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Some 'interesting' thinking defends Wildcat attack

The Wildcat formation-slash-scheme has been very good to the Dolphins. It has been profitable in delivering victories (New England 2008), it has started a league-wide trend (over a dozen other teams now use it), and it has helped the Dolphins solve a multitude of issues (getting enough blockers to defeat 8 defenders in the box on running plays being among them).

But the Wildcat simply isn't having a good season so far. That cannot be disputed.

The Dolphins have run 16 direct snap Wildcat plays (15 runs and 1 pass) this season and gained 29 yards. That is a 1.8 yards per play average.

So it seems logical anything that isn't working -- be it for reasons of poor execution, poor timing of the play-call, or outstanding defensive play against it -- bears scrutiny. After all, if a certain pass play is failing to produce time and again, I would hope the Dolphins would break down that particular play and decide if it merits remaining in the game plan.

But the Dolphins, for obvious reasons, have an affinity to the Wildcat. And so they protect it like it was something personal between them and those questioning it.

"We haven't been very good with it this year," offensive coordinator Dan Henning said. "We haven't used it that much, but we haven't been very good with it. We studied it. We took it out. We looked at it. We compared it to other times. So we'll continue to try and keep on eye on it to overhaul it so to speak."

Despite this honest assessment of the Wildcat, Henning is among its staunchest defenders. He was asked this week to respond to detractors who believe taking Chad Henne out of the game to use Wildcat takes the quarterback out of his rhythm.

"Who are these detractors?" Henning boomed back. "That's the problem. We all say it's going to take away. It didn't take away when we went to the division championship and we used it and everyone thought, 'Oh, that's great.' It didn't take away from Chad Pennington. Guys come in and out of the game. The only ones that stay in are the offensive linemen and occassionally we change them, too. The rhythm of the game for any player right now is not as important to me as moving the football, getting first downs and scoring touchdowns. And they all know that.

"Here's the popular theory that I hear: The better the quarterback, the more you break his rhythm. But if he's not a good quarterback, you don't break his rhythm. So what's the difference? If you're moving the football with a direct snap operation, then nobody says anything. If you're starting to slow down, and not moving, now we're breaking the quarterback's rhythm. All I care about is moving the football. Their rhythm, that's something we haven't heard about since 1960 -- since the pill."

Ahem ... With all birth control pill references notwithstanding, allow me to interject here.

Detractors was a word used by the reporter asking the question. I don't believe there are haters out there ripping on the Wildcat for the sheer giggles of it. Be that as it may, to defend the Wildcat by saying it worked in 2008 when the Dolphins won a division has no merit. The Dolphins won that division with Justin Smiley starting at left guard and Samson Satele starting at center and with Ernest Wilford on the roster and with Ted Ginn Jr at wide receiver. But deeming those players to be lacking in some fashion or another, the team got rid of them. The team made an adjustment with the changing times. To say that Wildcat must continue because it worked in 2008 is, frankly, a poor argument for keeping it.

Another thing: Henning misstates the so-called popular theory on the Wildcat and quarterbacks. I've never heard anyone say Wildcat breaks the rhythm of a good quarterback but does not do so to a bad quarterback. I have heard and agree with the idea that if you have a good quarterback, you do not want to take him out of the game because, well, he's good.

Peyton Manning does not come out of games. Tom Brady does not come out of games. If you have a good quarterback, you keep him on the field as long as possible. If you have a bad QB, then it doesn't really matter if he comes out, especially if the running back getting the direct snap is a more explosive offensive player. That is the popular theory stated correctly.

And I promise you that if Chad Henne begins to put up numbers like Manning, the Wildcat will be buried without a memorial service. Simple as that.

Henning made the point that several teams -- including the New York Jets -- use a player in Wildcat that is a threat to run and pass. Ronnie Brown is not that big of a threat to pass.

Salguero logic: Why not employ Tyler Thigpen? He is a quarterback. He ran the spread option look in Kansas City and in college.

Henning retort: "Tyler is the third quarterback," he said. "We can't use him until the fourth quarter."

Salguero retort to the Henning retort: Why not make him the second quarterback?

Henning retort to Salguero retort: "We did that against Minnesota," he said.

Salguero retort to the Henning retort: So why not Tyler Thigpen?

Henning retort to the Salguero retort: "Why not?"

Bottom line: I believe the Dolphins have wanted to use Thigpen as a spread option QB for some time but haven't quite gotten to the right moment to spring that yet. I also believe that despite their vociferous defense of Wildcat, the package must produce and produce quickly to remain in the game plan.

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Fins 24
Pats 30 (OT)

I see a bunch of scrubs on the rotation on the DL and now I hear Clamming Chowder will not play.

Sorry Guys. This is a tough game if we have to win in a shutout against the Brady bunch.



Bills 17
Wetz 14



Nolan Caroll Will return KO vs Patsies

hahaha, dan Henning is all sunshine and farts, isn't he?

armando, excellent questions. i sure wish the rest of your media colleagues would ask some tough questions. they don't give the jets brass any slack up here in N.Y. they are really critiqued hard especially after a loss. theres no arguing our version of the wildcat is one dimensional. we need to keep evolving it or get rid of it. tyler would be great because he's a real threat to run or throw.

From Pro Football Talk....

"Yeah, it's only Week Four. But with the Jets, Dolphins, and Patriots getting an early start on their round-robin routine, neither the Patriots nor the Dolphins can afford to drop to 0-2.

The Dolphins need it even more; they play the Jets in New York on December 12 and the Pats in New England on January 2. Already in danger of being swept by the Jets, the Dolphins can't afford to lose at home to New England, if the Dolphins have genuine designs on winning the division.

The Patriots need this one, too. But they still get the Jets and the Dolphins at home. For the Dolphins, the season could potentially be over less than a month after it began."

We've got to beat them Patsies!!!!!!!!!!!

Kudos, Mando, for an outstanding line of questioning to Henning. You did a hell of a job. And Henning's non-answers say more than any real answer ever could. He's on the defensive about the wildcat, and it's about time. I just hope he doesn't respond by running it all night Monday to try and show everyone up. But for now you did a hell of a job getting at the heart of what we're all wondering. Thanks, Armando.


Of course there are flaws in your logic. what is the beef with taking Henne, or Brady or any other "good QB" off the field if it was going to be a run play anyways unless it was going to be a playaction run. The QB does NOTHING there anyways except hand off (or fumble the hand off!). Why not get it directly to the RB with the extra blocker. Having the greatest QB in the world stand there doing nothing doesn't help a run (except the above noted playaction run).

So your logic does not hold up about keeping a good QB on the field unless you are worried about them losing rhythm, which btw is something I have heard many times, both by people and on the air announcers, so I am shocked you say you haven't heard it.

Lastly, even if the wildcat is dead and they were going to stop using it, why would they announce it to you. To make it easier for the opposition to prepare?

I mean come on man. I think I have lost faith in all sports reporters.

i'd love to see us open up the offense especially on 1st and 2nd downs when everyone plays us for the 2 yard run up the middle. you will notice thats when brady does alot of his damage. he's not afraid to make a mistake;he limits them and puts alot of continuous pressure on the D. if you screw up its 6 pts. quick. jets played the same way;got one on one coverage with no safety help then all it takes is a miss and there's 6 pts. hope we catch on!!

Are we going to open up with a bomb for the 3rd straight week?

I suggest the historical tested FLEA FLICKER to Davone Bess

Been reading your stuff for awhile now

Frankly last few weeks the material was weak and/or
Last weeks or yesterdays news


This is truly a great piece on the Wildcat
Cogent argument and topic of concern

Your Thigpen idea to be listed
(IMO) Each week as #2 QB is quite brilliant

Home also believes Thigpen in Spread offense or Wildcat would be much more successful

Teams are on to Ronnie & Ricky
Same old song Wildcat

As a Dolfan
Much appreciate your intestinal fortitude
Asking (calling out) Henning on Tyler Thigpen question and
U Did Not Let Him Off The Hook

For those interested Omar`s blog at the SS
Has the Hennnig interview video today and
U can clearly hear our Dolfan Rep Armando
Asking him the questions

Fantastic Work Armando
U may have put a light on in the old brain stem OC Dan Henning

Congrats on a fine job!


Like the idea of a flea flicker to Simply The Bess

***** The Dynasty Be Fins! *****

how bout this? lets start passing often to open up the run? lets face it;todays NFL is a passing league. henne should be in shotgun formation at all times when there's an empty backfield. if he's not comfortable doing it put tyler thigpen in and give him a chance. geez. we could use mike martz.

Dont forget as long as the Wildcat is around the opposing team must spend time during the week defending it.. That is bigger than most people realize

Agree w/greg z.

Esp against the Patriots weakest link
Their secondary

Henne should throw at least 35 times
Dolphins CANNOT get behind against the Redcoats

Moss Welker &
Their TEs will tear us apart
Ski has 2 TDs
Florida Gator Hernandez is LEADING the Pats in receiving YDs ahead of Welker and Moss

5.10 Butler should be covering 6.4 Marshall
So of course expect double team



This is an absolute Must Win for the Dolphins

***** The Dynasty Be Fins! *****

Miami 38 Redcoats 31

***** The Dynasty Be Fins! *****


WILDCAT- An offensive formation utilizing trickery, a blocking advantage, another thing for the defense to gameplan for and Gatorade break for the QB.

PUSSYCAT- Same as above only the line block like a bunch of...well you know (Pu**ies)

COUGAR- Same as above minus the element of surprise, defenses are no longer duped and have "experience" (a cougar trait) in handling it. Looks great in a dark film room. Ultimately like most "Cougars" it has seen its better days, a little worn out, but can "occasionally surprise" and screw the crap outta someone.

Martinpedia is not to be confused with Wikipedia or Mel Kipers Draft Guide.

Go Phins! Vote for Pedro! (Armando)

I think the problem is taking the time to substitute and getting Henne off the field. That tells the Defense that it's coming and they can adjust to a run blitz. However, if you were running a no-huddle Offense, you could run it real quick as the second or third play of the series, real quick, before they had time to do anything about it. Timing is the key. When to run it and when not to. Otherwise, it's just another gadget play

it's not a surprise anymore, it's well studied and better defensed, but if they really want to bring it back to life the solution is this: during the play ronnie is looking for the gap first and primary, CHANGE this. re-design it to exploit the hot-route of lets say a quick, 5yrd straight-ahead pass to the TE, fasano knowing he may need to reach back with a one-hander, but expecting it. primarily use these short, hot-route passes almost exclusively, then maybe the respect will be there to open the run option back up. currently by the time ronnie decides their is no where to run with the football and decides to pass, the recievers are to far down the field for accuracy. snap, look, throw. quick 5 yard passes to the tight-end. it could be as dominating as when it was first unveiled, but this time in the passing game.

Is it going to take Chad Henne turning into an all world qb to put this thing to sleep? I sure hope not. It is obvious that the rest of the nfl has adapted to our wildcat package. Either it's our personel now, or the opposind D coordinators have enough tape on it that they have figured out our tendancies.I understand that this formation isn't designed to give us a big play, but if that's the case. doesn't it rob us an opportunity to make one running our normal offense? The formation makes sense to me on the goal line, but that's it. Shoot this thing in the head before it comes into town and kills all the sheep, and the wolf is left with nothing to eat.

Good post, Mando!

The other thing that's strange about the wildcat this year is that Ricky wasn't even going in motion the first several times they ran it. Eventually, they started putting Ricky back in motion, but they never give him the ball.

Seriously, does Ricky have even one touch out of the "conventional" wildcat where they start Ricky on the left and bring him in motion? I can't remember him getting one carry that way.

One of the things that made the Wildcat hard to defend is that defenses had to defend BOTH Ricky outside and Ronnie inside (and the cutback). This year, they can key on Ronnie.

Caldon, I lost faith in reporters a long time ago. They have their own agendas that have nothing to do with helping the team win so why even let them around the players? I don't care about the news. I don't care what a player eats for breakfast or how they prepare for a game during the week. All of this stuff is garbage to entertain mindless dolts. I just want to watch the games on Sunday, that's it. And Parcells just made his point to the NY media on this. He said players haven't changed over the years but the people that surround them has changed. He meant agents and media members who have way too much access to the players and the goings on of the team. Ricky gets a new contract and the very next day reporters wrote lots of stories about how he was disrespected and underpaid. I'm sure that helped Rickys energy level right. It's like they get off on bashing the team. Bunch of whiney little nerds who never could make it in highschool or college sports, ran the projector, and now resent the same figures of authority who told them they weren't big or good enough to play on the team. And these reporters have favorite teams just like the rest of us. So is anyone trying to say that they wouldn't try to use that to their teams advantage. I would. If I was a NY reporter as a Dolphin fan I would try to undermine the Jets every chance I got. I'm not saying this happens in Miami on a regular basis but being a sports fan I also can't rule it out.

Wrong Home, RUN, RUN, RUN

Have to keep brady off the field.

Thanks Armando, we are officially opening the game against the pats in Wildcat formation! On a serious note, I think they were planning to use Thigpen for the pats game all along. Wouldn't surprise me if he's the QB on the first play, unless Henne is that sensitive, not that Henning seems like the type to care.


GO FINS destroy the pats .

1st and goal at the Goal line...Henne leaves the field and whats this?...Paul Solai is lined up in the "Stampede" formation...takes the snap out of the Shotgun...builds up a head of steam to the left behind Jake Long...Touchdown!

Paul the Tongan Terror cannot be stopped for his 10th Touchdown of the season! Dan Henning is a genius! Brandon Marshall didn't even have to run hard on that play! The crowd goes wild here at the Orangebowl, Joe Robbie, Landshark, Sunlife soon to be (insert any Chinese company) Stadium!

Go Phins! Vote for Pedro! (Armando)

Defenses have wised up to the original form of the wild cat so your not going to fool anyone with it anymore. To me, unless you have the true threat of a legitimate passer running the wildcat it won't work. Ronnie is great at directing the wildcat but not really a threat to throw it with zip or accuracy. Since Henne is off the field for most wild cat plays defenses are playing run first and stuffing it. Ronnies attempt to pass last week was weak and missed the mark. Unless they can find a way to leave Henne (or thigpen) in to get the ball on some sort of handoff or gadget play and pass it, i think is doomed to fail to deliver the yards or TD's.

Did Armando ask those questions because he knows Henning is an ego maniac and might use the dead wildcat more often to the detriment of his team just to try and prove a point? Wouldn't that help a team he might root for. Maybe he's a Pats fan, who knows, can't rule it out. And there's your explanation for the "paranoia" the reporters are always writing about when it comes to the dolphins. Why would they want to give their opponents any help. And I love when the South Florida media writes about this paranoia as if the Dolphins are idiots but when Belichick does it he's considered a genius. They used to write the same stuff about Belichick in Boston before the team started winning superbowls.

Something tells me that Dan Henning was the loon who wanted Pat White.

MANDO!!!! Can you give your opinion on the LeBron controversy? HONESTLY, I would be very interested in your assessment. Thanks.

Wrong Canadian football fan, Mark

last year the Dolphins had a better O-line at this point and still only averaged 3.9 YDs rushing

this year r O-line (hate to say it) is worse and "Big John" is out

Ricky has a case of the fumbles and
Ronnie looks like he running with 10 lb leg weights on as he dances around looking for a hole to run threw

Why in Hell would u not attack the Redcoats weakest secondary in a decade, Mark

Stick to the stock market , pal


thats 3.9 YDs rushing against the Pats

Can you also find out why we run play action fakes on 3rd and 15? Hard enough without Henne completely turning his back to the D while faking a handoff no one in the Northern Hemishere believes he is going to go through with. Mind numbing when we do this and we have been doing this throughout Hennings watch as OC.

To run the wildcat you need explosive players executing it. We have slow...non-explosive....non-elusive players trying to run a gimmick scheme that needs runners who are good in space. Who do we have that fit that bill?? Ronnie Brown looks 50 jogging around...stiff and slow. Ricky runs to tacklers and can't run away from any one. You get the picture.

Am I the only one to notice that we have a problem getting it all together for 60 minutes? Either we play well in the first half, then tank the second, or we start out slow and pick up momentum as the game progresses. Either our Defense shows up with the hothand or our Offense does. I think we still have Special Teams, but I'm not sure. They may have left them on the busm
We just don't seem to be able to put it all together in the same game! It's always "Either, Or" and I blame that on preparation and gametime adjustment by the coaches.This is still a very young team and if we don't go to the playoffs, I won't be surprised (inexperience, bad schedule, injuries, etc.). I'm a realist. But watch out in 2011! Go fins!

Mark from Canada

here is some more info
to add credence to my argument that the Dolphins should
PASS against the Redcoats on MNF

New England's secondary has been a bit of a disaster. After allowing Carson Palmer to throw for nearly 350 yards, New England saw Mark Sanchez throw for over 200 yards and three touchdowns. And that was just a prelude their struggles last week, letting Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick complete 71% of his passes for nearly 250 yards and two touchdowns. If not for two poor decisions by Fitzpatrick which resulted in interceptions, the Bills might have just shocked the world and knocked off the Pats up in Foxborough.

Keep in mind Mark
Fitz also sailed an easy TD right in DB Chungs hands for an INT
and missed badly on another
That would have been 44 points for the Bills and a win

U get the Idea of


U Get That, Huh?


***** The Dynasty Be Fins! *****

Dear Mr. Salguero

I think I will call Monday nights game with the Patriots "The Prestige".

Dan Henning and Bill Canbarelycheat, rival stage magicians in London at the beginning of the 20th century.

Obsessed with creating the best stage illusion, they engage in competitive one-upmanship with tragic results.(hopefully for the Pats)

Soiled :)


See That Sissy Britches!


There are flaws in Armando's logic of "keep the good players on the field as much as possible."

Isn't the reason teams use situational substitutions because certain players are better in some situations?

If you're in red-zone offense, do you have a small, fast receiver like Santana Moss (or Ted Ginn!) on the flank? Or, does the red-zone situation call for a larger, more physical possession receiver?

Let's go old school Dolphins. OJ McDuffie was almost certainly a better open-field receiver than Oronde Gadsen, but Gadsen was the physical guy who made the impossible catches that you wanted in the red zone. Oronde's lesser speed was not a liability with the short field.

By the same logic, pulling Chad Henne from the game is not a bad thing if the goal is to use the Wildcat to situational advantage.

I've watched all the games this year. It seems to me that _execution_ has just been off when in Wildcat formation.

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water...

Mando when you write good stuff i praise you for it

but sheesh dude when are we goin to drop this wilcat garbage

if the wildcat is going away.. it will in due time

just stop the "DETRACTING" already!!


and yes i agree that if we have the opportunity to pick up a Better OC we should but we have to work with what we got for now



i mean switch up a littl

talk about our d talk talk to nolan pick his mind a little bit lol


nothing personal your still my number one guy when it comes to the phins thank homie

dont mind the caps

OK Home, what about this ...

1. Running the ball eats up time of possession and keeps our own defense on the sidelines.

2. Keeping our defense on the sidelines helps keep them (namely our pass rushers) fresh.

3. Along with having a crap secondary, the Pats also have a crap front 7. If you run successfully, you force the Pats to bring an extra man down thus openinng up a porous pats secondary even further. Softening them up for the chunk yardage.

4. I'm not saying we should have a run HEAVY attack, but about 55-60% run. The Dolphins are not built to be a 70% pass team. We saw that on Sunday.

5. And yes, I will continue to stick to the stock market. Up quite a bit today thanks to my oil and gold (long) and financial (short)positions.

Caldon, you should NOT have faith in reporters. Reporters are not God. Have faith in God. Reporters are flawed men. I make mistakes like anyone else.

But ...

Your comment is strange for the following reasons:

1. You keep your great QB in the game and do not run the wildcat because the great player is more likely to make a great play -- even if it is a pass.

2. You do not take your great QB out of the game even if you are going to run because pretty soon everyone will figure out that when you take him out of the game, you're running. That is the definition of telegraphing your plays. Telegraphing plays is stupid.

3. I do not expect the Dolphins to announce their game plan to me. I do not believe I mentioned that anywhere in the post. So what's your point going there?


1. I did not say anything about paranoia in this post so where you going with that?

2. I asked about Wildcat because my readers want to know about it.

3. I am not a Patriots fan. I WANT the Dolphins to win every week!

One more thing phins78:

I know you care a little more about news and what's going on with the team than just watching the game on Sunday.

I KNOW this because you are on a Dolphins news and analysis blog on Friday posting comments.

Glad to have you. But ... well, just sayin'. Today is not Sunday and there's no game on.

The biggest problem with the wildcat is this:
Who are you as a team? What is your identity?

You are what you are, and teams adopt an identity. As great as the wildcat is in taking away the offensive tells, keys and tendencies away from a defense, you have to admit one thing. It fractures a team in terms of leadership - it is like you have two different teams. Who is the leader when you run the cat?

Somehow, as crazy as this seems- on every successful team in this league you can identify one player who is a leader on both offense and defense. Steelers? Ben and Troy. Ravens - Ray Ray and Flacco. Pats? Brady and .. well, thats why they havent been back. Colts - Peyton and Freeney. Boys - Romo and Demarcus. Bears Urlacher and soon to be Cutler. Bolts - Rivers and Merriman. I could go on and on every team every year ...
The defensive leader varies by position. But for every team thats ever one a title in this league - the leader has undeniably the qb - without exception. Yes - even on the Emmitt Smith team, the Jim Brown teams. Maybe the leader was not the best player - but it was always the QB. The only possible exceptions I can come up with are
1) the 85 Bears - Walter Payton- because McMahon was a head case and the defense was so overwhelming that the team adopted the identity of its D. And why Ryan and Ditka came to blows on the sideline.
2) The 00 Ravens - Dilfer's only leadership role was to set a precedent for the offense of not turning the ball over again - the defense was so extremely dominant it WAS the team.

This Dolphin defense is neither of those teams and had better find a leader. Its never going to be Ricky, Ronnie is just not that personality - and if Henne does not fill the void that he must as QB - he leaves the door open for Marshall - which you cant have. A WR can be shut out by a defense if they choose to - especially in copld weather in the playoffs. A qb is always the leader of the offense because aside from the center - he touches the ball the most and every play goes through him. Every aspect of the offense is set up to protect him and allow him to succeed not only in terms of production on field but as a leader.

The wildcat is nice once in a while, but it does something to the identity of a team that is detrimental.

pass out of the wildcat formation.....why can't henne be the passer on the wing??

they just showed an actual for the first time in 2 years last week.....that will open it up again....

let's get sean smith into the defense more this week pls....and more blitzed nolan!! you backed off what got you 2 w's the the first two weeks....wrong time for that!!!

brady doesn't like to get hit....let's get him!!!!

Armandos in Da House!

What Up, Mando!?
and again, great job on todays blog


Mark good job any one following the financial markets and Miami Dolphins is ALL RIGHT in my book

Keep it real, Pal

Dolphins Do Not have a great running game
and why would u not
Attack any opponents weakest link?

C`mon Man!

PASS against the redcoats

Here's something different...

Remember how Sun Life Stadium was cited recently for having
s-e-v-e-r-e food Sanitary issues?

I'm kind of worried that
Jerry, Alama-Francis, and Spitler
GOT SICK from (the same) folks who provide
the team with 'FOOD'.

It REALLY would NOT be good if they have inadvertently POISONED their own players!

Trying to run the ball and subsequently punting it back to Tom Brady is a sure recipe for failure

PASS against the Redcoats

Soiled (@ 2:32 PM)

That was one 'Killer' Movie!

NY exposed two players - Jason Allen (obvious to viewers) and Cameron Wake (failure to set the edge in the run game - they pinched him in and killed Miami off-tackle). If Rex and Schottenhiemer can figure that out, imagine what the Hoodie is thinking.

"The Wildcat" is just a poor mans version of what the Jets run with the honorable Brad Smith its called the Seminole....try it sometime.

Armando (@ 2:40 PM)

Yeah...but you have a wonderful Pool!

Great article Armando

For the record
Am NOT a fan of sean smith
Think he is NOT a good NFL CB
Think he is a punk and has a lot of growing up to do

Imagine that

That being said
Home is rooting for the new Sean Smith

Sean Smith to get his 1st NFL Int on MNF

***** The Dynasty Be Fins! *****

First, the wildcat worked initially because teams weren't prepared for it from game film. Now a lot of teams run some version of this offense, so not a surprise anymore. Second, teams now know that Brown is not a passing threat at all out of the wildcat, so you are tipping what you're trying to do. Third, leaving the QB in still gives a possibility of some wrinkle that there could be a pass involved. Answer: either put in a legitimate passing/running threat (as the Jets did last week) (Thigpen) or leave Henne in with a play designed for him to pass the ball from the far end. In doing that, teams will begin to take shots at him away from the play-- so ultimately the solution is to put in Thigpen when running that offense.

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