Callahan says enough about the 8 lbs. playbook
The infamous 8 lbs. playbook
The infamous 8 lbs. playbook
Publisher
Posted Sep 27, 2005


You’ve talked about it. Heck, everyone has: The new infamous playbook. Eight pounds of lines, numbers, dashes and terminology that could make Roget green with envy. It was initially considered the reason Nebraska would be successful, Husker fan excited about all this complexity in throwing defenses off track. Now, though, it’s considered the reason that it’s the offense off track instead. A lot has been said about it. Too much for some and for the head coach, he’s heard enough.

If you ask anyone on the offensive side of the ball about the playbook, they’ll sigh a bit more often than not and try to tell you what it all means. From last year to this year, we think those going into their second season are still trying to do just that.

From the shifts and motions ad nauseam to the most recent trials and tribulations with procedure calls, the question that has been coming up just keeps coming up again:

Is this offense simply too complicated for college?

Head coach Bill Callahan has heard that. He’s heard about how it seemed to be that he was taking a pro system almost to the letter and expecting it to work in college. He’s heard about how the offense seems to be confusing his own guys more than it is confusing the team they are trying to beat.

And, he’s heard about the playbook itself and just the sheer enormity, Harrison Beck stating that they once weighed it, the book coming out weighing in at a hefty eight and a half pounds.

An eight pound playbook? Does anyone need an eight pound playbook? Does anyone actually use all of an eight pound playbook during a game?

Bill Callahan says no. “I think the media has made way too much out of the so-called eight pound playbook,” he said.

“You have to have a starting point, you have to have a reference of what you want to get accomplished in your offense and defensive packages and I don’t think our offense is different than anyone else’s.”

The stories were many about the quarterbacks that spent hours upon hours after practice, during the fall, writing out up to 20 pages of plays per evening. They would then go into meetings the next day, expected to recite upon request what each of those plays did, what every position on the offensive side was doing and what their role was within that play.

While the desire is that every quarterback and offensive player is to know as much of that playbook as they can as adeptly as they can, Callahan said that when the game arrives, the eight pound playbook goes on the Jenny Craig diet.

“When we are talking about a game plan notebook and game plan preparation, by God, everything is scaled way back so we can focus in on the opponent that we are playing,” he said.

From close to five inches, Callahan said that the play book they use specific to the game they are playing is about four inches less than that. The eight bound behemoth, he said shrinks to about an eighth that size.

Callahan even went onto say that in the course of an actual game, he didn’t think that when you look at the entirety of the playbook, it’s not realistic that any team could use it as is. “I think any team in America could go into a game with that type of volume,” he said. “It’s shrunk down for each game. It’s specific to what we need to accomplish against each opponent.”

The argument is certainly credible as the players have even said that what they see in the book isn’t everything that is taken to the field. They’ve also indicated that of what they run, at times, there have been adjustments to simplify certain aspects, so that the overall comprehension is better.

That hasn’t changed the fact that the offense is struggling, though, and the most recent hiccup of procedure penalties, due to players not being where they were supposed to be, raising the subject yet again.

And the question has even been raised if Callahan is trying to get kids that have perhaps just 20 hours a week to study this versus all the other academic requirements they have, to learn something that was even complex in the NFL, where players were studying it for a living.

The head coach wanted to reassure everyone, that that was certainly not the case.

“Our kids aren’t pulling all-nighters just studying the game plan book.”

“We’d be in serious trouble if that was the case.”


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