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Name that Offense: General W.T. Sherman Breaks Down The Big 10


WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN is a General Assignment Reporter for The Rivalry, Esq.  He lives in Lancaster, OH with his wife, Ellen, and eight children.  In addition to sports blogging, Sherman enjoys baking, bird watching, and beach volleyball.

Can you match the offense with the Big 10 team that runs it?  Sherman can.

With the 2008 season less than a day old, lets open the ball by taking a close look at the Big 10 offensive.  The conference has recently taken some hard knocks when its come to production.  Last year's outright winner, the Ohio State Buckeyes, finished ninth in conference in total offense -- averaging a limp 393 total yards a game.  By comparison, the first-place Purdue Boilermakers put up an average of 435 yards, a stat that ranked them 28th nationally.  That's right -- the Big 10 Conference didn't have a single team finish in the Top 25 offensively. 

Gentlemen, it's time to acknowledge the corn.  If you want to beat the secsch, you've got to know your fundamentals, and I've designed a game to measure muster.  Below you'll find a short numbered description of each of the 11 offenses in the Big 10.  Grab a pencil and jot down the team you think is best described by each one.  Then, click on the "comments" section of the post to see the correct match-ups.

Let er' Rip.

1. This past-prime pylon went 1-4 on the road in 2007 -- scoring only 12, 13, 7, and 6 points in each respective loss.  A new quarterback was thrown into the fray with limited receiver options, resulting in the worst-passing percentage in the conference.  A traditional I-Form proved unavailing behind an O-Line that allowed 46 sacks last year -- anchoring the offense to its subprime position at the bottom of the barrel.  Returning starters, and alternating quarterbacks might help this traditional force to reestablish itself.  It doesn't hurt that this team doesn't face either Ohio State or Michigan.  Then again, that's what everyone said last year.

2. The Creator of this fashion frenzy uses zone reads out of the shotgun and the triple option to keep things moving.

3. Ponies and Pistols, oh my!  These elites plan to shake things up with split backs and a shallow shotgun.  But don't worry, if history is any indication they'll by plenty of plain old I-Form.

4. This spread offense turned up the volume in the spring by moving to a no-huddle attack.  Expect to see emphasis on shorter, quicker passes.  Development of a running game will also be key.

5.  Sounding more like a sex toy from the future than an offense, this program's "Spread HD" hits the shelves tomorrow featuring multiple receiver sets, zone reads, option options, rollouts, and more passing than ever before.

"If you want to beat the secsch, you've got to know your fundamentals..."

6.  Another underperformer to sport the spread, this squad looked far better on paper in 2007 than on television.  In fact, they were downright awful.  The coaching staff placed primary emphasis on the development of speed in the offseason, and brought in a recruiting class to match.  Expect the youngsters to go outside and go long rather often.

7.  This load-bearing bunch starts and stops in the backfield.  Pass protection problems in 2007 will spurn this veteran offense to cater to its roto-tiller of downhill talent.  No less than four running backs should see the field at any given time.  Then again, the top tight-end tandem in the nation should help air out the laundry.

8. An offense that best epitomizes the classic Big 10 "three yards and a cloud of dust" mentality is textbook and power-hungry.  A monster front-five will line up to knock the teeth out of opposing defenses making way for lightning-quick bowler-backs

9. Unwilling to be typecast, this spread bunch likes to line up three to four wide -- with variable lone and double back support.  The run-first, pass-second protocol of 2007 will likely evolve to reduce reliance on the option and put more faith in the pass.  Having a household name at quarterback keeps the pressure front and center.

10. For this team, finishing second in the Big 10 in total offense in 2007 wasn't enough.  They plan to hurry things along via a feisty no-huddle designed to put the ball in the hands of playmakers.  An athletic front five helps, but a non-existent ground game makes this bunch strikingly one-dimensional.

11. The Architect of the "basketball on grass" mentality will guide this spread on a final go-round -- an outcome that's in the hands of young, but talented receivers and a 1-2 punch running game.