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Playcalling vs. Performance 4: Voodoo Chiles

Thanks Chris Berman.

I think the utilization of Chiles will play an important role this year. If Colt gets hurt again (when Kellen Heard busts into his apartment and punches him in the jaw, perhaps), or a team backs off and clamps down on vertical passing again (A&M), we'll need the skills he brings to the table.

One of the great things about our offense is it's flexibility. Zone blocking is the option of blocking schemes, giving the running multiple points of attack, assuming he's talented enough to find the crease.

Same play. We've already discussed how the offense can be tweaked for Colt, with a lot of bootlegs and WR action to create the backside pressure we need. Chiles is a different animal entirely. Colt's strengths mesh well with a Denver Broncos type attack. Run power zones with two TEs, bootleg to the backside occasionally, and the utilization of the quick passing game. Since Chiles has only played QB for maybe 18 months now, the precision passing and quick decision making won't be there. Trying to do that with him would be like trying to fit Colt into a . . . a Vince style . . . well nevermind.

So, what to do? First, list off what Chiles brings ot the table. Freshman, inexperience passer, electric legs. Naturally, we are going to de-emphasize the pass. With Colt, the pressure we put on the defense was structural, do we line up safe to guard against the big pass play, or clamp down on the run and take our chances in the air? If Chiles is on the field, the defense will almost certainly bring the heat on the run. As narrow as the focus of our offense is, we'd be setting him up for failure. Stoops would just bring the weakside nickel blitz and shut down the zone read, and we're looking at the 2004 game all over again.

In this play the nickel safety blitzed with the end crashing down. This gives the QB the keep read, but there is a guy in his face before he can get moving. Stoops used this to great effect in 2004. He tried it a lot in 2005 but we just passed over it (Ramonce's leaping TD grab was against this blitz). How do we put pressure on a team without being able to pass consistently? We follow the WVU model of lots of option, lots of points of attack.

Obviously, the zone read stays, as I'm sure he's already practiced it 500 times. The QB draw stays, the speed option stays, and the counter stays. We're back in the Vince offense. But Vince took off when he learned to pass, Chiles won't have that for another year at least, probably. We need to put pressure on the defense by attacking different points every down.

We all know what a zone read looks like, so I won't waste your time with a diagram of it. Since it's our base play, we need to have other options that look like a zone read but attack differently. For instance, instead of zone blocking every play, we can switch it up and run this veer play:

It looks like the zone read, but it's different. The OL is selling the zone action, but they are angle blocking the defenders instead of trying to stay in front of them. This play attacks the backside off-tackle gap only. If the DE stays in place, the HB takes it hard off tackle inside of him. The front 7 will have run off to the right, thinking zone and giving our OL an easy chance to seal them off from the play. If the end crashes, the QB keeps it and runs outside of him. It's the same read for Chiles as a zone read, but a different mode of attack. Keeping it simple for Chiles is as big a factor as anyhing, IMO.

Along those lines, there is another easy option . . . the option. Running a zone read, or veer, and adding a trailer is another easy adjustment with no different read for the QB. This time it puts pressure on the guy responsible for the QB run, and gives us a way to run the ball vs. fronts that outnumber us on the zone read:

It also gives the WR an easy block on the FS to hopefully spring a big gain. Combined with the speed option, we now have 4 plays that put tremendous pressure on the backside of the defense, allowing the zone half of the zone read to flourish. Plus, with Charles and McGee, we have two speedy options who would wreak havoc on the perimeter. The option also lets us go without a true fullback, instead having a home run threat on the field. Disguise is as good as power when it comes to blocking.

But, even with such a gameplan, genius for it's simplicity and flexibility, we will be in some passing situations. We can do the same boot options Colt does, for starters. What guys like Chiles give you is a reliable run threat that can turn a well covered bootleg into a 5-10 yard gain. This is one of the reasons why I prefer a mobile QB. It's hidden yardage, a subtle difference, but having 2nd and 6 vs. 2nd and 10 will win you ballgames, so plenty of run options for Chiles.

Easy read. If the flat defender is deep, hit the shallow guy, and vice versa. If both guys are covered, as they are in the picture, run. If either one of them comes to stop you, you have a void in which to throw.

The other prong of our passing attack would be the deep passing game. If they want to shut down the run, they will have to do it with numbers, and we will hurt them deep (sexy). I'd go with the Quincy Carter in Dallas model, two reads, then run. Since we are focused on long passes here, we only need two guys in a route and the rest blocking to give the pattern time to develop.

This is a case of us forcing two 1 on 1 situations by flooding a deep zone. You have one easy read, and if nothing opens up, it probably means they are back in coverage, so take off. In this regard, Chiles can be his own outlet pass, giving us 4-5 yards when nothing is available.

It's nothing special. All I do with these is ask myself what the strengths are to highlight, and weaknesses to hide, then find a bunch of plays that look like each other. Obviously these posts are jumping off points, actually doing this is more complicated, but the theory is the thing. Our resident albatross doesn't seem to work around the talent, even though he got credit for doing so with Vince (undeserved, btw. A player with no weakness is not hard to build around). A simple, comprehensive plan is all you need .