A few thoughts before I retreat to my couch and lovingly caress the remote control for the rest of the day:
— Jim Donnan had his flaws as a head coach, but he knows his X’s and O’s. Check out what he had to say yesterday about defending the spread option:
The spread offense caused defenses fits — until they started reacting to a mobile quarterback as they would a running play. We saw South Florida use a number of line stunts to create confusion. Because the defense was plugging up the running game like they would rushing the passer, there was little room for the back to get past the line of scrimmage. The added pressure forced West Virginia to turn the ball over six times (the Moutaineers (sic) recovered their own fumbles three times). Similarly, Auburn’s inside line put the skids on Florida’s offense.
Defenses are increasingly putting people in the A-gap, which is the guard-center gap, trying to penetrate up the field. The center feels that pressure and is in a hurry to reach him — but often the exchange between the quarterback and center is disrupted. When you don’t have routine exchanges on offense, it adds to your inability to move the ball — something we saw frequently in West Virginia-USF. When a defense causes indecision, it makes a quarterback work — both in the shotgun and under center — and often he makes mistakes. The same way secondaries disguise coverages to confuse passing reads, defensive fronts stunting in and out make the quarterback’s reads more challenging.
That’s good stuff. If LSU is able to handle Florida’s offense the way I expect tonight, look for a lot of bandwagon jumping on the subject of the fitness of the spread option in the SEC. That’s not entirely fair. The Gators are playing the two defenses in the conference best suited to take them on in back to back games. How many other schools in the SEC combine great defensive speed with the size and presence at defensive tackle to stuff the bread and butter run up the middle? Not too many – and after watching the line play in the Ole Miss game, I’m not sure if Georgia is one of them right now.
— The more I think about it, if I’m John Chavis, I’m bringing heavy pressure early and often today. What does he have to lose? It’s not like the Tennessee defense has been getting it done so far. Besides, the less time he leaves those green defensive backs in coverage, the better. And I suspect that Eric Berry, with his great speed, will make a helluva blitzer. Run blitzing is an even bigger key for UT than pass blitzing. If Chavis can’t get Georgia out of its running game, I think UT has a much smaller chance of winning.
— Vanderbilt and Auburn have one of those early starts that seem to cause problems for Auburn. If I’m Vandy, I try to make things happen as early as possible, particularly in the turnover department. Auburn’s lost 14 TOs so far this season; Vandy has picked up 11 (10 interceptions!). Sounds like pressuring Cox is the order of the day in that game.