Film Room: Offensive Philosophy

The Inside Carolina staff convened to review and discuss film from the Spring Game. In this segment, beat writer Greg Barnes, columnist Buck Sanders and analyst Jason Staples discuss clips that provide insight into head coach Larry Fedora's overall scheme.

Greg: Good quality cut by Logan. Planted his left foot at the 18 and got four yards from there.

Jason: And what I like there is that it's just aggressive and you're going to get your 2-3 yards. You know there's nothing else there. You're fine. Because in this offense, it's all about getting your gain. Take what you've got while you've got it. And then on the next play, you're going to take what you've got while you've got it and just keep the pressure on.

Greg: That reminds me of the conversation I had with Trubisky after the Spring Game. He said that in this offense, the big-hit play is typically your second read, not your first. The first play is more conservative. He said that he had gotten into a bad habit last year in practice of immediately going to the second read because he wanted to hit the big play. That's what he was focused on. Why has Fedora designed his offense that way?

Jason: Fedora's overall philosophy is take what the defense gives. What he says in clinics over and over again is that he's never been the kind of guy that thought it was smart to just keep banging his head against a wall. So everything is designed to take the easy thing if given. I hear the same thing from Jimbo Fisher at Florida State. He has a saying: "You will never go broke taking a profit." So, in other words, just take what you have.

Buck: Is it a situation where they go to the second read if they can tell the defense has made a mistake and they know that play is going to be available? The defense has read it wrong, the safety is not in the right place and they can capitalize with a potential big play?

Jason: Right. Let's say the play is double scats – Fedora loves to run that – and you run it out of a 3x1 formation with a back, and the back is on the other side, so basically a 3x2. The receiver that comes on the inside is your first read every time. You're watching that receiver, who's going to come in, mark that inside linebacker, and find space. You're going to put that in the hole shot every time. But, if all of a sudden that closes down and you've got the receiver bracketed, that means you've got this other guy wide open. Somebody is out of their spot. So this should be something that you can get if their coverage is doing what it's supposed to be doing.

Buck: If the first read is covered, that means another read is available.

Jason: And then Fedora has a secondary thing that he'll do off that where instead of having the running back run a little flare –

Greg: He will just run up the sideline.

Jason: Right, a rail route. So it's the running back up the field. And so now that's your second read, but that's a big play. It's the same thing that Paul Johnson does at Georgia Tech. What is their first read every time?

Greg: The dive play.

Jason: The dive. That's not their big-play play, but you've got to stop the dive. And they will run that to death until you stop it. But the moment that you stop it, they know that you may have sacrificed somebody on the perimeter and now they potentially have something. It's the same philosophy on take what you're given, take what you're given, and oh, there it is.

Buck: So the progression is the quarterback's pre-snap read determines which side of the field he's going to, and then once the ball is snapped, he goes to his first read and if it's open, he throws it. If it's not open, that tells you the defense has possible robbed Peter to pay Paul somewhere.

Jason: That's usually the case, yes.

Jason: This is just a little shallow cross. And this we didn't see much of last year. I really like this concept in this offense. We saw some crosses to Eric Ebron last year but we didn't see this double shallow here.

Greg: Old-school mesh route. I assume the point of slapping hands is just to make sure they're rubbing off one another?

Jason: Yes. It's just a trigger point. That's very good. Make sure you're close enough; make sure you rub.

Buck: That rub means nobody is in between them.

Jason: If there's anybody there for coverage, they're going to hit one of them. I'm a big fan of the shallow-cross concept. That's a big Air Raid staple.

Greg: Dana Bible used that shallow-cross concept quite a bit at N.C. State. That's basically how they beat Florida State two years ago. And to your point, Jason, Mike Leach ran the mesh during his brief stint at Oklahoma in 1999. Current UNC offensive coordinator Seth Littrell played on that team.

Video by J.B. Cissell

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