Sunday, September 17, 2006

Conservative Game Plan or Bad Game Plan?

Much of the kool-aid drinking crowd are incensed at the criticism of yesterday's Husker offensive game plan against USC. They point out that USC's defense harassed Zac Taylor when he did pass. They point out that the teams that challenged USC last year (Texas, Fresno State) ran the ball. You know what: they have a point.

Except they are making the point against the wrong argument. A conservative game plan probably was a good idea. However, there is "conservative" and then there is what we saw last night. Heck, compared to last night's game plan, Rush Limbaugh looks like Ted Kennedy.

I went back and looked at last night's drive chart and it confirmed my suspicions. Nebraska didn't attempt a pass on 1st down until the end of the 3rd quarter. It took until the 16th "1st and 10" to even attempt a pass. Guess what happened when Nebraska finally unhandcuffed the offense? It's only touchdown of the game.

I don't have a problem with a heavy run-orientation to start the game. Keeping the ball away from USC's offense makes sense. But even in a run-oriented offense, you still need to throw the ball occasionally. And by occasionally, I don't mean on 3rd and long either.

More than half of Zac Taylor's pass attempts came on third down, and usually it was third and long. Mix in a few passes on first down earlier in the game, and Nebraska gets a few more first downs and keeps the ball away from USC a lot longer. The one-dimensional Husker offense of last night was easy for a talented team like USC to defend, and game Nebraska almost no shot at winning the game unless the Blackshirts go +3 on turnovers. And even then, it might have been tough.

Some kool-aid drinkers even acknowledge this, by saying if we could just stay within reason into the 4th quarter, we still would have a shot to win this game. In other words, a "rope-a-dope". The problem with that strategy is that it's frequently difficult to magically "turn it on"...especially "turn it on" against a team like USC. Even Zac Taylor and Nate Swift talked about how the offense never got into a rhythm, never got untracked.

Vanilla isn't necessarily a bad flavor of ice cream, but plain-label off-brand vanilla almost always is bad.

1 comment:

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