On a personal note, I have been pretty tied up with the day job and some work stuff which has had me entirely preoccupied since last Thursday when the topic was first broached. I cannot yet share all the details, but will only say it will have no impact on my work for Duck Sports Authority or this blog.
All I can really say is that it would be a monumental decision unlike any I have had to make since 1994. Should have some information later this week and then full details later on this month.
Wrapping up WSU game
Look, I don't want to try and play it out like Saturday was a great game; it wasn't. But it also was not much more than I expected.
I expected a true freshman quarterback going against one of the better defenses in the conference to struggle some. I expected WSU to be fast on defense, keep the run game in check and completely shut down short quick passes over the middle. I expected Alex Grinch to make Burmeister to beat the Cougars over the top. All those things happened.
One thing you cannot predict is how a team will react to a new voice both in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage. That voice caused some disruption early in the game which became evident by some early offensive penalties. Those kinds of things will get better.
What I did see was a QB who has all of the tools to be successful in the Oregon offense. Is he the next coming of Deshaun Watson or Marcus Mariota? of course not. I do think he is better than Darron Thomas; he reminds me a lot of Kellen Clemens and that is a good thing.
There were, of course, some criticisms which I attempted to answer (mostly in vain as those who feel down about the position of the 2018 football team are very unlikely to be talked off of the ledge). These were my thoughts following the game Saturday:
On the criticism of having to dumb down the playbook and the thought that Marcus had it down by his second year:
- Marcus Mariota did not have the entire playbook down his RS freshman year; he had good portions of it, but he was not a ‘master of the entire playbook’ yet. (And even if he was, comparing anyone to Marcus is probably not a great argument; Mariota was special.)
On the criticism of the play calling against WSU
- I think that there is a lot of misunderstanding of football playbooks. The QB does not get to the line, call the play and do simple check downs. An entire playbook consists of a complex array of routes, coverages, blocking schemes, specific hot reads based on routes/coverages/blocking schemes, etc. IT’s not checkers; it’s not even chess; it is three-dimensional chess which requires complex formulas prior to making each move.
- This is further complicated in a zone read offense where the QB also has to make the split second decision of run versus pass.
- When the QB gets to the line and makes his read, he then has to communicate the changes to the play, routes, blocking schemes to the team. If he is wrong about one aspect of the play, it gets blown up.
On the comment that "all they did is run up the middle twice then throw over the top"
- As for whether they ran crossing routes/slants; they did. Just because that did not translate well on television does not mean it did not happen. But, with a fast defense that shows a good ability to swarm, those routes were covered – and what would have happened had Burmeister thrown a pick-6 on a well-covered slant route? “He should have gone to XXX over the top – he was wide open!” I have seen that same thing said a half million times.
On the belief that there was no motion
- The team ran plenty of motions, but they used the same position (the slot) in a fly sweep motion. The reason (most likely) for this was having the motion from too many positions can confuse the read of the QB. He used the fly sweep to know whether he was in man or zone coverage. With that determination made, Burmeister had the knowledge of ‘what to do in the zone read of the defender crashed, where the primary and secondary reads were and the hot route’
On why Burmeister could not make more 'quick read throws'
- The problem, of course, is that the OL was doing such a poor job of pass pro that Burmeister was running for his life far too often.
- Yes, the team ran bubble screens – and they were blown up. Yes, they tried to go over the middle, but that was covered well after the TD to Breeland. Yes, they used plenty of motion.
My own thoughts on where the problems lay Saturday night
- Here’s the thing – the way the OL played, this game was unwinnable. If they get push; if they open better holes; if they protect Burmeister better, then the result might have been different. Like it or not, the brutally bad play on the OL was the difference here.
- The one thing I would say about play calling is this - I personally believe a couple of trap plays would have done plenty to slow down the defense, generate some better inside running lanes and maybe even curtail the DL movement and slants.