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Weclome to the BCS, Hawaii

Colt Brennan probably has enough broken bones at this point to where you can crumple him up and shove him in a carry on bag. Cheap airfare, holla!

The announcers, in their fervid desire to legitimize Hawaii's labyrinthine offense, announced for all the world to hear that Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl running (or throwing! haha) the same offense as the Rainbow Warriors. Words cannot describe the rage that boiled up inside me when I heard this, so I will make up a new one:

Rampoplex (ram-'pop-lex)


1. the act of going on a rampage while apoplectic.

ChrisApplewhite heard that announcer say something stupid again so he went on a rampoplex and kicked his dog through a window.

Don't worry, he's a terrier. They're tough.

Just because the QB is in the shotgun with 3 or more receivers doesn't mean they're running the same offense. Hawaii and Texas Tech run different offenses. The Colts and Patriots run different offenses. Florida runs yet another different offense. Do they have similarities? Of course. Tech and Hawaii have comparable screen games. New England and Tech both use 4-5 receivers in short yardage instead of running because they like the man to man matchups they can dictate out of spread formations, and have the training to convert a large percentage of the short throws.

But, they are not the same. For years, the run and shoot has been a punchline among any football fan with a shred of common sense. Tonight Colt Brennan tasted the pain of 20 years of knowledge of how to beat that offense silly built up right in his face. I have argued about this at length on other Longhorn sites that do not take kindly to my combative spirit, but I will put on paper (e-paper) the two big reasons why June Jones better not step anywhere near a talented defense ever again.

1. Protection - Most modern spread offenses are based on the west coast offense. Meaning, three steps and the ball is out. The best passing attacks in college football are all products minds influenced by the Bill Walsh coaching tree - Mike Leach, Joe Tiller, Urban Meyer, etc. - and they all have one thing in common: Get the ball out quickly. There is a reason for this, of course. When you are only keeping 5-6 guys in to block, you are risking your QB's health and safety on every snap. Tonight we saw that in action. I stopped watching about halfway through the 4th, when both teams pulled their QBs, but when I left the game, Colt had been sacked 7 times (9 if you count the two times he was hit and fumbled) and pressured and hit at least 14 times. I believe he had 25 or so attempts at that point, too, so he is being harassed over half the time he drops back.

In high school and lower level college ball, this is less of a factor, as slow white kids named Chase and Taylor are no threat to you. Talented rush ends are the most sought after commodity in football, so almost every single one ends up at a football factory. Linebackers get a shit ton of mail and in home visits, but rush ends open up the booster's wallets. Quite simply, you don't face them in the WAC or lower. In the NFL (especially these days, not that anyone is dumb enough to try it), you are facing a good pass rush every week, and your QB will die.

That kind of protection will fly in the WAC, where even if you get hit, you might shrug it off thinking it to be a light, Rocky Mountain breeze. But they play defense in the SEC. They recruit big old sprinters named LaJarious that are pissed off because they grew up in a small racist town in Georgia or Alabama. Georgia was the first good defense Hawaii played all season long and got destroyed. Imagine doing that 8-10 times a year? Hawaii would go through QBs like HenryJames goes through Sex And The City reruns (he thinks he's a Carrie, but he's totally a Miranda).

The run and shoot is an attacking offense, based entirely around getting into the second level and finding holes. They want to score and score a lot. The west coast offense was borne entirely out of the Bengals being terrible and not able to run the ball in the 1960s. They want to play it safe and move the chains. June Jones is not stupid, and he has mitigated some of the risk by implementing more short passing game stuff, and a wide variety of screens. But at the heart of the Warrior offense is still that desire to drop back and attack, so Brennan holds onto the ball longer than any QB at Tech, or Purdue, or Florida (exception being Tebow, but he's a runner and can scramble) ever will. Most any offense that puts 4-5 receivers into deep patterns and asks the QB to hold the ball, potentially, for 3-5 seconds is just asking for trouble.

Remember OU's 2003 season? Jason White would drop back, wait 7 seconds for Mark Clayton to spring open, and make an easy throw to him. Then they played two good pass rushing teams in a row (KSU and USC) and got eaten alive, gaining a combined -170 yards in the two games (do not look that up, just trust me). Remember FSU from 2001-2006? They played playground ball. Four WR, everyone go deep. Rix and Weatherford never had a chance. Ironically, Mark Richt took the same, terrible FSU offense with him to UGA, which is why they never accomplished anything until this year (despite great defenses under Brian Van Gorder, who South Carolina got instead of us . . . I feel a rampoplex coming on. Watch out dog!), then the suckitude of one Matt Stafford forced them into being an under center run-the-ball-and-play-defense-team. Viola, BCS bowl.

The bottom line is, if you play the style of ball Hawaii does, you MUST play from short to long. These days guys who are 240 and can run a 4.5 aren't the exception, they're the rule. Proceed with caution, chuck and duckers.

2. Defensive Tomfoolery - Imagine playing ping-pong in a hall of mirrors. OK, terrible analogy. Imagine playing Frogger, except all the logs and cars change speeds rapidly and appear out of nowhere. You end up flat, just like poor Colt Brennan.

What is my point? My point is that I can make the stupidest analogies out of anyone on this whole site, thats what. Oh, and also, defensive coordinators aren't stupid. (well . . . most of them aren't). The zone blitz was pretty much invented in response to the run and shoot. These days, as more complicated systems matriculate down into the lower ranks (Reaganomics finally worked!), more and more defenses are becoming more multiple, and disguise better than ever. This is important to any defense versus any offense, but it takes a special importance against the run and shoot. Why, you ask? Because 75% of the work for the WRs and QB comes after the snap.

(This is about where delirious fatigue struck the writer, so anything from here on out should be read as if it was read by a 12 year old on meth. -Ed.)

First, the blitz. The shoot relies heavily on 6 blockers and half rolls to keep the QB out of danger. Jones doesn't do the rolling much anymore (nor does he use the frequent motion of his ancestors), but there are still often only 5-6 blockers for his to rely on. So in order to put pressure on the QB, you don't need to send 7 guys, you can focus on fooling one or two. Additionally, there is a heavy reliance on hot routes, or break offs. The zone blitz excels in both these areas. You only need to send 4 guys, so you can keep guys back to guard against the deep routes, and you can have lineman dropping off to cover the short passes, leaving the QB no productive choices. To wit:hawaii-zb.gif

OK, this is a terrible example and I'm horrified let my standards down, but it gets the job done. Notice how, theoretically, we are rushing 4 and getting a guy a free shot into the backfield, while the end, after distracting the tackle, can still drop back and cover any short nonsense the offense tries. Usually, a WR will try to fill the area left by a blitzer. My example isn't really realistic because there is no way an outside receiver would be the hot route if the MLB blitzed, but what can you do. It's 2:30am and I want this done soon. Plus, any deep routes are covered up. The QB is left with 3 options: Throw deep into coverage, throw short into a minefield, or hold onto the ball and let the pressure work you.

One more note about my terrible image, I already know that a run and shoot expert could waltz in here and draw up something to beat what I drew. That's not the point. The point is, the offense doesn't know what to expect. Anyone could be anywhere. In an offense based on multiple reads by multiple people, this can mean disaster.

That is but one example, and there can be many more. The modern defenses are much more proficient at letting the offense settling into what it thinks are safe waters, only to take them down like Jaws on a rampoplex. Tonight we saw it happen twice. Once, UGA dropped eight, three deep and five shallow. This allowed for a hard corner and a cover three shell. Brennan read the three deep, expected a soft corner, and threw it right to a cornerback he never saw. The other was supposed to be a corner route that the WR took up the seam, leaving nobody but a lonely Bulldog DB to pick it off. Misreads and miscommunications are frequent in today's game, which is why most coaches that pass a lot keep a safety first philosophy. It's no coincidence Hawaii is at it's best throwing screens and the short out routes in which Brennen excels.


Since I'm fair and balanced, like Fox News, I should say that the run and shoot is responsible for a few modern passing game staples that are legitimately good ideas. There are specific routes that everyone uses now (like the seam/post, the simple choice route, and the multitude of shallow crosses that have proved to be deadly), and the early adapters proved that you can score a ton of points being an pass first team, leading to innovative offenses that actually work. Time proved that the pure, 1980s era run and shoot is a relic that will never return to the highest levels of football, but it's influence is still seen everywhere.

I put this out there as a plea for sympathy, because you must pity the simple minds that fall prey for it's potentially potent power. Like Anakin Skywalker becoming a sith lord, it's easy to read about the shoot, listen to it's philosophy, and be fooled into thinking it's some unstoppable force that will dominate the world. It has good ideas. Some that have lasted 50 years. It also has empty stats and numbers to fool the eyes. But it doesn't have a ring, and it never will.

So the next time a run and shoot team builds up a powerful force that can shoot a laser that destroys entire worlds, don't fear. There is always a weakness. There is always an exhaust port.