Archive for the ‘Weekly Reviews’ Category

Gus Malzahn
hi-res-6805634_crop_northGus Malzahn. The master of masters. The one who may be leading us into a new age of Football. Will he one day be held in the same esteem as other great innovators such as Alonzo Stagg, Pop Warner, Fielding Yost, Knute Rockne, Rusty Russell, Francis Schmidt, Clark Shaughnessy(George Halas), Paul Brown, Sid Gillman, Bill Walsh and Mouse Davis?  
Al Borges
110416-denard-robinson-al-borges-spring-gamejpg-a0dd822b4f78dc0a Give the man some credit. A former “Assistant of the Year” at Auburn, Borges came in with a cohesive, direct game plan and the play calling and adjustments became much easier. Still, due to the complications of switching schemes back and forth from Pro to PS, Gardner had to execute to near perfection, along with Borges, to get this to work. 


– What in God’s name is going on with Malzahn’s offense??  Don’t give me Fig Newton – Malzahn could get points with me at QB!  I will thoroughly examine the puzzle of maybe Malzahn’s worst offense in his coaching career – for now – on

– Muschumps needs to move back to Defensive Coordinator, where he excels with his rah-rah attitude, understanding of Nick Saban Zone Blitzing Schemes, and solid X&O know how.  But bringing in NFL Schemes with Charlie Weiss after years of success with the Power Spread of Urban Meyer is silly.  Again, another misunderstanding of this PS idea.  ITS NOT A GIMMICK – never was meant as such.  Only those who don’t understand its range, would use the PS as a gimmick – like lining up in the Wildcat formation every once in a while to shake up a defense, but with no real offensive game plan of why your using this formation in the first place.

I notice that there are a lot of defensive coaches and offensive line coaches throughout the college ranks who move into prominent positions with the power to decide on either what type of offense to go with or what type of offensive coordinator to bring in.  In Muschumps case he may have felt that too much Spread Offense  could create injuries and turnovers, which would put his beloved defense in a bad position. He certainly couldn’t use the excuse that the talent on Florida was geared more towards two back Pro Sets and 3&4 WR Pro Style Passing Spreads, which Weiss likes to run.

Every once in a while there’s the brilliant Defensive coach who understands concepts on offense, such as Brian Kelly and Charlie Strong.  Strong could eventually be recognized as the top coach of the future – be patient – in Louisville, Strong inherited more problems than simply what schemes to run.  But Strong has said he will run the Power Spread and he’s not lying as you can see by his recruiting. What’s really impressive is Strong’s understanding, from the Defensive side, of the PS and how, possibly, to stop it or at least slow it down.  As Saban was one of the first to really find a way to shut down the Passing Spread (Zone Blitzing schemes  were actually started by Bob Davie), Strong may be the first to really put a dent in a well run Power Spread scheme.

In the meantime,  poor Charlie Weiss actually went to the PS just a bit, and of course with some success, but this isnt his expertise and it shows.  So back to the NFL schemes, which will always be slaughtered in College Football unless they are executed to near perfection. Why? Because young kids need simpler schemes that let them run and hit and PLAY – not being so deterred by “thought” that an opponent of similar size and athleticism either knocks his block off or runs by him for another touchdown.  The SEC of the last decade has been a great example of this – not necessarily the “fastest” teams as so many fans have erroneously decided, but definitely the best assistant coaches who set up their top athletes in great positions on the field to excell to the max of their skills!

Heavy thinking NFL offensive schemes in the SEC  are a step backwards for that proud conference.  PS schemes don’t always work (see above), but they don’t need nearly the execution to work as do the NFL schemes and have a far greater chance for success.


The Former OHIO STATE  University 17   ILLINOIS 7

I know that we won, but this is still not the real Ohio State University, though the Heart and Will is there and it wont be too long before we are once again THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY.

Good Stuff:
-Luke Fickell is a stand up guy, smart – already a top notch Defensive Coordinator with big potential as a Head Coach,  but its not his time yet.  Lets just hope we can somehow keep him in the program no matter what happens this year!

-OSU Defense shined – mainly due to 3 reasons:  First and foremost, Jim Tressel’s incredible recruiting reign. The young talent has been peeking thru all year and really shined yesterday! The 2 other reasons below…

-25 mph winds  really helped us – lets be honest!

-Illinois is very overrated – as is most of the Big 10 and this year a lot of teams in College Football.  Dose of honesty again.  It may be one of those average years where there is a lot of change (though this unfortunately seems like every year now) and not too many legitimate top teams. Should help OSU’s record in its most tumultuous year in some time.

Bad Stuff:
– Fickel admittedly is not an offensive coordinator and Bollman, non-admittedly, is not either. This leaves us with Stan Drayton, the 1st year WRs coach, who is from the Urban Meyer, Power Spread vein.  In @powerspread,  I called this game as a battle not between Illinois and OSU, but between Fickell and Bollman or more appropriately Fickell’s courage to give more reign to Drayton over Bollman.  But, understandably so, it aint happenin’ folks!  Yesterday was ALL BOLLMAN.  There’s so much transition going on already, that its hard to expect Fickell to pull the reigns from a long time Tressel assistant and hand them over to a 1st year WRs coach – but we may have a hidden gem in Drayton and need to use him.

-So we only passed the ball 2 times in the first half and completed one all game.  But passing vs running is not the point. It was windy on the road with a young and banged up QB.  Running the ball with all our speed was smart – but NOT OUT OF THE SAME I AND PRO SETS PLAY AFTER PLAY!  The first play we were in the PS and ran a Read Option in which Miller gained an easy 5 yards.  WE HARDLY SAW THE PS AGAIN!  When we did for a play in the 2nd half we had our best play of the game except for the TD.  The Power Spread is perfect for weather like this – we need to keep the field spread and give our speedy QB and RBs room to roam.  Injuries and turnovers are NO EXCUSE!   Putting our guys in 3rd and 10 or basically tipping the Defense off the whole game as to all runs on “1st down” and all passes on “3rd and long” can create more in the way of injuries and turnovers than any Spread offense EVER WILL.  

-I probably should put this in the “Good Stuff” category, but its so ludicrous it belongs here. Besides almost all running plays in the first half, with most of them coming out of the same stagnant sets and not utilizing Miller as a threat, we ran a plethora of draw plays that actually FAKED OUT ILLINOIS! How is that, you ask?? No modern day team in their right mind would expect continual draw plays without being set up by any passses – it borders on insanity – yet, maybe Bollman is a genius afterall. Maybe he knew that there’s no way Illinois would expect him to keep running the Draw, over and over, without a pass – pretty much negating the reason for the play at all! Illinois kept EXPECTING PASS and kept GETTING RUN! LOL!  By god it worked – for a while anyway. But  I get the feeling we wont be able to do this week after week – just a hunch.  🙂

-I guess the BIG QUESTION (besides “who is this team with the Ohio State uniforms on the field”)  is “WILL WE WASTE ANOTHER TOP NOTCH PS TALENT QB LIKE WE WASTED THE LAST ONE?”  If Urban Meyer shows up here in the near future, then the answer is no.  If not, then Fickell or whoever the coach may be needs to get a good OC who understands  – really understands – the Power Spread and how special the PS can be when you have a running talent at QB the likes of Braxton Miller.


NEBRASKA 34  The Former OHIO STATE University 27

“Hey Tom, did you see that Nebraska , Ohio State game  –  what was that??   That Bowserhead guy really SUCKS! It was crazy – that Brandon Miller kid is kickin some ass – showing off all this talent everyone’s talking about – gets hurt – in comes Bozehead and they cant get anymore points. Suddenly, Martini catches fire and that’s the game – no way the bucks lose that game if Miller doesnt get hurt!” 

“Yeah – I think you mean Martinez – but he’s so inconsistent – young kids – takes them forever to get the fundamentals. Plus, he’s one of them there runnin qbs – cant really pass – all that gimmiky fake hand off stuff – like we’re back in the 1920s or somethin. That shit would never work in the NFL!  But , yeah that Bowsermen guy really sucks – whats he doing on Ohio State – wasnt he that bartender we had at that place with all those hot chicks at last year’ company party,  hoohahahahaha!”

HAHAHAHOOHOHHAHA.. UGH.UH….choke/ gag, cough up a huge amount of morning flem and uses his coffee cup as a sewer grate to spit in

“Jesus, are you ok?… Like Ive always said – ITS ALL ABOUT THE QB – Its how its always been – thats why the NFL pays their QBs so much – the first half was Miller time and the 2nd half was Martini ..time..?”

“Yep, no doubt about it – the QB runs the show- if that damn Martini kid would grow up Nebraska will have a shot at the BCS this year……. Whoa , Damn!…  who’s the hot new temp! weeowww!”

I hate to say it, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a conversation like this amongst our Financial Elite in the Wall Street District of NYC.  It would be no different than what we would hear throughout the rest of the country – from Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Atlanta to Texas, Nebraska, Montana or anywhere in CA!  Its always been the same – since I’ve been a kid anyway – all about the talent – all about the stars – and #1, all about the QB.  But I have always disagreed with this theory.  When I was a kid growing up in Pittsburgh, I always felt everyone gave Terry Bradshaw wayyy too much credit for the Pittsburgh Steelers 4 Super Bowls.  And still today, I feel the same and would disagree with most who feel it was all about the QBS in  Saturday Nights Debacle where OSU gave up a 27-6 lead to lose by a TD.

Sure, Miller and Martinez are two youngsters learning their way to potential stardom and Joe Bauserman (hopefully I got the name right!) doesn’t have their kind of talent – especially in his feet.  But here’s the truth that I see –  laugh as you might, but Bauserman is not that bad and all 3 of these QBs production or lack thereof was a product of the schemes run on that night. And,  btw, while I agree that Bauserman may be better off at a smaller Division I school, he was once a top recruit from Florida and he has a decent arm and can make some reads IF he’s put in the right position.

In the first half for OSU there were some positive signs.  It looked like maybe Fickell let ex-Urban Meyer assistant, Stan Drayton, put in some of his expertise on the Power Spread as there weren’t so many different sets and plays and a lot more cohesion. Also, there was more misdirection out of the Power Spread,  using the skills of Miller and his talented tandem of RBs.   This made life easier on young Miller as OSU as THE POWER SPREAD CAN USE THE RUN TO SET UP THE PASS – now THERE’S  a staple that has always worked in Football. Not a focus on a single player (QB), but a design on offense that has always worked – only now it can be down out of the Spread – not pass first Spread, but run first Spread philosophy.

And that’s where Nebraska got in trouble in the 1st half.  I know that Kurt said below that Pellini has said he wants to run out of the Spread and the blame last year in Nebraska’s abandonment of the Power Spread lies with their former Offensive Coordinator, but Pellini’s Offense is doing the same stupid schemes this year with the RBs Coach, Beck, promoted as the new OC – Pellini’s the one in control.  It was nice of Beck to admit mistakes during the Wisconsin game, but they happened agains against OSU.   I really don’t think he or Pellini really understand the Power Spread – or even know that’s what they are running.  How could any coach that understands the benefit of a great running QB in the Power Spread continue to use the Pro Set or I Formation for more than a handful of plays a game??  THIS is the main reason Ohio State didn’t win any National Titles with Terrele Pryor.

Then, to start the 2nd half, Nebraska comes out in the Pro Set again!!!  Down 20-6 and a 2 RB, running QB under center – ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!??  As an Ohio State Fan I was so happy that we arent the only  Offensively Challenged minds in College Football.  This year has gotten so bad that Im reduced to rooting for other team’s ineptitude in an effort to get a victory!  But, alas – it was too good to be true.  But not until after Ohio State proved even more brainless in coming out in the 2nd Half in the I Formation with power runs up the left and right guard on almost EVERY 1ST DOWN PLAY and many 2nd downs. HORRIBLE SCHEME – HORRIBLE OFFENSIVE GAME MANAGEMENT!  As my good OSU buddy Jimmy was yelling at me that we had a big lead and should play it safe – I SAID “THAT’S NOT THE GAME OF FOOTBALL ANYMORE!”  With all the talent on the field today and with some of the brilliant schemes going on – mostly out of the Power Spread Concept – NO LEAD IS SAFE!  To OSU’s credit and I think to the credit of Luke Fickell to try and stay aggressive – we went back to the Power Spread and that’s when we  moved the ball and got another TD.  But after that there was more I Formation junk and then the INJURY>  then almost a total shutdown with Bauserman.

Finally, for Nebraska, after the turnover, Pellini went to the Power Spread and  lo and behold , IT WORKED! And I thought to myself with the score now 27-13 is he going to try it again?  Or will he think its smart to go the way of the “brilliant” NFL with either a Pro Set , Pro Passing Spread or West Coast offense – basically all the NFL really does.  But to my dismay he ran Power Spread after Power Spread scheme and I knew then we wouldn’t be able to stop Martinez. Only a handful of Defensive Coaches are even close to slowing down the Power Spread right now – lead by Charlie Strong at Louisville – but NO ONE CAN STOP IT – if its executed to even a minimum degree of efficiency. And with Fickell unable to concentrate on just Defense anymore, we are seeing the inept efforts of Heacock, who NEVER knew how to stop an offense with a running QB in a misdirection Read Option Spread.

Now, where does Bauserman fit into all of this – he’s just a sucky QB,  right?? Case Closed. NO- CASE RE OPENED!  Bauserman may not be a Heisman Candidate, but he’s good enough.  Again, the field needs to be Spread to help him out – WHY you ask – because he’s too damn short to be behind center or doing silly NFL play action out of the 2 back set – the days of Pat Haden are over!  What do you do with a small , but smart QB , with some arm strength on shorter passes and a decent release – spread the field and whip short passes around.  Even some Read Option – or even some Pistol.  In fact, Nebraska, WHEN they do use the Power Spread , has a real nice package of Zone Read Pistol and a 3 RB look that resembles the  Single Wing Hybrid with which Urban Meyer experimented. Bauserman would be fine in this package.  But I cant expect that from the cluster mess that we have going on. But at least spread the field and do some quick passes – sort of like Purdue’s Joe Tiller offense or the Air Raid of Leach’s Texas Tech attack.  Our lone TD against MSU was from the spread.

Now, you can see even from highlights of the last drive that it wasn’t all good with Bauserman in the shotgun passing spread – but its our best chance – and he made some nice throws even though MSU had their ears pinned back, knowing we had to throw, and were really coming after Bauserman.

Would we have won with Bauserman in the Spread??  Probably not once Nebraska went to and stayed in the Power Spread.  BUT if we had run the Power Spread at the start of the 2nd half and kept applying the pressure, we may have been up 34-6 or more!   THEN by continuing to run the spread we may have held the ball longer with short completions and maybe Nebraska runs out of time – or starts to throw too much and gets one last interception.  This game WAS NOT ABOUT THE QBS – and it wasn’t JUST about just passing or running the ball as Steven Sipple said (see Kurt’s Entry on Week 5) – IT WAS ALL ABOUT SCHEMES – IN PARTICULAR THE POWER SPREAD.  Ohio State executed it in the first half and Nebraska had an even better Power Spread package at the end.

Over on  I will eventually research further into what the heck’s going on with Bo Pellini – who made such a big splash as a head coach, but is now being questioned not only for his Offense’s flaws, but amazingly, also for his Defense’s issues.

Oh and don’t worry – we will be hearing more from our Wall Street friends, Tom & Dick – The Football Experts – later in the year …. Harry may even chime in with some thoughtful insights of his own!


#8 NEBRASKA: 17 – #7 WISCONSIN: 48

In the 2nd half I’ll have an identity crisis

Tim Beck replaced Shawn Watson as offensive coordinator in the off-season after the Husker offense’s production seemingly fell off of a cliff in the second half of the previous two seasons. Saturday night against Wisconsin in Nebraska’s long anticipated debut in the Big Ten Beck seemed to fall into the same trap Watson did: abandoning their ground attack and relying on Martinez’s arm.

With Watson it seemed that he tended to fall back into his West Coast Offensive roots when things would go awry. With Beck, to be fair, it’s still too early to tell. It seemed that when he took over for Watson it was because Pelini wanted an offense truly oriented around The Power Spread which Watson was not producing. So why Beck part way through Saturday night’s game dialed up pass after pass, without even much play-action, is a mystery. What is encouraging though is that Beck knows Nebraska is a spread-to-run team and they will have to get back to that.

I like the way you naked bootleg

2011 is something of an experiment for the Badgers: give offensive coordinator Paul Chryst a qb that can run but yet who possesses all of the same qualities as any of Wisconsin’s previous steady pocket-passer types, along with their gargantuan offensive line and stable of bruising running backs and you have one scary offense.

For Paul Chryst landing Russell Wilson might turn out to be on parallel to what Cam Newton was for Gus Malzahn.  Both Chryst and Malzahn are excellent coaches with great schemes, but those players were like gifting them video game-like athletes capable of seemingly anything. While it’s well documented that Bielema likes Wisconsin to have a smash-mouth offense, what doesn’t get enough attention is the subtle mis-directional cues that Chryst throws at opposing defenses. Against Ohio State last year it was variation of Jet Sweeps pump fakes to wide receivers in the flats which kept the Buckeye defense on their heels. In the past Chryst has also been one to catch defenses off-guard by using the Naked Bootleg, with Russell Wilson this is more lethal for Chryst than ever before. Despite whatever Bret Bielema says about his team’s offense, which seems to only discredit the ingeniousness of his offensive coordinator, there’s much more to it than just three yards and a cloud of dust.