TFB Short | The Hand That Guides

I wanted to write a quick primer about Herb Hand, Texas’ new Co-offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line Coach (tackles apparently). Do you find it curious that Warehime remains on staff? Me too. You’ve read here my thoughts about Tom’s year one offense (pun intended). It was my conclusion, the biggest letdown from 2017 was the run game, led by Stan Drayton, Derek Warehime, and Corby Meekins, not to mention, Tim Beck and top steer and overseer of all things burnt orange, Tom Herman. What did ‘Mastermind’ Tom decide? Well, in comes Herb Hand, a spread-to-run stalwart and nationally renowned offensive line coach. Hand’s coached under the likes of Rich Rodriguez, Todd Graham, James Franklin, and Gus Malzahn. He’s been coaching one-back spread since before it was cool. That bodes well for Texas, because whatever they attempted last season with good talent wasn’t working. What changes might Texas fans see? Let’s dig in to some spread basics.

The idea behind spread football is to stretch the field via alignment from the start. This creates wider lanes by which to run or pass through, creating higher likelihood for more explosive plays. Explosive plays come by creating more space the defense must cover, from sideline to sideline and vertically as well. What’s also important is to create situations where players have one man to beat, placing stress on the defense to make one-on-one tackles or give up big plays. Where does tempo come into play? Tempo not only stresses the defense’s ability to align correctly, but to also adjust calls in real time. Beyond that, spread offense is about numbers, angles, and space. The play-caller seeks to maximize each via box counts, identifying the defensive front (line and linebacker alignment), and getting the ball to where the defense is not. It’s that simple. To do this, execution is key. Players must be technically sound and do their job, every play. You may be asking, what’s different about this than what Texas already does? We can’t know right now, but if Hand is expected to take any lead in the coaches room, there will be some differences. I’ll highlight a few.

Mindset – The mindset will likely change somewhat, to a more attacking style. While it’s still spread-to-run, expect more prodding for big plays. If it’s one thing Hand has done at all stops, it’s attack. There will be some ball control, but if the defense is showing a look that’s ripe for a big play, there’ll be no hesitation to go for the jugular. This won’t be a huge departure from the defensive 2 first downs and punt approach, but look for heightened urgency to get chunks of yards and score.

Tempo – The tempo may vary more under Hand. If you watched Auburn last season along with other Malzahn offenses, you’d have seen no-huddle along with some huddle procedures (lightning huddle). That’s because Malzahn likes to press the issue one way or another. Pushing the pace has served Malzahn and Hand well and you’ll likely see more from Texas next season. You’d have also noticed placing the quarterback under center from time to time. This is weaved into the tempo procedures to create the possibility for quicker passes, quick pitches, and disguise the run and or play-action. Malzahn and Hand were sneaky last season and looked for any and all edges against very good defenses. More important, they moved the ball and beat very good defenses.

Zone & ‘Buck’ – This is similar to Herman-Beck, Hand will primarily run Inside Zone, then use other schemes to counter outside. What makes me curious, will Texas fans see the famous ‘Buck Sweep’? I hope so, because that is a time-tested scheme and one that typically delivers pain. It’s also a nasty answer for defenses tightening up their fronts to take away the Inside Zone play. The personnel you’ll see most is one tight end ‘20’. Meaning the tight end will be off-set behind the line. From there you’ll see variations of Zone runs with the tight end inserting in different gaps along the front. This will all be coupled with the read-option game, whether it be zone-read and or run-pass option (RPO), something Hand does a lot.

Stack & Alley – Wide receiver Stack formations will be used more to help the run-pass option game. This widens the space from the offensive tackles and places stress via space on both coverage and run fits. Texas didn’t utilize this much last season, I was very critical of that. If Hand has his way, you’ll see Stack used more. Furthermore, it bothered me that easy yards were often ignored in the alley (quick pass). That won’t happen under Hand. This relates some to Stack, but Malzahn and Hand will tinker with receiver alignments to gain favorable angles in the screen and quick pass game as well.

These are a handful of things I’d expect to change under Hand. That’s if Tom hands him the keys, which he should. I’m excited about this addition, are you? As always, let me know what you think in the comments.