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Theorems and Stratagems, Week 4: Changing Directions


Well, it's early in the life of Theorems and Stratagems, but it looks like we might already have a favorite: Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, who appeared in this space last week for eschewing the concept of, you know, having a playbook.

Seeing as how he's not a fan of writing out a game plan for his offense, then, perhaps Franklin can be forgiven for just missing a few things. Like inserting longed-for backup QB Kodi Burns when you might want the quarterback to run the ball.

This is a pressing need when you're running the spread and you're starting signal-caller "made Brandon Cox look like Usain Bolt." Cox not being known for his scrambling abilities -- or much ability at all, after having been Al Borgesized.

When asked about using Burns in the second half [Franklin] said, "There was a time in the second half when I thought about it for some of the zone reads, but I just never did it." Huh?  Did you just never get around to it or did you just forget?

I feel like there's something I should be doing right now...

The Auburn faithful are getting restless. Track Em Tigers also ran a poll of its readers, asking them to grade Franklin's performance. The number of respondents who choose "A" or "B"? Six percent.

Not that they're the only unhappy SEC fans. Tennessee fans are ready to blame someone -- anyone -- for their troubles. But, for most of them, Fulmer will do the trick just fine.

And they have examples, plenty of examples, of where bad coaching strategies hurt the Vols. For example, pick things up at the close of the first half, Tennessee driving.

The Vols got to the one yard line and had 3rd and goal with over :30 to play. Crompton did that sideline look again.

And the Vols let fifteen seconds run off the clock before they finally decided "Well, let's just call time out." ...

Two plays later, Crompton was picked off in the end zone, and I came the closest to booing I've ever come in my orange blooded life.

Clock management, though, wasn't the only problem for the Vols. Apparently, that whole "directional kicking" thing isn't Tennessee's strong suit. Among one of the most cited missteps by the Volunteer coaching staff: After surrendering two TDs off kicks to Brandon James over the past two years (one was nullified by a penalty), the Vols put the ball in his hands on special teams not once -- but twice. One resulted in plus field position for the Gators, another in a touchdown.

But never fear, Rocky Top. Walk-on punters to the rescue!

Back to clock management. Volunteers, Mountaineers -- they all like to take their time. So much time that Bill Stewart, who has taken West Virginia from contention to punchline in the space of a month, essentially chewed up the clock at the end of the game against Colorado.

This is a good strategy if you're ahead. Problem: It was a tie game.

That's okay, though. Stewart showed his brilliance at clock management when he called a timeout on a Colorado fourth down with three seconds left at the end of the first half. CU ran out the clock.

Meanwhile, The Mountain Top has a different complaint. Situation: Third-and-short, overtime, 'Eers have the ball.

Timeout is called and Coach Stewart is not in the huddle motivating these young men. He’s nowhere to be found. And Noel Devine is on the sideline with a "helmet problem". How does that even happen? Can he not borrow another helmet? Don’t they carry spare helmets?

Now, this isn't really fair. Obviously, Coach Stewart was trying to find another helmet for Noel Devine. It's not that he doesn't know what he's doing.

Or maybe he doesn't. (Photo HT: Doc Saturday)