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Mensa offense vs Big 12 defenses

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It appears that Herman and the staff are deliberately limiting the potential of the offense in the name of protecting Sam Ehlinger.  The box score vs Oklahoma State shows Sam with 10 carries but only 4 of those were designed as QB runs or potential runs.  The others were all scrambles from the pocket.  During the first drive Sam ran QB counter.  He later ran a QB draw and one zone read play.  Lastly was the bootleg keeper for the final 1st down that allowed Texas to kill the clock.

I think the coaches are right to protect Sam since he is the heart of the offense.  I'd still like to see him used as a running threat early in the game.  At least keep the ball in his hands longer at times to force the DBs to turn and run downfield instead of coming up in run support immediately when they see the ball handed off.  By turning almost exclusively to a conventional running game, Texas loses the extra blocker and allows the safeties to have an easier read and less conflict between coverage responsibilities and run support.

I REALLY hope Mensa makes Sam more of a running threat against OU.  Grinch likes to stem, stunt and slant his front which often leaves seams to be exploited by the running game with quick inside handoffs.  This can be compounded by the base quarters coverage scheme they employ.  It's tough enough to get good run fits with it under ideal conditions because 4 DBs have deep coverage responsibilities.  Get them to turn and run with the WRs and there will be very little support at the 2nd level and almost nothing behind the LBs.

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@sushihorn  Good stuff!!

Curious what a play chart study might show about Herman's playcalling tendencies??  Not having Collin Johnson, and protecting Ehlinger by not running him certainly limited the play calling vs Okie Lite.

Just seems like a lot of plays were not in the gameplan vs Okie Lite.  Not many passes to the RBs and TEs.  Not many WR screens.  Not sure why Eagles didn't get more passes directed his way.  Why wasn't Jake on the field more??  It certainly feels like Herman used a much smaller playbook for Okie Lite.  Not a lot of variety in the plays used during the 4th quarter.  

Guessing that Herman is probably holding back part of his offense for blOU.  🤘

 

Edited by LTtxfan

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16 minutes ago, LTtxfan said:

@sushihorn  Good stuff!!

Curious what a play chart study might show about Herman's playcalling tendencies??  Not having Collin Johnson, and protecting Ehlinger by not running him certainly limited the play calling vs Okie Lite.

Just seems like a lot of plays were not in the gameplan vs Okie Lite.  Not many passes to the RBs and TEs.  Not many WR screens.  Not sure why Eagles didn't get more passes directed his way.  Why wasn't Jake on the field more??  It certainly feels like Herman used a much smaller playbook for Okie Lite.  Not a lot of variety in the plays used during the 4th quarter.  

Guessing that Herman is probably holding back part of his offense for blOU.  🤘

 

Every must-have 3rd down was a screen to Duv.

I agree Jake should be out there. Honestly I they should be running 4 WRs. 

Also John Burt looked like he hit a growth spurt. He also tries when blocking, I think he should get the most over Epps until he can play more physical.

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42 minutes ago, Zavala said:

Every must-have 3rd down was a screen to Duv.

I agree Jake should be out there. Honestly I they should be running 4 WRs. 

Also John Burt looked like he hit a growth spurt. He also tries when blocking, I think he should get the most over Epps until he can play more physical.

Yeah, I would love to see Burt run a few more verticals just to wear out the defense...  Epps should just be used situationally since he shys away from contact.

 

Edited by LTtxfan

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8 hours ago, LTtxfan said:

Yeah, I would love to see Burt run a few more verticals just to wear out the defense...  Epps should just be used situationally since he shys away from contact.

 

I honestly dont know of any situation outside the death of every other receiver and running back (and I guess back up qb) on the roster that calls for Epps. He is useless out there, doesnt do anything well, and combines that with a complete lack of effort. He is just not ready to be a football player, at least not yet. 

Edited by Dahobbs

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Thx to La @Machinator for finding this...

Offensive Points Per Drive (vs FBS opp, no garbage time) (min 3 FBS opp)

1. Alabama.. 4.6

2. LSU.. 4.6

3. Wisconsin.. 4.1

4. Ohio St.. 4.0

5. Wash St.. 3.9

6. Texas.. 3.7

7. Washington.. 3.6

8. Georgia.. 3.5

9. Okla St.. 3.3

10. Clemson.. 3.2 (Via  @bcfremeau ) Garbage Time

 
Image
 
9:29 AM · Sep 24, 2019·TweetDeck

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5 hours ago, USNALonghorn said:

Here’s a controversial take:

Bryan Harsin is jealous of Mensa’s offensive efficiency and trick play execution.

/homer 

I bet the only thing he covets is our personnel. 

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Time for Mensa to step up!!

Get more playmakers on the field.  The limited use of Jake Smith in blOU game was almost criminal.  For a few plays Mensa, please move Devin back to X and play Jake at slot.  Let's start seeing more Marcus Washington or Woodard on the field. Play Wiley more downs to help the Damn run game -- Brewer can't block for shit!!

Run John Burt on more verticals to expand the Damn field.  Don't play Epps except for jumpball goal line situations.  Gameplan more short passes to RBs and TEs to reduce hits on Sam.  C'mon fucking Meh and Meekins, get better blocking from the Damn WRs so Duvernay or Jake can bust some big plays in WR screens!!

Let's be more aggressive on offense, rotate more players in,  and see some Damn creativity on offense!!  Flip the Damn script...

giphy.gif

 

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30 minutes ago, LTtxfan said:

Let's be more aggressive on offense, rotate more players in,  and see some Damn creativity on offense!!  Flip the Damn script...

Touchdown-Play.gif

Edited by TreatyOak

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On 6/2/2019 at 5:02 AM, HOOK'EMHOOAH said:

I know Herman's philosophy is that it doesn't matter if the win is by 1 or 100, it's still a win. With that being said, I really hope he decides to let the team step on everyone's throat and not go conservative like he has in his first two years once leading late.

Trintellix.jpg

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If below is accurate, it's disturbing.... WTF !!

Thanks to @bschoolprof for this info:

bschoolprof:  "There’s been lots of talk on pay sites about how predictable our offense is and how they tip run vs pass by alignment. OB asked some “sources” inside the program about this and below was the response. It’s probably 995 clickbait, but smacks so much of Herman’s arrogance to maybe be true...

Orangebloods:  Occasionally, the demand for answers from our community is so overwhelming, hard questions need to be asked.  Alex Dunlap recently analyzed the Longhorn offense, and came to the conclusion that Texas was tipping its plays. It was a fascinating analysis by Dunlap. It was one of Dunlap’s most enlightening Deep Digs.  Initially, I was content with Dunlap’s insight. However, Longhorn fans wanted feedback from folks inside the building. After declining to ask questions about another reporter’s research, which can create a slippery slope if you want to challenge Texas football coach Tom Herman’s play-calling at a press conference without having your ducks in a row for his inevitable rebuttal, I eventually agreed with the masses. Somebody had to do some digging, and I had to pick the brains of multiple sources this week.   As a warning, some of you may not like what I uncovered, and my only request is you keep the profanity to a minimum.  If you missed Dunlap’s initial article, now would be a great time for a review. 

“There were 73 plays versus TCU where a running back was lined up somewhere in the backfield alongside Ehlinger. On 31 of those plays, the running back was clearly lined up "behind" him, meaning either in pistol, or in a fashion to where, if looking from the sideline directly down the yard marker, one player would not block your view of the other. If it would, that was considered an "even" or staggered alignment. All things very easy for the eyeballs to gauge from the defensive side of the football, thanks to the miracles of human depth perception and natural visual acuity. There were 42 snaps where the running back was lined up alongside Ehlinger, or just ever-so-slightly staggered, as described above.

“Of the 31 times the running back was lined up clearly behind Ehlinger, Texas ran the football 23 times, or 74% of the time.  “Of the 42 times the running back lined up at an equivalent or slightly staggered depth to Ehlinger, Texas dropped back to throw the football in all but one of those instances where Roschon Johnson was handed the football coming directly across Ehlinger's body on a relatively rare outside-zone call.  “For Patterson and his defense's sake, they could basically depend on this pre-snap, run-versus-pass read like clockwork.”

I wanted to get the general opinions of Dunlap’s assessment, and if there was any concern about the Texas offense tipping its plays. As expected, I was questioned about Dunlap’s football background. Once we got past that part of the conversations, I received a very interesting explanation.   From what I was told, a member of Herman’s support staff must self-scout the Longhorns and look for tendencies every week. That person reviews the game film, without the benefit of knowing what plays are being called, and he charts the propensities from each game.  According to one source, there are tendencies in a shotgun offense. Those tendencies are not limited to depth and width of a running back, but where he aligns in relation to the tight end (opposite and same side). The person in charge of that self-scouting aspect writes down everything he sees and presents his findings to the football staff on Mondays. 

Dunlap said, “of the 31 times the running back was lined up clearly behind Ehlinger, Texas ran the football 23 times, or 74% of the time.”  That number is not high enough to create too many concerns behind closed doors.  I was told the Longhorn staff only worries about that number when it approaches at least 90 percent. When that number is somewhere between 90 and 95 percent, they will put in a few new wrinkles on offense to decrease that number. 

The people I spoke to do not believe opposing teams will game-plan anything off a 70 percent predictability number. As it was explained to me, an opposing team might have an idea what is coming seven out of 10 times. However, that team is not willing to risk giving up a touchdown on the other three plays when the unexpected occurs.  In addition, I learned there is pride in the building about being able to impose their will.  
One source noted that Texas’ offense is ranked fourth in the country with a 53.7 percent passing completion rate.  “You know what is?” the source said. “It is because Tom’s offense knows how to impose their f-ing will on other teams. That’s why. They do the same thing over and over again on third-down. Why? Because it works.”

Dunlap’s original researching was definitely enlightening.  Nevertheless, you also know why nobody associated with the program is concerned about tipping plays. 

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I am not concerned much about tipping plays, either. If you're not going to execute well, it doesn't really matter what the defense knows or doesn't know.

The problem on offense isn't that they are clueless schematically; it's that they are just plain clueless about life in general. When you're not wearing pants, a boutonniere looks pretty silly.

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I am not concerned much about tipping plays, either. If you're not going to execute well, it doesn't really matter what the defense knows or doesn't know.
The problem on offense isn't that they are clueless schematically; it's that they are just plain clueless about life in general. When you're not wearing pants, a boutonniere looks pretty silly.


I've never seen the word "boutonniere" written. I've heard it countless times, but this is the first time I've read it.

Today is a good day.

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On 11/8/2019 at 7:19 AM, LTtxfan said:

If below is accurate, it's disturbing.... WTF !!

Thanks to @bschoolprof for this info:

bschoolprof:  "There’s been lots of talk on pay sites about how predictable our offense is and how they tip run vs pass by alignment. OB asked some “sources” inside the program about this and below was the response. It’s probably 995 clickbait, but smacks so much of Herman’s arrogance to maybe be true...

Orangebloods:  Occasionally, the demand for answers from our community is so overwhelming, hard questions need to be asked.  Alex Dunlap recently analyzed the Longhorn offense, and came to the conclusion that Texas was tipping its plays. It was a fascinating analysis by Dunlap. It was one of Dunlap’s most enlightening Deep Digs.  Initially, I was content with Dunlap’s insight. However, Longhorn fans wanted feedback from folks inside the building. After declining to ask questions about another reporter’s research, which can create a slippery slope if you want to challenge Texas football coach Tom Herman’s play-calling at a press conference without having your ducks in a row for his inevitable rebuttal, I eventually agreed with the masses. Somebody had to do some digging, and I had to pick the brains of multiple sources this week.   As a warning, some of you may not like what I uncovered, and my only request is you keep the profanity to a minimum.  If you missed Dunlap’s initial article, now would be a great time for a review. 

“There were 73 plays versus TCU where a running back was lined up somewhere in the backfield alongside Ehlinger. On 31 of those plays, the running back was clearly lined up "behind" him, meaning either in pistol, or in a fashion to where, if looking from the sideline directly down the yard marker, one player would not block your view of the other. If it would, that was considered an "even" or staggered alignment. All things very easy for the eyeballs to gauge from the defensive side of the football, thanks to the miracles of human depth perception and natural visual acuity. There were 42 snaps where the running back was lined up alongside Ehlinger, or just ever-so-slightly staggered, as described above.

“Of the 31 times the running back was lined up clearly behind Ehlinger, Texas ran the football 23 times, or 74% of the time.  “Of the 42 times the running back lined up at an equivalent or slightly staggered depth to Ehlinger, Texas dropped back to throw the football in all but one of those instances where Roschon Johnson was handed the football coming directly across Ehlinger's body on a relatively rare outside-zone call.  “For Patterson and his defense's sake, they could basically depend on this pre-snap, run-versus-pass read like clockwork.”

I wanted to get the general opinions of Dunlap’s assessment, and if there was any concern about the Texas offense tipping its plays. As expected, I was questioned about Dunlap’s football background. Once we got past that part of the conversations, I received a very interesting explanation.   From what I was told, a member of Herman’s support staff must self-scout the Longhorns and look for tendencies every week. That person reviews the game film, without the benefit of knowing what plays are being called, and he charts the propensities from each game.  According to one source, there are tendencies in a shotgun offense. Those tendencies are not limited to depth and width of a running back, but where he aligns in relation to the tight end (opposite and same side). The person in charge of that self-scouting aspect writes down everything he sees and presents his findings to the football staff on Mondays. 

Dunlap said, “of the 31 times the running back was lined up clearly behind Ehlinger, Texas ran the football 23 times, or 74% of the time.”  That number is not high enough to create too many concerns behind closed doors.  I was told the Longhorn staff only worries about that number when it approaches at least 90 percent. When that number is somewhere between 90 and 95 percent, they will put in a few new wrinkles on offense to decrease that number. 

The people I spoke to do not believe opposing teams will game-plan anything off a 70 percent predictability number. As it was explained to me, an opposing team might have an idea what is coming seven out of 10 times. However, that team is not willing to risk giving up a touchdown on the other three plays when the unexpected occurs.  In addition, I learned there is pride in the building about being able to impose their will.  
One source noted that Texas’ offense is ranked fourth in the country with a 53.7 percent passing completion rate.  “You know what is?” the source said. “It is because Tom’s offense knows how to impose their f-ing will on other teams. That’s why. They do the same thing over and over again on third-down. Why? Because it works.”

Dunlap’s original researching was definitely enlightening.  Nevertheless, you also know why nobody associated with the program is concerned about tipping plays. 

 

Another report that the other team knew what play Texas was about to run.  Both TCU and Iowa State saw on film that Texas is tipping their plays by how their RBs line up...

 

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Inside Texas reporting Horns Offense was still tipping plays vs Iowa State.... 

 

InsideTexas: The Inside Scoop

By: Justin Wells and Eric Nahlin

TEAM

A frustrated locker room became much more so after the shorter version of this post-game exchange filtered its way to the players. Question: "Did they just out-coach you today in terms of Xs and Os?" Answer: "No, I'd never say we got out-coached. We continue to make adjustments and they had a couple of wrinkles they adjusted to. We felt like we were putting our guys in good position. But it's really hard to tell without watching the film all the answers to give you. We felt like we were making some sound in-game adjustments."

Perhaps Herman is just saving face for a group of coaches he knows are on the hot seat. Maybe he's telling recruits issues on the coaching staff are being overblown. But when you say you didn't get out-coached, minutes after you got out-coached, it puts the blame on the players. The insinuation is they didn't execute a good game plan or adjustments, but they were there to be made. Accountability is the number one pillar of a strong culture and it should start at the top.

Herman also seems to think coaching is a 60 minute window on Saturday. Clearly he was out-coached during the week. The Iowa State staff had the Texas staff dead to rights from the opening kick. Things were so bad Cyclones players were taunting Texas players by saying they knew what they were going to run, and all too often, they were right. The same thing happened in the Kansas game and I imagine many others.

Player frustration is exacerbated by Herman running such a regimented program. Players are beginning to wonder what are they going through all this for when they're getting beaten by teams with much lesser demands. These players know how other programs are run because they're friends with players from countless different schools. The players feel like they do everything asked of them and it's all for naught. They highly suspect the disconnect is coaching.

While that locker room was the worst its been all season I still expect the team to play with maximum effort versus Baylor. The players don't like that program going back throughout the decade and there are positive incentives to winning out. Nobody wants to return to the Texas Bowl. 

 

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On 11/8/2019 at 7:19 AM, LTtxfan said:

One source noted that Texas’ offense is ranked fourth in the country with a 53.7 percent passing completion rate.  “You know what is?” the source said. “It is because Tom’s offense knows how to impose their f-ing will on other teams. That’s why. They do the same thing over and over again on third-down. Why? Because it works.”

How can a 53.7% completion rate possibly be anywhere near fourth in the country?

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3 hours ago, Ultimate Failure said:

How can a 53.7% completion rate possibly be anywhere near fourth in the country?

We are missing whatever the full stat is.  It would be excellent if it were 3rd down percentage, which I think it is supposed to be.  All-time great as a passing down percentage.

Edited by JBJ

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5 hours ago, LTtxfan said:

 

While that locker room was the worst its been all season I still expect the team to play with maximum effort versus Baylor. The players don't like that program going back throughout the decade and there are positive incentives to winning out. Nobody wants to return to the Texas Bowl. 

 

But somebody on here said they were friends with some of the players' parents and they told him the players all loved Mensa and his staff, so that simply cannot be true.

/sarcasm

I am starting to think back to what Ed Oliver said when Major took over from Herman: "Less yelling, more coaching."

And then Oliver tanked on Applewhite and Maje went 8-5 and got fired, because 8-5's not acceptable at Cougar High. Even though just a couple of years earlier, Herman went 9-4 and parlayed that into one of the top jobs in the sport. 

 

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Our tendency to abandon the run towards the end of games has become a big problem over the last few weeks. When we tip our plays with alignment and only have 3 or 4 run plays in the playbook it’s no surprise we don’t have much success against talented defenses. We desperately need to:

1) Mix personnel groupings - TE is a massive weak point on the roster and does not contribute to the run game or pass game

2) Mix in misdirection and outside running plays

3) Quit giving away what we’re going to do pre-snap

4) Have a single voice responsible for play calling during the game. OC by committee is not working.

Realistically none of these problems are really solved until there is some sort of staff makeover. But it wouldn’t take much, even with the current staff, to improve incrementally over the last few games.

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Our tendency to abandon the run towards the end of games has become a big problem over the last few weeks. When we tip our plays with alignment and only have 3 or 4 run plays in the playbook it’s no surprise we don’t have much success against talented defenses. We desperately need to:
1) Mix personnel groupings - TE is a massive weak point on the roster and does not contribute to the run game or pass game
2) Mix in misdirection and outside running plays
3) Quit giving away what we’re going to do pre-snap
4) Have a single voice responsible for play calling during the game. OC by committee is not working.
Realistically none of these problems are really solved until there is some sort of staff makeover. But it wouldn’t take much, even with the current staff, to improve incrementally over the last few games.
Didnt we abandon the pass late against isu?

Baylor has the #1 defense in b12... I hope Colin is good to go.

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We abandon what works in games to stubbornly try to make other failed plays work.

By failed, I am not saying the play is bad, but is not working that game and the defense is stuffing it. We don’t seem to have that many plays either and the ones we do have seem to benefit mostly from up tempo play.

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2 minutes ago, LTtxfan said:

Thx for technical article on Mensa offense @satyanash,

 

“In my opinion when you play such a unique defense back-to-back weeks, there is a fine line of saying, hey, we've got to -- some of our base stuff is not going to be good, right, you say we can't do X, Y and Z because they're going to be in position A, B and C. So you say, okay, well then we need to do D, E and F. I think when you veer too -- again, there's got to be some of that. There has to be, or else you're not going to move the ball.”
-Tom Herman, November 25, 2019

The muddled nature of Herman's explanation for why his offense was abysmal for the second consecutive game tells the story of why his own side of the ball has collapsed in the crucial third year of his regime. Both Baylor and Iowa State play defenses designed to handle the stresses of spread football and Herman has simply lacked answers in response. Texas is going to finish the season with Texas Tech on Friday for the second time in Tom Herman’s tenure as the head coach.

The other post-Turkey Tech game (2017) was notable for featuring a gameplan that anticipated an ability to power through an iffy Red Raider defense despite Texas’ own offense fielding one of the worst OL in program history and Syracuse transfer Kendall Moore at TE. Tech shut down Texas’ tight zone play and Kliff Kingsbury worked out Texas’ dime coverages late in the game before freshman Sam Ehlinger ultimately threw the game away trying to make something happen.

The odds of a deja vu scenario feel all too likely. This matchup gets at the heart of Herman’s struggles in Austin. The design of the Texas offense is to use spread spacing to isolate the Longhorn front against overmatched Big 12 opponents and then repeatedly trample them with the direct, inside zone run game. For much of the last three years, Texas hasn’t been trampling teams but instead routinely getting into third and longs that Sam Ehlinger has attempted to extricate them from with varying degrees of effectiveness. Whatever happens against Texas Tech, the fact that Texas is back in such a familiar setting means that a re-evaluation needs to occur regarding Tom Herman’s offensive vision.

Urban Meyer’s investment

Urban Meyer pulled Tom Herman out of Ames, IA where he’d been the OC for Paul Rhoads for three seasons. He was at that time a bright young mind in the world of power-spread football who was recommended to Meyer as a useful agent for updating the formula that had produced the Tim Tebow offense and two national championships at Florida. The big update that Herman brought to Meyer’s offense?

The same tight zone play we’ve been watching serve as the undercurrent for Texas’ offense the last few years. Herman convinced Meyer that this extra physical brand of inside zone was going to better serve to control the line of scrimmage while the various accoutrements of the spread offense would prevent opponents from getting numbers to the ball to outnumber the offense. In 2014 they had their big breakthrough in which they won the national championship at Ohio State, steamrolling big, bad Wisconsin and Alabama before bullying fellow "spread to run" Oregon in the final. Here’s a glimpse into their chief weapon Ezekiel Elliott’s trajectory over the 2014 season:

image.png

A big change occurred in those final three games, all of which were postseason games. Ohio State took on Wisconsin in the B1G title game, then Alabama in the semi-final, and Oregon in the championship game. The big change was at QB, starter J.T. Barrett was injured at the end of the Michigan game and replaced by Cardale Jones. Take a look at how Michigan lined up against the Ohio State season finale while Barrett was still at the helm:

image.png

The Wolverines are in 4-3 personnel with the free safety at about eight yards deep and playing flat-footed against the run and the sam linebacker crashing on the edge at the snap. JT Barrett completed 13 of 21 passes in that game for 176 yards at 8.4 ypa with one TD and zero interceptions. He did a lot of his damage hitting underneath routes from spread sets against those big Michigan linebackers who had their eyes on the backfield. Here’s how Alabama lined up against Ohio State in the playoffs:

image.png

The Crimson Tide are in nickel personnel with the safeties 12 and 14 yards off the ball. Ohio State attacked them before almost every snap with change of strength motions by the slot and TE as well as slot sweeps, all of which forced Alabama to rotate their safeties and adjust their mental thinking on the fly before the snap. The play after this screen shot was an outside zone/sweep for Zeke that went for 84 yards and a touchdown.

Cardale Jones completed 18-35 passes in this game for 243 yards at 6.9 ypa with one TD and one INT. He did most of his damage on a few long crossing routes and go routes that led to Buckeye points in the first half. Alabama’s safeties couldn’t handle the stress of tracking Devin Smith and Jalin Marshall on deep routes while also closing the creases that opened for Zeke Elliott. Between that and the motions the Buckeyes were using, they were creating major spread stress to opponents and breaking them structurally with superstar Zeke in position to take advantage.

Jones' numbers weren't as good as Barrett's, but the places where he was able to attack opponents on the field mattered. Defenses had to back off, allowing Zeke to dominate at the point of attack and explode in the final three games.

The Tom Herman show

The goal with power-spread football is to use the spacing created by multi-receiver formations to clear out the box so that you can pound the ball between the tackles and control games. Zeke accomplished more than that, which helped set up Herman to get a head coaching job in Houston. Interestingly enough, Herman inherited some “unique” tools to execute that strategy with the Cougar roster.

The main drivers of the Houston offense were 5-11/186 pound Greg Ward Jr, 5-9/182 pound DeMarcus Ayers, and the scrappy and unheralded 6-2/245 pound FB/TE Tyler McCloskey. In year two the Cougars were able to build more of a passing game without Ayers that featured Linell Bonner and Chance Allen, but it still hinged largely on leading rusher Ward, Jr.

Ward had 197 carries (including sacks) in both 2015 and 2016 and his ability to withstand that workload was crucial. Major Applewhite was pretty instrumental here but they employed much of the Herman system, moving McCloskey all over the place and creating space between the tackles to power the ball through. Ward’s ability and willingness to use his tremendous quicks to find openings between the tackles, his durability doing so every week, and the scrambles he routinely made to move the chains on third down allowed their power-spread to control the ball.

However, injuries to the OL in year two combined with a lack of a good inside runner aside from beat up Ward made it tough to control games in the trenches. Fortunately for Herman, the passing game did enough to get them through and the successful recruitment of Ed Oliver helped Todd Orlando’s defense go nuclear. The Cougars won some big games in 2016 before the staff headed North to Austin.

The plan in Austin to overpower the finesse oriented Big 12 with power-spread tactics initially had a good prognosis. Herman and his staff started recruiting the state’s best players, Yancy McKnight would beef them up into thick bullies, and then they’d go pound teams into submission. Sam Ehlinger was the perfect QB and joined the show from year one. Then there was NFL talent both on campus and in the easily recruited junior and senior classes of the Texas high schools that were coming aboard every year.

Just a few problems. One was the lack of TEs on campus that could make Herman’s brand of power-spread viable. In Herman’s system this guy serves as a mobile bludgeon in the run game to create schematic variety, double teams, and to punish nickel fronts. When it’s time to throw, he just needs to be a mobile set of hands to occupy a defender while better receivers work against matchups in space. When Andrew Beck was lost for the 2017 season with a fall camp injury, there was no one else around to fill the role and the offense cratered. Beck returned for a nice 2018 season in which Texas executed the system at a pretty high level while winning 10 games, then he graduated...

The first wave of replacements in the 2017 class were Reese Leitao and Cade Brewer. Leitao was nearly kicked out of the program and has never managed to master the physical side in order to bring the necessary smashmouth dimension. Brewer has fared better but was really more of a receiver in high school at Lake Travis and multiple injuries have delayed (or negated) his development as a blocker and sapped some of his explosiveness.

In 2018 they added Malcolm Epps, who decided to become a 6-7/230 pound receiver and try to run around little scrappy corners rather than trying to block defensive ends. For 2019 they got Brayden Liebrock, another receiving-oriented talent, and Jared Wiley who has the right mindset but also a lanky body that hasn’t had time to be filled out by McKnight or molded into a technician in the trenches. No transfers or position changes have occurred, even though a converted LB or DE (think Caleb Bluiett) would have unquestionably served the offense better than having the extra WR coach.

Another problem was the changing dynamic of the league. Herman’s introduction to the Big 12 took place at the same time as old AAC rival Matt Rhule, who had a similar vision to build a physical team up in Waco. One year after Herman was hired, Matt Campbell arrived to build a smashmouth team in Ames. Then last year Texas Tech and West Virginia hired similar “physicality and defense matter too” offensive coaches in Matt Wells and Neal Brown. Finally there was the ultimate repudiation of Herman’s approach up in Norman, where Lincoln Riley’s superior offensive acumen and established talent/development pipeline was cranking out teams that could overpower the league with scoring with or without competent defensive play.

Herman’s biggest problem has been the inverted Tampa 2, developed by Matt Campbell and Jon Heacock up at Iowa State and subsequently adopted by much of the rest of the league, including Rhule and Phil Snow at Baylor. Both of those teams utilized that scheme in the last two weeks to completely dominate Herman’s third-year Texas offense. The design of the defense is to drop eight defenders and take away deep route combinations and perimeter screens by alignment before encouraging predictable runs into initially light boxes that are quickly reinforced by the secondary closing quickly from initial depth.

image.png

Iowa State held Texas to 54 yards on 26 carries from this defense. Baylor yielded 191 rushing yards on 31 carries but a fair chunk of that came from Ehlinger scrambles that were tackled short of the marker and then the single Keaontay Ingram run that broke free for 68 yards. The Bears also had six TFL and five sacks and essentially shut down the Longhorn offense.

In both instances Texas was doomed by their lack of a physical TE in conjunction with the fact that both the Iowa State and Baylor DL personnel were more than up to the task of holding up in relative isolation against the Texas OL. Those fronts could certainly hold the point of attack long enough for the quick moving cavalry to clean up.

So Herman’s vision to utilize recruiting and McKnight to build units that could overpower finesse opponents in the trenches has been foiled by his own inability to mold a physical TE from a cast of finesse options and the sharpening focus on defense around the league. Herman’s spread run game tactics that were once novel and convincing to Urban Meyer for usage in conquering the Big 10 are old hat in the Big 12, where defenses have been evolving to deal with more advanced spread systems for the last decade.

So now what?

Texas has devolved in 2019, showing less versatility on offense and trying to default to out-muscling opponents that have proven difficult to out-muscle. In combination with the struggles of Todd Orlando’s zone blitz defense to handle modern spread offenses (particularly when the secondary is in the infirmary) that’s led to a team that may finish with a record no better than they had in year one.

To get better results in 2020, Tom Herman is going to need to drastically change his approach to clearing out space in the trenches or else seek to impose Texas’ will somewhere else. The inverted Tampa 2 defense, which has begun to emerge as the antagonist in the Tom Herman story, has challenged the Longhorn approach in a fundamental fashion. What has really troubled Texas is that the defense is designed to be able to send a safety to stop the run from multiple angles and often unaccounted for by the OL or TE.

image.png

There are only five defenders in the box against six blockers, but the defense can send the sam linebacker, nickel/middle safety, free safety, or boundary corner and they can send them in multiple combinations to get a sixth defender in the action and perhaps also a seventh or eighth. The teams running this defense may concede you some initial advantages in the box, but they’re going to close with speed to limit the damage in a way that Michigan, Alabama, or the AAC could never do. Combine that with schools like Iowa State and Baylor fielding DL like Ray Lima and James Lynch while Texas flounders at the TE position and you have more than a problem, you have a crisis.

There are two potential answers to this problem. One is to work out more RPOs, formations, and motions in order to control those off ball defenders and make them hesitate while prioritizing finding a great blocker at TE. Essentially to carry on the same vision but to do it better. The other answer is go the other way, spread opponents out even further and instead of asking them to cover ground to come downhill make them execute pattern-matching schemes and move in multiple directions while chasing multiple receivers. Essentially to pursue the direction that LSU and Clemson have gone in with spread passing, seeking to impose Texas' will with skill and athleticism rather than brute strength.

Considering that the inverted Tampa 2 was designed to handle better versions of the offense Texas is running, the latter direction would be the better option. The problem is that it runs counter to everything Tom Herman's Texas is trying to be. Texas is at a crossroads as a program, the next few steps could shape another decade of Longhorn football.

 

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Thx @satyanash  "Great (and long) breakdown of why our offense has fallen off this year from  "(Ian Boyd) Inside the gameplan: Twilight of the power-spread"

 

The last segment below was especially well done...

The Tom Herman show

The goal with power-spread football is to use the spacing created by multi-receiver formations to clear out the box so that you can pound the ball between the tackles and control games. Zeke accomplished more than that, which helped set up Herman to get a head coaching job in Houston. Interestingly enough, Herman inherited some “unique” tools to execute that strategy with the Cougar roster.

The main drivers of the Houston offense were 5-11/186 pound Greg Ward Jr, 5-9/182 pound DeMarcus Ayers, and the scrappy and unheralded 6-2/245 pound FB/TE Tyler McCloskey. In year two the Cougars were able to build more of a passing game without Ayers that featured Linell Bonner and Chance Allen, but it still hinged largely on leading rusher Ward, Jr.

Ward had 197 carries (including sacks) in both 2015 and 2016 and his ability to withstand that workload was crucial. Major Applewhite was pretty instrumental here but they employed much of the Herman system, moving McCloskey all over the place and creating space between the tackles to power the ball through. Ward’s ability and willingness to use his tremendous quicks to find openings between the tackles, his durability doing so every week, and the scrambles he routinely made to move the chains on third down allowed their power-spread to control the ball.

However, injuries to the OL in year two combined with a lack of a good inside runner aside from beat up Ward made it tough to control games in the trenches. Fortunately for Herman, the passing game did enough to get them through and the successful recruitment of Ed Oliver helped Todd Orlando’s defense go nuclear. The Cougars won some big games in 2016 before the staff headed North to Austin.

The plan in Austin to overpower the finesse oriented Big 12 with power-spread tactics initially had a good prognosis. Herman and his staff started recruiting the state’s best players, Yancy McKnight would beef them up into thick bullies, and then they’d go pound teams into submission. Sam Ehlinger was the perfect QB and joined the show from year one. Then there was NFL talent both on campus and in the easily recruited junior and senior classes of the Texas high schools that were coming aboard every year.

Just a few problems. One was the lack of TEs on campus that could make Herman’s brand of power-spread viable. In Herman’s system this guy serves as a mobile bludgeon in the run game to create schematic variety, double teams, and to punish nickel fronts. When it’s time to throw, he just needs to be a mobile set of hands to occupy a defender while better receivers work against matchups in space. When Andrew Beck was lost for the 2017 season with a fall camp injury, there was no one else around to fill the role and the offense cratered. Beck returned for a nice 2018 season in which Texas executed the system at a pretty high level while winning 10 games, then he graduated...

The first wave of replacements in the 2017 class were Reese Leitao and Cade Brewer. Leitao was nearly kicked out of the program and has never managed to master the physical side in order to bring the necessary smashmouth dimension. Brewer has fared better but was really more of a receiver in high school at Lake Travis and multiple injuries have delayed (or negated) his development as a blocker and sapped some of his explosiveness.

In 2018 they added Malcolm Epps, who decided to become a 6-7/230 pound receiver and try to run around little scrappy corners rather than trying to block defensive ends. For 2019 they got Brayden Liebrock, another receiving-oriented talent, and Jared Wiley who has the right mindset but also a lanky body that hasn’t had time to be filled out by McKnight or molded into a technician in the trenches. No transfers or position changes have occurred, even though a converted LB or DE (think Caleb Bluiett) would have unquestionably served the offense better than having the extra WR coach.

Another problem was the changing dynamic of the league. Herman’s introduction to the Big 12 took place at the same time as old AAC rival Matt Rhule, who had a similar vision to build a physical team up in Waco. One year after Herman was hired, Matt Campbell arrived to build a smashmouth team in Ames. Then last year Texas Tech and West Virginia hired similar “physicality and defense matter too” offensive coaches in Matt Wells and Neal Brown. Finally there was the ultimate repudiation of Herman’s approach up in Norman, where Lincoln Riley’s superior offensive acumen and established talent/development pipeline was cranking out teams that could overpower the league with scoring with or without competent defensive play.

Herman’s biggest problem has been the inverted Tampa 2, developed by Matt Campbell and Jon Heacock up at Iowa State and subsequently adopted by much of the rest of the league, including Rhule and Phil Snow at Baylor. Both of those teams utilized that scheme in the last two weeks to completely dominate Herman’s third-year Texas offense. The design of the defense is to drop eight defenders and take away deep route combinations and perimeter screens by alignment before encouraging predictable runs into initially light boxes that are quickly reinforced by the secondary closing quickly from initial depth.

 

image.png

Iowa State held Texas to 54 yards on 26 carries from this defense. Baylor yielded 191 rushing yards on 31 carries but a fair chunk of that came from Ehlinger scrambles that were tackled short of the marker and then the single Keaontay Ingram run that broke free for 68 yards. The Bears also had six TFL and five sacks and essentially shut down the Longhorn offense.

In both instances Texas was doomed by their lack of a physical TE in conjunction with the fact that both the Iowa State and Baylor DL personnel were more than up to the task of holding up in relative isolation against the Texas OL. Those fronts could certainly hold the point of attack long enough for the quick moving cavalry to clean up.

So Herman’s vision to utilize recruiting and McKnight to build units that could overpower finesse opponents in the trenches has been foiled by his own inability to mold a physical TE from a cast of finesse options and the sharpening focus on defense around the league. Herman’s spread run game tactics that were once novel and convincing to Urban Meyer for usage in conquering the Big 10 are old hat in the Big 12, where defenses have been evolving to deal with more advanced spread systems for the last decade.

So now what?

Texas has devolved in 2019, showing less versatility on offense and trying to default to out-muscling opponents that have proven difficult to out-muscle. In combination with the struggles of Todd Orlando’s zone blitz defense to handle modern spread offenses (particularly when the secondary is in the infirmary) that’s led to a team that may finish with a record no better than they had in year one.

To get better results in 2020, Tom Herman is going to need to drastically change his approach to clearing out space in the trenches or else seek to impose Texas’ will somewhere else. The inverted Tampa 2 defense, which has begun to emerge as the antagonist in the Tom Herman story, has challenged the Longhorn approach in a fundamental fashion. What has really troubled Texas is that the defense is designed to be able to send a safety to stop the run from multiple angles and often unaccounted for by the OL or TE.

 

image.png

There are only five defenders in the box against six blockers, but the defense can send the sam linebacker, nickel/middle safety, free safety, or boundary corner and they can send them in multiple combinations to get a sixth defender in the action and perhaps also a seventh or eighth. The teams running this defense may concede you some initial advantages in the box, but they’re going to close with speed to limit the damage in a way that Michigan, Alabama, or the AAC could never do. Combine that with schools like Iowa State and Baylor fielding DL like Ray Lima and James Lynch while Texas flounders at the TE position and you have more than a problem, you have a crisis.

There are two potential answers to this problem. One is to work out more RPOs, formations, and motions in order to control those off ball defenders and make them hesitate while prioritizing finding a great blocker at TE. Essentially to carry on the same vision but to do it better. The other answer is go the other way, spread opponents out even further and instead of asking them to cover ground to come downhill make them execute pattern-matching schemes and move in multiple directions while chasing multiple receivers. Essentially to pursue the direction that LSU and Clemson have gone in with spread passing, seeking to impose Texas' will with skill and athleticism rather than brute strength.

Considering that the inverted Tampa 2 was designed to handle better versions of the offense Texas is running, the latter direction would be the better option. The problem is that it runs counter to everything Tom Herman's Texas is trying to be. Texas is at a crossroads as a program, the next few steps could shape another decade of Longhorn football.

 

Edited by LTtxfan

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Discussion on Shanahan's Offense:

 

eqVhuNCx_bigger.jpgCameron Soran.  @cameronsoran
· 3h
Aikman saying Shanahan is committed to the run misunderstands this offense. It's predicated on the pass. It's just got a ton of ways to punish a defense for keeping the Nickel in and playing pass-first. Running or passing do not exist in isolation from the other.
 

In Shanahan's own words:

EOshsX7U4AA2zUH?format=jpg&name=medium 

1h
From what little I’ve seen of Shanahan’s O, a key is that they play a ton of 21 personnel that they can do anything with, kinda like a Lincoln Riley offense
 
Replying to. @Ian_A_Boyd
One spreads the formations more and runs more IZ and MZ, and the other runs more OZ and zone wind back. Beyond that, pretty much the same. It's a freaking nightmare at times.
10:20 PM · Jan 19, 2020·
 
Edited by LTtxfan

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