Interview with #SpeedInSpace Coach Gattis with Jon Jansen's Podcast

Submitted by UMProud on January 17th, 2019 at 2:21 PM

Jon Jansen interviews Coach Gattis on his podcast "In The Trenches". 

Some select quotes to wet your whistle:

"It's going to be a total offense"

"It's going to be a group effort"

Michigan has all the pieces of the puzzle to put it together (paraphrase)

Offense will utilize RPO, spread and other schemes based on personnel (paraphrase)

Rock touches will be spread around and balanced (paraphrase)


Damn I need a cigarette now




January 17th, 2019 at 3:12 PM ^

What does "see it" mean though? The offense isn't going to get completely overhauled and I don't think it needs to be. The only game that I can personally WTF at is Ohio State. I was expecting/hopeful that we would attack them the same way Purdue, Nebraska, and Maryland did but with better athletes at our disposal. It didn't happen. Even then, we were OK until Bush got knocked out, we went 3-and-out, and the had the punt blocked for a TD. Maybe Florida too but there were other issues at play there.  

In 2019 we need to be able to go up-tempo... one man sequencing the plays should help tremendously there. We also need to be able to go 3/4/5 wide if/when the situation calls for it. We wont be going 00 for the hell of it, and we certainly don't need to.

Do we need to scrap the I-form? I would say, hell no. It has its time and place.

I'm looking forward to seeing Gattis do his thing, we have the horses.


January 17th, 2019 at 3:28 PM ^

Tempo isn't a function of having one man or multiple men call the plays. It's not like there was a debate over the headset every down before the play got called; the play was typically in with 20+ seconds to go. The contrast with the Hoke/Borges regime with the team getting to the line with 5 seconds left in the clock is stark.

It's more fundamental than that--tempo teams can slow down, but they can also speed up, because the entire way the team practices and communicates is different. Harbaugh, with his NFL background, ran an NFL-style QB-centered playcalling process, where the QB receives the play, calls it, and controls the LOS. Even though, due to complexity, Harbaugh didn't give the QB much authority to adjust things.

Modern high-tempo offenses (the high-end stuff, like Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, etc, that Michigan will definitely not become) work with vanishingly small playbooks. They require the whole team to look to the sideline for the playcall, which can be done quickly, and adjustments come from the sideline only. 

There's a middle ground available, and I think Michigan can find it. If it wants to. But it is a function of the entire team, not just "who calls plays." The committee wasn't the issue there--it was the process that Harbaugh wanted the team to go through.

Michigan certainly went 3, 4, and 5 wide a fair amount last year. They need to actually use the strengths of those formations, and perhaps be willing to run by spreading teams out. With blockers like DPJ, one would think that you could run with 4 guys split out and extra space on the field.

If Michigan goes 4-wide, I want defenses to be stuck worrying about single coverage on one of our three great receivers or terrified of Zach Charbonnet or Chris Evans in space. And when they cheat a safety down, Michigan has to be willing and able to drop back and pull the trigger to a single-covered wideout every time. 


January 17th, 2019 at 4:16 PM ^

I appreciate all that (we 3/4/5 wide a lot this year) but that all really just gets back to my real point: there might not to be much to "see".

On the committee thing, I'm just speculating and yours is as good as mine there. In a hurry up situation, I would expect to hear this type of exchange:

Harbaugh: Josh we need tempo, lets go to the zippidiedoodah package... maybe even a little zippiddieyay

[subs go in]

Gattis: Spider 2 Y Bannana with the flippy floppy sprinkles in the hoo-hah

Everyone else: Mime show


Gattis: Coach, they're in a voltron set... bingobango should be good here.

Harbaugh: Make it so


Harbaugh: Good shit, Josh.


During that game's preparation zippidiedoodah, zippidieyay and bingobango get chosen/designed and installed based on the scouting report for that specific opponent and specific looks/tendencies they might show. Those are specific sequences of plays that work with a specific personnel set. Having guys like Evans and Eubanks around could let those packages go from 10 to 11 to 00 without subbing thus effing with the defense even more. That's when defenders start auditioning for Emmy nominations...

I'm not a coach, so all of that is made up and probably somehow fatally flawed but it seems like checking in with 2 or 3 other guys on top of HC and OC just might slow getting the play call in enough to make a difference in a hurry up situation. If the game prep was done much input/conversation is actually essential to the process?


January 17th, 2019 at 5:29 PM ^

Perhaps, perhaps not. Which plays didn't compliment each other? Maizen said that Michigan never developed plays to work off of the inside zone play, but that's just not the case. See the leak concept against MSU, for example. 

It's possible that Michigan didn't do it enough, but I find assertions like this are generally based off of vague impressions rather than careful scrutiny. 


January 17th, 2019 at 5:42 PM ^

Going 4-wide means an OL that can pass protect without a TE helping out and a QB that can make quick decisions.  It sounds like one area Shea struggled with was in making those quick decisions.  That will put more pressure on our OL.  I mean, it would be nice, but Shea, Dylan, and Joe will need to be quick and smart with the ball.


January 17th, 2019 at 3:15 PM ^

I am choosing to believe deep inside Jim Harbaugh is a sane man that can look over the last 4 years and see how his program has progressed / not progressed and then look at how College Football's Offensive strategy has changed.  I think he has finally made the changes necessary to "move forward".  "Man ball" and "body blows" are going to become much less.  At least this is my delusion to believe.


January 17th, 2019 at 5:08 PM ^

This is not delusional, but will be somewhat opponent dependent.  If we can just pound the rock to 42+ points, that is likely what we do.  But if we need to go with 10 or 11 personnel more often to get to 42+ points, we will have that in the arsenal.  That is the difference.

I believe last year was a great building block to this Gattis approach as Coach Ed has already built the right kind of run game and blocking schemes to support the overall approach.  The install of the expanded pass game will be the most challenging for the WRs ... and a bit of a bummer for TEs and FBs as their snaps will diminish.

Maize N' Ute

January 17th, 2019 at 2:32 PM ^

If the first play of the 2019 season is a hand-off, this blog is going to erupt in rage.

This is probably the most optimistic I've been about our offense since Year 2.  Let's hope Harbaugh doesn't get in the way of things.


January 17th, 2019 at 2:44 PM ^

I hope your using hyperbole.

If MTSU has 5 guys in the box and we come out in a 3 wr set you can best believe Shea will be checking to a run.

What if the run goes for 80yds?   Will the blog still erupt?    The blog will erupt after every loss and wins will have mild approval until they beat OSU.  Until then after every win the optimists will be countered by a BPONE advocate saying it means nothing.  

Deep down nobody really cares how they do it.   They just want 60-0 every game.



January 17th, 2019 at 3:41 PM ^

I would be delighted with such a play, because it means that Michigan looks at the numbers and does what the numbers advise. Similarly, if they call a run (everyone calls runs! Bama ran almost 60% of the time on first down in first halves I charted for last season!) and Shea sees that there are 7 defenders, 6 blockers, and DPJ singled up on the outside, I hope he checks to PA and throws a vertical to DPJ for 80.

Just having an offense that consistently exploits that stuff is big. 

4th and Go For It

January 17th, 2019 at 2:48 PM ^

I think there's real case for optimism here if in fact what Harbaugh and Gattis have said is true so far. Gattis has a ton to prove in his first solo job running the show and seems hungry and ready to go get it.  He knows a lot of the players already from PSU recruiting days and knows the talent he has to work with.

If Harbaugh really gives him the keys, I think we'll see some very interesting and modern concepts on offense. Definitely not a complete departure, but what was needed this year was faster tempo, playcall diversity, and better utilization of talent, IMO. That's very achievable and seems exactly in line with what Gattis has said publicly. 

We don't need to go #AirRaid to win - we need to utilize the talent we have, get the ball to them faster and in space, and keep defenses guessing. You can do that with many of the concepts we already have in place. 


January 17th, 2019 at 3:00 PM ^

I don't blame Gattis for this, and it's good that he's getting out and doing interviews, but these are platitudes that tell us very little.

How little? Every one of them could have been said by a coach prior to this football season and could not be disproven. "Total offense" and "Group effort" are good things to say, but there's no consensus definition of those terms that differentiates them from what we already saw. RPO, spread, other schemes based upon personnel? We ran spread formations (a fair amount, actually) and ran some RPO and of course ran "other schemes." Rock touches spread and balanced? I dare say that they were too spread out and balanced. Guys like Mckeon and Bell and McCurry were getting targets along with DPJ and Nico Collins. Chris Evans was getting carries between the tackles, etc.

It's not that he won't actually produce a good offense, but these quotes don't say much on their own one way or another. The #1 issue I had with the offense was play distribution and the way possessions seemed to be thrown away in the first half most of this past season. None of what he says addresses that. 


January 17th, 2019 at 3:23 PM ^

I'm no Space Coyote, but to my eye Michigan's passing game suffered last season primarily from two things: 

1. Mediocre pass protection.

2. Few receivers who were quick-twitch enough to get off the line/press coverage for a more quick-hitter passing game.

DPJ and Collins are fast and talented, but they're not jitterbug/slot types. That's why it was so important to get guys like Giles Jackson and Sanristil. 

I also think the loss of Bushell-Beatty hurt Michigan more than fans realized at the time. From Rutgers on we weren't the same team.


January 17th, 2019 at 3:36 PM ^

I'm not sure JBB caused all that slowdown. But Steuber really, really struggled against OSU, and that hurt our offense significantly. 

I don't think "quick-twitch" was the issue with the passing game so much as teams quickly learned that Michigan struggled to throw against zone coverage and played it an awful lot. People say "throw the shallow crosses!" but against zone that's asking a guy to catch a pass and get blown up two yards down the field. Zones can, of course, be picked apart, but Shea wasn't great at doing that. 


January 17th, 2019 at 4:24 PM ^

The routes weren't set up very well either, so from the snap, we were at a disadvantage. It seemed like our WRs had a hard time recognizing where the open space was and working back to the passer once he leaves the pocket. 

They make it look so easy in the NFL, with KC, NE, NO easily finding open WRs almost every play, whether it's a 2 step drop or a 7 seconds to release. It's amazing how smart the WRs are, and how they are always on the same page with the QB. 


January 17th, 2019 at 5:07 PM ^

It's not clear what "routes weren't set up very well" actually means. We don't have comprehensive all-22 coverage, so we don't have a good idea of how all of the route combos set up. I have a better idea of how Clemson and Alabama run their passing offense than Michigan because the Film Room channel used all-22 footage, even though I scoured every bit of Michigan stuff I could find this year. 

Often the issue appeared to be Shea. I discussed that here when I overanalyzed some plays from the MSU game. One play in particular (Brian clipped video of it here) I noted that Shea should have thrown the ball and did not until it was too late; my analysis is actually a bit shallow because I didn't get a chance to analyze the replay clipped above, but I dissent from Klatt's commentary there--DPJ cut inside of his single-coverage defender 20 yards downfield and had room and Patterson absolutely should have thrown him the ball. 

Shea simply did not pull the trigger at times when there was a man to throw to. The MSU game has another, obvious example of this when he rolled out and had DPJ wide open in the end zone and didn't throw to him. 

This is where I wonder if Harbaugh's QB coaching style has an effect, encouraging caution given the philosophy of the coach and the team. And if a defense that is really good at man coverage but is pretty vanilla in its understanding of zone makes it tough for our QBs to pick apart zone coverages from teams that know what they're doing. 


January 17th, 2019 at 7:11 PM ^

I agree with this wholeheartedly. I'm not the expert you are,  but Shea frequently looked hesitant to pull the trigger unless someone was wide open. That wasn't his reputation before last year,  so it makes you wonder what changed. Did the coaches beat the gear if turnovers into him, or did he have a lack of faith in himself or the offense? Hopefully he's more prepared to let it rip next year.