John Robinson Understands Air Raid

A lot of people have mixed opinions on John Robinson, including myself.

But he made an interesting observation in a Sports Illustrated story yesterday.

Excerpt: Robinson still thinks “Air Raid” offenses make life tough on Air Raid defenses and noted USC this year as a shining example.

“Everyone forgets about the defense,” he said.

This is what I wrote about last week when I talked about Graham Harrell not playing “complentary football.”

You can’t just pass and tire out your defense during games.

29 thoughts on “John Robinson Understands Air Raid

  1. The bottom line is that we need the right leader to take us to a championship. Helton is not that leader. The right leader would be surrounded by outstanding assistants and not what we have now which has been a carousel of assistants.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. I just wonder how USC fans really feel seeing a two time successful USC coach now donning LSU colors. The way USC and Clay Helton has treated coach John Robinson is pretty pathetic.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Geaux-jans! Don’t waste a second on this $#!+show…while biding our time, great to see real USC men experiencing success…

      Liked by 3 people

      1. James — WAY before Robinson, you voiced reservations about what the Air Raid would do to the defense as the season wore on. Throw in the absolutely horrendous play of Baxter’s unit (which constantly gave opposing offenses’ great field position), and I think the defense just plain gave up against Oregon and Iowa.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. MG-I’m an Air Raid skeptic for multiple reasons, mostly because it’s a gimmicky, single dimension (except in hands of skilled coaches who use its principles but don’t abandon other offensive fundamentals) approach that was developed to enable less talented teams to level the playing field against more talented teams, and is finesse such that it seems to cause teams that employ it to become soft in all phases of the game. The effect it has on defenses has been a subject of debate back to at least the Air Coryell Chargers (anyone interested, watch the NFL “The Missing Ring” episode on the 1981 Chargers – Hank Bauer and Dan Fouts talk about the “offense scores to fast and puts too much pressure on the defense” argument). I don’t think up-tempo offense is a problem for the defense (Pete’s teams were largely up-tempo) – it’s when the offense doesn’t also possess the ability to grind physically when called for (situation football, just like situational anything, is just common sense) that’s the problem…and not just for the defense, but also for our QBs (and why the injuries).

        Liked by 4 people

    2. Trojanforlife – Agree completely that the leadership has to change. I am now worried that this won’t happen, given the very weak leadership at the top, with Folt, who doesn’t seem to care whatsoever about football, or what alums think about football. Football is a violent, male-only sport, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she would be happy to let it slowly fade away.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Michael,

        I really hope you are right. What I worry about is that we have been waiting for that reckoning for 10 years…

        I could understand that perhaps Kiffin was the best who could be hired, given the pathetic excuse of a defense that Haden attempted with the Bush trial and the resulting sanctions.

        But year after year, we keep getting the same bill of goods, and hearing the same hackneyed phrases, over and over, such as “We will compete for championships! We will do what it takes to get back to the top! Just keep renewing your season tix and all will be well!”

        Liked by 4 people

      2. 67 —How many times is Helton gonna say “USC is all about championships. I get it. I wouldn’t have it any other way!” —-while hiring worse and worse staffs and attracting fewer and fewer quality players? How many times will he try to tell fans two plus two equals five?

        Liked by 4 people

  3. Anyone watching KC-HST game thinking about famous Southern California 24-0 comeback games (USC-ND ’74 and Chargers-Dolphins ’81)? Of course, in these playoffs and regular season we’ve seen Jurrell Casey, Everson Griffen, and Tyron Smith…and to think they were on the same Pete-coached Trojan team…anyone think Helton gets that? Or that Tennessee in two weeks has used physical dominance to knock out the Pats and Ravens? Or that even in running the modern QB-centric passing offenses all of the QBs are athletic and can run? Again, anyone think Helton is watching and understands?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Helton gets it all, James. And it scares the shit outta him. He doesn’t know what he’d do if he had to work with a talented athlete at QB. I’m 100% serious about that —he has no idea how to coach an athlete at QB (he even screwed Sam up by telling him NOT to “improvise” and to stay in the pocket).
      [And Helton sure doesn’t want some young bad ass as DC. He needs some vet he’s worked with before so he can be sure that —when he starting babbling his usual nonsense — the guy doesn’t haul off and hit him in the mouth]…..

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Agreed – all of us who watched saw the same thing when Sam was here – he just did what he thought needed to be done without regard to Helton…well, eventually this will pass…doesn’t mean things will ever go back to where they were or should be… but eventually they’ll at least turn the patient over to avoid bed sores (won’t they?)…

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Ironic you brought that up, James — I was just reading about a patient who died from bedsores…..

        Liked by 1 person

      3. No. No. One of those “Halloween” movies starring Helton, Bohn and Folt as clueless sorority girls lost on a dirt trail after dark in the middle of nowhere…

        Liked by 2 people

      4. He ain’t scared, Michael.
        He is a smart man. Ya’ can’t get a degree in Math without being “calculating.”

        He is playing this for all he may, until someone calls “bullsh…” (for Arturo).
        So far, no one has called “bull….” (besides the fan base, recruits, recruits’ coaches, and the other Pac 11 coaches and Brian Kelly,.)

        HC CH knows that the day of reckoning is coming very soon, but he’s gonna play the game for as long as possible. His only saving grace would be a “splashy” DC hire. If he can garner a GH level DC, he may keep his job. I am dubious at this stage, as everyone available to HC CH is out of the NFL or NCAAF playoffs. The lack of an announcement signals that there is no “splashy” DC hire. We will be underwhelmed.

        To all the Low IQ FB people on the site, the only difference between a 2018 5-7 USC with gumbo offense and DC CP and the 2019 8-5 USC was OC GH. If you hate GH because he kept HC CH in his job, then hate away.

        Having played FB for USC and getting smashed by its defense every day, I snort and chuckle when I read about people on this site
        “sympathizing” with the defense because “the offense scored so fast that we just didn’t get enough rest…” Obviously, a lot of guys here commenting who weren’t even competitive in High School FB.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. MG:
        Before the punch, it starts with that “incredulous stare.”
        Then, it progresses to “well, I’ve seen it done that way, Coach but it is rarely successful.”
        Then, somewhat exasperated, it progresses to “surely you don’t believe THAT, coach.”
        The penultimate moment is the “fuming stare,” followed the next week by the well-deserved “punch out.”

        Your contribution is the defense of “justifiable assault” by reason of abject stupidity of the part of the plaintiff. I would think it an “open&shut” in any court of legal jurisprudence.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Bourbon — Your appraisal of Helton as nothing more than a con man reminds of the great Bob Seger lyrics:
        “You always won every time you placed a bet
        You’re still damn good, no one’s gotten to you yet
        Every time they were sure they had you caught
        You were quicker than they thought
        You’d just turn you back and walk
        There you stood, everybody watched you play
        I just turned and walked away
        I had nothing left to say…”


      7. Bourbon —
        You know your football. Now, let me tell you a little bit about that punch. It comes looping out of nowhere. When it lands on your chin everything turns bright silver. That’s the last thing you remember until somebody’s helping you up and you think it’s morning and you’re just getting out of bed.


  4. We all need to realize, that for intent and purpose, there is no ‘program’ at USC. It’s almost as bad as WAZZU.

    There’s Gomer. There’s Bohn. There’s Carol. Then there’s the ‘swamp’ which assures Gomer stays around.

    It’s a collection of incompetents unrivaled in USC history. Of course there isn’t any concern about the effects of the Air Raid Offense on the defense, nor is there any sense of purpose surrounding coordinator hires.

    JRII is cognizant of what the Air Raid does, he saw what happened in the 2019 USC season. It’s pretty evident the defense was overwhelmed and gassed most of the 2nd half in games. Special teams and the offense didn’t do the defense any favors, neither did Clancy and his predictable approach.

    As Mr. Kennedy so aptly pointed out yesterday, Dog Shit is what USC’s football program has become.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Juan:
      The defense could not get off the turf on third down IN THE FIRST HALF against marginal or good teams, let alone the second half. Well rested (WITH A MONTH’S REST) vs Iowa, they did not get a 3rd down stop UNTIL LATE IN THE THIRD PERIOD. (pardon my yelling).

      The fact is, the defense was young, inexperienced, undersized, poorly conditioned and weak, and playing out of position. The front 4 (usually 3 for CP) could not maintain rush lane integrity and could not rush a QB with 4 alone. Houston is a hybrid LB/SS, not a MIKE LB. Gaoteote is a MLB. The D could not control the edge EVER, beginning with a weak Fresno State team.

      None of this had anything to do with the offense.

      That said, let’s boot Harrell and give the commenters on the site even one more thing to gripe about. I’d enjoy reading that gripe.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Not advocating dumping Harrell, but all good coaches strive to improve. Challenge Harrell to evolve and refine his approach. Not just fall back on what has worked in the past. Challenge him to work to design a scheme that works – for the team he’s currently coaching. He’s got a great mind, compel him to use it!

    That’s what good head coaches require from their coordinators.

    We all know Gomer is not a good head coach.


    1. GH will run the ball, Juan. It is documented in C-USA and at USC.

      I have no problems when HC Urban Meyers arrives at USC that he sends GH along (or at most keeps him as QB coach briefly). UM likes his QB’s to be a huge part of the RPO, so USC would have to change its recruiting pipeline and QBs overnight. Until UM joins us, GH is a means to our ends which is winning 10 games a year forever and keeping a hot recruiting pipeline to talented QBs/WR’s/RBs.

      That said, I’ll go on record here to say I like GH (far more than Kliffsbury) and look forward to watching a talented 2020 USC offense perform in GH year 2. If only we had a DC (and Strength/conditioning/nutrition)……

      Liked by 1 person

      1. very difficult for me to see USC doing well under helton in any year going forward. next year we lose to Notre Dame, Bama and Oregon in the first 5 games. how much spirit will the team have after that? I see at least 5 losses. Arizona State is going to be getting very good with new recruits and much better coaching. add in one more loss and we are back to a 5 loss season. and then a big loss in a bowl game.


  6. the problems are deeper than just wearing out your defense. when your team is an air raid, your defense doesnt get to practice defending the run against the first team offense. so they do things like forgetting how to set an edge or tackle.

    the term air raid is way over-used. there are many teams that use spread offense concepts to stretch the defense (LSU and Clemson have spread concepts incorporated in their plays), yet they still have a run attack and run plenty of schematic plays that make it difficult on opposing defenses. the way USC defines the air raid is by cutting things out of the playbook…because it would be too difficult to run an offense that ran on all cyclinders.

    the trouble with USC’s approach to offense is that it is fragile. against bad teams they put up really big numbers. but when faced with a team that is very physical, the offense breaks down. and the way USC runs the air raid requires a superb QB. without an amazing QB, it all breaks down.

    it is very unlikely that Helton will solve any of the problems. He just isnt smart enough to figure this stuff out. He will continue to grab at different solutions, because the core problem is that Helton is not a guy who can enforce discipline, and that is what is missing at USC. practice and discipline.


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