Andrew Luck and Cardinal ‘Strategery’

Posted: December 9, 2011 in Coaching Chronicles, College Football
Tags: , , ,

As Andrew Luck awaits results of this year’s edition of the Heisman Trophy, let’s talk a look see at the man behind the man – Stanford offensive coordinator/quarterback coach, Pep Hamilton.  In this segment from, Coach Hamilton talks about some of the nuances to playing quarterback in the Cardinal’s west coast attack and how Luck has evolved as more than simply a student of the game.

Coach reinforces the west coast ideal of a rhythm and timing based passing game.  He also emphasizes that it is difficult to recreate what is going to actually happen in the pocket during a game and that success from a coaching perspective is about “simulating the movements he is going to have to make in a game.”  Building good pocket awareness through repetition is also something important, according to Coach Hamilton.

Another interesting tidbit is the analogy he makes regarding a play call.  Coach explains it as similar to an equation in that, “there’s pertinent information for each guy on the offensive unit … breaking it down to personnel … what guys do we need in the huddle to run the play, or the possibility of plays that we may call?”   This certainly hints to the fact that the Cardinal employ a Peyton Manning-like approach to play calling, whereas to give him a series of plays to check from based on the defensive look he is presented with, or even, perhaps allowing him to call his own plays from an index of plays attached to different offensive personnel groups, depending on the overall situation.

Consider the following excerpt from the San Jose Mercury News as evidence that Luck is more than just a quarterback, as John Welner highlights Stanford Head Football Coach, Brian Shaw, and his efforts to elevate Luck as a pioneer in college football and leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy in 2011:

Shaw also emphasized that no player in college football comes close to matching Luck’s role as a coach on the field: He decides at the line of scrimmage which play — from a group of three called by the coaches — Stanford will run.

If none of the three are right for the defensive alignment, Luck has the option to call an audible of his choosing.

Shaw then used his Power Point to illustrate what that entails. One play appeared on the screen as this: 96 Sway Tango Edge Kill Spider 2 Y Banana Z Reno Alert 6 Zeus.

There are hundreds like that in the playbook.

“To say Andrew is just a quarterback is misleading,’’ Shaw said.

Coach Hamilton’s explanations really seem to make an attempt at simplifying how he teaches quarterback play in the Cardinal offense.  However, Coach Shaw paints a different picture.  He inspires images of a special breed of qb/coach-on-the-field that maybe only comes around once every thirteen years or so.  Whatever the case may be, Andrew Luck has certainly blazed a trail at Stanford, equipping himself with all the mechanical tools necessary to go along with an encyclopedia-like knowledge of how to execute offensive football strategy.

What ever happened to, “go to the telephone pole and run an out” … ?


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