We’ve now examined the foundation of the Herman offense, which is the power and inside zone run game, as well as the basics of the Todd Orlando defense, which are the coverages he uses to structure his schemes. Now it’s time to dive into the Herman passing game.
On my computer I have little text edit documents with the depth charts for just about every power 5 program as well as 20 or so mid-majors that are nationally relevant. I track all the starters and some of the backups with their size, class, where they came from, and sometimes their 247 ranking coming out of HS or JUCO.
So I have quite the archive of college player info. It’s useful for evaluating teams but it’s also useful for recognizing patterns:
Last week we broke down the two foundational plays of the Tom Herman offense, which are the inside zone and power run schemes. Everything in Herman’s offense flows from first being able to attack the space between the tackles with these two runs and then punishing defensive overplays with spread formations, option concepts, and play-action.
Most coaches have favorite schemes. Good coaches can adjust to the players they have on their roster, but there’s a reason that there’s a degree of challenge involved in doing so. Every coach has schemes or a system he believes in for teaching, training, and then deploying his players. Tom Herman and Todd Orlando have a few key schemes they believe in for allowing them to make the most of the players on their roster, today we’re going to start with the foundational schemes of Herman’s offense.
If you didn’t already know, Beck got the call to replace Herman as QB coach when he left Ohio State after the 2014 playoffs for the Houston job. Urban made Beck Co-OC with OL coach Ed Warriner and they proceeded to have difficulty over the next two years matching the output of the 2014 offense, navigating the Cardale Jones vs J.T. Barrett QB battle, or rebuilding the passing game.
Houston was the perfect job for Tom Herman to take for three reasons.
The first was that it allowed him to get back to work in the familiar grounds at Texas, recruiting and developing in a state he already knew well thanks to previous stops at Texas, Sam Houston State, Texas State, and Rice.
From the beginning it was always Charlie Strong’s intention to install a run-based, ball control offense that could beat down Big 12 defenses and protect his own defense. His once innovative 3-3-5 defense was heavy on disguised blitzes and shifting fronts designed to disrupt opponents. Gameplans for college defenses rarely have enough disguise or variety to hold up under the microscope of spread offense for 70+ snaps a game.
While Major Applewhite is officially taking over Houston for their bowl game (the Las Vegas Bowl), both of Herman’s Cougar coordinators be there for this game and Applewhite will be incentivized to make this game count as he seeks to continue the program momentum built up by Tom Herman. If you want to get a final glimpse of what Herman’s Houston team looked like and aren’t one to dig up old games on YouTube, this is a great opportunity.
I thought Ehlinger’s signing was worthy of some focus since it is my estimation that Texas just signed the best QB in the class, the best QB they’ve signed in perhaps a decade, and the perfect trigger-man for Tom Herman’s offense.
One of the most overlooked aspects of college football is the way that every program and every recruiting base is different. There’s tremendous overlap that’s easy to pick up on but there are also differences from state to state and program to program varying from resources, weather, demographics, and culture that really add up. Consequently, different programs are going to reach their ceiling through different strategies.