotty purists dismissing me by noting “Florida and LSU run completely different offenses”, I will explain what I see as the salient aspects of the ‘modern offensive philosophy’ (or ninja football) that I’m talking about here.
- First you have to reach an athletic minimum to avoid being overwhelmed by OSU. Sorry Purdue.
- Keep the defense off balance by spreading the field with multiple potential playmakers.
- Use a variety of formations and action to disguise what may be a limited selection of plays—including run/pass variation.
- Have some method of dealing with the pass rush that will result from more electrons and fewer fat guys. Here you can go with a mobile QB or quick developing plays.
- Many teams who run these offenses do so out of a shotgun. I’m not sure that is a requirement but may be tied to point 4 (running QB or helping the QB make faster decisions.)
Compliments of that hulu site that was posted here I watched the entire championship game from last season to answer several questions.
Things LSU did and did not do.
- LSU was not stopped by the OSU defense. There was some lingering belief that LSU had a good string of short field TD’s before OSU solved them. This was probably perpetuated by the incorrect announcer babbling and the methodical way LSU worked down the field (they certainly looked less impressive than Florida.) The announcers went on and on about the 2nd half stops by OSU. The first, they incorrectly called a 3 and out, LSU drove to the 50 (2 first downs) and Flynn made his first mistake with the intentional grounding leaving an unmakeable 3rd down (which was promptly forgiven by the roughing the punter.) The second stop was Flynn’s second mistake--messed up timing pattern. Jenkins made a nice play but was not covering his man at the time or else he would not have been near the ball. The only times LSU didn’t score were due to their own mistakes—dropped pass followed by a missed snap, intentional grounding, INT, running out the clock (2 line plunges and a throw away.)
- LSU’s offensive success was not due to awesome athletic ability. Even more so than Florida, LSU’s offense was not considered a juggernaut. They succeeded by making good decisions, avoiding mistakes, and keeping OSU off balance—not by going toe to toe with OSU’s athletes.
- LSU did not have a QB who was a running threat and yet still ran more than they passed. LSU ran out of a variety of formations, including empty backfield (to Jacob Hester.) They did not rely on Hester plunging into the line except on short yardage and clock killing.
- Although Flynn played a great game and made excellent quick decisions not much was asked of him except to make accurate, short passes to open primary receivers. Flynn had several weird, never going to be successful runs, that I wonder may have been pass plays that weren’t immediately there.
- LSU did not stop the OSU pass rush (or dominate run blocking) and it didn’t matter. LSU ran quick developing passes that avoided having Flynn standing in the pocket and getting buried by Ghoulston. They threw one, wildly successful, long pass. LSU’s running was varied in terms of formation, ball carrier, and inside/outside keeping OSU from keying on any one thing.
- In big spots LSU went to their TE in the middle of field, usually off some action to draw Lauranitis and it worked stunningly all 4 times. Illinois did this also. The TE caught 2 TD’s, took a third to the 1 yard line, and made a big 3rd down conversion. I can only assume this was scouted and planned deliberately.
Mistakes M has made in the past.
- Not enough options and variation. Presnap, people paying attention could predict the play including the ball carrier or receiver. If you do this Tressel will stop you.
- Aside from hoping for “super great blocking” no mechanism for handling the pass rush (2003 was the only year the “super great blocking” happened.) The pass rush be damned, Henne will stand in the pocket waiting for Ghoulston to bury him while M receivers complete intricate, late breaking patterns miles downfield.
In conclusion, I do not believe that Florida played the game of their life or ‘nobody could have beaten LSU.’ Both myths which are presently being perpetuated by the media. I think OSU’s defense and defensive coaching (possibly since Dantonio left?) have weaknesses which can be exploited and RR is especially qualified to do so.
Note: I have some thoughts on the other side of the ball which I may be posting along with my somewhat depressing prediction for OSU in 2009 (lest anyone get the idea I am predicting OSU’s immediate ruin or an M victory in 2009.)