David Lee met with the media today to talk about what he's been doing the past month. Basically, he's rewritten the offensive playbook, most notably the passing game portion.
He said that there are some good things in the playbook, especially where the running game is concerned. But he said he wants to cut back on the running game plays and add a bunch to the passing game.
He recalled that when he left Arkansas the last time that he remembers both LSU (in the season finale, the Miracle on Markham) stopped the running game and that so did Georgia in the SEC title game. Both times, the passing game couldn't perform (except for the two big passes Matt Jones hit at the end of the LSU game).
"I recall the LSU game," Lee said. "We were bad. We were 5 of 14 passing even with those last two completions by Matt (Jones). But basically, we couldn't throw it that game and we couldn't the next week against Georgia in the SEC title game.
"I saw the same thing when I watched Arkansas at the end of last year. The team was one dimensional on offense. When you stop the run, you stopped Arkansas. It was the same thing. The passing game wasn't there.
"If I can come back and accomplish one thing, it's to get the passing game going. It's something that I felt challenged to do when I sat in Dallas thinking about this job."
He said his challenge is to find out what junior quarterback Casey Dick can handle in the passing game and then develop that aspect of his game. He already likes Dick's fundamentals and knows he can start by revamping the play-action passing game with some deep passing. He also wants to see how much the quarterback can process when spring begins. He said the task is to see if Dick can handle "progressions" and if he can handle "reads," the two areas that are critical in the NFL.
Basically, he said he wants to install the same pro-styled offense the Dallas Cowboys ran, a system that took the Cowboys from near the bottom of the NFL to the No. 1 offense in both yards and red-zone productivity. He said they were one field goal away from leading the NFL in scoring.
The key will be whether or not Dick can handle the "progressions" and "reads" in the system.
"The guys who can process the information and get the ball out on time while getting the heck knocked out of them, and then do it again, those are the ones who make it in the NFL," Lee said. "We are going to begin to find out on March 13 when spring drills begin. Don't judge us on day one. Give us four or five practices before you want to fire me."
Lee said he and grad assistant Jeff Norrid have literally worked night and day to rework the playbook. He said it is basically the same playbook as the Cowboys had, with some additional pages from Mike Martz' playbook.
"About 85 percent of the passing game is from Dallas," Lee said. "But we also have some things from Mike Martz, just some fabulous ideas. The key to all of it is what we talked about at Dallas. We don't want to run a bad play into a bad look. That's how we went from No. 14 in the NFL to No. 1 in offense."
Lee said he wanted to begin practices by working on protections, the key to any successful passing game. He said he wants each practice to start with a 16-play blitz package from Reggie Herring's defense.
"We may hit on two of 16 the first time we do it, but we'll get better," he said. "I think that's how you get better, go against the blitz packages."
He said the Hogs would be successful against blitzes "because we won't put all of our backs in protections. I'm not going to say there isn't a time when we won't max protect, but we will be successful because we won't just use our backs and tight ends to block. You send them out. That's how you make sure your wideout isn't double covered. I want (the backs) out. You don't have 18 interceptions if you send your backs out.
"There is a bunch of stuff for our players to learn, but we are going to learn it. Am I concerned about the time factor in learning it? Yes, I'm concerned. It's going to luck ugly at first, but we will get it. We have to get it."
Lee said his evaulation of Dick so far is that his mechanics in the throwing motion are superb.
"Casey has a fine release," he said. "He's in really good shape there. He's got a good arm, too. He can whip it down field.
"Initially, I think he can be a really good play-action passer. He will be able to do the progressions in that part of the passing game and should be able to air it out deep.
"Secondly, I think the albatross will be his dropback passing, the reads, until he sees it for awhile. That's what we must work on and improve.
"Our play-action will be down the field. I have to believe we are going to be good there and I'm talking about some new things. We are going to take advantage of No. 5 (Darren McFadden) and No. 25 (Felix Jones). And, we are going to get Peyton Hillis into things. I love Peyton Hillis. I'm excited about him.
"I see him doing the things like Jason Witten and Dallas Clark. I don't mean he's like them, but that we will use him like those two were used. We can make it tough on the defense with Peyton. With Peyton, Felix and Darren all on the field in our base personnel, we will make it tough on defenses.
"We will use a play that we had for Jason Witten the last two years with Peyton. We called it 45 times the last two yeras and we hit it 35 times. I could hit it. It's that easy. I promise it's going to be a big play for Peyton."
Lee Rewrites Playbook
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