Oregon – Behold, Tommy Armstrong’s Evolution

Tommy Armstrong, much maligned, some of it well deserved, is currently sitting at 29th in the country in passer efficiency rating and 36th in total yards per game.  Perhaps more importantly, he’s only thrown 1 interception through his first three games to 7 TDs.  Part of that is weak competition, but I’d argue a larger part of that is Armstrong’s maturation as a quarterback along with offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf’s growing comfort with how to use him.  #4 is never going to be coldly efficient in the passing game, but he’s made much better decisions with the football this year both passing and running it.  And for his part, Langsdorf has been able to introduce Tommy’s legs not only in the running game, but also by building passing concepts that take advantage of them as well.

This week we’re going to go a little off the reservation to look at this in action.  Instead of breaking down three new plays, we’ll take a look at a single offensive concept and how it unfolds during a game.  When OCs talk about being “multiple” or “flexible,” they’re not just talking in a macro sense about being able to both run and throw the ball.  Rather in a micro sense they’re also talking about being able to run core offensive concepts across a wide variety of formations and with small tweaks on each play.  Another indicator of multiplicity, largely because of the new RPO revolution, is packaging run game concepts with passing game concepts on the same play, and again both of which you can show out of multiple formations.  When OCs can get to that level in their play calling, that’s when you start to see offenses really take off.  Tom Osborne was one of the best at this multiplicity, calling over 75% of his plays as runs but showing those core running concepts out of a ton of formations and with small deviations in the blocking schemes as well.  The end result is hesitant defenses, never sure what they’re going to see after the snap because film study doesn’t reveal too many tendencies. 

As we’ll see in this write up, Danny Langsdorf is starting to pick on defenses in the same way.  Calm down there, Run the Damn Ball Guy,  I’m not saying OCDL is Tom Osborne.  I will say though that he’s starting to climb up the chart of legit OCs in college football.  This week, let’s take a look at Langsdorf’s flare/swing screen concept and how he uses it to dupe opposing coordinators and their players.

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Charting Oregon – What You Can Do, Now We Can Do Too

Wow.  When I said buckle up, I meant it in theory, but I wasn’t sure what it would look like in person.  Then game time hit and Huskers offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf put out one of the most interesting F U games I’ve ever seen, going Gun with 11 personnel for the overwhelming part of the day and slamming an offense that looked strangely like an Oregon Ducks offense right down Brady Hoke’s throat.  Amusingly, Brock Huard referred to it as a “pro style” offense at the same time Langsdorf kept dialing up QB run after QB run packaged with RPOs to constrain the apex defenders.  What we saw Saturday was anything but pro style, instead picking and choosing from the best concepts around right now in college football to leverage Armstrong’s legs and other talented skill position players that Langsdorf simply never had en masse at Oregon State.

And it was capped off by a brilliant marriage between Armstrong and Cethan Carter, both of whom completely flummoxed the Ducks’ defense for much of the day.  Though Armstrong wasn’t great through the air in the first half, he turned it around in the second half and delivered a classic gut check performance when his team needed it.  We talked last week about how Armstrong was quietly delivering one hell of a season coming into the Oregon game.  If there were any doubts about whether those numbers were bloated simply by weak competition, #4 erased them against a true Power 5 team, hanging up 295 total yards and 4 TDs.  Fittingly, the knockout blow came on a Lead Draw/Y Stick RPO, with Armstrong pulling it down and housing it from 34 yards out.  It’s a play that Langsdorf dialed up 3 times in the last 6 minutes alone, forcing Oregon to deal with the twin terrors that Armstrong and Carter have become.

Let’s take a look at how Langsdorf and company pulled chapters out of the Oregon playbook to beat the Ducks over the head with them.

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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 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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