One of the big accusations out there is that the coaches changed the offense for Bell, that they threw out the new pistol offense and went back to last year’s 4 WR offense. Stoops insists this isn’t true.
Well, after reviewing and logging all the plays there are some interesting facts that revealed themselves. (The last drive or two at the end of the game after the outcome was decided were ignored)
#1 – Did we abandon the “Pistol”?
Definitely not. In fact we ran 40 plays out of the pistol formation vs only 16 out of the shotgun. That’s well over twice as many pistol plays as shotgun.
#2 – Was the extra passing due to how they were playing the run?
Hard to say. Their defensive gameplan may have been geared toward stopping the run, but if that’s the reason we passed so much it must have been because Tulsa had a very weak gameplan with no ability to adjust.
We only used 5 Play-Action passes the entire game! And at least half of our running plays (12) were out of either a 1 or 2 WR formation. From that formation we passed only once the entire game!
The majority of our passes were out of the shotgun formation (14). Guess how many times we ran it from that same formation. Only twice! (And not a single package play was run from the formation either)
In other words, our shotgun offense and pistol offense had nothing to do with each other. And most of our passes were completely separate from our running game. Did the coaches add in the shotgun passing offense because of a weakness they saw in Tulsa’s defense? Or is it because it suits Bell more? There’s no way to tell, but the rest of the season should reveal the truth.
#3 – We were WAY too predictable!
Hopefully, this is all a ploy to set ND up next week. However, that seems doubtful.
In addition to the above numbers, there’s another even more startling fact. When we went with a 4 WR package, we passed the ball 15 times. How many times did we run it? ZERO!
That’s right. We never ran a dedicated running play without at least one of our Fullbacks in the game. Now, there were 5 package plays run which could either be a run or pass depending on what the QB wants to do after the snap. But, that’s it. If there’s no FB in the game, you can be pretty certain that you don’t have to worry about us running the ball.
This is something that we must change!
#4 – The shotgun formation IS last year’s offense.
Regardless of why they did it, one thing is for sure…the shotgun formation package is exactly the offense from last year. Only one zone read was run out of the shotgun formation and that’s it. Would they have run this package had Trevor started this game? Probably not, because of his struggles passing the ball. But, would they had he been passing in games like he did in fall practice? It’s possible. Again, no way to know.
It’s also important to note that our passing plays (especially out of the gun) were a whole lot more successful than our running game. So, if the gun package was run so much because they anticipated that being the case, then they were right!
#5 – Much of the pistol formation plays were also run last year.
Making things even muddier is the fact that Landry ran a lot of plays out of the pistol as well, just no zone read or QB run plays. The Belldozer made an appearance a few times in 3rd and short situations Saturday, and we had 13 plays run with both FBs in the game which we didn’t do as much last year.
#6 – Bell makes last year’s offense look a lot different.
Bell’s ability to scramble and evade the rush adds a whole new dimension to the offense. Even if the package being run is no different than what Landry ran, Bell’s ability to run changes it drastically. Not only does it turn would-be sacks into 5 yard gains and turn coverage sacks into 10 yard first down runs, but it changes how the defense has to defend it.
No longer can defenses put both safeties back deep to defend the pass. They must always account for the QB by making sure someone is spying him. They can’t just drop their LB’s really deep to cover crossing routes because it leaves a ton of room for Bell to run up the void for a first down.
So what used to be a passing package with no threat of the run to the defense now has a big running threat because of Bell’s ability to scramble! Combine this with screens, and a one-dimensional package becomes more multi-dimensional (maybe one-and-a-half-dimensional).
That said, I’d still like to see a lot more zone read plays from the shotgun formation!