The run game issues... | Page 3 | Syracusefan.com

The run game issues...

blizz

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Just chiming in on the earlier question of zone blocking vs gap blocking. The difference is in the way that the two schemes attack the defensive front.

Zone blocking uses coordination between the lineman and uses power to attack space. The best example is to look at a basic outside zone run. Generally all the linemen will step in the same direction off the snap and seek to move the front in that direction. When done correctly this creates space at an angle to the line of scrimmage that the backs can exploit.

Gap blocking uses leverage to attack the front. Generally gap schemes try to set up down blocks across the front, allowing linemen to attack a given target at an angle. When you see linemen pulling and trapping, this is usually a gap scheme.
 

AngryOtto

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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
And we are 4-0. 3 wins against power 5. I do agree we need to improve things. But passing more has helped score more points. GS needs to go through his work reads better. Maybe that will pull the LBs back and create running lanes.
I would like to see GS roll out more and either tuck and run or throw on the run.
 

shu 49

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Just chiming in on the earlier question of zone blocking vs gap blocking. The difference is in the way that the two schemes attack the defensive front.

Zone blocking uses coordination between the lineman and uses power to attack space. The best example is to look at a basic outside zone run. Generally all the linemen will step in the same direction off the snap and seek to move the front in that direction. When done correctly this creates space at an angle to the line of scrimmage that the backs can exploit.

Gap blocking uses leverage to attack the front. Generally gap schemes try to set up down blocks across the front, allowing linemen to attack a given target at an angle. When you see linemen pulling and trapping, this is usually a gap scheme.
I think we ran more gap last year. Guys pulling a lot. This year meh
 

Crusty

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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.
Thoughtful post.
 

Shooter

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Just chiming in on the earlier question of zone blocking vs gap blocking. The difference is in the way that the two schemes attack the defensive front.

Zone blocking uses coordination between the lineman and uses power to attack space. The best example is to look at a basic outside zone run. Generally all the linemen will step in the same direction off the snap and seek to move the front in that direction. When done correctly this creates space at an angle to the line of scrimmage that the backs can exploit.

Gap blocking uses leverage to attack the front. Generally gap schemes try to set up down blocks across the front, allowing linemen to attack a given target at an angle. When you see linemen pulling and trapping, this is usually a gap scheme.
For those of us who aren’t as knowledgeable , is there any reason the offensive staff can’t incorporate more of last years run blocking scheme? Would it negatively affect our passing game?
 

OttoinGrotto

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For those of us who aren’t as knowledgeable , is there any reason the offensive staff can’t incorporate more of last years run blocking scheme? Would it negatively affect our passing game?
I've been wondering this too. Does it tip the play call or something?
 

FrancoPizza

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I've been wondering this too. Does it tip the play call or something?
I think that’s just making excuses. Coaches have egos and are creatures of habit, often stubborn to a fault. Wagner will tell us if ego wins out.
 

SWC75

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CFB 4.8 isn't very good.

We'd take it now.

And they also spread the ball around to a lot of different backs. Very rarely was there a bell cow. And I'm not going to get into it, but I have no idea what the make-up of those OLs was. Further - I would say the main reason they ran so well in 2013 was that they basically had two NFL-caliber RBs who are still RBs in the league (well, who knows what Hill is - a little bit of everything I guess).

And if you look at the YPC average and where that stands across the country, your argument just doesn't stand up. These days a 4.4 YPC average isn't elite, it's a lower tier. This isn't our dad's ground-and-pound football anymore.

Let's take another look at the spreadsheet, except using average YPC and national average. Hint - it's not very good when compared to the rest of college football.

YEARS
YPC
NATIONAL RANK
2021 (UVA)​
4.4​
105​
2020 (UVA)​
4.4​
65​
2019 (UVA)​
3.9​
96​
2018 (UVA)​
4.5​
58​
2017 (UVA)​
3.1​
126​
2016 (UVA)​
3.5​
114​
2015 (BYU)​
4.0​
86​
2014 (BYU)​
4.2​
72​
2013 (BYU)​
4.9​
30​

So while the stats are very slightly better when broken out to YPC, it's nothing earth-shattering. They only have three years in the 5th percentile and seven years where they are 50th percentile or below. The outlier is Hill and Williams in 2013.

And listen, I'm not saying this isn't fine for an offense that is dynamic in the passing game. It is what it is - none of those teams had a Sean Tucker, and we're losing out on having an offense that is even more dynamic if some of the run schemes aren't tweaked to play to our OL and RBs strength. They aren't doing that. That has worked thus far and it will work next week. Right now though, I'm looking at an all-time team, not one that fades down the stretch because the offensive scheme isn't able to adjust to the realities of this team.


We're trying to free up Sean Tucker. The overall running numbers include lesser backs, quarterback scrambles and sacks. That's why I focused on the two top running backs:
UNLV 1998: 4.7, 5.2
Arizona 2011: 4.5, 4.7
BYU 2013, (I'll exclude Hill as he was a QB): 5.7, 5.9
BYU 2014: 4.8, 5.3
BYU 2015: 5.6, 5.1
UVA 2016: 5.0, 4.9
UVA 2017: 3.9, 6.7
UVA 2018: 4.8, 5.2
UVA 2019: 4.1, 5.4
UVA 2020: 4.5, 5.1
UVA 2021: 5.2, 4.3
SU 2022: 3.6, 2.3, (and Shrader's 3.5)

It has never been anywhere near this bad in Anae's career.
 

P Vasiloff

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Just a thought but it has been since Sampson was recruited and that didn't work for whatever reason that a TRUE CENTER has been recruited. For a P5 program to have seven years of center by committee kind seems kind of strange. Even in 2023/2024 recruiting have not heard of any true center OL recruits. It's not like center has not been a position of concern. Go Orange!!!!!!!!!
 

0.2 YNdeeR

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The run game

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 found a play in the UVA game that backs up this observation in the OP. With about 30 seconds left in the 1st quarter, SU's on offense. You'll see the line almost perfectly executing an outside zone blocking play for Tucker. Unfortunately, instead of being patient, Tucker cuts left, away from the wall of blockers - and quickly gets creamed. He has a special ability to hit holes, but this play shows that he might be pressing too much. I'm sure the staff will notice this and address it ... along with the other OL run-blocking issues.

Another replay note: check out GS's sacks. A couple are blitzes - which are going to happen. However, at least 2 maybe 3 sacks occurred when he dropped too deep in the pocket instead of stepping up into it. This takes him across the arc of the DE's that are engaged with our tackles, enabling them to reach out and grab him - which they did multiple times. It's a teaching point, along with throwing the ball out of bounds on dead plays.
 
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Chip

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Here's what I wonder with the OL. We appear to be going with our 5 best OL. But does that mean each is in the best spot for success?

Would we be better with Dakota at guard? Or Vett at tackle? Or do each make us much weaker at either center or tackle and overall worse off?
 

GoSU96

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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.
Yep
 

cuse309

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I'm convinced it's something beyond sore, and bruised for Tuck. He hasnt had that explosive burst. I feel like last game, they pretty much exclusively ran him between the tackles, or got him some passes in the flats in space. I suspect the lack of outside runs last game, is because he, for whatever reason, is lacking his ability to get the edge, plant his foot in the ground, and explode upfield. His lateral quickness seems to be limited.
 

blizz

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For those of us who aren’t as knowledgeable , is there any reason the offensive staff can’t incorporate more of last years run blocking scheme? Would it negatively affect our passing game?
The RPO game dictates zone blocking schemes because of the downfield rule. Linemen are only allowed 3 yards downfield when the ball is thrown, this works well with zone blocking because of the spacing principles inherent in a zone system. Gap schemes are usually dedicated run plays and there is really no way to incorporate them into an option based system. That is not saying that gap scheme can't be mixed in from a play calling perspective. I agree with shu 49 above that we saw alot more gap scheme last year and virtually none this year. But I also believe we had success running inside and outside zone last year, and I feel like some of that stuff has been conspicuously absent (or sparse) so far this year (outside zone) or just hasn't worked (inside zone to the B gap looking to isolate against a backer). One thing to note is the defensive adjustment we saw with Purdue and Virginia, they both ran a heavy box by having their safeties play way up and have run fit responsibility to the outside. This allowed their linebackers to play tight to the line and fit inside very quickly. We should be punishing this look by running outside zone and isolation in the flats with our slot guys, this is a huge opportunity to get guys like Pena and Jackson the ball in space and I don't understand why we haven't capitalized.
 

orangecuse

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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.

People see what they want to see.

Purdue was fortunate to escape with the win IMO. FAU scored a TD that made it 26-21, with a good PAT it would've been 27-21 half way through the 4th. The refs called a questionable chop block against FAU's offensive lineman that had absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the TD play as it was completely on the other side of the field. On the very next play, the QB made a horrendous decision throwing into heavy coverage and a Purdue DB picked it off almost for a Pick 6. Purdue scored a couple of plays later and made it 28-20. So, in a blink of an eye, it was a huge change of events.

FAMU on the very next possession had no problem whatsoever marching all the way down the field (in similar fashion) and scored a TD. They went for two, but it was unsuccessful and the game was 28-26. They stopped Purdue on their next offensive series and got the ball back with a chance to score the winning FG. Again, they marched down the field, to just over mid-field. They only needed another 15 yards perhaps to get into field goal range, but again, FAU's QB made a horrendous decision and throwing error for another pick that sealed the W for the Boilermakers.
 

Shooter

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The RPO game dictates zone blocking schemes because of the downfield rule. Linemen are only allowed 3 yards downfield when the ball is thrown, this works well with zone blocking because of the spacing principles inherent in a zone system. Gap schemes are usually dedicated run plays and there is really no way to incorporate them into an option based system. That is not saying that gap scheme can't be mixed in from a play calling perspective. I agree with shu 49 above that we saw alot more gap scheme last year and virtually none this year. But I also believe we had success running inside and outside zone last year, and I feel like some of that stuff has been conspicuously absent (or sparse) so far this year (outside zone) or just hasn't worked (inside zone to the B gap looking to isolate against a backer). One thing to note is the defensive adjustment we saw with Purdue and Virginia, they both ran a heavy box by having their safeties play way up and have run fit responsibility to the outside. This allowed their linebackers to play tight to the line and fit inside very quickly. We should be punishing this look by running outside zone and isolation in the flats with our slot guys, this is a huge opportunity to get guys like Pena and Jackson the ball in space and I don't understand why we haven't capitalized.
Thanks for the info, that’s what I was hoping to hear…seems like there is more we can do and hopefully will work into the mix over the next two weeks.
 

money3189

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The RPO game dictates zone blocking schemes because of the downfield rule. Linemen are only allowed 3 yards downfield when the ball is thrown, this works well with zone blocking because of the spacing principles inherent in a zone system. Gap schemes are usually dedicated run plays and there is really no way to incorporate them into an option based system. That is not saying that gap scheme can't be mixed in from a play calling perspective. I agree with shu 49 above that we saw alot more gap scheme last year and virtually none this year. But I also believe we had success running inside and outside zone last year, and I feel like some of that stuff has been conspicuously absent (or sparse) so far this year (outside zone) or just hasn't worked (inside zone to the B gap looking to isolate against a backer). One thing to note is the defensive adjustment we saw with Purdue and Virginia, they both ran a heavy box by having their safeties play way up and have run fit responsibility to the outside. This allowed their linebackers to play tight to the line and fit inside very quickly. We should be punishing this look by running outside zone and isolation in the flats with our slot guys, this is a huge opportunity to get guys like Pena and Jackson the ball in space and I don't understand why we haven't capitalized.
Good stuff Blizz
 

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