Tony DeMeo

Question and Answer with Steed Lobotzke

Steed Lobotzke or “Lobo” as everyone knows has had a great run as the offensive coordinator at Wake Forest University. Lobo has helped the Demon Deacons to the most productive period in Wake’s history. The Deacons have a 53-19 record over the last four years and includes three straight bowl appearances. During Lobo’s tenure as wake Forest’s OC they have led the ACC in rushing four times and recorded four of the top seven total offense seasons in school history. In 2009 the Deacons had the second highest total offense mark ever recorded at the school. In addition to putting up great rushing numbers, Wake Forest was second in the nation in completion percentage with a 71.2%. Lobo is considered an innovator and popularized “The Orbit Series” at the turn of the century. But basically Lobo is more like the TV character McIver taking whatever is available and making into a system to move the ball. Sun Tzu said the best attack is formless because it adapts easily; this really describes Lobo’s approach to offense.

Tony: Who were the three biggest influences on your football life?

Lobo: The number one influence is Jim Grobe, the Head Coach at Wake Forest. The second would be Fisher DeBerry who I played for at The Air Force Academy. And of course Troy Callhoun who is the current Head Coach at The Air Force Academy.

Tony: Did you invent the “Orbit Series”? How did this come about?

Lobo: I did not invent it. In 1999 when we were at Ohio University, we played the University of Minnesota coached by Glenn Mason. They ran it and it really had our defensive guys talking. Then in 2000 we played UM again and saw it again and then the former OC at UM went to Iowa State and they ran it against us. Our defensive staff thought it really caused problems. So in the last game of the season we were playing a very good Marshall team and we were big underdogs. So that week we installed a modified Orbit Sweep Series and we gained almost 250 yards on just those plays. Then the next year we went to Wake Forest and it became a major part of the offense.

Tony: What is your offensive philosophy? At Ohio University, you were a Triple Option team but not at Wake Forest, so what’s the Lobo O?

Lobo: Basically we run a handful of plays and dress them up with motions and formations. We take a pig and dress it up. Our three base runs are the inside zone, the outside zone, and power. But we will run those plays from every possible formation and with numerous motions. We will read all three runs, not as a triple option but rather as a give or keep. We will read the five technique and the thee technique as well. So by reading these plays, our quarterback could be a productive run threat and each play becomes a give/keep option. We want low risk football with no turnover prone plays. We want the offensive line play to be as simple as possible, focusing on execution rather than on schemes. We major in the inside zone that the hub of the offense.

Tony: I know you use a lot of formations, how many are you going into spring ball with?

Lobo: We are starting spring practice with 57 formations and motions that change the formation and timing motions for the Fly Sweep and the Orbit.

Tony: Wake Forest is the smallest BCS School in the country; how do you adjust your personnel to your scheme or adjust your scheme to your personnel?

Lobo: We take a Service academy approach. We totally adapt our scheme to the talent we have. If we have a good passer, we are going to throw the ball more, if we have a good running QB we’ll use him as a runner. If we have a playmaker at wide receiver we will throw more wide receiver screens and hand him the ball on the Fly Sweep and on the Orbit Sweep. A couple of years ago we had two really good Tight Ends so we used a lot 21 personnel. Our scheme and approach to offense is completely based on our personnel.

Tony: When you have a running quarterback do you limit how many times he carries the ball? If you adapt your scheme to a running Quarterback and he gets nicked you might not have another one. So do you have a QB pitch count?

Lobo: We don’t have a specific number of carries we limit the Quarterback but we try to limit his hits,. So even in the passing game we try to limit the number of hits the QB takes.

Tony: Do you have a run/pass ratio that you try to stick with?
Lobo: We want to run the ball. We are a run first team. In the first quarter if we can come out and run the ball then we will run the ball. If the defense starts to load the box then we will throw it.

Tony: I always talk about meaningful stats and turnovers are a very meaningful stat and Wake Forest excels in turnover margin. Do you place specific emphasis on low risk offense?

Lobo: Coach Grobe’s Doctrine is: Don’t Beat Yourself. We are going to make it simple for the offensive line and become great technicians. But we will really use the skill to add stuff to the offense. We want to be able to hand the ball to our playmakers. We had a wide Out that had 400 yards rushing a few years ago. The biggest thing we do for the skill is practice mesh mechanics on our reads. We feel this is critical because if you don’t master the mesh, you’ll put the ball on the ground and turn the ball over. If we can hold on to the ball and keep our defense off the field and not give their offense a short field – we’ve put ourselves in position to win.
Tony: Lobo thanks for your time and best of luck in 2011.