… is when the mission starts to spread. In Columbia, Agentgate begets Hotelgate:
The NCAA is investigating the living arrangements of several South Carolina football players at a Columbia hotel, according to two sources close to the situation.
Investigators in town this week have questioned players about staying at the Whitney Hotel, a seven-story property located along the Devine Street shopping corridor in the Shandon area.
Tight end Weslye Saunders, who has been the focus of the NCAA’s investigation of USC, is one of at least three players with rooms at the Whitney, The State confirmed…
And you can’t help but feel that Spurrier is whistling in the dark to some extent when he says this:
… After confirming the NCAA’s interest in Saunders last month, Spurrier has said little about the investigation. He would not comment Thursday on the NCAA’s presence around his program, except to say it has not been a distraction.
“We don’t have any distractions around here,” he said. “We’re trying to learn how to block and tackle. That’s the only thing we need to worry about — blocking and tackling and throwing to the right guy.”
Of course, it helps if everybody’s around for that.
… A couple of USC players said they have tried to maintain a normal routine this week, even as players have been excused from meetings and other team activities to meet with investigators.
[Vince] Dooley is in the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach. His peers will tell you that he was an even better athletics director.
If by peers, he means people like Mike Hamilton, well, okay. For the rest of us non-arena folks, “better than Hall of Fame” seems a bit of a stretch. I’m not saying Coach Dooley was a bad athletic director – he had his share of hits and misses on hirings (although Goff’s was a debacle due to the department’s disarray in the wake of Dooley’s resignation) and firings (hanging Goff out to dry with how that last year was handled wasn’t fair to either the coach or the program) but he was a good steward on the budget front and the program certainly grew under his direction. Plus, he was on the side of the angels in bringing the antitrust suit against the NCAA over TV broadcast rights.
However, when you’ve got Jan Kemp and Jim Harrick, Jr. on your watch and your defense in both cases is essentially blissful ignorance, it’s hard to make a case that you walk with the immortals. The school and its supporters were not served well in either situation.
So welcome back and eyes on the prize, Greg McGarity. Here’s hoping that Barnhart got the part of his post about you dead on.
… When defensive ends coach Chris Wilson accepted an offer to join Dan Mullen’s staff in Starkville this offseason, few OU aficionados would’ve pegged deposed Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez as the likely candidate to fill the rare opening in Norman. A guy who just shepherded the ‘Dawgs defense through two truly awful seasons? Um, sure.
Personally, I think it’s just what the Sooner D needs.
It certainly won’t bother me if he’s right about that, but I can’t help but wince a little when I read: “In Willie Stoops trusts.”
Don’t forget that Stoops hired Jon Fabris away from Georgia once – at least for a few days. Maybe he’s the kind of head coach who likes a challenge.
Welcome to Strategery Corner today, campers. I’ve got three items worthy of your perusal.
The first one comes via the Chattanooga Times Free Press. It’s a look at Demarcus Dobbs’ move from defensive end in a 4-3 scheme to defensive end in a 3-4. The position name may not have changed, but the technique and responsibilities for the position sure have.
… As a Georgia defensive end last season in a 4-3 scheme, Dobbs played a 5-technique, which meant he lined up over the outside shoulder of an opposing offensive tackle. In the 3-4 scheme implemented by new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, the 6-foot-2, 285-pounder is playing a 3-technique, lining up outside the offensive guard.
“It is definitely different,” Dobbs said. “In the 4-3, you are dealing with everything outside the tackle, but in the 3-4, you are dealing with the center and the guard and everything. It’s hard to get used to…”
Which is why it’s best to remind ourselves that at least early on, this Georgia defense will be a work in progress.
But by season’s end, it’ll be Jacket time. We all remember what two weeks’ prep time and a home game got Martinez’ defense in 2008: a whole lot of nothing in the second half. So here’s hoping that Grantham’s got his charges better prepared for the triple option.
Speaking of which, Shakin’ the Southland digs into whether grabbing some basic principles and concepts from Buddy Ryan’s 46 defense (and its heir, Arizona’s Desert Swarm) might prove effective against a Georgia Tech offense that doesn’t boast a competent passing game.
… Against most pro-style or spread-passing teams this is just a front for variety or in definite-run situations because its not so hot in pass coverage. However, this front takes away the Midline Option from Georgia Tech. In my copy of Paul Johnson‘s Ga Southern playbook, he specifically states (to the QB) to check out of the Midline play whenever the DTs are playing 2-techs; he still does it today. If you can stop the Dive as part of the OS/IS Veer option, and then take away the Midline, you force them to run the QB in the option around the perimeter. If the QB is unable to throw to take pressure off, you have forced them into their playcall of the veer. Then you tell the Ends/OLBs to knock his damn teeth in on every play.
Josh Nesbitt throws like my Junior High QB, and with Clemson’s DE talent, this should be doable, but the key is in the LB corps, one of our weaknesses…
The catch, of course, is one that every Dawg fan is painfully aware of.
… As with everything in life, there is give and take with this adjustment. You are declaring to the offense that you will not allow them the Dive, and in this case the Midline as well (since it works off the Dive primarily). The Bear front will, by design, place more pressure on your perimeter defensive players. Because you are making it a point to take away play calls inside the formation, your linebackers and secondary players must be able to play good fundamental football, particularly on the edges of the formation. You also must have a quick, agile DE who can provide some help for the secondary/linebackers who are filling gaps they would not fill with other defensive fronts. Thus, the ability of an outside linebacker or safety to provide support on perimeter running becomes extremely important because offenses know how important, if trying to get outside, it is to get an effective seal on the outside free DL.
And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.
Part the third comes from – where else? – Chris Brown, who respectfully riffs off of Stewart Mandel/Andy Staples’ “whither college football?” post earlier this week by looking at how the spread evolved to counter Ryan’s eight-man defensive front principles (pretty nifty how this has all circled around, hunh?) to speculate where offenses and defenses might be headed in the next decade. I found this bit about countering zone blitzes fascinating (and make sure you catch brophy’s observations in the comments that follow):
… The other narrative — one slightly more complicated in the back and forth between O and D, in that the give and take continues today — deals with the increased use of the zone blitz and the offense’s manifold responses. The spread run game evolved for many reasons. One was to deal with the problem the eight-man fronts present, i.e. the numerical issue presented by an extra guy in the box (solved by making the quarterback a legitimate run threat), but another reason it developed was to counteract defensive fronts with linemen dropping into coverage and linebackers trying to fill inside gaps immediately. The term “zone read” is useful because both halves are key to the its success: the “read” obviously gives the offense flexibility, but so does the zone part of the play, which allows linemen to area block and pick up obscure and unpredictable stunts and movement.
Whether or not being “spread” helps against zone blitzes is an ambiguous question due to the vagaries of six-man protection schemes, but the spread is undoubtedly the best offense ever devised if your goal is to run a lot of screens. A multiple spread offense gives a coach more options for constraint plays than any set previously designed: bubble screens, rocket screens, jailbreak screens, slow screens, middle screens, shovel screens, and so on. And remember, screens are the one thing almost every coach recommends against zone blitzes and they are also the one pass that any quarterback at any level can complete, no matter the protection, blitz scheme, or coverage — an important thing when your gameplan involves trying to get the ball to your playmakers.
Chris finishes up by saying he really doesn’t know where things are headed, other than to see what Nick Saban and Saban’s protegés do – for the next few weeks, anyway. LOL. At least we’ve got a front row seat in Athens to watch one of those guys.