Upon Further Review: Bama Offense vs Oklahoma, a Hokepoints

Submitted by Seth on January 15th, 2014 at 12:14 PM


Years ago, Brian posted a UFR of a West Virginia game in order to provide his readers with a feel for how the Rodriguez spread offense worked. Nussmeier's offense at Alabama isn't so different from Michigan's under Borges in 2013, and indications are he plans to be a little more dynamic than he was under Saban. But I wanted to get a feel for the subtle differences, for the kinds of plays he ran with the kind of talent Michigan has been recruiting. And I've been meaning to actually try my had at UFR-ing because I know a guy who learned an awful lot about football that way. So I put Nussmeier's last game under further review, in hopes of maybe separating what's Nuss from what was just the Tide.

I went with this year's Sugar Bowl since they faced a defense whose talent level was relatively close to their own. Unfortunately Oklahoma's 30-front defense is closer to Michigan's than any M opponents save Notre Dame, and things you do with a fake plastic tree at quarterback are not the same you do with Devin Gardner, Most Alive Man on the Planet. I've since been downloading some games from his time at Washington and might do one of those next week if this attempt doesn't put me off forever.

Meta note: UFR is really Brian's thing. I am an interloper here.

FORMATION NOTES: Nothing very fancy. Not a lot of fullbacks; when they went to a Pistol H-back formation usually it was just a U-back they motioned into that spot. They do have a hybrid Shotgun-Pistol formation that's Pistol (QB is 5 yards behind L.O.S.) with the RB offset like in the gun. This isn't uncommon:


Oklahoma spent a lot of time in the 3-3-5 nickel above that was sometimes more like a 4-2-4-1, by which I mean the Quick (Deathbacker, stand-up WDE, Thing-Roh-Was-And-Shouldn't-Have-Been) came up to the line, and they nearly always kept one safety deep. When Bama subbed in an extra TE they went to a 3-4 with a safety playing the backside OLB; I called this "3-3-5 Eagle."


…and later started cheating this (not like how Bama does) like hell to the field:


Later on they did this then audibled out of it, moving Striker to the other side of the line; Bama hit them with a 43-yard run down the middle.

Oklahoma also used lots of Okie and things like Okie, which led to this:


From top to bottom on the line of scrimmage that is a WDE/OLB rusher type, a 3-tech, the MLB, a 5-tech, and the box (not Spur) safety, and two more safeties in the LB area. I asked for help and decided to call it 3-3-5 Dime to differentiate it from the nickel look; usually the MLB backed off into coverage anyway.



[after the jump]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
A25 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 3-4 Pass Long Handoff Cooper 15
Just a quick step back and pass (CA+, 3, screen). Amari Cooper(+2) runs by the filling safety and SAM for a big gain. Want to RPS since Sooners were caught looking for the IZ but SS had a chance to stop for 3 yards.
A40 1 10 Shotgun 2TE Twins TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Pass Bubble Screen Cooper 53
Okla's DT is lined up off the LOS and stunts. Bama motions the U-back, O.J. Howard, to the strong side and runs a bubble (CA, 3, screen). Howard(+1) walls off the outside defender, WR Kevin Norwood misses his crackdown but comes back to get just enough. LB and SS are now closing in at the sideline then Cooper(+3) whoops them both and outruns the returning CB, is finally run down at the six.
O7 1 G Ace TE Twins 1 2 2 4-4 over Run Zone Right Yeldon 5
This looks like tackle over with U bunched right up agains the Y; Howard has his hand down and is an inch away from an illegal formation. Okla rolls a safety down to that side but Bama's got numbers (RPS+1) to playside. Norwood has to choose a safety or corner, goes with safety. Yeldon(+1) dances around the corner, who combines with LB to tackle at the 2.
O2 2 G Goal line 2 3 0 4-4 over Run Iso Yeldon 2
MANBRAAAAAWL. OC Ryan Kelly(+1) was a putting a DT on the bus, lead blocker Brian Vogler(+1) thumped a LB, and the pile lurches 2 yards into the end zone.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 13 min, 1st Q. For those keeping score, Cooper was Rivals' 6th WR in 2012, OJ Howard was a 5-star and the top TE of 2013, Norwood was the 22nd WR of 2009, TJ Yeldon was the No. 2 RB and 12th player overall in 2012, Kelly was a 3-star and the 6th center in 2011, and Vogler was the 9th ranked TE in 2010.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
A24 1 10 Shotgun Trips 1 1 3 Nickel Over Pass Verts McCarron Int
Three receivers go vertical and instead of either one-on-one matchup McCarron picks Norwood with a safety and corner underneath and another safety overtop. Overthrow goes right to the overhang safety who intercepts. (BRX, 0, 0/0) FIRE NUSSMEIER!
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-0, 10 min, 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
A25 1 10 I-form TE stack 2 1 2 3-4 Eagle Run Inside Zone Yeldon 2
Okla brings a safety and LB to the line so it's almost a 5-3. RG Leon Brown(-1) releases but can't get to a fast-reading MLB because Kelly(+0.5) has crumpled a 6'6 NT right in his path. FB Fowler(-0.5) has to choose one of two unblocked LBs and plunks WLB who's coming outside. MLB can sit in the hole and tackle. RPS-1 for running into an 8-man front.
A27 2 8 Shotgun 4-wide trips 1 0 4 3-3-5 Pass Deep comebacks White 63
Okla rushes both wings and sits MLB in spy. Picked up, nice pocket, McCarron zings (DO, 2, protection 1/1) to well-covered White on a comeback route. Corner is on his back at the reception but White(+2) breaks loose at the sideline, jets right by a safety, and gets to the 10 before a CB with even more speed appears and tackles. Replay.
O10 1 G Pistol 2TE Twins 1 2 2 Okie 2 Run Draw stretch Yeldon 1
Pass look doesn't fool any Sooners. That MLB#20 again is blowing stuff up and needs a name: Frank Shannon, a RS soph who was 2nd team All Big 12. Okie has him basically a nose and he quickly gets playside of Kelly(-1). That's already going to squeeze the hole but WLB#42 (freshman Dominique Alexander) was shooting into the hole like the James Ross of your dreams. EMLOS on backside was blitzing so no cutback. RPS-1 but hat tip to Oklahoma's linebackers.
O9 2 G Ace Twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass Curls McCarron 4
Bama trying a triangle, Okla shows a blitz but backs that guy out and slants the line away from him. Kelly blocking nobody, DT gets into and shakes Brown(-1), flushing McCarron, whose reads are all well-covered anyway. McCarron(+1) now rolling, fakes a downfield pass, and lugs his way around a DE who bit to get a little closer to the goal line. (PR, N/A, protection 0/1)
O5 3 G Shotgun 4-wide tight 1 0 4 Okie 1 Pass Fade White Inc
Flashback of NWern this year, except an RB who can block means TA instead of sack. Okla brings seven and causes the Kouandjios to screw up their slide protection. Kouandjio71(-1) doesn't see the corner blitzing and takes the WDE then passes him off and takes the DT from Kouandjio77(-1), who then watches the WDE twist past him. Two unblocked dudes now coming; Yeldon stands up a late third blitzer to give McCarron time to toss it out the corner of the end zone. (TA, N/A, protection 1/3)
Drive Notes: FG(27), 10-7, 7 min, 1st Q. FIRE BORGES!
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
A20 1 10 Pistol 2TE Twins 1 2 2 3-4 Run Inside Zone Henry 4
Bama has numbers to the left. Good blocks by Kelly and Leon Brown(+0.5 each) to push DL off the ball but 8 in the box means no more than the OL can get them. RPS-1
A24 2 6 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Under Run Outside Zone Henry 7
A good example of zone blockers working together. Kelly(+0.5) gets a good seal, Kouadjios77(+0.5) releases and knocks back the MLB, Kouadjio71(+0.5) cuts the backside DE to prevent pursuit. Brown(+1) downblocks the playside DT and passes him off them releases into the playside LB. RT Austin Shepherd(-0.5) didn't get his DE as far down and gets knocked back when the DT is handed off to him. Vogler(+0.5) accepts the DE and rides him just far enough to the sideline to make a small crease that Henry slips through. MLB disengages and tackle past the marker.
A31 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 3-4 Eagle Pass Sack McCarron -7
PA vs 8 in the box. O.J. Howard(-1) releases without impacting the DE, who runs right by Kouadjios77(-1), McCarron has no chance. Brown(-1) was losing his guy, could have been flagged for an obvious hold. (PR, N/A, 0/1) EO1Q.
A24 2 17 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Curls White 9
Safety playing off on 2nd and long so White takes his route a little deeper and McCarron hits him in stride. (DO, 3, 0/0)
A33 3 8 Shotgun 4-wide trips 1 0 4 Okie 1 Pass Levels White 67
Never seen Mattison do this with Okie. Okla attacks with seven then two back into a Cover 2. Kouanjio77(-1) again losing his guy, gets there to force a last-second spin but McCarron has to throw off his back foot. White(+2) is two--about to be four--steps ahead of the safety but back-foot throw gives the DB a shot at an ankle tackle. He misses that and it's six. On replay you see Henry(+1) with a texbook reaction to the fake Double-A gaps, bouncing outside to wipe out the safety blitz. (CA, 3, 1/1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-14, 14 min, 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
A25 1 0 Pistol H-back 1 1 3 3-3-5 Pass PA Smash Bell 7
Okla walks the Spur up and he comes. Play-action freezes the linebackers (RPS+1) but that rollout looks dangerous from the Pistol. Easy high-low read. Bell takes a long orbit that nets an extra yard. (CA, 3, 1/1)
A32 2 3 Pistol H-back 2 1 2 3-3-5 nickel Run Power Yeldon 16
Motions the FB from a U-back to H-back position, runs power to the other side. Kelly and Brown combo the nose, Brown may have been held while trying to release. Shepard(+2) gets a seal on a DE lined up outside of him, Kouanjio77 and Fowler pop their guys, and Yeldon(+1) jets past the MLB Brown couldn't get to.
A48 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Go Cooper Inc
Okla slants and brings a corner, picked up calmly by Yeldon. McCarron ignores the open guy (Bell?) on that side to chuck one to Cooper, who runs an inside-outside and might have a step. Underthrown and to wrong shoulder, Cooper gives a little Bama-always-gets-away-with-that shove to the CB, who had a shot at the interception, but still breaks it up. Kouandjio77 still lost on slide pro, manages to keep his guy off with one arm while shuffling back thinking he's got to help his brother. Results based: (IN, 2, 1/1)
A48 2 10 Pistol offset 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Run Inside Zone Yeldon 5
Blocking tries to catch Okla with the slant they ran last play, catches them blitzing frontside so cutback. Shepherd(-1) and Brown supposed to combo NT but his slant puts him right into Brown. Shepherd hesitates a little too long before finding the LB. Yeldon(+1) powers through them for 3 momentum yards. RPS+1
O47 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 dime Pass Slants Cooper 16
Showing MLB and safety blitz, both back out at snap. SDE left for Yeldon(+1) who submarines him Vincent Smith style. Okay-placed ball that Cooper(+1) muscles in at the sticks. CB on the ground, White(+1)'s half-assed block creates and accidental traffic jam (results-based) and Cooper can trot for an extra 10 yards. (CA, 2, 1/1)
O31 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Run Outside Zone Yeldon 6
McCarron sees defenders stepping up, checks to outside zone. Well-blocked with Kelly(+1) and Brown(+1) executing a textbook combo on the NT and MLB. But Howard(-1) was shoved back while everyone else went downfield so so Yeldon(+1) has to cut back into the unblocked safety. He breaks that tackle and does that A-Train thing to turn 2nd and 7 into 2nd and 4.
O25 2 4 I-form 2 1 2 3-4 Run Tackle Iso Yeldon 3
MLB#20 (Frank Shannon) read quickly and shot into the lead blocker, meeting him at the L.O.S. Guy does that, the play should be dead. Howard(-1) got off late and again ends up 2 yards in the backfield. And Koaunjio77(-0.5) had a free release but can only slow another LB. But Kelly(+0.5) gets a seal and Brown(+1) keeps shoving his guy, and Shepherd squeezed through to clear out a safety, so Yeldon can get within inches of the 1st down.
O22 3 1 I-form Big 2 2 1 Goal line Run Iso Yeldon 2
They get it. Nessler says it's the first I-backfield he's seen all night. [Looks up one play]
O20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 Pass Slip screen Cooper 7
Remember Threet being terrible at throwing screens? McCarron is the opposite of Threet here. Screen is sold very well, and that makes up for a defender in that flat. Brown(-1) confused on who to block, goes for guy Yeldon is blocking, ends up just blocking Yeldon but Kelly(+2) came in like a boss, taking out one guy and getting in the way of another. Kelly's pile slows Cooper until backside DE closes from behind. (CA, 3, screen)
O13 2 3 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Run Inside Zone Yeldon 2
Bama motions White into U-back spot, he doesn't block anyone. DT has perfectly timed the snap so Brown(+1) just rides him past the play. Kelly(+0.5) and Kouanjio77(+0.5) have pancaked the NT and both are moving on to the MLB. All that good work is undone by Shepherd(-2), who doesn't bother to impact the DE and then turns around once he's past him, and Vogler(-2) who can't do anything but jump on that DE's back (Refs+1) as that guy takes down Yeldon.
O11 3 1 I-form Big 2 2 1 Goal line Run Outside Zone Yeldon 3
Kouanjio71(+1) rides a DE out of the hole he set up in, FB pops the MLB, and Yeldon(-2 for fumble) can slam for a 1st down, however Kouanjio77(-0.5) has lost the pad level battle and been shoved into this same hole. As proof that God hates bad pad level, Kou77's elbow pops the ball loose; it rolls to a pack of Sooners and is returned to the 35. FIRE FUNK!
Drive Notes: Fumble, 17-17, 5:26 2nd Q. As a reminder where God stands, Stoops almost dumb-punts from the Bama43, calls timeout, converts the 4th and 1, then they score on the next play.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
A17 1 10 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 Run End-Around Fake Inside Zone Henry 11
Come to this a tad late. White in end-around motion doesn't fool the Spur (RPS-1), who cuts off the edge and seems to have Henry trapped. Meanwhile several gaps to the left Kouandjio71(+2) is donkeying a DE. For a moment his brother can only marvel then he remembers he's supposed to block and grabs the MLB. Henry(+1) cuts to that side after getting the WLB to commit to a frontside gap, is run down after the 1st.
A28 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 Pass Inside Smash Bell 6
Neat play where the two outside receivers run short ins and the inside receivers look back to see whether it's a quick pass and they should block, or if they ought to try a pattern. Cooper is more open on the left side but McCarron sees soft coverage on Bell and hits him. (CA, 3, 1/1)
A34 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Inside Smash McCarron 4
Same play, CBs are sitting on it (RPS-1). Pressure arrives, no minus on Kouanjio71 since he handled it, but Kelly(-1) got spun and McCarron has to bail. He points at a covered Cooper like he's going to throw it, which gets an LB to bite and get in the way of a DB, so  McCarron(+2) can jog past both guys for a 1st down. (SCR, n/a, 1/1)
A38 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 Pass Flood Cooper 5
Okla is blitzing the boundary CB, McCarron and Cooper read that and hook up on a little curl for five. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
A43 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Verts McCarron Inc
Brown(-1) can't get in front of a DT despite plenty of space and a little holding help from Kelly. McCarron gets away but blocking angles now dead and he has to toss it to the sideline to avoid a sack. (TA, n/a, 1/1)
A43 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Okie 1 Pass Bubble Screen Norwood 9
TE Howard motions outside and looks back for the bubble, but Okie blitz but again Brown(-1) is swam past to again put McCarron in immediate peril. McCarron escapes and again starts rolling toward the sideline, is about to throw away when he finds Norwood coming back, puts it only place it could go, Kevin Norwood keeps his feet inbounds and reels it in while falling. (DO, 1, protection 1/1)
O48 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Deep outs Yeldon Inc
Protection holds fine against 4-man rush but McCarron doesn't trust them and bails after a couple of beats. Now he sees Yeldon coming open, tries to hit him deeper while running to the sideline and wings it. (BR, 0, protection 1/1)
O48 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Inside Smash Cooper Int
Remember a few plays ago when they blitzed and he went to Cooper? They've adapted. McCarron sees backed off coverage and points before the play. Okla blitzes Double-A gaps and the Spur atop that, McCarron goes to his outlet Cooper, cornerback jumps what he knows is coming, and 320 million Earthlings who are sick of Saban escort the CB down the field with peals of schadenfreude. I've asked Brian if you still chart this "BR" when the QB is going to eat linebacker in a heartbeat. I guess so. (BR, 0, protection 3/4, RPS-3) FIRE KIFFIN!
Drive Notes: Interception, 17-24, 2 min, 2nd Q. Next drive starts with 1:05 left.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
A45 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Okie 1 Pass Deep outs McCarron Inc
Six coming and McCarron just chucks it OOB in the general direction of Bell. (TA, n/a, protection 2/3, RPS-1)
A45 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Okie 1 Pass Snag Yeldon 4
Routes all covered (RPS-1), Yeldon stays in to block then runs a short pattern. Dump-off for four is basically zero in this situation. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
A49 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Okie 1 Pass Verts Yeldon 19
Well blocked by Kouandjio77 and Shepherd, who both funnel inside in time to catch their stunts, but Brown(-1) is shoved into McCarron and it's throw or die time. This time Yeldon(+1) isn't accounted for underneath and once he turns and has momentum it's 20 yards. (CA, 3, protection 1/2)
O32 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-2-6 Dime Pass Stick Norwood 6 (PEN+5)
Norwood's pattern is a 5-yard out from the slot, CB doesn't let him. Bailed out by an Okla player not getting off the field in time, which stops the clock and gives Saban his timeout back. (not charted since I don't know if McCarron saw it was a free play)
O27 1 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-2-6 Dime Pass Sack McCarron -9
This DE/OLB/Deathbacker (#19 Striker) has been rushing outside Kouandjio71(-1) the last two drives and finally beats him. (PR, n/a, 0/1)
O36 2 14 Shotgun 4-wide trips 1 0 4 3-2-6 Dime Pass Drag Norwood 21
Four-man rush handled well for two beats until Brown(-1) lets a DT in. McCarron has to roll, chucks off his back foot to Norwood with half a step on a crossing route and nails him in stride. Norwood gets OOB at the 15 to set up an easy FG, which they miss because lolBama. (DO, 3, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(32), 17-31, EOH. This must definitely be the most fun anyone has ever had UFR-ing the losing team. FIRE MILLEN!
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
A29 1 10 Pistol offset 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 Run Zone Read Yeldon 8
Nussmeier runs the zone read. Six states away, a blogger's heart grows six sizes. Striker obviously isn’t prepared because he keeps contain...on A.J. McCarron...(!!!!); give. The MLB (#42 Alexander; #20 is playing Spur here) is too, as he jets into the C gap. Kelly and Brown clear out the NT with a double-team, but Vogler(-1) has given up ground to the 3-tech who threatens to close for no gain. Shepherd sees this and peels back to help. Since MLB went away on his own this gets yards before striker tracks him down. RPS+2
A37 2 2 Shotgun Trips 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Penalty False Start Kouandjio71 PEN-5
Striker at Spur, shows blitz, Kouandjio71(-1) jumps.
A32 2 7 Ace 1 2 2 Okie 2 Run Inside Zone Yeldon 4
Kouanjio71(+1) seals the frontside "end" (a LB), and Vogler kicks the blitzing safety. Kelly(+1) controls the NT alone, Kouanjio rides a blitzer to the ground, and Brown can release for a second-level block on the WLB. Yeldon tries to cut inside of that to cut off the filling MLB and slips. Good example of a team that knows its base play responding to a non-base front.
A36 3 3 Shotgun 2TE Twins 1 2 2 5-3 eagle Pass Drag Howard Inc
Okla with 8 in the box and playing man, and OJ Howard comes sorta open on a basic pick play, but Kouandjio77(-1)'s guy has gotten into him and bats it at the line. (BA, n/a, 1/1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-31, 14 min, 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
A40 1 10 Pistol 2TE Twins TE 1 2 2 3-3-5 eagle Pass PA Smash Cooper 7
Henry in at RB and they fake a handoff which gets the MLB to bite (but nobody's in his zone) and results in that weird rollout and Spur in McCarron's face. Back-foot throw to a very open Cooper takes him a little off his feet and prevents YAC. (MA, 3, 1/1)
A47 2 3 Pistol H-back 1 2 2 3-3-5 eagle Run Power Henry 5
Okla is slanting into this but two great blocks turn it positive: Kelly(+1) chucks the NT out of the way then pancakes him. Kouandjio71(+2) donkeys a DE into the MLB before a releasing Brown can get out on him, then falls over to make a pile. Koundjio77(+1) pulled and got a good seal. Shepherd(-1) lost his guy on the slant and since Brown released without helping(-1) that eats up Vogler's lead block; unblocked WLB holds this to just a 1st down. RPS-1
O48 1 10 Offset I-form Tight 2 1 2 5-3 under Pass PA Deep Cooper Inc
Vogler lined up as an H-back, both WRs on the line. Just a 3-man route with the U-back and FB staying in to max protect; Fowler ends up blocking nobody and goes on a little pass pattern near the L.O.S. Kelly(-1) gets beat by NT (should I neg Brown for not checking his inside gap or is Fowler supposed to be there?). McCarron(+1) dodges the NT and steps up but Shepherd's lost his guy and it's time to chuck it past Cooper and all five guys covering him. (PR, n/a, 0/1)
O48 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel over Penalty Offsides Kouandjio77 PEN+5
Kouandjio77(-1) moved which drew both Striker and the DT. Refs unjustly blame the Sooners (Refs+2)
O43 2 5 Pistol 3-wide offset 1 1 3 3-3-5 eagle Run Inside Zone Henry 43
Okla comes out misaligned at first but fixes before the snap. Kelly(+2) gets playside of the NT outside him then moves out to hit the WLB and spring a cutback lane. Henry(+2) had to break a grasping attempt from the guy Kelly abandoned and Brown never got control of, then outrace both safeties--real NFL run there. Backside pursuit wasn't there because Vogler(-1, Refs+1) got away with a monster hold. Replay.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-31, 9 min, 3rd Q. Refs probably got PAID!
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
A20 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass Out Cooper Inc
Bama running a triangle to the right but McCarron sees Cooper breaking open on his 9-yard curl on the backside and throws off his back foot and it sails a bit. Cooper's maybe not expecting it; he jumps a little late and the ball clangs off his hands. (MA, 3, 0/0) Protection was fine, just trying to hit an open guy. Howard was open on the other side.
A20 2 10 Pistol 3-wide offset 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Bubble Screen Cooper 12
Spur is pinching so they throw the bubble screen (RPS+1, Heiko+1). Throw is a Steven Threet special (sailed so screen recipient has to leap to catch it) and that gives the safety time to come down and kill this. Cooper(+2) jukes that dude and can scoot past the marker before he's run down. (IN, 2, screen) Turning a screen into a 2 gets an "IN"
A32 1 10 Pistol H-back 1 2 2 3-4 Run Inside Zone Henry 19
New wrinkle is Vogler blocks the backside while Shepherd blocks down (like a boss: +1). Kouandjio71(-1) doesn't see Striker stunting into his hole and so just doubles the guy he already handed to Howard. Unblocked Striker is knifing in and a safety who was moving down at the snap is about to close down the hole Shepherd cut, but Henry(+3) hesitation-steps and breaks those two tackles, then crashes through the secondary like a truck; backside safety barely gets his legs before he's off again.
O49 1 10 Pistol H-back 1 2 2 3-4 Run Power Henry 11
Striker is doing the outside rush again and Kouandjio71 shoves him past the play. Brown's pull finds a set up DE. Shepherd(+1) reaches the backside DT to prevent flow. Kelly is holding the NT so Kouandjio77(+1) can move down to the second level and get a 2-for-1 with the WLB and safety. Henry(+1) hits the speed burst button to blow past Kelly's guy and into the secondary where a safety chops him down.
O38 1 10 Offset I-form 2 1 2 3-4 Pass PA Deep McCarron 3
Devin Gardner-approved token PA doesn't fool Oklahoma secondary. CB blitz picked up by Yeldon. McCarron sits a beat then starts rolling out of the pocket once the SDE literally grabs Vogler by the collar and rips him right out of the pass formation (okay Refs-1 as well since it was so obvs). McCarron gets Fowler's attention and tells him to block as he scrambles for a few. (TA, n/a, 1/1)
O35 2 7 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Bubble Screen Cooper 0
Spur showing blitz, DBs playing off=bubble, and they bubble! Christion Jones(-1) tries to block the safety instead of the cornerback. Cooper was watching this and can't step around the diving tackle by the cornerback. Saban declares the spread officially dead.
O35 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Okie 1 Pass Verts McCarron -14
Mattison-style blitz with Mattison-like effects. (Defense's) right side comes, LB lined up over Brown doesn't, and the safety is in free like Jordan Kovacs at any MGoBlog event. McCarron realizes these monsters will probably leave him alone if he discharges the football, so he yells "500!" and chucks it 50 feet in the air at some Oklahoma assistants. Since these guys are not eligible receivers this is intentional grounding. (PR, n/a, protection 0/2, RPS-2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-31, 3 min, 3rd Q. Punt is downed at the 1.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
A46 1 10 I-form 2 1 2 3-4 Run Zone Right Henry 0
Hey, look, 10-man football! Kouandjio77(-2) takes an inside zone step instead of the loopy outside zone one he's supposed to, which means he has no chance to pick up the NT once Kelly releases to get the WLB. That guy tackles for no gain, small crease otherwise.
A46 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Verts McCarron -1
OJ Howard split out, bubble open, not taken. Good protection and bad options. McCarron passes on a dangerous underneath route to Cooper for 2 yards (and an INT if it's errant), and then another underneath thing to Henry. Pocket collapsing, McCarron tries to squeeze through and is sacked a yard in the backfield. (TA, n/a, 1/1) EO3Q.
A45 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Stick & Snag McCarron -9
ESPN showing Toby Keith on sideline instead of crazy bicycle-kicking Bama lady (ESPN-1). DT gets by Kouandjio77(-1) so easily he thinks "waitaminute I must have been screen'd," turns, and runs away from a certain sack. This exchange has unnerved McCarron, who tries to scramble instead of accepting this gift. That screws up Kouandjio71's angle on Striker so he holds, called(-1). Also screws up Kelly's angle and Kou77's recovery attempt. Sack. Penalty is declined. (PR, n/a, 1/1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-31, 14 min, 4th Q. Here's Crazy Bama Lady during the quarter break.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
A32 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 3-4 Pass Curls McCarron -4
Eight safety comes into the box late. McCarron reads Norwood's curl too quickly (it comes open a millisecond after he looks away), others are covered. MLB comes on a delayed blitz just as Shepherd(-1) has lost Striker; the two combine to sack. (PR, n/a, protection 1/2). This is the difference between a quarterback in the zone and one who's been getting beat up.
A28 2 14 Pistol 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Bubble Screen Cooper 6
Sees Spur coming, throws the bubble. This time it's DeAndrew White out there with Cooper and White takes the CB at the same time the safety is arriving. Cooper(+1) shakes and manages to get six yards out of the deal. (CA, 3, screen)
A34 3 8 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Okie zero Pass Slant-outs ??? Inc
White in as second RB. Okla Bringing seven but one goes with White, only Striker backs into zone. NT's stunt fools Brown(-1), who doesn't look back to find the MLB. Henry sees and uses up his block on the MLB, leaving Shepherd alone with two guys. McCarron tosses it away. CB#14 doing some MSU-style interference. (PR, n/a, 2/3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-38, 8 min, 4th Q. McCarron was sacked 10 times all year before this, six this game.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
A26 1 10 Pistol 3-wide offset 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Run Zone left Yeldon 5
Not a read (Howard blocks the backside end), which is too bad since that'd be a keeper. Kelly and Brown(-1) seem to miscommunicate as Kelly hands off the NT and Brown has released downfield into the WLB; guessing it's Brown. The Kou brothers are doubling the playside DE and have him sealed but now nobody's got the NT and he meets Yeldon a yard downfield. That becomes five because it's Yeldon(+1).
A31 2 5 Pistol 4-wide tight 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Run Zone read Yeldon 3
I think. Bubble is open and dangerous enough to get both DBs on that side reacting to it, but McCarron reads a very slight hesitation by the backside end and gives (the way he looks at Yeldon I wonder if T.J. just took the thing). Yeldon(+1) outruns the mostly-crashing DE to the L.O.S. Brown(-1) has released and whiffs on the MLB. Yeldon hits it up for what he can get. You can this isn't their base play.
A34 3 2 Ace 1 1 3 3-4 Run Inside Zone Yeldon 3
White motions to U-back. Kou71 cuts the backside DE. Brown released to pick off the WLB, Kelly(+1) sealed the NT, but this good work is undone by Shepherd(-1) losing ground to the SDE; they end up right in the hole. Yeldon has to stop and bounce outside of that, where Kou77 released and got to the MLB in just enough time to shove him to Yeldon's side.
A37 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Run Power Yeldon 2
Bubble option passed up, they're blocking the backside end this time with Kou71 and pulling Kou77. Shepherd(-1) can't control his DE; that guy sheds and ends the play.
A39 2 8 Pistol 3-wide offset 1 1 3 3-3-5 Pass RB Flat Henry 61
If Denard Robinson was 6'3 and 240 lbs--he is a running back--this is what he would look like. Oklahoma is blitzing to the Kous' side so MLB with middle and RB responsibilities has to get on his horse to cover Henry in the flat. He overruns, which is understandable because people who are the size of Henry are usually defensive ends who can't make 60º cuts while running. Henry(+4) does this. Then he cuts around where Striker set up, accelerates past the NT who's already at full speed, then splits those same two poor safeties he made look ridiculous earlier. (CA, 3, 1/1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-38, 6 min, 4th Q. Sooners use up five minutes and everyone's timeouts on 11-play drive to midfield. Bama gets the ball back down a TD with 0:56 remaining.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
A18 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Sack McCarron -10
BLIND SIDE. Striker's outside rush he's been trying all day beats Kou71(-1) completely. He knocks the ball out of a literally blind-sided McCarron, Oklahoma picks it up, and dives in for the TD. (PR, n/a, 0/1)
Drive Notes: Defensive Touchdown, 31-45. Okla gets double celebration penalties, kicks off from their own 10, attempts to squib and end up recovering it, because that is how God feels about penalizing excessive celebration.



Describe this place.

Lots of snow, ice, trees, fur trappers, stubborn people from an ancient culture who mistrust any technology that wasn't used by their gods.

Do it!

It is done. Your new offensive coordinator is Lane Kiffin, who never in a million years will put up 516 yards and 31 points despite a bazillion turnovers against the 15th most efficient defense according to Fremeau.

Also I remind you now that you're a Michigan fan, not a Bama one.

I am amazingly not depressed by this fact right now.

Shall we do the drives?

Do the drives.

First half:

  • Three scoring drives of 75, 65, and 80 yards that took just 15 plays combined.
  • A one-play interception
  • 11-play, 67-yard drive with a fumble on the 10.
  • Two two-minute drills, one that's intercepted, another that results in a missed 30-yard FG.

Second half:

  • Two TDs off of ridiculous plays by their freshman RB
  • Two three-and-outs
  • Seven-play drive that gets to midfield and punts to the 1.
  • Game-sealing sack/fumble.

Except when in a two-minute drill, which was a lot of the time, Alabama's strategy was jab-jab-jab-WHAMMO. It's just that they happened to score on their jabs while only one whammo connected. What made the difference were superior athletes, not so much the play designs. There were probably 2,000 quick outs this year by college and pro offenses to an RB in the flat whose linebacker didn't shade over him, and I suspect very few of those get more than the easy 3-5 yards. You've seen bubble screens get 6-7 yards aplenty, but 53 yards on the second play of the game was all on the receiver talent.

Yeah these Alabama guys are pretty good at football. We should get some 5-star receivers.

Somebody call The Mayor.

You seemed to like their running backs. How do they compare to ours?

Derrick Henry in this game was everything we hoped to see from Derrick Green, except fast. He turned a vintage Poor Damn Toussaint opportunity into 19 yards with a subtle stop. He flat out-ran safeties who stayed with Amari Cooper and Kenny Bell and DeAndre White all day.

I mean, if Oklahoma was ever going to produce something like that 1940 Cal fan, this was his moment:

Rather, I think Alabama has produced something like Adrian Peterson.

This is all instinct and ability stuff, so RETIRE FRED JACKSON TO THE NOW-VACANT POSITION OF BELOVED EQUIPMENT MANAGER! doesn't accomplish anything. Henry was also a boss at pass protection. People will remember Anthony Thomas not doing anything in the NFL and forget what it was like watching him run over, around, through, and right by everybody as a freshman; that's who Henry immediately reminded me of.

It's hard to tell if Michigan's got a guy like that in Green or Smith, since those guys had few opportunities when JUST two dudes were collapsing on them in the backfield. If we end up with another Kevin Grady when everyone else's record-obliterating RBs obliterate other records, I be jelly.

It looked like Oklahoma's pass rush got in McCarron's head. Can't the OC do something about that?

I'm new at this. Is there a certain method you prefer that information to be presented?

You might try a…

I know.

Devin Gardner 2013

Central Michigan 2 10(1)+ 1 1 2* - - 1 3 82%
Notre Dame 7+ 16(1)++ 4(1) 2 3* - 1 4 4 82%
Akron 3 14(2) - 5 3** 2 1 3 1 59%
UConn 2 13(1) 1 5*+ - 1 - 5 5 76%
Minnesota 4+ 7(1) 4 1 - - - 1 2 92%
Penn State 7+ 12(2) - 5+ 2** 3 1 4 4 66%
Indiana 5 18(3) 1 1 3 3 - - 5 78%
Michigan State 1 15(2) 1 5 4* 6 - 4 1 50%
Nebraska - 17(1) 1 4(1) 2* 5 - 6 - 62%
Northwestern 5 21(6) 3 5 6***** 1 2(1) 6 4 65%

A.J. McCarron 2013

Oklahoma 7 8(4)+ 2 1(1) 3* 5 1 9 1 63%

You guys should hang out. There were 9 pass plays charted as pressure, more than any from Michigan's 2013 season. There were also 5 throwaways, which you can mentally view as McCarron responding to the pressure.

Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Kou71 (LT) 6.5 1 5.5 Held up against good pass rusher. Has some donkey in him.
Kou77 (RT) 3 4 -1 Good at pulling, needs work on zone.
Kelly (C) 11.5 1 10.5 Good centers are apparently important.
Brown (RG) 4.5 5 -0.5 Much better at point of attack.
Shepherd (RT) 4 6.5 -2.5   -
Vogler (U) 1.5 4 -2.5 Better blocker than Howard.
Howard (Y) 1 2 -1 Looked like a freshman.
TOTAL 32 23.5 58% A typical 2011 Michigan day.
Player + - Total Notes
McCarron 4 - 4 Smart not athletic.
Yeldon 7 2 5 This guy is a power back.
Henry 11 - - This guy is a 5-star running back.
Fowler (FB) - -0.5 -0.5 Not used very much.
Hart - - - Boo.
TOTAL 22 1.5 20.5 Scary duo.
Player + - T Notes
Cooper 9 - 9 Dangerous screen merchant
White 5 - 5    -
Norwood - - -    -
Bell (NTKB) - - -    -
Jones22 - 1 -    -
TOTAL 14 1 13 All that talent.
Player + - T Notes
Protection 32 45 71% Kou71-2, Kou77-5, Kelly-2, Brown-7. Okla's blitzes abused Bama's young guards. Remind you of anyone?
RPS 6 9 -3 Didn't play chess much.

The part they left out of the movie The Blind Side is all about Lawrence Taylor's terrifying outside move and how the position of left tackle grew up from that. It mentions that great defense is all about getting the pass rush into the quarterback's head, where it replaces all the progressions and timing and processing of where the WRs are. Gardner's 2013 and McCarron's bowl game are a fantastic study on this. If there's a difference between the two, it's that McCarron didn't throw it nearly as often, since he had a running game.

Oklahoma's nasty pass rusher is Erik Striker (6.5 sacks, 10.5 TFL this season as a sophomore). This opened up the outside running game some when the TEs handled him correctly, squeezed it shut when they didn't, and also gave McCarron room to roll. When he came on obvious pass downs it was all Kouandjio71 could do to keep him outside of the pocket.

This was a Sooner strategy and it worked. Final bill was a few runs and a couple of out-of-the-pocket plays in exchange for two drive-killing sacks, a game-sealing fumble, and a false start.

Teams won't try that as much against Devin Gardner; when Denard was back there it was asking for 60 yards in your face. It's a simple formula: the less mobile your QB, the more you rely on your LT to hold up against opponents who think they're LT. Nussmeier couldn't do much else than that since he spent a lot of drives a slave to the clock.

He could teach his quarterback not to throw it to cornerbacks.

Earlier in the drive Alabama showed their reaction to this blitz:

Several plays later Oklahoma said "try that again."

That's an attacking defense baiting a would-be national championship team that's down by a touchdown and trying to execute a 2-minute drill to even it up at the half. It was brilliant. I RPS minused it but it was McCarron who made the check. Mostly I think it was a great play by Oklahoma.

What do you know now about Nussmeier that you didn't before?

He'll throw a bubble screen when it's open, so he's probably alright. McCarron responded as well as can be expected to being constantly under threat, which is extrapolatedly (word?) encouraging for Gardner with Michigan's OL minus Lewan & Schofield.

Bama got most of its points this game from pure talent. UM's 2012-'13 hauls were still a little less loaded than Bama's average from the last five years, and Michigan doesn't plum the far reaches of academic plausibility, or oversign then cut those who won't make it. However there are things you can do with Drake Harris, e.g. throw it up in man-on-man coverage and expect he'll come down with it, that you wouldn't dare try with White or Cristion Jones. There's plenty of young offensive talent in Ann Arbor if it can be molded and deployed in a sensical manner.  Michigan's offensive coordinator doesn't need to engineer wide open guys to pull a few upsets; all we're asking is that he get Derrick Green past the line of scrimmage with some momentum, where our advantages that come with winged helmets can really shine.

He's not Rich Rod, committed to an offensive scheme and playing subtle games with it to catch the opponent cheating. He's not Urban Meyer, obsessed with engineering the perfect offense that never breaks down nor leaves the outcome of a game to chance. The way this game was called you could tell there's thinking behind it, not just plays strung together. The thinking was perfect for Alabama: we have superior weapons; unleash them all and see which one reaches the enemy base first.

In packages and RPSing, the Pistol H-back look was one of the most consistent yard-gainers of the day. They debuted it near the start of the 2nd quarter with a PA off a zone running look:

On the next play they lined up with this again, motioned the TE, and got 16 yards on Power O. In the 3rd quarter they brought it out and ran power again with a subtle tweak. The next drive they ran inside zone with the backside end blocked by the TE. Then they ran power again with it on the next play when the defense was expecting the PA, and then they put the TE back on the line of scrimmage and offset the RB and Oklahoma was all sorts of confused:

Later they had a pulling guard block the backside DE. This sequence made up the bulk of Nussmeier's RPS+ plays, and each wrinkle was executable (the core of it is still Bama's base play).

Do you feel the difference? In my mind, Borges would have led off with the inside zone run, because that's the base play they want to run. And then he would have run it three more times before breaking out the PA, expecting that no defensive coordinator would suspect that they have a play-action off something they just ran three times in a row. Next game they'd show the power look after the PA pass and the base zone run were smothered. Then you'd never see it again because the trick's been played. The next time Borges leads off a package of things with the counter and then the  counter to the counter will be the first.

Nussmeier's offense made sense. The new-looking stuff was based on the stuff they rep the most—inside zone. It stayed fresh by borrowing a little here and there from other offenses, just enough to keep the defense from guessing games. Rather Stoops went with high-risk/high-reward stuff that created big stops and a few big plays. Ultimately 31 points should be enough to beat teams if the defense takes that step next year that we think it will.

(Added) So it is Borges's offense except it makes sense?

Not really. It was a more spread offense (and figures to be more so at Michigan) than anything Borges has run here and used a ton of pistol. Here's a breakdown of Bama's plays this game, excluding non-normal situations (2 minute drills, goal line, short/long on conversion downs) versus Michigan's over recent years:


Team Big 2-wide 3-wide 4-wide
Bama (Sugar Bowl) 3% 31% 58% 7%
Michigan 2013 8% 54% 29% 9%
Mich 2011-'12 7% 41% 43% 9%
Mich 2008-'10 1% 7% 76% 15%

That's an average of 2.6 wide receivers per formation, versus 2.3 for Michigan this year in normal situations.

Formation preference:

Team I-Form Ace Pistol Shotgun Other
Bama (Sugar Bowl) 11% 17% 40% 32% -
Michigan 2013 24% 27% 9% 32% 7%
Mich 2011-'12 19% 10% - 67% 3%
Mich 2008-'10 6% 3% - 91% 0.1%

I think this is interesting: it's the same amount of shotgun as Michigan's 2013 offense (through Iowa; Ohio State game isn't UFR'd yet). But imagine if tackle-over, half of the I-form sets, and a third of the Ace sets were given over to the pistol. I don't know if that was an adjustment to Oklahoma, or if he did it as a compromise between sense and Saban's sensibilities. But it think it would be a much better fit for Michigan next year than wasting a quarter of our downs in the I. Overall I'm much more encouraged about this hire than I was at its announcement.



January 15th, 2014 at 12:31 PM ^

Coherence sounds like a huge upgrade. I'm interested to see what Nuss does with our "weapons". Is Funchess his #1 WR? What happens to Butt, or Kerridge? Who's getting the carries as RBs? and of course, the big questions: Can the OL run block and protect Devin?

As an aside, Anthony Thomas was the NFL's offensive rookie of the year, he didn't do "nothing" in the NFL.


January 15th, 2014 at 12:32 PM ^

Its worth noting that Alabama's OL consisted of:

5-star JR LT with 14 career starts before this year.

4-star SO LG with 0 career starts before this year.

3-star SO C with 0 career starts before this year.

3-star JR RG with 0 career starts before this year.

3-star JR RT with 0 career starts before this year.



January 15th, 2014 at 12:45 PM ^

It was definitely true for this bowl game. Prior to that, they did have Anthony Steen at RG (3-star SR with 25 career head starts before the season). Still for most of the year, they were rolling with three guys who hadn't made a single start, including two sophomores. While they struggled at times, they didn't seem to bottom out like we did and they appeared to improve as the year went on. 



January 15th, 2014 at 3:41 PM ^

I've just eaten my hat. That is amazing.

I still think they are the outlier and that most teams would look a lot more like M than Bama with a similar line. Their pass protection was shitty, though, which I think is the hardest thing to get good at.

Potential plus: if Nussmeier is a big reason for this, M is in good shape.


January 16th, 2014 at 2:29 AM ^

your offense makes sense and you aren't trotting out freshman.  Personally I think it takes most guys 2 full years to get mentally and physially ready for college football on the OL.  The fact that they were able to allow their guys to develop.  I can't speak for most guys but I know for certain that Ryan Kelly would not have posted 10.5+ score last year because I know him personally and have seen how his game has developed.  Jeff Stoutland, who Chip Kelly stole from Saban when he went to Philidelphia, I think is the best offensive line coach in the country.  You saw the product he put on the field for the Tide in 2012 and it took him just 1 offseason to turned a unit that couldn't keep Mike Vick's Jersey clean to save their lives into a top 5 unit and boasting the League's leading rusher.  Kelly struggled a bit in the beginning of the year but was able to improve because he knew what was expected of him and his offense had an identity.  Also it helps that an inside zone/power heavy running game was probably 90% of his high schools playcalling, so he had been reping those plays for years.  I have no idea what our guys high school offenses looked like but it probably didn't come close to the 90/10 run/pass split Kelly was accustomed too.  This is useful because while he spent those first two years on the bench, he could learn the other nuances of Alabama's system like passing concepts, line calls, etc. that are part of the playbook.  And its a lot to learn, as a center(and personally I think all OL should do this cause it helps you understand big picture concepts and makes adjustments easier) he had to learn his job and every one elses.  This takes time, and 99% of freshman didn't have the coaching in high school or the need in high school because they were just bigger and better, to learn the techniques of OL.  Technique is HUGE in college and it takes about 2 years to learn that and the playbook and gain the weight necessary to hold up physically.  How quickly this happens is dependant on your starting point which is a big reason I'm excited to see where Kugler is in spring ball because he was probably farther along than all the other freshman with his dad being an NFL OL coach with the Steelers.  Basically the bottom line is OL take time to develop as it is the only position on the field where talent and instincts cannot overcome technique and experience.


January 15th, 2014 at 1:09 PM ^

A. Kouandjio:  Redshirt junior in 2013. Played in 12 games prior to 2013.

C. Kouandjio:  Redshirt junior in 2013.  Played in 22 total games, with 14 starts prior to 2013.

Austin Shepherd:  Redshirt junior in 2013.  Played in 17 games prior to 2013.

Ryan Kelly:  Redshirt Soph in 2013.  Played in 9 games prior to 2013.

Leon Brown: True Junior in 2013.  Juco transfer did not play for Bama prior to 2013.



January 15th, 2014 at 3:48 PM ^

This makes more sense.

It's still remarkable that they can be so effective with 3 guys who had never started, but we can see there is some nuance. All of them have at least played, and the JUCO certainly started, even at a lower level. And, as someone pointed out, they originally had a 5th year senior with some starts under his belt.

Michigan was in worse shape in terms of games played, games started, and years in the program, but they were also much worse of a line. Again, still remarkable, but less so. I wish I hadn't eaten my hat.


January 16th, 2014 at 2:17 PM ^

of expressing this is:

Their offensive line, by the bowl game, had (and I'm not considering redshirts, since you didn't mention them):

3+2+2+3+3=13 years of experience in the program.

Michigan had

4+1+2+1+4=12 years of experience in the program, ignoring redshirts. (I know that 4 of those guys have redshirts, but without Alabama data, hard to compare.

The totals are close, but the configuration looks pretty different.

Seems like smart people think that matters, but you've heard this all again and again. I think this link shows that it actually does seem to matter (inside vs outside, etc).


Seems to me that Nebraska and Penn State had experience numbers that were similar to Alabama. Nebraska ran way better than UM, Penn State about the same.

So it seems hard to conclude that experience isn't a significant factor, but obviously not the only one.

I know, we've heard it all 1,000,000 times. :)



January 17th, 2014 at 12:14 PM ^

it's also snaps. How many of those guys who never started before this season had never seen the field before this season?

Pure speculation, but, given the margin of many of Alabam's wins the last couple of seasons, I'd wager they all had played substantial minutes in mulitple games before this year. 

Also were any of these guys red shirted? If so that's one or two more years of S&C than an RS Freshman.


January 15th, 2014 at 12:33 PM ^

"Nussmeier's offense made sense."


This will be what I am looking forward to most. An offense that has an identity, a plan, adjusts accordingly, uses the players correctly, etc.



January 15th, 2014 at 6:50 PM ^

yep adjustments are vital and almost nonexistent under borges....sure, game planning is huge and significantly contributes to moving the ball and chalking up scoreboard -and never wasting reps or dedicating chunks of 20 hours to tackle over concepts should obviously be avoided....but in-game adjustments are where truly great coordinators shine and for some reason borges seemed to rarely go off script.  who knows what borges wouldve done with 3-4 more OL brought in 2010-11 or so but its moot at this point....he wasnt completely awful and funk needs to share a large chunk of blame along with hoke and heads needed to roll.  i really like that nussmeir is a young energetic guy with personality who by all accounts seems to enjoy busting his tail on recruiting trail as well as team rooms/ field....and also love that hes not just an ex-player but was actually pretty talented as QB....i know it really helps most coaches if they played at high levels, especially QBs.  looking forward to somewhat fresh O in 2014, hopefully they zero in on 6-7 OL early enough to prove competent


January 16th, 2014 at 2:37 AM ^

I think we need just ONE more solid-good offensive lineman to put together at least a respectable rushing attack this year.  If Christian Pace hadn't gotten injured and could have played center this year(and probably last year too) I think that we could have pasted over any defiecencies that Kyle Kalis had with some smart blocking schemes.  The problem the last two years is that we had a zone line and tried to run power last year and this year we didn't have a halfway competent guard on the football team when Glasgow moved to center.  If we had one more then we might have been a middling rushing attack instead of a historically awful one


January 15th, 2014 at 12:40 PM ^

Holy balls, Henry looked good.  Looked a hell of a lot faster than his listed 4.5-4.7ish range.  Was this the 'coming out' game for him?  He didn't even crack 400 yards rushing this year.  Man I wish our backs could block like that as well. 

But yeah, this game really looked like 'our offensive players are better than your team' with some really inoportune TOs and OL blocking.  McCarron didn't play up to his usual snuf either.

I would be interested in seeing some UW break down where Nuss didn't have such a massive talent advantage.  Even Borges looked great that one year at Auburn (and that offense was more loaded than the current Bama O probably). 


January 16th, 2014 at 1:06 PM ^

Truth be told Brian was a little pissed that I did this, since UFR is his bag (obviously other bloggers have copied it but not on his own blog). I had to make up my own system. It wasn't a macro, it was an excel spreadsheet where the first column was like:

<tr><td colspan="12">
<tr><th colspan="12"><b>Drive Notes: </b>

and the next column would be like:

Striker way upfield again: dude just loves that move. Kou71(+1) and Kelly(+1) lay their combo blocks out on a platter for Kou77 and Brown, then pick off the WLB and the MLB despite that guy doing something amazing. Henry(+35) performs a perfect reenactment of the Bo Jackson Tecmo Bowl video, stopping only to teach the band how to play the theme music.
Touchdown, 21-34, 1 min., 3rd quarter. Oklahoma scores on the next play.

In-between columns had the </td></td> labels where needed, and the last column had the </td></tr> etc. things.

And then I had a column at the end that was just A1&B1&C1&D1etc. so each line on the spreadsheet made a line of html code. I copied and pasted that last column's text into notepad to remove the formatting, then pasted as HTML into the document.

The table code is

width="564" cellspacing="3"

Indiana Blue

January 15th, 2014 at 12:59 PM ^

everyone is counting down the days to spring ball, and then on to App. State (NOT!)  -  but at least football again.  I am awaiting to see how the "Nuss" uses his skilled positions as a counter attack against defenses this year.  It seemed that the entire 2013 year was watching Borges being incapable of knowing what to call against blitz focused defenses.  I was also disturb at his apparent "well at least we got a FG attempt" offense as we neared the red zone.  Hoke lets the OC be the playcaller ... so Nuss will have the freedom he likely never had under Saban.

Gallon is going to be very difficult to replace, but I'm certain Devin will be working a lot this summer developing a new "go to" receiver.  

Go Blue!


January 16th, 2014 at 2:46 AM ^

because I saw him try to beat the blitz with hot routes, screens, draws and the like but the Spartans blew up every attempt at that because they were a highly disciplined, highly agressive defense and those are rare.  The following week Nebraska came in with same game plan without all of the previously mentioned discipline and Borges refused to test them.  We had no business losing that game and to me it was his worst called game of his tenure here.  You could starve me for 3 straight full days and night, force me to down a bottle of Jack, spin me like a top for ten minute, then drug me and I could still give you a better game plan than that.  He had too many of those games and that's why he is gone.

Ron Utah

January 15th, 2014 at 12:59 PM ^

Brian should fear for his job.

Seriously, though, it was McCarron's uncharacteristic INTs that cost this offense more points.  He threw into triple-coverage on the first one, and threw VERY late to his safety valve on the last one.  He didn't make mistakes like that all season.

FWIW, I think Green could definitely be Henry-Lite.

Actually, my biggest criticism of Nuss in this game was that he didn't run enough.  The run game was working well when he used it and he seemed to get a little lizard brain tendency to pass.

But that's nit-picking.  The 'Bama offense racked-up 516 yards at about 8 yds/play, and scored 31 points while turning the ball over five times.  That's an efficient offense that just had a bad day from its QB.


January 15th, 2014 at 1:05 PM ^

Okla brings a safety and LB to the line so it's almost a 5-3. RG Leon Brown(-1) releases but can't get to a fast-reading MLB because Kelly(+0.5) has crumpled a 6'6 NT right in his path. FB Fowler(-0.5) has to choose one of two unblocked LBs and plunks WLB who's coming outside. MLB can sit in the hole and tackle. RPS-1 for running into an 8-man front.

According to your description of this play, had Brown blocked the MLB, there would have been a blocker on each defender and Yeldon would've gotten much more than 2.

This doesn't sound like a bad playcall at all. I don't think "running into an 8-man front" is something that should be downvoted if the playcall still provides a route to success. After all, had the blocking been executed, with 8 in the box Yeldon is more likely to break it for 60 if he can clear the front.


January 15th, 2014 at 1:26 PM ^

RPS-minus doesn't mean "bad playcall." It means "your play call puts you at a disadvantage given their play call." An all-out blitz might be a perfectly good idea, but if the offense happens to be running a screen pass, you're in serious RPS trouble.

Here, running 7 blockers into 8 defenders CAN work, but if you let me choose which side of the ledger to be on there, I'm taking the 8 defenders.


January 15th, 2014 at 2:28 PM ^

Basically I started with what the play netted. Four yards on a running play should get about 0 to 0.5 when all's said and done. If I don't have that I look for what could have gone better.

The fact that Kelly's awesome block ends up blocking his own guy is a symptom of less space, which came from running into a run front, so RPS.


January 15th, 2014 at 1:07 PM ^

I'm still too demoralized to think about actual football, but am logging in anyway to express my appreciation for the Radiohead reference. This avatar comes with responsibilities.