Three yards and a cloud of Bubble Screen

Submitted by redwhiteandMGOBLUE on July 18th, 2008 at 1:51 PM

I ran across the post below from a WV fan named "jdakanwv " on the Sportsline Boards.

Aside from his "Mouse Pasties" avatar, I think he sheds some unbiased insight into how the offense might operate.

One thing he stresses is over use of the bubble screen. I hope this does not become the new "Throwing the Rock since 1969".

Here's the post and the direct link:

"Recently I was on the WVU boards and began having a discussion with Dsoph about things to expect in Ann Arbor over the next few years.  You will see some things that you have never seen before.  Some will be impressive, others...not so is my list, take it for what it is worth....
  1. Everyone will be leaner, quicker, and faster.  Your linemen will go from averaging 315 across the line to averaging about 280, but they will be quick and explosive.
  2. The bubble screen....Get used to it.  You will run it on average, 8-12 times a game.  At least twice a year, you will see some version of it 20+ times in a game.  The idea behind it is a good one, get the ball in a playmakers hands quickly and let them make a play, but you can only see it so many times before you are ready to go nuts.
  3. Changes.  Many of your traditions will remain, but there will be little tweaks to most of them.  As you can see with your road uni's, that has already begun.
  4. Big Plays.  Once RR gets his full compliment of players and a true dual threat QB, the number of 35+ yd TD's will increase dramatically. (There is no site like watching a speedy RB or QB bust thru the line and split the safeties like they were standing still and having him go 50yds untouched for a TD.  You can see that it will happen within the first two steps the ball carrier is a site to see and you will enjoy that.)
  5. This one is the most impressive to me.  At the end of the 1st and 3rd qtr's, (especially when you are on offense) Your offensive line will sprint to the other end of the field to get ready for the next quarter.  When this is the most impressive is heading to the 4th quarter of a hard fought game and seeing the looks on the defenses faces as the linemen sprint to the other end of the field and the D is gasping for air and sucking down water like it is their job.

Good luck to Uof M in the upcoming seasons.  RR's style will take a little time to get used to, but in the end, you will enjoy it.

P.S. Barwis is an animal...You guys will love him."

It's nice to see a WV fan not bash the university, fans or RR.

Three yards and a cloud of Bubble Screen... could be my new blog page, only time will tell.




July 18th, 2008 at 2:41 PM ^

I'm sorry, but am I missing something about the road unis? Do they look that different from last year's? Did RR have any say in them? Didn't the Michigan Nike road template look the exact same as Clemson, Miami, etc.? Great post, I'm just curious. I honestly don't know what the big deal about the road unis are...

chitownblue (not verified)

July 18th, 2008 at 2:57 PM ^

The thing about the bubble screen: They ran it because Pat White can't throw. His arm is weaker than a mouse with flesh-eating disease. Pat White is a running back in the QB position. When Rasheed Marshallwas QB and Chris Henry played at WVU, he averaged over 20 yards per catch FOR HIS CAREER. Does that sound like bubble screens? People really, really, really, need to understand more about Rodriguez than the last three years of his life. I will shamelessly pimp my own site for reference:…


July 18th, 2008 at 3:27 PM ^

As chitown mentioned WVU probably ran that play because it was one White could throw. In 2005 Michigan ran about a million WR screens or long handoffs, especially out of that damn diamond formation (WolvHistorian has a nice video with the announcers endlessly remarking M must have some type of play off that action but if they did M never ran it) because TacoPants was the starter and that was often all Henne could hit. Another WH video, I think ND, has Michigan running a simple screen to Howard at least 5 times for huge yardage. So, if it works they can call it every play as long as I’m concerned.


I’m speculating well out of my depth but if the defense keeps LB’s in the middle of the field to stop the run a WR screen is a way to get the ball to the edge quickly and make them pay. So, bubble screen may just have been a default to too many guys in the middle. Then if it doesn’t work you seem to be going back to an unsuccessful play over much. I really do want to watch the WVU/Pitt game (now that I realize it is the single most important football game in the history of coal mining) so that I can evaluate if RR’s play calling was horrible or it was more White sucking/being hurt fumbling etc.


July 18th, 2008 at 4:30 PM ^

They actually had a play off of the diamond formation, it just took a few years to actually see it. The screen that had Butler taking off down the sideline for 60-some yards in the Capital One Bowl was from that formation. It worked because all of Florida's players tried to jump presumed screen from the diamond.

Oh, and I'm pretty sure you remember it from 2004. SDSU ran the screen from that formation a few times, and UM spent the rest of the year copying them.


July 18th, 2008 at 5:36 PM ^

I remember being so overjoyed when Lloyd finally threw the diamond screen away from the diamond in the Citrus Bowl.  I thought to myself "We're finally getting paid off for the past 4 years of crappy diamond bubble screens"


July 18th, 2008 at 3:39 PM ^

It is partially White's inablility to throw, especially early in his career, but the bubble screen is also an important counterpoint to the zone read. When outside contain comes crashing down on the QB, it must be kept honest. The bubble screen is the best way to do that.

You can see how important it is in Rodriguez's recruiting: four-ish guys who are basically bubble screen ninjas have joined the revolution.


July 18th, 2008 at 8:14 PM ^

I noticed when rewatching the pitt game.  Pitt's CB's were reading some key and flying up to make TFL's on the bubble screen.  They tried to go over the top but weren't accurate enough.  The next level on that option/bubble screen progression is sending the HB on a wheel route up the sideline, one-on-one with a LB.  the two outside receivers give slants or bubble screen motion and then slaton would be 10 yards beyond the linebacker and it's the QB's job to hit him before the safety can get over. 

I'll probably break it down more in a diary post.


July 18th, 2008 at 2:55 PM ^

But... the road uni's have nothing to do with RR "tweaking" traditions. One statement from UM said that they were designed before RR was even hired, and he just signed off on them. I don't think he had any influence at all and they would look the same if Lloyd were back for another year. Otherwise, it all seems positive to me, even the (over?) use of bubble screens. All coaches use particular plays that are comfortable/conservative. I'd rather have the bubble screen used in that way (where a fast, shifty guy is in space) than the zone play we all came to love/hate.

The Barking Sp…

July 18th, 2008 at 3:46 PM ^

I'm giving the Mountaineer fans a pass here. I feel their fans' fires were fueled by the University itself. The shredding BS, the lawsuit, the infighting that went on, and the hiring of Stewart. Not to mention that was the second time we raided them for a coach in a year. Add to that that RR was believed to have re-committed himself to them for life (and beyond!), had turned down Alabama one year before, and was a favorite son who played there in college, and they had to feel the shaft deeply inserted into their collective anuses (anui?). I hear an awful lot of ridiculous BS from Michigan fans about other schools (mostly that all of the others cheat while we never, EVER do), so sitting back and taking a look at the situation as a whole, I kind of have some sympathy for them.

chitownblue (not verified)

July 18th, 2008 at 4:01 PM ^

I'm not debating the validity of the bubble screen - Bubble screens are definitely part of their game, but they were part of ours when we had Breaston as well. Many WVU fans like to characterize RR as having 90% of his passing plays as bubble screens. That iteration of his offense is more Pat White related than anything else. For instance, when Rasheed Marshall was around the yards per completion were much, much higher (yards per attempt were comparable because White completes many more passes).


July 18th, 2008 at 7:01 PM ^

I read today in the Wolverine preview magazine that Micihgan beat WVU the first time they ever played them, 130 to 0.

I was going to mouth-off about that somehow, but now I'm not.