If you have any younger siblings, you know as well as anyone. You don't bust out your best stuff when you roughhouse. You push them to the ground and sit on them until they give up. That's it.
If you're Greg Davis, you let them punch you in the stomach until they give up and go do something else, at which point you give yourself a raise.
Our running game against UTEP was not on the players, even though they were the public face of failure. The real problem is midweek when we put together our packages. Scipio mentioned it here and I alluded to it here. We agree on one key point -- that the overall design and philosophy is dysfunctional, not the execution of the game plan itself. There is nothing wrong with being vanilla and boring against a team you can dominate without even trying. We won by 30 and might as well have been playing with blindfolds on.
Unlike '06 and '07, I know we have more under the hood. There is good design is there, somewhere. The issue is now about utilizing that design in a way that benefits us against everyone.
(It's important to note how well we gameplanning against FAU. This post is nitpick-y with the option to escalate into anger later)
Now that we've seen the potential future, we know, roughly, what we're holding back. The problem is that we're holding back too much. This is not a super secret double reverse pass we're talking about, this is a fundamental misunderstanding of a basic play and how it effects the rest of our offense. What good is it to obtain the nuke if you don't show anyone you've got it? The Bikini Atoll is a crater now for a reason. The goal isn't to win the war, it's to prevent it from happening at all.
If this play had a nutsack, I would be gently tonguing it right now. Here is how it works:
The front 7 moves with our zone blocking, but this time we're not trying to get in front, we're sealing off the weak side and running a veer type action at the end. The LT uses the influence block to bring the OLB to him then cuts him down, leaving the RB (or QB) room to run.
This play will work right now because nobody expects it. For the last 2+ seasons, defenses have moved with our blockers and played gap control with no penalty. This play works against that training. We could, and it looks like we have chosen to, keep this play hidden and bust it out against a good team. Fine. But not only does that lead to horrible, unwatchable football against the bad teams, it's not what this play's primary purpose should be.
Why has the running game been so stagnant since Vince left? Easy. Because Colt isn't much of a runner (on designed, non-draw run plays) there is no need to pay attention to the backside. We don't really even try anymore. And since we run zone blocking schemes it's easy enough to line up, play gap control, and slant or run blitz to prevent getting pushed backwards. UTEP continually overloaded and blitzed into our strong side. In fact they did the same stunt twice in a row early on:
It didn't always work like that but you can see how it overloads what we want to do. Since there is no where to go, defenses, can push McGee into the boundary and completely take him out of what he does well. If McGee is moving sideways he is all but useless. It's not his game. He's a shark who needs to be moving forward. We sit idly by and let it happen.
It didn't matter in the long run, but it doesn't have to be this way. Instead of saving the veer action for OU, where we might run it twice, why not run it 50/50 with the zone and make defenses conscious of it? The positive effects would ripple through the run game.
Pre-snap reads will be much less helpful if the point of attack could be anywhere
Self explanatory. If you make the defense think about the play instead of react as one unit, gaps will open, one on one blocking will emerge, and one broken tackle could lead to huge gains.
If the linebacker and end have to hang back on plays away from them it could open but huge cutback lanes and play to the strengths of both all of our runners
If there is no quick read, the defense has to look at the play. This spreads them out because of the nature of our blocking schemes. When the defense has no stress on it, it's not at all hard to stop us:
Zone is really easy to gap control when you know it's coming. The defense can outrun you to your spot. If the guards want to get to the LB, they have to leave the DTs to be single blocked, which is not easy to do, and leads to Michael Huey having 240 lb. guys blow right past him, negating his size entirely. But what if we made them worry about the veer?
Sucks that an actual example of this in action doesn't exist, but what can you do. If the OLB pauses for even a second, or take one wrong step (it's exaggerated here), the LT or LG can come off and cut him, leaving a hole for the runner. Even if he comes over top of the block, as long as he stays in his place reading the play instead of acting instantly, an OL can get to him and open a cutback lane behind the LT.
Defenses that we don't deem worthy of gameplanning for will get gashed because they can't stick 5 guys on 4 blockers 60% of the time
It's one thing to slow down OU, it's another to slow down UTEP. We could've run for 200 yards even if they did have 8 in the box. It's just more entertaining to watch and certainly less stressful.
You can be vanilla as long as your plays contradict each other. But being bland should still give defenses a taste of what to expect before expanding on it when you need to. Here is an insider tip that only us award winning football bloggers know: if you want to make defenses react to something, you actually have to run it. Take the rest of the afternoon to bathe in my staggering intellect.