Tom Thayer is my new favorite ex-ND-player that I barely know anything about.
In this article, he really lays it out there about the o-line play.Â I really agree with him.Â I don’t know that he’s right, but that’s been my gut for a while.Â That it’s not talent – it’s a solid group of guys on the line.Â That it’s not attitude – I think they have an edge and they want to use it to beat some dudes up.Â That it’s not coaching – Latina was good in the past, he didn’t all-of-a-sudden forget how to coach.Â That it’s really Charlie’s zone blocking scheme that just doesn’t work either 1) in college or 2) at ND right now.Â Â For whatever reason, it just isn’t working.Â My hope is that Charlie adjusts his offensive philosophy to accommodate a new blocking scheme that ditches the zone stuff, and gets the line back to going forward and punching guys in the mouth.Â That he can somehow meld this with everything else he wants to do on offense.Â Is that possible?Â I have no idea.Â But it’s my hope.Â Â
Thayer knows a lot more about football than I do, and a heck of a lot more about o-line play, and he says it pretty clearly in the article (emphasis mine):
“To me zone blocking is a bunch of crap,” he said. “Zone blocking is a lateral approach to offensive line play, and that’s not the way offensive line play is meant to be played. You’re supposed to attack coming off the ball. You watch zone-blocking teams, and they start by taking a lateral step first. You’re not coming off the ball and attacking defensive linemen. You’re not using the snap count as a weapon.
“If you don’t give your linemen confident footwork to uphold their balance and power, no matter what the defensive linemen and linebackers do, you’re going to create offensive linemen with no power, strength or confidence.
“With all due respect to Charlie Weis, I know he knows offensive football, and I know he knows how to manipulate personnel to put them in confident positions to work an offense up and down the field,” Thayer said. “But he doesn’t know offensive line play like I know offensive line play. I study it every single day on both the pro and college levels.”
“I don’t think that’s his expertise. What he has to do is have faith that his offensive line coach is going to come in with a philosophy that works and then let him do it. I know times have changed and all this other stuff, but there’s still a right way and a wrong way to play offensive line. And it starts with being physical and attacking.”
“I see talent and strength in the Notre Dame offensive line, but no power,” Thayer said. “I see a lack of properly choreographed footwork, where they can play efficient up-front football and dictate the momentum of the offense.
“If you don’t have a run game, you can’t have the deception of the play-action pass. If you don’t have the run game and you don’t have the deception and threat of the play-action pass, the ability to have the regular normal third-down passing game is going to be even more difficult.
“The whole idea is these guys spend a lot of time in the weight room developing strength. And if you don’t let them use their strength in the most confident manner on the football field, there’s no reason to sit there and develop this strength.”