Moving On – This will be just the third Offensive System I’ve Seen at Penn State

I want to talk about football. Normally I’d do this with a beer on the bar and jukebox music in the background. But we’re all working, so that’s out. Let’s try it this way…

Now some of you die-hards will probably correct me, but in my first 25 years of watching Penn State football, the offense consisted of:

  • · Fullback Dive
  • · Off Tackle Run
  • · Sweep (to the short side of the field)
  • · The Dreaded End Around
  • · Screen Plays
  • · Curl Patterns
  • · The Occasional Out or Fly pass patterns
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We used a derivative of that offense at State College High School, back when I played. As an aside, I blocked for Jay briefly, on scout team. He was third string then, behind former PSU AD Mark Sherburne.

The next offense we saw was Jay’s system, the Spread HD. I don’t know about you football fans, but the HD never really looked like a spread offense to me. It always seemed like a mishmash of the original offense mixed with the occasional, multi-receiver sets.

We still saw the Dreaded End Around far too often for my taste.

Our man BO’B brings something completely different. While he won’t name it, it will be the offense of the Patriots, as he told the Post-Gazette:

"It's going to be the Patriots offense. I'm going to be heavily involved with the offense. ... You can't put a label on it. It's not East Coast. It is a very unique offense and it takes smart, instinctive players to play in it. What we do in New England, it's all about the players. We have a very smart quarterback [Tom Brady]. It's a fun offense to be a part of once you learn it."

According to the almighty Wiki, the Patriots ran a modified Erhardt Perkins offense. One of the founders, Ron Erhardt, repeated this mantra: Throw to Score, Run to Win.

As a huge fan of Penn State’s running game, that makes my skin tingle. We’ve had some great running backs. Guys like Lydell Mitchell, Curt Warner, D.J. Dozier, Blair Thomas, Ki-Jana Carter, Curtis Enis, Richie Anderson, and Larry Johnson. So we’ve got that going for us.

The offense is actually built around a small group of plays that they run out of multiple sets. If you watched any Patriots ball this year, you’ve seen that with Gronkowski and Welker. These guys line up all over the field, but still wind up catching the ball in the same places.

What I want to see is quarterback development. I’ve read many comments that say essentially: "The Patriots have Brady, that’s why the offense is successful". And that’s true. However, this offense looks like it will work great with a smart QB. I don’t think we have to a Greek god in the backfield.


rady (and many of the successful QB’s in the NFL) makes the offense work by reading defenses. He has the mental dexterity to switch plays on the fly to take advantage of what the D gives up. That prevents running off tackle when there are ten frickin’ guys in the box and MOYE is running alone…alone! Along the sidelines.

But I digress.

What I saw, after the BO’B hire was derision from some official sports analysts. They were eager to point out that other former Pats’ offensive coordinators failed spectacularly after becoming head coaches.

Now let’s dig into the Charlie Weiss, Notre Dame debacle.

When Weiss failed at Notre Dame, it wasn’t because of his offense. His QB, some guy named Jimmy Clausen, had a 67% completion percentage. He passed for 3,333 years, 23 touchdowns, and 4 int’s.

Weiss failed because his defense sucked. They gave up over 388 yards per game and 24.2 points in his last year.

So, as usual, some of the sports analysts took the easy path to derision and indictment. However, our man BO’B knows his history, that’s why LJ Sr and Vandy are back.

However, I did find an articulate and painful article from the Bleacher Report about his failure. The author pointed out that this system is time intensive. It’s hard to develop this offense under the limited practice schedule of an NCAA athlete.

The author opined that "less developed" college athletes couldn’t adapt quickly from week to week, from run to pass to run. But I disagree.

I think that comes down to coaching. A good coach (hear me BO’B?) will drill the crap out of a set of plays, until the people know them in their sleep. Then during the season, he can mess with alignments from week to week.

That’s pure speculation…and those ND fans are still hot from their Weiss experience. But I’m hopeful. Hell I’m excited. I may pack up the family and road trip up for the Blue White game.

After 2011, I’m ready to go back to being a PSU football fan.

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