Okie State’s new defensive approach

I wrote about the move from the 4-3 to the 4-2-5 over at Football Study Hall. There will be lots of people who describe this as being a move to a “TCU-style of defense” but don’t be fooled by the 4-2-5 language. This is actually a move away from what TCU does and more towards what our friend Coach Alexander details on his website.

I also wrote about Frost’s offense at Nebraska for SB Nation and have done a two-part series recently at study hall describing “positionless football” which I’ve also called “the Lake Travis option” and “suburban ball.” None of those names are that great, still working on it. Here’s part I and here’s part II.


  1. Cameron

    Your articles on “positionless football” (not a fan of the name, but I get the idea) reminded me of some comments Chris Petersen made while at Boise State.

    Heavily summarizing, he articulated two main schools of thought when operating as an “underdog” program. (Not what he called it, but that’s what he meant.)

    The first school preaches getting guys who are undervalued because of their limited skill set even though they might excel at one or two things. Then taking those guys and plugging them into a system that capitalizes on what they do well. So Baylor’s offense under Art Briles would be a good example of this approach, though I think Petersen might’ve mentioned TCU at the time.

    The second school preaches getting guys who are undervalued because they fail to excel at any one activity even though they are versatile. Then taking those guys and putting them into a system that utilizes that broad skill set. Of course, Boise State under Chris Petersen is a great example of this second school.

    (This ties into the Petersen’s comment that there are three main ways a guy will get underrated in recruiting: too narrow a skill set, failing to be really good at any one thing, or lack of coverage/scouting on the guy.)

    Here’s the kicker though: In Petersen’s view, you cannot be both. You just have to pick one and go with it. When coaches try to blend the two is how they get themselves into trouble.

    So going to an interchangeable offense is great, but then you cannot later wax poetic of oh how much better we would be with a couple deep burners, for example. I think that’s what causes a lot of coaches to hesitate to head in the direction of “positionless football.” Well, really either direction, now that I think about it, but you get the idea.

    • ianaboyd

      Great thoughts, I’m sure Peterson is right, he’s had every reason to think this through and years of practice so I’d be stupid not to defer to him.

      In their instance, they always seem to grab really strong all-around receivers that do plenty of damage when working in the matchups they’d create for them so a “wish we could take the top off” regret didn’t seem to occur that much. I mean, they didn’t typically have a dominant deep threat guy but they never lacked for guys that could get open down the field.

      Help me out, what should we call “positionless football?” I called it that in the article just to have an obvious and eye-catching headline to encourage people to read it. I’ve referred to it as “the Lake Travis option” since their offense is built around using hybrids to attack defensive designs and create matchups but that’s not a very universal nickname. I’ve called it suburban ball since you tend to see it more at suburban high schools that have hard-working and well rounded players but often lack elite athletes but that’s not accurate enough and has too many connotations to be a great term.

      • Cameron

        How about transposable or interchangeable offense? That’s how I think of it. But in terms of how you are structurally attacking the defense, perhaps displacement offense would be better. Not as catchy though.

        • ianaboyd

          Yeah, I’m trying to think of something catchier. Like when I dubbed Briles’ offense “the veer and shoot.” That always infuriated one guy in particular but it was good for summing up the combination of option runs with vertical option routes and Briles had a veer background.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *