Principles of War as applied to the Buckeye offense [m]

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By Buck68 on 10:43:32 10/11/01

An adaptive overview. We often speak without considering precise word choices or line of reasoning... i.e. a la e e cummings' "stream of consciousness" poetry. This is a shallow attempt to be more precise, in order to foster discussion and thought regarding our Buckeye offense.

Adaptations of principles of war serve as the empirical standards for this discussion. Inasmuch as one debates these principles, their definition, or their is addressing a cause of a disagreement...rather than the symptoms.

1- The Objective. The objective of the game is to win. The objective of the offense is to score. While there are narrow exceptions, such as holding the ball when ahead until the game ends, such exceptions are both obvious, and by their exception point to the criticality of the objective in the other 99 44/100ths of the possible game situations. Or, to Woodyize it, "three things can happen when you score, and none of them are bad". To Cooperize it, "no one wants to score more than i do". One can have alot of fun with these coachspeakisms...but trying them on for size with principles of war can also provide insight. Or, it can be taken incitefully...and we wallow around in the muck like animals. What's Tressel say about the objective? In Mr Ed's article "Where Has the Passing Game Gone", I see nothing regarding the objective. Perhaps this article is not about the offensive objective...but about Coach T's team building priorities as applied to our present team.

2-Mass. This means superiority in, as the USSR's master Cold War strategist Sidhorenko described it "shock, firepower, and surprise" at the point of attack. Compare this principle with such traditional Buckeye statements as "we want to be able to run when we want to, where we want to", or "you should always be able to get a yard [first down on third & short]. Our "tradition" is one of what we want...NOT how to get it. The principle of Mass descirbes the basics of how to get that yard: be superior at the point of attack. How often have we complained about being stopped on third and short...yet abjectly fail to look at the tape of 4 of their guys defeating our lead blocker & TB? We love to bean count...yet simply refuse to count this basic, obvious reason why we fail in "key" situations. The Prinicple of Mass suggests that we succeed in "the running game" as in every other kind of offensive label for a play when we are SUPERIOR AT THE POINT OF ATTACK. We don't succeed because we like to run, have a good RB, a great FB, because we're "tougher"...all of these linear, one note tunes of ours we love to hear ring.

3-Initiative [USSR] [US=maneuver]. IMO the US "maneuver" is a byproduct of seizing/maintaining the intiative, hence my choice of the Initiative as a more accurate criterion. If you do not have or choose the initiative, the consequence is ceding maneuver initiatives to the enemy; put another way, you choose to react rather than attack. Thus, when you run a play that has been successful before BECUASE IT WAS SUCCESSFUL, you essentially tend to give up the Initiative...and it is this decision which tends to cause you to lose the advantage of Mass. That is, if your opponent uses their common sense. :-{)} An opponent with more than common sense will "allow" you to "crunch down the field" "proving your dominance" and "returning to Buckeye football"...until a time and place of his which time he'll stuff you up your nose with a rubber hose by Mass-ing at your obvious point of attack you think is all about "dominance" and "what happened last time".

4-Unity of Command. I read this as "all on the same page" in staff planning and execution coordination. We're slowly getting tidbits from the Cooper era regarding headset conversations about chronic disagreements ending in such phrases as "hey Mike [Jacobs], i am the head coach." In stark contrast to chronic disagreement on people, tactics, and game situations on offense...Coop ceded "command and control" of the defense to Fred Pagac in 1996. IMO Fred's Unity of Command over the Silver Bullets, despite some obstacles, had much to do with our defensive success as Fred's basic strategy, which was "attack: do it to them before they do it to you".

5-Security. Save for another time.

6-Surprise. IMO without applying this principle, you cannot consistently achieve the priniples of Mass or maintain the Initiative. Surprise falls in two categories, strategic [hey, what'd they do? Never saw that before] and tactical [hey, I knew they could do that, but i couldn't tell whether they'd do that there now, or the other 2-4 things i thought they could have done that would be equally effective]. Obviously, tactical surprise is much more the achievable norm. IMO Buckeyes have more trouble understanding the significance and application of this principle than any the Objective.

7-Morale [all but US]. Ironic, isn't it, that other countries, many without our supposedly superior heritage of freedom and rights, would value Morale thusly?! Ironic too that Coop didn't think Motivation much of a factor in football. Coach Tressel, in stark contrast, links it DIRECTLY to his starting point of "building relationships" among his staff and players, in order to build his team. I'm with Coach T's camp on this one...I've seen too many "ordinary" soldiers and people do "extraordinary" things [word choice intentional & congruent w/Coach T]
IN SPITE OF "leadership" and obstacles. It does beg the question, though, of "what kind of motivation"? That leads directly to MORALS. But we'll table that one here 'cause what makes people tick, and what's greater than our individual ego, is so "uncomfortable" to many. Just gimme my favorite stats and my "dominance"...and don't bug me with that other junk. :-{)}

8-Simplicity [only US]. Another irony, IMO. The nation of complexity...diversity...melting the SOLE military power that values "simplicity". The question is, of course, Simple to Who? The rationale value of this prinicple would seem to lie in "executable" plays, signals, understandings....motivations. That depends on each person, it would seem to me. Much more important would be to read each person's strengths & weaknesses, and adapt/tailor your training and performance systems to upgrade each. This seems to be Coach T's approach with both individuals and his team...which seque's [duh, how'd that happen] to Mr Ed's article.

QUOTE Football: Where Has the Buckeye Passing Game Gone?
By John Porentas

Statistics are often misleading. That's a fact. Through four games this season, however, there are a few stats that do paint an accurate picture about the Ohio State offense.

>>>the stats show statistical results at this snapshot in time. They do not answer the questions regarding offensive choices [re the title] and qualities. However, we often use stats to get started.

[two paras deleted. Didn't wanna be "too long..." :-{)} ]

It's the lack of snaps in the passing game, however, that has some Buckeye fans wondering if OSU Head Coach Jim Tressel has lost confidence in the passing game, or worse, that the Buckeyes have abandoned the idea of a balanced offensive attack. Some of Tressel's recent comments have fueled that notion. Take, for instance, Tressel's pronouncement on Tuesday on the kind of team that he would like to field at Ohio State.

>>>We do know how many time Stevie went back to pass. We don't know how many times he audibled into or out of "pass plays" the "actual" snaps is hard to say. But, so what...those QB decisions point to decisionmaking regarding plays to best achieve SUCCESS...which points to the relative value of the principles behind the decisions, vice the results. Secondly, both Coop and Coach T have used the term "balanced attack". Which Principle of War, or combo, is this? I see none. I do see it as a perceived derivation of result stats, i.e. worthless as an indicator of tactical acumen in planning or execution because there's zero contextual data about Situational Leadership.

"There have been teams that have been successful doing a lot of different things. What I'd like to be is one of those teams that does everything well. That's what we're shooting for. If I had to pick my top two, I'd like to have great defense and run the ball. I suppose the third thing is we better have extraordinary special teams," said Tressel.

>>>I hear these comments as Coach T's priorities about how to develop a team from the ground up. They're a combination of what's most conceptually fundamental [which includes what's most doable and achievable] about football team proficiency building...and how he reads our present situation. If accurate, we could expect "better" and "sooner" development, in order, in those priorites...which would mean that the omitted team passing proficiency will take longest to develop to Coach T's standards of excellence.

If you're one of those that likes to see the ball in the air that statement gives you cold chills. Don't panic. Tressel was quick to also add the following.

>>>Gotta add flavor and call to the sheep! :-{)} Personally, I like to see the ball caught by our the air it's up for grabs! :-{)}

[1 para deleted]

Tressel does not have an aversion to the pass, though he clearly likes to run the ball. He admits that the Buckeyes must throw it to have a championship season. What seems to concern Tressel is the quality of the execution in OSU passing game right now. For that reason, the Buckeyes have been emphasizing the run.

>>>Now that Mr Ed has corralled the sheep, he feeds them :-{)}. But the meat is this apparent contradiction, using the [IMO] false dichotomy of "the run" and "the pass", that to improve in passing we emphasize the run. Rather, I'd say Coach T is developing credible threats WHICH HAPPEN TO BE RUNS, which best enables him to apply MASS with sufficient tactical SURPRISE, enough so he can maintain the INITIATIVE, which in turn makes a relative weakness, Steve's passing skills, relatively a bigger threat BECAUSE defenses are weakened in that area to counter our strengths. Short point: tactics are relational and situational. Equally interesting is the entire topic that is not covered here: i.e., what QUALITATIVE improvements to our run plays are producing more and better credible run threats? Coach T addressed this issue last week on Buckeye Football Weekly, crediting Coach Bollman with essentially 4 adjustments to our off-tackle bread & butter iso that made mincement of NW's DL stunting adjustments to guessed it...our iso! Who remembers that when we returned to our "bread & butter" iso in the 4Q up 38-7...NW's stunt STUFFED IT repeatedly????

Buckeye fans have been quick to point the finger at quarterback Steve Bellisari for whatever deficiencies may exist in the passing game. Tressel, however, has insisted that at least part of the problems may lie elsewhere.

>>>Translation: stupid, selfish, immature Buckeye fans gorge themselves on witchunts. Tressel's building a team, which depends on people working together for a greater good than themselves.

"Really the most important part of throwing the football is protection," Tressel has said over and over again this fall.

Tressel would have us believe that to a large degree, improvement in the OSU passing game will come mostly from improvement in pass blocking. OSU fans may not buy into that, but at least one OSU lineman does.

>>>I don't think so. It's one of several important factors - blocking proficiency, tactics, opponent, game situation....
IMO Coach is not talking to the fools out here...he's motivating his OL to concentrate on what they need to improve and TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for it, rather than to take the wide, irresponsible road of blaming [in this case] Steve.

"Like coach says, protect better. We've got to give Steve the time. Steve's a good thrower. When he has the time he can put the ball on the mark," said LeCharles Bentley.

>>>good example of prior comment. We all have time, now don't we?

The object of that protection, Steve Bellisari, says he sees improvement in his line when it comes to pass protection. And according to Bellisari, in an odd sort of way, the Buckeye success running the ball has contributed to that improvement.

>>>those "oddities" we should be exploring.

"I think it's (pass blocking) gotten better each week. Each week it's gotten better. As you can tell last week, we didn't have to do it very much, but the way we ran the ball, I think that from a confidence standpoint, will get those linemen everything they need to go out there and say hey, we can block anybody. They're definitely getting better each week. It's very comforting," said Bellisari.

>>>Translation: i can focus alot better when we do some things well....

[10 paras deleted]

>>>Terms like "consistency", "got to do a better job", "emphasize the ground game", "I can't complain when we're moving the ball" are useful only inasmuch as one can figure whether they're just coach/player speak, or indicators of an unwillingness/inability to speak to the issues. Most of this stuff IMO is like most of our speech...simply not much thought to it.

Bellisari sees the upcoming Wisconsin game as one in which the passing game may become a more important aspect of the offense.

"I think the way they put so many people in the box you're going to have to mix it up. You're going to have to get them in some formations where they're going to have to get people out of the box if you want to run or you want to pack them all in the box and throw it. It really depends on what we want to do offensively," he said.

>>>Belli speaketh of the principle of Initiative, because Mass can be denied at 2 or 3 points of attack by a defense concentrated at those points [the "8 or 9 in the box]. "It" [success] "does NOT depend on what we want to do offensively" depends on your tactical adjustments to where the enemy chooses to concentrate. Coach Bollman's run adjustments v NW were highly successful becuase NW's DL stunted to stop our off tackle iso's. Had they adjusted to our inside and outside adjustments in the first would have been another iteration of who adjusted next. Interestingly, the self-styled intellectuals of the Big 10...did not adjust! :-{)}

If you can believe Jim Tressel, what the Buckeyes will want to do offensively is protect their passer. If they can, the pass may return to a more prominent position in the OSU offensive game plan, but not until then.

>>>IMO, taking Coach T as his word, I would say he's telling his OL what they need to work on, nothing more. I'd bet he's also telling his WR's [a la last week] what they need to work on, our RB's & TE's likewise. And, the QB as well. I doubt Coach T is concerned with "prominence" one bit. I'd guess it's the "prominence" of the verbal abuse with a team distractor...that he is obliquely trying to address with fans...and directly to his players. Coach would address the fans more directly...when one finds reasonable fans to address. A coach should not spend limited resources with fools when there's work to do.

Link: USAF Air University Library: Comparative Principles of War chart

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