The run game issues... | Syracusefan.com

The run game issues...

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The run game

I see a lot of people talking on the board about two things that are hurting the run game, and frankly, I'm not convinced either of those things is the issue. Those two things are as follows:
  1. Sean Tucker is injured. Sean may be slightly banged up, but when he gets open space he has as much speed as he has ever had. He broke a play outside in the 4th quarter last night and flat-out beat two separate defenders to the corner who had the angle. It would have been somewhere in the range of a six to seven-yard pick-up. The play was called back because of holding. That, along with quite a few other plays shows me he's not injured, or not seriously so.
  2. The blocking is horrible. This is partially true, but not for the reasons stated in a lot of threads I've seen. Quite frankly, the run game schemes and planning are so vanilla as to put our OL in really terrible positions to succeed. Yes, some players on the line aren't doing great, but it's the scheme more than the blocking.
So let's talk about what the main issues really are in regards to the run game. And it's actually pretty simple: the run game coordination is so plain and obvious it's putting a ton of stress on the OL and Tucker. If you look back at Robert Anae's career when he and Beck have been together, this is not altogether shocking. If you look at last year's run game scheme, specifically in the middle portion of the schedule when we were gashing teams, they were running an absolute boatload of misdirection. Counters, traps, RPO's, etc. Those plays gave our OL opportunities to hit the DL and linebackers on angles, and from multiple places.

If you think about how our DL and back 7 are so good at the 3-3-5, and have had success getting home on the quarterback, and getting penetration on run plays, it's because of the way they attack. We have undersized DL, but the stunts and the back 7 zone that they do (and that zone is like an amoeba - it's constantly changing and giving different looks to the QB), they win at the point of attack because we have players who understand their place in the defense and how to do their job to give SU an advantage. Coach White does a great job taking advantage of our defensive strengths to create confusion and mismatches. It stresses the offense in so many different ways.

You're probably asking yourself right now, "Why in the world is ClockworkOrange talking so much about our defense when he's trying to explain why our run game is underachieving?" First, it's because I don't have a word count so I tend to ramble. Secondly though, because everything the defense does to leverage their strengths is missing currently in the run game coordination for the offense.

Anae and Beck are wonderful at leveraging the offense's strengths in the passing game. They know their personnel and how they can get them in positions to succeed. Some of this is philosophical. Coach Anae is an Air Raid proponent and believes fully that the passing attack and the stretch principles of the attack are going to open up running lanes in the center of the field. This has worked in most places, but if you look closely, the run game has always been a secondary plan of attack, and not truly a central component of his offenses.

That's not to say that he isn't really great at drawing up good offenses, it's just that his philosophy tends to believe that passing is what's going to win games in the end. With Beck next to him, the QB Whisperer can make players like Shrader go from looking lost in the passing game, to being proficient in basically six months. When you have a QB coach that can do those things with literally every quarterback he mentors, the passing game is always going to be more attractive.

So part philosophy, part scheme. The Air Raid, in the way it stretches a defense both laterally and vertically, should by rights, create a ton of matchup issues for the defensive line when playing essentially 1 on 1 against its OL counterpart. 1 on 1 is almost always going to go to the offense if LBs are struggling to stretch out laterally to defend passing lanes. The problem is, I don't think our OL or Sean Tucker are really cut out for the up-the-gut, dive-heavy running attack. Our OL isn't overwhelming going straight ahead at the point of attack. They really succeeded last year when they could get out on the edges and move the point of attack to a place where they're hitting the DL and linebackers on the angles. That's really not one of the run principles of an Air Raid offense.

I don't buy that a veteran OL and a nationally renowned running back just take a step backward in all aspects of running football in one off-season. This is a scheme change issue, and in my personal opinion, not using our OL and our OL coach to their best effect. It also fails to take into account that what Sean Tucker is best at is one-cut and find the hole. When you are running dive plays, you aren't cutting until the second level. He needs to be able to hit holes at full speed, where there is a crease (via counter/trap plays).

My hope is Coach Anae is interested in listening to Coach Schmidt, and will add some elements of his running attack from last year. That attack will have to be tweaked a bit because it will be somewhat difficult to disguise those run game principles from Coach Schmidt into an Air Raid-style offense. If they can pull that off, I think the sky is the absolute limit for this team.
 

upperdeck

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the reality is we have a fairly non athletic oline that is pretty big and the scheme we are running should be what they can do well. even in the passing game they are making a ton of mistakes handing people off and often creating pressure where none should exist.

Its not like teams are run blitzing and blowing up the run because our passing game makes they hard to do,., its not like teams are consistently over loading the box either again because we shown to be pass first.

If you are going to go with 1-2 TE type sets which we have to help with passing protection and the running game then you need to win some battles.. We are 4 games in and cant get out running back more than a 13 yd gain after 100 tries.. That is more than scheme/design issues that is talent/mistakes.

We have thrown for 250-300 yds and not hit home run, easy throws either.. Have we seen a blown coverage yet after 4 games for our QB to throw into . Even the 2 long throws vs Uconn were not bad coverage just well designed plays and very good throws.

We won 2 games because we threw the ball well enough when we ran poorly. Last year we ran poorly the last 4-5 games and lost.. At least now we have an option 2..
 
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the reality is we have a fairly non athletic oline that is pretty big and the scheme we are running should be what they can do well. even in the passing game they are making a ton of mistakes handing people off and often creating pressure where none should exist.

Its not like teams are run blitzing and blowing up the run because our passing game makes they hard to do,., its not like teams are consistently over loading the box either again because we shown to be pass first.

If you are going to go with 1-2 TE type sets which we have to help with passing protection and the running game then you need to win some battles.. We are 4 games in and cant get out running back more than a 13 yd gain after 100 tries.. That is more than scheme/design issues that is talent/mistakes.
As I said, it's a little of both. The fact of the matter is, this team was a superior running offense last year running a different scheme. Which means it can be done, and it should be done. Just because these guys are big doesn't mean they can overwhelm the point of attack. Frankly, no SU OL has ever been good at that, going back to the '80s. SU has always won by running the football when they're using misdirection. Big doesn't always mean powerful moving straight line. Get them into plays where they can chip on angles, and they can kill teams.

And it's definitely an issue with Coach Anae's scheme, as his teams never are A) particularly good at running the ball and B) never really care that much about it, because it's so dynamic in other aspects.

Hell, check out some UVA fans' comments from last year. They were SCREAMING for more running plays. Some of that is the tradition of UVA football being a power running team with Welsh at the helm, but it's also because fans tend to like to be good at both aspects of offensive football. It's exacerbated this year, because we know we have an All-American running back and are confused as to why he isn't running like one. It's because the offensive scheme in regards to running plays doesn't play to our OL strengths or the OL teaching methods of Coach Schmidt. Everywhere Schmidt has coached, the running game was top 10 to top 30 in the country.

We have great coaches, from Coach Anae and Coach Beck to Coach Schmidt. I'm afraid the main problem is a scheme mismatch between what each coach does well and their philosophy in regards to running the football.

I don't disagree that our OL is playing poorly, but I think it's more because this is not a running scheme they are naturally fit for.
 
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True, but Ellis wasn't "this" heavy last year. And, didn't Bleich have another procedure done?
Yes, and Bleich wasn't there for a good portion of the year last year. He's certainly still feeling the surgeries and isn't as agile as I would like to see out of our guards. It would make sense that Coach Anae would want a huge OL. That's what works with the Air Raid scheme. Road graders. I'm just not sure being big necessarily equals being road graders.
 

money3189

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If you think about how our DL and back 7 are so good at the 3-3-5, and have had success getting home on the quarterback, and getting penetration on run plays, it's because of the way they attack. We have undersized DL, but the stunts and the back 7 zone that they do (and that zone is like an amoeba - it's constantly changing and giving different looks to the QB), they win at the point of attack because we have players who understand their place in the defense and how to do their job to give SU an advantage. Coach White does a great job taking advantage of our defensive strengths to create confusion and mismatches. It stresses the offense in so many different ways.
I wish more people could understand this instead of just saying the DL is undersized and will get destroyed. They can get ran on for sure but it wont be because their undersized. It will be because opponents O Line/ run game just being better than us.

The defense is unpredicable and thats what makes it hard to run against us at times. You cant always account for that additional defender in the box. You dont know who it will be and where he will come from. That presents challenges for offenses. With that said I can see us struggling against good O lines like ND and Nc State. FSU seems to be more improved on the O line.

You make good points with the run game. I also think its more of a scheme issue. Its very vanilla. We are not generating natural cut back lanes. Not enough gap run plays. The run fits are just off compared to last year.
 

SUalldway

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Interesting. I hope they can use the extra time before NCSt to figure this out and spring it on them. It would be nice to have a stout running attack for the stretch run.
It's essential to make some big progress on the run game. I watched a good bit of the Purdue - Florida Atlantic game last night (I hate to admit) & FAMU!! did not have a lot of trouble running up the middle vs. Purdue!
 

Willy75

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Friday night it looked to me like we ran Wake’s mesh option several times. Also, while Tucker may have outrun defenders a few times, it seems clear to me overall he’s lost some quickness.
 

JoeSU

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Watching yesterday's Wake-Clemson game, I found myself wondering if Wake's unorthodox but successful approach to the run game would work at SU? Like SU, Wake has somewhat undersized OL. The funky, delayed handoff they use seems well suited to Tucker's style, allowing the RB to wait and then find a quick opening to burst through.
Others who are more knowledgeable about such matters may want to weigh-in.
 

upperdeck

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Watching yesterday's Wake-Clemson game, I found myself wondering if Wake's unorthodox but successful approach to the run game would work at SU? Like SU, Wake has somewhat undersized OL. The funky, delayed handoff they use seems well suited to Tucker's style, allowing the RB to wait and then find a quick opening to burst through.
Others who are more knowledgeable about such matters may want to weigh-in.
One thing wake has done is for some reason find multiple WRs that can win the 1-1 game. They have 1-2-3 of them every yr. We have none who have shown it vs the press coverage that style causes. If they dont have that type of WR the delay mesh completely fails as teams will just crash the box.

they ran for 110 yds on 40 carries. we run for about that and are complaining. If Hartman didnt have the one long scramble play it would have been like 40 for 80 yds.. and thats what we did vs Virginia.

Clemson is hurting on the DB level right now. And wake WRs can take advantage of it.
 

qdawgg

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the reality is we have a fairly non athletic oline that is pretty big and the scheme we are running should be what they can do well. even in the passing game they are making a ton of mistakes handing people off and often creating pressure where none should exist.

Its not like teams are run blitzing and blowing up the run because our passing game makes they hard to do,., its not like teams are consistently over loading the box either again because we shown to be pass first.

If you are going to go with 1-2 TE type sets which we have to help with passing protection and the running game then you need to win some battles.. We are 4 games in and cant get out running back more than a 13 yd gain after 100 tries.. That is more than scheme/design issues that is talent/mistakes.

We have thrown for 250-300 yds and not hit home run, easy throws either.. Have we seen a blown coverage yet after 4 games for our QB to throw into . Even the 2 long throws vs Uconn were not bad coverage just well designed plays and very good throws.

We won 2 games because we threw the ball well enough when we ran poorly. Last year we ran poorly the last 4-5 games and lost.. At least now we have an option 2..

Some of this contradicts itself. Teams aren’t loading up the box in the traditional sense but they are in fact dedicating a lot of defenders closer to the LOS, for a variety of reasons. Blitzing to stop the run isn’t a sound strategy at all, so you’re correct, teams aren’t doing that. But they are attempting to control the LOS.

As you mentioned, we haven’t shown a big play, deep ball ability yet. Then there’s the fear of GS especially but also knowing Tucker has to be accounted for as well. So teams are in fact dedicating significant personal to the run by trying to control the LOS with manpower.

I agree with A Clockwork Orange that this scheme is very different than last years and potentially a major reason we aren’t running well. In a weird way it’s the opposite of what we’ve complained about in the passing game for many years. Why don’t we utilize the middle of the field, why do we keep running the same out pattern or screen, everyone knows it’s coming. Now our passing is better but we’re trying to largely force the run up the middle with no creativity at all.
 

PhatOrange

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FAU only lost by 2 pts to Purdue. They ran for 189 yards.

The quarterback had 93.
The 3 running backs had 29 carries for 89 yards.
3.0 ypc for the running backs. Tucker 2.3

4.4 ypc overall

As a team they had 419 yards of offense.
 

rrlbees

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I wish more people could understand this instead of just saying the DL is undersized and will get destroyed. They can get ran on for sure but it wont be because their undersized. It will be because opponents O Line/ run game just being better than us.

The defense is unpredicable and thats what makes it hard to run against us at times. You cant always account for that additional defender in the box. You dont know who it will be and where he will come from. That presents challenges for offenses. With that said I can see us struggling against good O lines like ND and Nc State. FSU seems to be more improved on the O line.

You make good points with the run game. I also think its more of a scheme issue. Its very vanilla. We are not generating natural cut back lanes. Not enough gap run plays. The run fits are just off compared to last year.

You’ll understand this better than I do so tell me what if any impact there is. Besides a run blocking grade, PFF also breaks it down and grades a players run blocking for zone blocking and gap blocking. Here’s the summary for each of our 5 OL.

Berg is about the same grade for both.
Bleich is about the same grade for both.
Vett is much better at gap blocking.
Davis is a little better at gap blocking.
Ellis is much better at zone blocking.

The best grade is Vett as a gap blocker. The lowest grade is Ellis as a gap blocker.

As a team we run about 33% more zone blocking plays than gap blocking plays.

This tell you anything?

GO.
 

upperdeck

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FAU only lost by 2 pts to Purdue. They ran for 189 yards.

The quarterback had 93.
The 3 running backs had 29 carries for 89 yards.
3.0 ypc for the running backs. Tucker 2.3

4.4 ypc overall

As a team they had 419 yards of offense.
it was helped by the QB not playing and Purdue not scoring to make FAU have to catch up. Purdue had the game put away in the 3rd threw a bad pick and then was chasing the rest of the night to hold on.
 

money3189

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You’ll understand this better than I do so tell me what if any impact there is. Besides a run blocking grade, PFF also breaks it down and grades a players run blocking for zone blocking and gap blocking. Here’s the summary for each of our 5 OL.

Berg is about the same grade for both.
Bleich is about the same grade for both.
Vett is much better at gap blocking.
Davis is a little better at gap blocking.
Ellis is much better at zone blocking.

The best grade is Vett as a gap blocker. The lowest grade is Ellis as a gap blocker.

As a team we run about 33% more zone blocking plays than gap blocking plays.

This tell you anything?

GO.
Im not a person that spends a lot of time on PFF grades but that sounds about right to me. The 33% more tells me the staff feels more comfortable with their zone concepts. We are probably having more success on zone plays. Not as much on gap plays. Collectively as a unit we are struggling. Its probably a different player each play. Im not a O line guy so my knowledge is limited
 
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FrancoPizza

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As I said, it's a little of both. The fact of the matter is, this team was a superior running offense last year running a different scheme. Which means it can be done, and it should be done. Just because these guys are big doesn't mean they can overwhelm the point of attack. Frankly, no SU OL has ever been good at that, going back to the '80s. SU has always won by running the football when they're using misdirection. Big doesn't always mean powerful moving straight line. Get them into plays where they can chip on angles, and they can kill teams.

And it's definitely an issue with Coach Anae's scheme, as his teams never are A) particularly good at running the ball and B) never really care that much about it, because it's so dynamic in other aspects.

Hell, check out some UVA fans' comments from last year. They were SCREAMING for more running plays. Some of that is the tradition of UVA football being a power running team with Welsh at the helm, but it's also because fans tend to like to be good at both aspects of offensive football. It's exacerbated this year, because we know we have an All-American running back and are confused as to why he isn't running like one. It's because the offensive scheme in regards to running plays doesn't play to our OL strengths or the OL teaching methods of Coach Schmidt. Everywhere Schmidt has coached, the running game was top 10 to top 30 in the country.

We have great coaches, from Coach Anae and Coach Beck to Coach Schmidt. I'm afraid the main problem is a scheme mismatch between what each coach does well and their philosophy in regards to running the football.

I don't disagree that our OL is playing poorly, but I think it's more because this is not a running scheme they are naturally fit for.
excellent write-up. I’ve felt they are not playing to their strengths on O and it’s going to cost them starting in 3 weeks. Our best players are a big running Qb and a powerful one-cut RB. Our weakness is WR. So what do we do? We go air raid. SMH
 

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