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I have been reading as much as possible about Gus' offense for some time now. To begin with, I concentrated on what he has done since moving to the college game. There's a lot of interesting stuff that he used at Tulsa, Auburn, and Ark State, but the core of his offense is observable in what he did in the late 90's and early 2000's in rural Arkansas.
I will break this post up into three parts. The first installment will cover the basics of Gus's running game. The second will examine three of his base passing plays. The third will explain his strategy for getting plays called quickly and efficiently from the sideline without the use of a huddle.
More than anything, Gus wanted to go fast. Prior to the 1997 season, he was a Wing T, ball control guy who had experienced limited success as a HFC (he was coming off of a 6-6 season in 1996). With the 1997 season, however, came a new era in the development of what Gus called the "Wide Open Offense". He changed from the Wing T to an attack that focused on pushing tempo at all costs. He told his players "some coaches talk about winning the 4th quarter, we want to get to and win the 5th quarter". Gus wanted to extend the game, having prepared his players to better handle the grind of a 5 quarter game. 3 state championships later, I would say he made a wise choice shifting philosophies. What is so interesting about Gus' offense is that it produced such amazing results (reguarly going for 50, 60, and 70 points a game), with such simple concepts. What Gus was doing wasnt new, the way he was doing it was. This simplistic yet genuis approach can be seen in his running game.
The Run Game
What Gus did in the run game was, as it remains today, very simple (and extremely sound/effective). He kept 10 running plays in his arsenal, but really relied on 4 to move the ball - the power, counter, buck sweep, and trap. The fact that Gus ran all of these from the shotgun was the most revolutionary part of his run game. In this post we will look at three of Gus's favorite plays- the Power, Counter, and Sweep.
The power (second picture below), is not a new play. It is often referred to by college coaches as "God's Play” because of its longevity, consistency, and schematic soundness. While there are a billion coaching points to running the power effectively, the basic concept is simple. The play is all about getting more people to the point of attack than the defense. Football is, as Chris Brown at Smart Football likes to say, all about gaining numerical advantages. The offense gains such an advantage with the power by pulling the backside guard who, when coupled with the fullback’s playside block, overwhelms the defense at the point of attack. The playside lineman block down, and the running back follows the caravan for what is often a “loud” 4-5 yard play. Gus used, and continues to use this play as a foundation of his offense.
An interesting note on Gus’ use of the power is that he abandoned the use of the running back as the ball carrier for the quarter back, a decision likely brought on by some guy named Newton who once played at Auburn. Gus would bring a speedster such as OMac in motion to stretch the force (contain) player to the power side, fake the handoff, and have came simply follow one of Berry or Isom. This play was responsible for some of Auburn’s biggest plays in 2010 (such as the TD against LSU).
The counter (first picture below) is another simple play that Gus has long used to great success. The coutner was made famous by Tom Osbourne during his time at Nebraska, where the Huskers ran roughshot through the Big 12 with it. The play aptly named, as it serves as a counterpunch to playside runs. The running back takes a counter step before following a pulling guard to the opposite side. The rules for the playside lineman are similar to the power, though some technique differences exist. Gus, as his offense developed, began to use sweep motion along with both this play and the power to control force (contain) defenders.
The Buck Sweep
The Buck Sweep is an ancient and incredibly effective play. Don’t take my word for it, here is what Gus thinks of the play from the horse’s mouth (check the link below).
This is a very basic overview of what Gus did in the run game back the day. He used other plays, such as the belly, draw, hand sweep, reverse, and speed option along with the plays mentioned in this post. Another thing that I found interesting about Gus in his early days was he used very little motion. This should come as a suprise to anyone who knows anything about what Gus has done since moving to the college game.
In our next installment, we will look at what Gus’ did in the passing game while he was a high school coach. This should be a bit more interesting, as Gus’ attack was much more pass-happy before his stint at Tulsa (where Herb Hand greatly changed his philosophy).
ArkansasSports360.com takes you inside one of the most brilliant offensive minds, playbook. In this video Malzahn draws o...
This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by eaglewstripes40 18 months ago
Originally posted by Tyrone Biggums: Auburn is going to have a nus like sleeve of wizard after Bama is done.
Don't ever leave again please...ever.
I Believe Auburn and Love IT...4 Life!
You should prepare yourself to live with the consequences of your decisions, whatever they may be.
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"Get in where you fit in." Life is, Too Short TL;DR
Alabama delenda est.
"I've seen some coaches lose with good players. I haven't seen anybody win without them." Rhett Lashlee
Pretty good analysis. One correction though, the LSU play was not the power play you have drawn up. It was the inverted veer, which CGM started using a lot of with Cam. If you watch the highlight again Cam reads the playside DE, who steps out to take the RB (Fannin), Cam keeps it as the inside back. CGM did not adandon the use of the running back on this play its a designed option.
Edit: Not sure if you're talking the Cam TD run or the Omac run. The play I described was the Cam play.
This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by McBigun 18 months ago
Great read. Thanks for the post.
AU Electrical Engineering 87'
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