Former North Carolina offensive coordinator John Shoop is taking the year off and using his time to watch game film, not football on TV, which he hopes will “ease some of the pain of not coaching a team”.
Shoop is also writing a column focusing on UNC, Duke and NC State football for a local website.
This week Shoop has an outstanding take on how teams should approach facing a lesser opponent, particularly early in the season. He advocates focusing on strategy and not statistics and views these types of games as “an opportunity to create tendencies that would give an advantage later.”
Shoop references a matchup in 2010 against FCS opponent William & Mary, the week before UNC traveled to Florida State. Shoop was confident his team was good enough to win and as opposed to trying everything they could to win convincingly, the Tar Heels took a different approach. They ran the football 37 times with a deliberate intent to mess with the minds of the Seminoles, who would be studying the game film. "I kept calling running plays from a lot of two tight end sets knowing that FSU would spend lots of time fitting those runs. The computer reports that the defensive coaches at FSU were looking at said what our staff wanted them to say. In a handful of identifiable formations the Tar Heels were going to run the ball."
UNC squeaked out a 21-17 win that Saturday, but their planning and preparation set them up for success the following week in Tallahassee. FSU was set to stop the Tar Heels rushing attack, but what they got instead were passing plays out of the previous weeks rushing formations. QB TJ Yates set a school record with 439 passing yards as the Tar Heels beat the Seminoles.
This week UNC faces an 0-4 Idaho in Chapel Hill, before traveling to Blacksburg to face Virginia Tech. Shoop believes Carolina may follow a similar strategy as they did back in 2010, being careful what they put on film for the Hokies to see.
Smart strategy from a good coach. Some staff will be wise to scoop Shoop up this off-season.