Friday, July 29, 2005

Richt: High Tech offenses are the bomb

Apparently, there's a new coach in the SEC named Irvin Meyer, and he runs a pretty cool offense. You have to scroll way down to see the question, which amused me considerably.

Q. Mark, on the subject of offenses, have you had a chance to watch Irvin Meyers offense and what are your impressions of it?

Doubtless, it's just a typo and the reporter was asking about Urban Meyer. Still, nicknames come from funny places. I think it fits. The real meat of the answer, though:

“I am very impressed with it[Irvin's offense – PD]. And it's not most complicated thing in the world either. It's really a pretty -- it's just fundamentally sound and stretches defenses a bit farther than they would like to go.”

Richt's teams at UGA have definitely had a defensive minded approach to winning games. Richt has been content to grind out wins on his Defense's back a number of times. I'm going to assume, though, that the guy who helped make FSU into an offensive juggernaut knows how to explore and understand an opponent's offensive scheme to some degree.

The money quote here is “it's not most complicated thing in the world”. I thought Irvin's offense was supposed to be high tech (to be fair, I can never keep track of what makes an offense high tech. Apparently, one of the criteria is “USC killed Oklahoma in the national title game”. Which is kind of elusive as criteria go, but I'll grant you distinctive). Perhaps a Florida or Utah fan can enlighten me. It has certainly been successful – Meyer's teams have been putting up some goodly offensive numbers with it – rough ppg totals of 30, 40, 28, and 45 in his previous four seasons (Gators take note – there seems to be marked improvement in year two at both places). He runs the option out of the shotgun – a concept seemingly sheathed in deep cosmic irony. High tech works for me.

What makes an offense high tech? As a coach, don't you want to make things as easy as possible for your guys, while making it hard for the other guys to both figure out what you are doing on the next play, and stop what you are doing on the current one? A simplistic system can do that – the Redskins ran 5 running plays against the Broncos in 87. They did so out of a number of 1 back formation variants, anywhere from no TEs to 3. Sometimes guards pulled and sometimes they didn't. Timmy Smith danced his way to a super bowl rushing record. Was that high tech? No. But it did what an offensive coach would want – Denver never came close to stopping Smith.

I would argue that there are no low-tech offenses, if I could figure out what makes an offense low tech (there might, be some antiquated ones). That reading college defenses is much more complicated than we the fans realize (and it's much more complicated than reading high school defenses, to boot). Even the more vanilla packages (hi Joe Kines) are not simple to read. Coaches sometimes have to simplify how that is done – sometimes the results are spectacular (Auburn last year and Jeff Tedford's offenses certainly seem to qualify).

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