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New(ish) concept for Nebraska Offense

ShortSideOption

All American
10 Year Member
Haven't gotten through the spring game for a write-up yet, but we did show a new wrinkle in the spring game that I really like and wanted to show. It's tougher for the high school teams that don't have elite RB/QB combos, but P5 teams have guys that can do this.

First, let me go where this comes from. Teams like Wisconsin and Iowa (even Nebraska) rely heavily on their 'power' scheme in the run game. I tried to find a clip with the same formation, so forgive that it isn't Nebraska, but you can see here this is a 'Power RPO'. RPO means run/pass/option which means the QB is reading the one guy and if he comes towards the line of scrimmage, he throws the ball. The other thing to notice that will make it different from what Nebraska did, is the entire playside offensive line blocks down (to the left on screen) while in 'Power' you always have a backside puller to bring another blocker.


On this you have #20 for Michigan that the QB is reading, if he flies to the LOS like he did, the QB pulls the ball and throws the slant. The only safety is to the top of the field, and you rely on your WR to beat the corner inside on the slant.

Now on to Nebraska. The 'Power' scheme that also has RPO versions off of it has been repped by defenses for decades. We started seeing this with Joe Burrow and LSU who ran it to perfection, but what happens if we just have everyone block down, no backside pulling guard, and we just don't block the corner? Essentially it turns into the QB reading run or pass, and the RB reading inside or outside. Our first play, Martinez is reading not the corner, but the guy that is at the very top (second most outside for the defense) who is Myles Farmer. We are in trips, and the two inside receivers block down (just like on play against Michigan before) so he follows them down, leaving a clear area to throw the ball.


So that's what it looks like when it's thrown. But the fun part is when we hand the ball off. Martinez reads Farmer this time for heading back to take away the slant, so he hands it off, but our RB has reads too. He reads the ILB to see if he folds over outside, or stays inside, if he stays inside our RB puts a foot in the ground and takes off outside who will then be one on one in space with a cornerback or safety depending on coverage. Many times it's a corner as the safety is deeper depending on coverage, so in instances like Josh Mitchell or other corners that are smaller, it's a real advantage. On this play, Hannah and Snodgrass both stay inside (their reads tell them that for the most part, kind of, just won't get into that), so Ervin bounces it outside to be one on one with a DB.


Now, it's Myles Farmer that he's one on one with, so not as great as when it's a corner, but still a play that we can scheme against weaker tackling corners/safeties. And I would love to be a fly on the wall for the conversation between the defense and offense, as no doubt Farmer said he tagged off and made the tackle with Ervin saying "you didn't touch me nor were you close enough to tackle me."

Now, this is slightly different, but shows the concept with a national title team. Everyone blocks down, no puller, but they have two "glance" routes instead of one. Mostly due to the larger splits, which can be schemed into what we are doing.


So really it's pretty obvious, with the addition of what LSU did in 2019, a National Title is a realistic expectation.
 

HuSkaBob

Husker Geek
5 Year Member
Love those wrinkles. The best X's and O's can still be outdone by the Jimmy's and Joe's, but IF Nebraska can run those it will force the defense to be as disciplined as those that faced Dr. Tom's teams.
 
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ShortSideOption

All American
10 Year Member
Love those wrinkles. The best X's and O's can still be outdone by the Jimmy's and Joe's, but IF Nebraska can run those it will force the defense to be as disciplined as those that faced Dr. Tom's teams.
For sure, and a guy like Osborne had unbelievable X's and O's with unreal Jimmy's and Joe's. Heck, Osborne was running versions of RPOs in the 90s. People think it's a new thing out of the shotgun but the guy we are trying to duplicate was doing it 30 years ago.
 

RMR

Walk On Hero
20 Year Member
I like the quick decision on both above plays. Does not allow time for the D line to shed our blocks. And on both plays there was only 5 left in the box. Good read.
 

ShortSideOption

All American
10 Year Member
Very much appreciate this, SSO.
This is interesting, too.
I saw that clip and that guys a good follow. Martinez looked much faster this year, though as i'll state in my write-up it's tough for me to tell too much watching him against a P5 starting defense and who he went against this past Saturday. But I do think he looked much better, not trying to take anything away from him.

If someone wants to show me how you grab clips like that without me videoing from my phone, loading to youtube, then uploading the link please shoot me a PM lol
 

AUDNZD

Recruit
5 Year Member
Long time lurker here, first time post. So, hey y'all.

Great post, SSO. You always having really insightful stuff.

It's interesting that you identified this play as a bright spot. This play stood out to me too, but more as an encapsulation of my frustration's with Frost's offensive philosophies. I actually turned the game off shortly after seeing it.

The core of the play is pretty simple: an inside-zone/glance route RPO. This is the bread and butter of a huge swath of college teams. It does have a differentiating/innovative element but, like the rest of Frost's bells and whistles, the premise of the innovation essentially boils down to "use speed to get to the edge in space" (here an RB getting to the edge on a DB). The same theory undergirds all Frost's wide zone handoffs, jet sweeps, WR flares, and the shallow routes in the flats.

This play worked here, and I'm sure Frost and Lubick can massage formations and motions to isolate the wrong defender in space once or twice a game, and pop it for a few nice gains. However, a P5 defense will generally shut that down for little gain, and occasionally dump it for a loss when the DL is gapping lanes in an unexpected way.

More often than not, this sort of thing would work at UCF because they had access to faster skill players vis-a-vis most of the teams in their league. Those sorts of plays didn't work at all against Auburn in the Peach Bowl. Fortunately for UCF, they had a really heady play maker at QB, which made the deep and intermediate passing game sing. I'm not sure Nebraska has one of those right now.
 
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ShortSideOption

All American
10 Year Member
Long time lurker here, first time post. So, hey y'all.

Great post, SSO. You always having really insightful stuff.

It's interesting that you identified this play as a bright spot. This play stood out to me too, but more as an encapsulation of my frustration's with Frost's offensive philosophies. I actually turned the game off shortly after seeing it.

The core of the play is pretty simple: an inside-zone/glance route RPO. This is the bread and butter of a huge swath of college teams. It does have a differentiating/innovative element but, like the rest of Frost's bells and whistles, the premise of the innovation essentially boils down to "use speed to get to the edge in space" (here an RB getting to the edge on a DB). The same theory undergirds all Frost's wide zone handoffs, jet sweeps, WR flares, and the shallow routes in the flats.

This play worked here, and I'm sure Frost and Lubick can massage formations and motions to isolate the wrong defender in space once or twice a game, and pop it for a few nice gains. However, a P5 defense will generally shut that down for little gain, and occasionally dump it for a loss when the DL is gapping lanes in an unexpected way.

More often than not, this sort of thing would work at UCF because they had access to faster skill players vis-a-vis most of the teams in their league. Those sorts of plays didn't work at all against Auburn in the Peach Bowl. Fortunately for UCF, they had a really heady play maker at QB, which made the deep and intermediate passing game sing. I'm not sure Nebraska has one of those right now.
That's actually a pretty good take from it. I think the thing that's interesting with it is it's a read for the RB as well. In the first play where we throw it, watch the RB continue forward because that's where the hole is. Now, if he got the ball would he bounce it, maybe. And to your point, I'm not sure i've ever been more frustrated than seeing Mo Washington bounce something instantly.

Here's a good view of what i'm talking about (I know this is NFL), but the RB stays coming up the field until the LB moves forward to stop him and now he knows he'd be caught up in the wash if he tried to chase him down:


Here's LSU running a variation of that where the RB does not bounce:



I get where you are coming from, i'm hoping the bounce was because of what he saw and not because of what MW used to do.
 
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AUDNZD

Recruit
5 Year Member
I get what you're saying with the RB read element, and I certainly think it's clever. I guess my frustration was more related to what I HADN'T seen to that point: no pistol, few heavy sets, nothing new in terms of OL pulling / lead inserts / ISOs, etc (those really only appeared in the QB run game, which is a whole other discussion...) If I'd seen some of that, maybe I would have been more tickled by a new perimeter run wrinkle (albeit an optional one).

I think that play, and the others I mentioned, are great off speed pitches to a good spread passing game. If the RB reads wrong, bounces it out and gets dropped behind the line, it's not a huge deal because your pass game should be able to get you out of 2nd and 12. If he reads it right, and you're isolating an OLB space, then boo-yah. I guess I was just (perhaps unreasonably) hoping that they would've schemed up the inside run blocking a little more just in case the pass game doesn't perform at the level they're hoping.
 

ShortSideOption

All American
10 Year Member
I get what you're saying with the RB read element, and I certainly think it's clever. I guess my frustration was more related to what I HADN'T seen to that point: no pistol, few heavy sets, nothing new in terms of OL pulling / lead inserts / ISOs, etc (those really only appeared in the QB run game, which is a whole other discussion...) If I'd seen some of that, maybe I would have been more tickled by a new perimeter run wrinkle (albeit an optional one).

I think that play, and the others I mentioned, are great off speed pitches to a good spread passing game. If the RB reads wrong, bounces it out and gets dropped behind the line, it's not a huge deal because your pass game should be able to get you out of 2nd and 12. If he reads it right, and you're isolating an OLB space, then boo-yah. I guess I was just (perhaps unreasonably) hoping that they would've schemed up the inside run blocking a little more just in case the pass game doesn't perform at the level they're hoping.
I get what you're saying. I was actually talking to a friend about that, we basically stayed in 3 WR and 1 TE sets all day. Which means that our defense was in nickel basically all day and an even front. We didn't do much at all of 2 TE sets or things like that, so I really don't know what to take from Saturday honestly. It certainly didn't look like we were going "bigger and more physical" based on that, but I can also tell you Wan'Dale trying to crack on guys instead of Toure or Nixon would have been tough to watch. Does that mean we will be better off? I'm not sure, but I do appreciate us adding new elements when we lost our speed guy.
 
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That's actually a pretty good take from it. I think the thing that's interesting with it is it's a read for the RB as well. In the first play where we throw it, watch the RB continue forward because that's where the hole is. Now, if he got the ball would he bounce it, maybe. And to your point, I'm not sure i've ever been more frustrated than seeing Mo Washington bounce something instantly.

Here's a good view of what i'm talking about (I know this is NFL), but the RB stays coming up the field until the LB moves forward to stop him and now he knows he'd be caught up in the wash if he tried to chase him down:


Here's LSU running a variation of that where the RB does not bounce:



I get where you are coming from, i'm hoping the bounce was because of what he saw and not because of what MW used to do.
This looks like what Iowa and Wisconsin do with their zone read / bounce outside running schemes. Get def to crash to middle and ends lose containment and back pops to outside for a big gain.
 

jreb14

The GooD Life!!!
5 Year Member
Bouncing to the outside means TE has to do better at reach blocking and get DE shoulders turned.
 

ksuhusker

In a tree somewhere
5 Year Member
Long time lurker here, first time post. So, hey y'all.

Great post, SSO. You always having really insightful stuff.

It's interesting that you identified this play as a bright spot. This play stood out to me too, but more as an encapsulation of my frustration's with Frost's offensive philosophies. I actually turned the game off shortly after seeing it.

The core of the play is pretty simple: an inside-zone/glance route RPO. This is the bread and butter of a huge swath of college teams. It does have a differentiating/innovative element but, like the rest of Frost's bells and whistles, the premise of the innovation essentially boils down to "use speed to get to the edge in space" (here an RB getting to the edge on a DB). The same theory undergirds all Frost's wide zone handoffs, jet sweeps, WR flares, and the shallow routes in the flats.

This play worked here, and I'm sure Frost and Lubick can massage formations and motions to isolate the wrong defender in space once or twice a game, and pop it for a few nice gains. However, a P5 defense will generally shut that down for little gain, and occasionally dump it for a loss when the DL is gapping lanes in an unexpected way.

More often than not, this sort of thing would work at UCF because they had access to faster skill players vis-a-vis most of the teams in their league. Those sorts of plays didn't work at all against Auburn in the Peach Bowl. Fortunately for UCF, they had a really heady play maker at QB, which made the deep and intermediate passing game sing. I'm not sure Nebraska has one of those right now.
Welcome, and good post!
 
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