Charting Purdue – Slogging Through It

I mentioned way back in the Wyoming write up that I had pretty substantial concerns about the interior OL.  Unfortunately, with Nick Gates now working on one leg and David Knevel dealing with his own injuries, those concerns have now spread to the entire offensive line.  Not exactly what you want in October staring down the barrel at two straight games against top 15 teams.

There was no escaping that it was a complete s*^&show against Purdue for much of the game.  With 484 yards and 27 points, the overall numbers weren’t horrible.  But it’s how Nebraska reached those totals that is increasingly becoming the problem.  Nebraska’s inside zone series, the base of its entire run game, has started to go off the rails.  A bunch of plays going for 2 yards or less before finally popping one for big yards.  That makes the box score look good, but it also means a lot of punts until you bust one of those big runs.  Such is life with the state of Nebraska’s offensive line right now.

Let’s take a look at how Nebraska squeezed as much as it could out of its offense on Saturday against Purdue.

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Scouting Illinois – Offense

Scouting report is back this week.  Though Illinois is a conference foe, they’ve undergone a coaching change, with Bill Cubit out and Lovie Smith in.  With that, the man of the hour is Garrick McGee, the piece of shit fine offensive coordinator who stole Desmond Fitzpatrick from wide receivers coach Keith Williams late in last year’s recruiting cycle.  I suspect there will be no pleasantries exchanged pregame between McGee and Williams, though the #w4l signal might get thrown across the field a few times.

But we’re here to talk about McGee ON the football field, not about him wooing sketchy fathers off of it.  So let’s take a look at what his first-year Illini offense has to offer.

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Inside Zone Part I – Guest Post

One of the interesting things about football strategy is that even among the most basic plays, there are often wildly different ways to coach them.  To give you a bit of that flavor, I’ve asked other writers to occasionally provide guest posts to the blog.  Most of these guest writers have coached or played in Nebraska, though I’m always open to contributors from beyond the Good Life.  

Today’s guest post is part of a series dedicated to the inside zone play.  We’ve covered this play in the abstract, but for you guys and girls who really want to know the nuts and bolts of it, I wanted to dive a little bit deeper into the blocking scheme itself.  Enter guest poster Ryan Reuter, a Gretna Dragon who was stuck with me for most of this year’s Big Red Coaches Clinic.  After the jump, Ryan breaks down the basics of the inside zone play.  You can harass him on Twitter @Hoss_Reuter if you want more information.

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Charting the South Alabama Game

The South Alabama game was all about inside zone runs and a ton of different motions.  Nebraska showed 4 different inside zone variants, 1 option, 6 outside zone plays, 1 QB Power Sweep, 4 Power/Counter plays, and 3 jet sweeps.  Within those, let’s take a look at how Langsdorf and Riley established the run to the tune of 37 carries for 258 yards. Continue reading “Charting the South Alabama Game”

Nebraska’s Outside Zone and Variants – South Alabama

Because inside zone targets the interior DL and LBs, defenses will start to overreact to it after a few times of being gashed in the middle.  Once Riley and Langsdorf see this happening, they mix it up with outside zone (“OZ”).  OZ is also known as the “stretch” play.  Unlike the vertically hitting inside zone play, OZ is about horizontal displacement: move the defensive line and linebackers toward the sideline and make them maintain their gap integrity.  Once a hole opens up in their front, stick your foot in the ground and get vertical.  This type of blocking isn’t new to Nebraska; Osborne and Tenopir frequently blocked their option runs with it, and of course Bill Callahan loved that god damn stretch play against USC.

Nebraska runs a couple of different versions of OZ depending on the game plan for the week and the fronts they see from the defense.  In this post, let’s look at two of them: (1) standard OZ; and (2) the Pin and Pull.

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Nebraska Screen Game – BYU

Beyond Nebraska fans’ introduction to jet motion and the sweep, Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf’s robust screen package was also another major change from 2014 and Tim Beck’s offense.  By my count, Nebraska ran 6 different variations of the screen against BYU.  After learning early that inside zone wasn’t going to work against Travis Tuiloma, BYU’s monster nose tackle, Langsdorf began to heavily work the screen game to help remove defenders from the box and get Tommy Armstrong comfortable with easy throws.  Let’s take a look at a couple of his core concepts in the screen game.

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Nebraska’s Introduction to the Jet Sweep – BYU

Nebraska’s first game of the year against BYU introduced fans to the basic tenets that appear throughout Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf’s offense.  Inside and outside zone, a lot of motion (jet, H, Y return, etc.), shotgun, under center, tight end and fullback wings, detached  and flexed tight ends.  This was a lot of variety for BYU to deal with, and to their credit, they handled it pretty well.

A team’s first drive often gives you a good glimpse into the offense’s core principles, largely because offensive coordinators want to see how defenses plan to answer those principles before opening up more of the playbook.  I’m not sure whether Langsdorf is a script play caller, but the first drive showed a lot of things that Nebraska leaned on throughout the year.  Perhaps most importantly, it was Nebraska fans’ first real introduction to something they had heard about in spring and fall camp: the jet sweep.  Or as Riley likes to call it, the “fly” sweep.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at Nebraska’s first drive against BYU, which featured two plays with jet motion.

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