Don’t move, be agile

Matthew Futterman, in “Ducks vs. Buckeyes: Classic Culture Clash,” from yesterday’s Wall St. J. (paywall), pointed out a great example of reorientation:

In 2004, [then-Oregon coach Mike] Bellotti got impatient. The pro-style offense he had inherited from Brooks had stalled. New defensive schemes, such as the zone blitz, where defenses could pressure the passer without becoming vulnerable to a run, had stymied Oregon’s rushing attack. The previous season the team had scored just 356 points, nearly 200 fewer than Pac-12 champion USC, finishing a middling 8-5.

Bellotti studied tapes of lesser football schools, such as Northwestern, Bowling Green and Utah, which played fast, spread its offensive weapons across the field and put the quarterback in motion on nearly every play. After caving to resistance from coaches and enduring a 5-6 season, he pressed ahead, starting to recruit players built to run the fastest, most kinetic offense college football had ever seen. The Ducks went 10-2 in 2005 and Bellotti became a hero across the state.

This is what Boyd called Behendigkeit, or “mental agility,” which is the ability to break out of one pattern of ideas and actions and adopt a new pattern.

Once you’re in a new pattern, then you can be agile within it:

Joel Klatt, the former quarterback at Colorado who now does analysis for Fox Sports, noted that Helfrich recently explained the Oregon philosophy of football in Zen language. “He said our goal is to constantly remain the same and in remaining the same to constantly evolve,” Klatt said.

Shunryu Suzuki, author of one of my favorite books, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, put it this way when describing meditation:

Don’t move! But when I say don’t move, it doesn’t mean you can’t move.

2 thoughts on “Don’t move, be agile

  1. One of the things I didn’t see pointed out in the article is that one of the lesser known schools that Belotti studied tapes of was coached by Urban Meyer, who is now the coach at Ohio State. Urban recently made some adjustments to his scheme/playbook using ideas from Oregon. His current offensive coordinator was also recommended to him by Chip Kelly, the former coach of Oregon.

    There is an interesting article that explains how OSU has also reoriented at http://grantland.com/the-triangle/college-football-playoff-ohio-state-oregon-ducks-urban-meyer-tom-herman-offense/

    If you have any interest in some of the thinking that goes on in football, the author of that article at grantland has a great website called smartfootball. I’ve noticed Boyd-like concepts there quite a few times.

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