Michigan Museday in Doctor Rocklove

Submitted by Seth on February 14th, 2012 at 4:53 AM

Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the I

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Things of offense: Manliness, shotgun, impeccable timing, and options

Over the last few seasons we've talked a lot in this space about how shotgun formations and the spread are awesome, while anything else will steal your children. This is a myth—all offenses that score points are equal—but you could almost be forgiven for thinking that we are spread zealots when we have a tag called "i am a spread zealot no foolies." Most of the time we were saying "this is what Michigan should run right now," but to say most of the authors here haven't been partial to Oregonian offenses is an insult to your bias sensors.

Part of this is because I haven't always used the most correct terminology, or used sets and formation and personnel and philosophies as interchangeable when they're not. What we haven't said very much is talk about other offensive philosophies and why they are awesome too. What I'd like to do then is rectify some of that.

HUUUGE thank you to Tyler Sellhorn and Steve Sharik for looking over this stuff, then saying "omigod this is only like 10% of what offense is." Everything below that is correct came from them, but as you read I ask you only think of them as exasperated professors watching their theories butchered by a student presentation.

I. What's the Point of Offense?

Scoring is the point. How you get there is what we're talking about, and that's strategy. Offensive strategy comes down to a fairly simple concept: find a thing that you can beat a base defense with most of the time, then build in things around it to force the defense to defend you with a base defense. Anything can be adjusted to, but adjustments are usually unsound and thus make some other aspect easier than it should be. Where coaches disagree is on what that thing is, and whether to get so good at that as to be nigh unbeatable at it, or to get good at other things that beat base defenses too. What follows is a layman's oversimplification of offensive formations, and how they relate to offensive philosophies by a layman who needs to oversimplify it to get it.

* That link is to Chris Brown's "Why Every Team Should Apply the Constraint Theory of Offense" and you should read that.

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II. Terminology

When I started trying to make formations and philosophies into the same thing, two coaches I asked about it said don't do that because personnel groups matter more. A formation is two things: personnel (how many RBs and TEs vs. receivers are there) and set (how they line up). Common backfield sets are the words you're probably most familiar with: a. I-Form, b. Split-backs, c. Ace, and d. Shotgun.

a.I-form b.PRoset

c.ACE d.SHOTGUN

But these words are only part of the set nomenclature. "I-Form" means the RB, FB, and HB are more or less in a line (though the FB is often shifted one way or another). "Split-Backs" refers to where the RBs are lined up, whereas "Shotgun" just means where the quarterback is lined up. What you know as "Ace" is actually referring to personnel, i.e. there is just 1 RB in the backfield. In the above examples both (c.) and (d.) could be called "Ace."

"Pro Set" is a specific alignment of the wide receivers, where one side has a receiver (the "flanker") plus a tight end, and the other side has just one receiver, the "split end."

The part defensive coaches are most concerned about when they're matching is not the set but the personnel. Football coaches express personnel in numeric terms you may have heard them yell at their wards but never understood: Twelve! Twenty! Twenty-One!, i.e. 12, 20, 21. These numbers, like "43" for a 4-3 defensive alignment, are combo digits where the first refers to the number of running backs out there, and the second to how many tight ends. So "12" means there's one running back and two TEs, "21" is two RBs and a TE, "11" is one RB and one TE. A third digit in the representation is the receiver count, e.g. 104 personnel means 1 RB, 0TE, 4 WRs.

So the four examples above are a.) I-form 21 Pro, b.) Split-backs 21 Pro, c.) Ace 11, and d.) Shotgun 11.

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III. Why Set Matters

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DeSimone c/o DetNews | Melanie Maxwell

There are tradeoffs to how you line up your backfield, especially in the running game. A running back who starts the play behind the quarterback (a., b., or c.) will get the handoff a few yards behind the line of scrimmage with a running start in the direction you want the ball to go, but if the QB's getting a shotgun snap that handoff occurs six feet behind the line of scrimmage, and if the RB is moving it's not forward. This is a considerable disadvantage—one second after the snap a ball carrier about to hit his hole at full speed is far preferable to one at a dead stop far behind the line of scrimmage.

"Spread" has virtually lost its meaning but it's basically the opposite of bunching, the idea being to trade off some of the "I can put lots of guys at any point of attack on the line really really fast" for a measure "I can make your defenders pull apart to open up more space for my athletes to beat yours in space." I couldn't find a coach to back me up on this but I see horizontal spreading as a sliding scale between how much of the line of scrimmage in the box can you attack quickly with lots of guys (less spread) or how much of the line of scrimmage outside of the tackles can you attack quickly with one guy in space (more spread). Again, this is a tradeoff between things that are (specific talents nonwithstanding) equal.

Three of the four formations above are made to threaten this quick-strike downhill runner. Having the QB under center gives the RB in an Ace formation that head start. With multiple backs you threaten such quick attacks at multiple gaps in the line (think of two chess bishops next to each other), though when you go to 20-something personnel the defense will likely match.

I-form gets the added bonus of a fullback hitting that same hole even faster, either as a lead blocker or the main attraction. This is the key to such favorite I-form plays as SLAM! and WHAM! and BUHBUHBLAM!!! So long as the O-line can do its job the speed and power with which such an attack hits a base defense can make it good for 3 or 4 yards consistently. I've just described part of the base premise of Manball philosophy.

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IV. Philosophies

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There are plenty more than this, but the four concepts that seem to cover most offenses  you need to know are:

  • Manball: My bigger- and stronger- and faster-than-you-are running back and his lead blocker are going to attack any spot between the tackles so fast your defenders won't get there until we're already in your backfield. Requires: Talent across the board. An OL who can't block 1-on-1 can screw up the play; an RB who loses all momentum at the moment of impact is giving up an extra YPP.
  • Timed Passing: aka "West Coast:" A symphony of route design and timing that puts defenses into a progression of impossible choices, living and exploiting those precious seconds when your zone defender can't be in two places at once. Requires: Quick-thinking, –seeing quarterback with strong arm and laser accuracy, WRs with great hands for catching under duress, pass-pro OLs.
  • Mesh/Read Passing: Spread, mesh, read, and gun, so on any given play, at any spot on the field, we can put it where you ain't by having QBs and receivers read your coverage and go right to the holes. Requires: Smart QB and receivers who can quickly read a defense, receivers with speed to open up those holes, incessant drilling so that QB and WRs are "in sync" or "on the same page."
  • Option: Isolate an unblocked defender so that he's forced into a Catch 22; when he makes his decision, take the option he didn't. Requires: QB with running back skills, quicker OL, WRs who can sustain blocks.

All of these are unbeatable strategies if executed properly against a base defense. And it's important to note that none are restricted to any one formation. What was so cool about the Zone Read, which uses an option philosophy, is that it does so from the same formations NFL offenses normally use for their Timed/Read passing games, preserving all of those passing advantages for the constraint plays. At Michigan Rich Rodriguez ran a ton of QB Iso out of a shotgun spread, sending a lead blocker (at times the RB, an H-back, or a pulling guard) into the intended gap and having Denard Robinson (and Feagin before him), act as his own I-back. It's also key to remember that most offenses use many concepts, in fact most NFL offenses today, though they call themselves West Coast, all use concepts that are very Air Raid.

However the formations do have some relationship to the above philosophies. To way oversimplify, here's a matrix of base effectiveness for each common formation and the four above philosophies ("1" being "Most Effective, and "4" being "Least Effective"). Also I'm comparing the formations to each other; West Coast still works quite well out of the I-form I'll have you know.

Shotgun Spread (11, 12) I-Form (21, 20, 22, 23) Split Back (20, 21, 22) Ace (12, 13)
MANBALL 4. Can work as a changeup (e.g. the delay) against defenses keying on ZR or pass, or with a great rushing QB. 1. Multiple RBs and blockers quickly hit many points of attack with forward momentum. 2. Two RBs mean either can get the handoff and get outside the tackles quickly, but any lead-blocking plays are slow to develop. 3. Single RB hits the hole with momentum, but no lead blocker. Power is mostly a check against passing.
Timed Passing (West Coast) 3. RB can stays to help with protection and QB should have time to survey, room to step up into the pocket. But because it's a pass-heavy set the defense will be keying on it, meaning less time to throw. 4. Relies a lot on play-action, rollouts, and the running game being good enough to make opponents cheat on it. Works if D must respect PA. 2. RBs and OL are already set in pocket formation. Great formation for a good Pro-style QB/WR combo to let routes develop. Usually frees a TE or RB in the flat as an outlet. Lack of spread hurts. 1. Horiz. spreading helps, drop-back is timed with routes. PA, threat of screens, end-arounds, and pre-snap motion force D to play it honest.
Mesh/Read Passing 1. QB is immediately in position to see and throw, receivers are spread horiz and vert. However lack of running threat lets D tee off with 9-techs, etc. Most NFL offenses today are this. 4. RBs are mostly limited to flat routes that you can high-low and TE is only inside receiver, but D overplaying run should get WRs good space for curls and slants. 3. Two receiver options are RBs starting far behind the line so meshing routes is difficult. Threat of run establishes pass options. 2. Receivers can be arranged to spread horizontally or bunched to flood a zone, RB acts as center threat.
Option 3. Spread 'n Shred. It gives up ground and is slower to develop. Options btw dive and QB off-tackle; Option 3 is a pre-snap read (bubble screen). Speed option gives up the dive for Options 2 or 3. 2. Nebraska under Osborne. The triple-option is often run from this set since Option 1 (the FB dive) can happen super-quick. 1. The triple-option ("Houston Veer") was born from this set. The playside RB is the dive, and you can option off of multiple front 7 players. 4. One of your "backs" is a receiver so the way to run Triple-O is to put that guy in motion (think Denard Jet), which basically means you're converting to an I-form.

No the formations are not created equal. Some are better at running, others passing. But the thing to remember here is the rule of constraints: if you can do something well from a formation that doesn't do it well, the things that formation does do well are now available to you. Oregon's offense works so well because running so effectively from the spread means defenses have to cheat against the run against an essentially passing 6180157606_e0a358684b_zformation. Meanwhile MANBALL offenses are best if filled with great passing pieces, e.g. Henne and Braylon/Avant, because if the safeties are backpedaling away from a 21 I-formation, well yipee.

When Brian complains about DeBord it's often because his playcalling was so predictable. The crime here wasn't anything to do with Manball as a Philosophy, but in not using the pass as a constraint, and in telegraphing which side the play was going—more often than not behind Long/Kraus because the other side was Mitchell/ Ciulla/ Schilling/ Ortman/ McAvoy/ Riley/ Whatever—by shifting the fullback to that side. Defenses would do the unsound thing, and there would be zero constraint. Conversely, when I was making yards-per-attempt cases from the UFRs earlier this year it again wasn't anything wrong with Manball the Philosophy, but because the offensive personnel's strengths were the wrong strengths for that philosophy. By 2015 I'm guessing that will have reversed.

Next Museday: a grossly oversimplified matrix of Rock, Paper, Scissors for each philosophy, and the RPS counters by defenses for each, then a long discussion of which philosophy I think Borges really believes in.

Comments

blueheron

February 14th, 2012 at 7:15 AM ^

"... by shifting the fullback to that side ..."

That little bunny hop that the FB used to do drive me crazy (even more than the RS freshman wide receiver coming in to block). It ultimately caused me to give RichRod endless slack just for doing something other than DeBord.

I'm looking forward to seeing what Hoke and Borgess end up doing with the offense once they have their preferred pieces. Hopefully it will be the best of all worlds.

UMgradMSUdad

February 14th, 2012 at 5:54 AM ^

Great post.  I appreciate the information.

I know it's not a popular opinion around here, but the offense's goal should sometimes be more than just scoring points.  The whole team's goal, offense, defense, and special teams, is of course to score more points than the other team, but there are times when the object of the offense should include playing keep away from the other team's offense and not just scoring.  The obvious situation is with a lead, the ball, and two minutes left in the game.  Sometimes the wiser move than trying to score quickly is to make sure the other team doesn't get the ball back.  There should still always be the threat of scoring, and scoring quickly, even when trying to run out the clock, otherwise the other team's defense can just sit and wait for the run in the middle of the field, but running time off the clock is usually an easier task than scoring points.  

There are other situations, too, where the offense should have goals in addition to scoring, such as fighting for field position.  I agree that first and foremost, the offense's goal is to score.  But there can also be secondary goals in play for the offense at the same time, ones that involve making it more difficult for the other team to score.

Jasper

February 14th, 2012 at 7:27 AM ^

"I know it's not a popular opinion around here ..."

With all respect, I usually class that with the complaints that every one of RichRod's recruits were "too small for the Big Ten." (Hey -- some of them, like Brandin Hawthorne, clearly are more suitable for a second-tier conference. Even Hawthorne, though, has had his moments, and I think he's a useful niche player.) That might account for its lack of popularity.

You speak as though there's this magical team (Alabama, perhaps) that has a choice, when starting from their own 20, of scoring right away or methodically marching down the field four yards at a time.

Yes, it would be wonderful if such a team existed and if it played in the Big House. I'd love to watch a line full of Jake Longs smash an SEC defense into a pulp. But, football is way more complicated than that.

Are you honestly suggesting that a team with a quick strike offense should choose *not* to score and, instead, just assume that nothing will go wrong for the next 10-15 plays as they attempt to "eat clock?" That seems to be the case here. Really -- you're assuming that there's a team that is guaranteed at least a few yards every time it runs an MB play.

Oh, and what would the score be at the end of each of those drives? I'm pretty sure Michigan would get 6/7 points in both cases.

DonAZ

February 14th, 2012 at 9:25 AM ^

You speak as though there's this magical team (Alabama, perhaps) that has a choice, when starting from their own 20, of scoring right away or methodically marching down the field four yards at a time.

When Wisconsin went from Tolzein to Wilson at the start of 2011 I thought they might just have exactly that kind of offense -- huge, physical line that can move defenses at will ... and with the added benefit of a mobile QB capable of keeping defenses more honest and thus giving that huge, physical line even more ability to move defenses at will.

Didn't quite work out that way.  And I'm not exactly sure why ... offensive line not as good as thought?  Defenses found a wrinkle?  The Bielema effect?  Don't know.

Anyway, that's to your point -- football is way more complicated than that.

imafreak1

February 14th, 2012 at 10:15 AM ^

We just witnessed a Super Bowl in which all the football literati agreed that the Giants made a mistake by scoring a TD (or scoring too soon.) There is a real world precedent for the "correct" choice being to use clock and not score.

Otherwise, I think this debate is riff with false choice and equivalencies.

1. Trying to score does not equal scoring. No one (except the critics of the Giants) are turning down automatic TDs in favor of running clock.  As the clock becomes a greater factor, one wishes to strike a balance between safe, clock eating play calls and aggressive risky play calls. Which segues into the second point.

2. The 'quick strike' offense. I don't know what this means. As I mentioned above, no one is turning down free TDs. However, it would be nice if the offense had the ability to move the ball slowly and conservatively on the ground when time was a factor. If your offense is based on trying to set up low success rate but high reward 80 yards plays (quick strike?) then that would be (to use a popular term) vastly suboptimal for late game situations. If you're Oregon and your offense is based on high success rate high reward 80 yard TDs plays then by all means keep scoring. Good luck getting that offense going against OSU or Alabama.

Hoke is trying to develop an offense that is multifaceted and can be very aggressive or methodical. This is a good thing. It is not boring or defeatist.

El Jeffe

February 14th, 2012 at 12:04 PM ^

"no one is turning down free TDs."

Your problem is that you're too reasonable. You have to think like a knuckle-dragging troglodyte who thought that the problem with RichRod had at least as much to do with his fancy-pants, trick-play, dread-locked offense than with his atrocious defenses because it didn't win time of possession.

unWavering

February 14th, 2012 at 9:30 AM ^

All of these other goals you mention involve making it harder for the other team to score, which wouldn't matter as much if your offense scored a touchdown anyway.  For example, if you have the ball with two minutes left and are up, why should you care more about playing 'keep away' than scoring and putting the game away?   The offense's only job is to score, the defense's only job is to get the offense the ball.

EDIT:  And I'm not talking about going for the deep bomb when you are up by 3 on your own 20.  I'm talking about driving down the field just as you would if it were the beginning of the game tied 0-0.  Keeping the ball away from the other team and scoring aren't mutually exclusive, and the same goes for getting field position.  Often those two things are a direct effect of trying to score.

M-Wolverine

February 14th, 2012 at 11:40 AM ^

In those situations, the only way the other team wins is to have their offense get the ball. So if you can run out the time you win the game. Yes, there is the odd defensive score that could change things (one of the many reasons why offense gets conservative in those situations), but just scoring doesn't make sure you win, because you're giving possession away.  It's the defense's job to get it back, but you've given up control of the situation. Because, however generally improbable, the offense doesn't HAVE to give the ball back after they score. The onside kick.  So even if you go up two scores (which the idea being that you didn't have a perfect, eat up 8 minutes AND score drive) they can score, and score again. They can't do either if they don't have the ball. Now, having a designed, perfect clock eating offense isn't something you can guarantee, but it's really no more or no less than guaranteeing you'll be able to score quickly rather than give the ball back quickly.  Ideally you want the offense that keeps the ball a long time and scores each time, but if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Volverine

February 14th, 2012 at 8:26 AM ^

I actually agree with what this guy is saying.

How many of you remember the 1998 Rose Bowl? (Yes, when we won it all against WSU) One of the things that made their final drive unsuccessful (and would have been less successful had the refs called that offensive PI) was that WSU's offensive time constraints forced them to become one-dimensional. And having to rely on the pass against a D that featured Charles Woodson wasn't going to work.

If Michigan had a 4-point lead and the ball with 8 minutes left in the game, and a great pass D, obviously getting a TD would be your first choice. But wouldn't it also be nice to be able to take the game down to under two minutes and force the opponent to pass its way down the field? What if that opponent is an Urban Meyer offense without a QB with a laser arm (as most of them will be)? 

Even when they miced Tom Brady for the Super Bowl, going into the last drive he asked his team for a 7-minute TD drive, acknowledging, in my opinion, that taking time off the clock was almost as important as scoring points. 

In my mind, eating the clock involves things like playing aggressively, but not too risky. So, for example, using the Super Bowl as an example again, Brady doesn't make that pass to Welker but instead takes a check down to keep the clock running. Even if Welker makes that catch, it was too early to try a down-the-field throw when you didn't need it. It was only second down. Take the underneath and keep third downs to third-and-shorts. Especially with weapons like Aaron Hernandez and Welker who had been getting open on short routes for most of the game. 

Seth

February 14th, 2012 at 11:30 PM ^

Note that all of these philosophies revolve around plays or packages that can gain about 6 yards per play. Usually the "quick scoring" plays are in the playbook as constraints. When an offense looks like they're a quick-strike force, that usually just means they found a way to get long passes or runs completed againt the defense. This almost always means the defense did something unsound.

Really all you're talking about is whether a coach is "setting up" his constraint play to go for big yardage, or if he's using it with the intent of making the main thing work. This can get very situational. This is why I prefer to keep "running the clock" out of the conversation with offensive strategy and keep it to discussions of certain instances. Playcalling is a lot of luck, however down, distance, distance to the end zone and time are measurables, therefore there is usually a correct answer as to whether it's better to slow down the game or speed it up. Otherwise you're talking about whether it's better to play hurry-up and extend the number of tirals in the game, but again this is really based on the current makeup of the game and how many more touchdowns the offense thinks it needs to score to win based on how their defense is doing. I remember an Oregon drive vs. Stanford that started with 6:00 left to go and if it was anyone else but Oregon you'd think they were crazy not to try to score here but instead they drove down at such perfect 5- and 6-yard intervals you knew they were executing exactly what they wanted to.

There are other factors. Bad depth on defense means you might want to limit how many plays they're on the field.

But this is all small potatoes next to offenses generally gaining whatever the defense gives them.

Alumnus93

February 14th, 2012 at 10:23 AM ^

nice work OP..... in my mind this validates why I thought Hoke and staff wanted and signed Houma, because his film shows exceptional speed hitting that hole at FB in the I-form.  Granted, the aspect ratio on the videos were skewed a little horizontally, making everything look extremely 'downhill'  but I think the same nonetheless.

UMGooch

February 14th, 2012 at 10:52 AM ^

Thanks Seth. I've watched football for years, but definitely haven't been able to keep up with all the formation science. I look forward to the rest of these Museday postings.

cozy200

February 14th, 2012 at 11:13 AM ^

First I do not claim to be as in depth as anyone here.  Im interested to hear where we go from here.  Schemes almost seem to be half speed if you will for Denard.  I say that in terms of opening the full "playbook".  While I agree for the sake of our entire offense going forward we should run what we want to run from here on out.  We all know Denard has had to adjust unwillingly at times it may seem.  Case in point, enormous holes in the backfield, me yelling "run run run" at the tv, which usually turned into an incomplete pass.  Lets be honest we all know Denard will most likely NOT be a qb in the NFL.  It almost seems like he has changed so much to fit our system, and not the other way around. 

I understand you want everyone on the same page for Shane or Devin, but to the point of scoring at will, we had plenty of missed opportunities last season holding Denard back.  I guess my question is whats better, allowing Denard to be himself and utilizing that speed to win games, or installing Borges' offense no matter the cost?  I agree they have adjusted their system, but in my opinion not that well.  All of the jump balls, opponent miscues etc are never guaranteed, neither is a "quick score offense".  This game has so many variables that a guy like Jake Ryan throws a monkey wrench into any offense.  Forgive my terrible grammar, i just woke up. 

cornndblue

February 14th, 2012 at 11:49 AM ^

I thought the same thing about the offense at the beginning of last year keeping Denard from running, until I read a couple of interviews by Brady and Al stating that Denard always had the option to run if he could make it a positive play.  But Denard was still learning how to differentiate when he should go and when he shouldn't, so there was some hesitation to run until later in the season when he felt comfortable and understood the offense more. I don't think we will see too much of this indecision this year, having run the offense for a full season and becoming comfortable and more understanding of what he and it is trying to do, at least I sure hope we don't.

M-Wolverine

February 14th, 2012 at 11:51 AM ^

And where Denard was "being held back"? (Because I think you can go back to 2010 and get a lot of moments where everyone is mentally yelling RUN!!, yet he didn't take off...it just seems like something he's had to be continually drilled to do for a couple of years, but both staffs).  Did our offense hold him back? Or was it the creation of more weapons, at RB, etc., as they were healthy/matured, that actually made us a more dangerous offense (scored more points against better teams, etc.)?  I think Denard got held back statistically, but not win-wise, as you seem to feel occurred. When he was most held back was when he was hurt in the middle of the season...but it could be argued that holding his touches back allowed him to get healthy for the end of the season, which went pretty well...for him, and the team.

I think a lot of people (not just you) put a lot on a bad Sugar Bowl outting where admittedly Denard didn't have his best game (though I argue that since one of his receivers was MVP, not a horrible one), that the offense was a disaster.  And I think that doesn't give nearly enough credit to a VT team that only lost to 2 teams all year with some athletes, coached by a really good DC who had a month to prepare, in a game where our at least 2nd best offensive player was hurt before the first play even began (and we'll never know how effective he would have been, or how much it hampered him).

Gitback

February 14th, 2012 at 11:33 AM ^

Love this.  Good stuff. 

I think you meant "...having Denard Robinson (and Forcier before him)..." not "Feagin."  That threw me off for a sec... I was all like "wha?" then I was like "no..." then I was like "oh...".

Seth

February 14th, 2012 at 9:35 PM ^

No, I meant Feagin. In 2008 every once in awhile he'd put Feagin in there and run, well, Man-ball QB ISO. Everyone knew he wasn't going to throw it, and he ran anyway, and usually got good yardage. RR did this with Denard in '09 too.

RR didn't really run man-ball with Tate in '09. Since Forcier didn't know the playbook all that well, the best way to describe RR's usage of him was spread-'n-shred in the first half, then run "run around and stuff" and "moxie" when we got too far behind. He was a far better quarterback as a sophomore, when RR's few West Coast concepts (e.g. the high-low) were written into the offense. Forcier really looked like a great West Coast QB. People forget now that when the 2010 offense was shredding the statistically good Big Ten defenses, it was when Forcier came in (Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois) post-Denard ding and flung the ball around.

M-Wolverine

February 14th, 2012 at 11:43 AM ^

But adding up your "rankings" it says to be the most versatile formation for the styles of play is the two back system, with the Ace being the least flexible (and shotgun and I about the same).  Not sure if that translates, but it was some fun division, I guess.

Seth

February 14th, 2012 at 9:27 PM ^

I left that out since it was a lot of circular explaining of something I thought was already pretty clear but yeah, Split-Backs Pro is a balanced formation, and Ace with the QB under center is a passing-ish formation that is meant to maintain the run threat.

I wanted to put a rating 1 to 10 for each but I found my ratings were misleading. None of these sets are purely for one or the other. However the I-form is probably best described as a running set that maintains a strong passing threat, and the shotgun ace is a strong passing set that maintains somewhat of a run threat. Sellout-for-one sets are like shotgun 5-wide (when you don't have Denard), or all of those old fashioned running sets like Wing-T and Maryland I yada yada.

That most teams use these versatile sets tells me that most coaches prefer to threaten both pass and run on every play. The full-on Air Raid or Option offenses are extremes of a certain philosophy; they would seem to be the exceptions that prove the rule that offenses generally employ multiple philosophies.

Eye of the Tiger

February 16th, 2012 at 2:33 PM ^

This is, IMO, by far the best 'Museday' column you've done yet.  It really helped clear up a lot of things, and made a complex topic relatively easy to follow.  Good work, and I hope to see a defensive "part 2."