Wednesday, August 3, 2011

H2H Playbook: Inside Paul Johnson's Offense

I came across a series of actual team playbooks a few years ago while persusing the internet when I was in college. The guy selling them was a former coach himself and had exchanged coaches' playbooks for many years. I -- being a sports nerd myself -- clicked the little "Buy it Now" tab in ebay and the rest is history. I have everything from Mike Martz's 400 page novel of a playbook, to a random quirky high school offense in Pennsylvania -- very cool for those of you into X's and O's. The playbooks came on a DVD (which I still have) and one of the playbooks included is the "2002 Georgia Southern Offense" -- when Paul Johnson was the coach (I'll have to look but I think there is also an early 90's Hawaii playbook in there...when he was strangely the offensive coordinator).

When you couple the fact that we play Tech every year with the fact that they run such a unique offense, I thought a little Ron Jaworski-esque X's and O's breakdown was in order.

The play I will diagram today is one of Tech's most basic plays. If his terminology is still the same (which I bet it is) this play is simply called "Spread 10" (where "Spread" is the formation, and "10" is the actual play):

This is a good look at an actual "triple option" play. Most analysts throw out the term without doing a very good job explaining what it is. Here are the three "options" the quarterback has on this play:
  1. You see the "T" defensive guy with a square around him? That is the first "read" the quarterback has to make. If the "T" (defensive tackle) does his job and tackles the first guy through (the B-back who is lined up straight behind the QB) then the quarterback pulls the ball out and proceeds to the next read. If the tackle ignores the B-back, then the QB should give it to him for a quick hitter up the middle (Jonathan Dwyer frequently turned the "quick hitter" into big yardage). 
  2. If the B-back is accounted for, the next read for the QB is the "end man on the line of scrimmage". In this case, it is the "E" (defensive end) with a triangle around him, who is going unblocked on the play. IF the "E" accounts for the trailing "pitch man" (or A-back -- the guy going in motion with a squiggly line in the diagram) then the QB should keep the ball and turn upfield. 
  3. If the "E" bears down on the QB, then he should pitch the ball to the trailing A-back and hope like hell that the wide receiver blocks any defensive back steamrolling toward the line (remember when they played Miami a couple of years ago and Roddy Jones got helicoptered by an unblocked DB?). 
I hope my explanation isn't too confusing. I am not an expert by any means but I played in high school and have been watching his offense since he was at Georgia Southern. There are many other variations of this play that Tech runs, which most people might not even notice. 

As I said above, I have many other playbooks so I am thinking about making this a weekly (or maybe even daily) segment on the site. Hope you enjoy and if you are confused by any lingo, let me know in the comments. 

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