Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics

The best compliment I can pay Jeremy Pruitt.

A couple of seasons ago, this tidbit would have generated a certain sense of dread in me.

Those practice reps are allowing Carter to feel more comfortable in dropping into coverage, something he didn’t do much in high school. Coaches are cross-training outside linebackers to pick up the concepts to allow them to play inside linebacker, defensive end or even free safety, Carter said.

Now?  I just wanna see how it works out.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Still an edge

Playing in a pro-style offense at Georgia, that is.

Having a good pro day may be a double-edged sword for Mason. The workout may have actually moved him into the late rounds of the draft because he is one of the few quarterbacks coming out this year that ran a true pro-style offense.

We hear the same thing every year before the draft.  I expect recruits do, too.

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The best defense is a guessing offense.

Ian Boyd checks out the 8-3 defense, sort of a bastard child of the 3-4, and likes what he sees.

The branding of modern varieties of the 3-4 as the 8-3 reverses that trend by defining the defense around the eight players standing up in the defensive backfield.

Teams relying on these types of schemes, such as Boise State, BYU, West Virginia, or now Missouri can play eight-man coverages, any number of four-man rush/seven-man coverage zone or man defenses, zone blitz, or bring the heat and back it up with man coverage and zero deep help.

The goal in finding and developing personnel is to find players that can perform as many roles in the defensive backfield as possible and having positional rules that will allow players to compartmentalize and play in multiple defenses.

The obvious advantage of having eight defenders standing up before the snap is that it’s hard for the offense to know exactly what you’re going to be doing. So long as an 8-3 defense has simplified rules and a compartmentalized approach, in which players learn a few different roles in the defense and fill them in different calls, it’s possible to throw a lot of different defenses at the offense.

The approach is to turn traditional defensive scheming on its head.

The natural response of many defensive coaches against the spread is to recruit speed and find ways to play sound defense while hoping for the offense to shoot itself in the foot or turn the ball over at some point along the way to the end zone.

The more skilled spread attacks are totally unafraid of this approach since it allows them to zero in on weaknesses, put defenders in conflict with the option, and do exactly what they practice every day to do. It’s becoming less and less of a good bet that college players will be unable to sustain drives if you hole up and dare them to come after you unless you are recruiting NFL athletes at most positions.

The 8-3 is going to find more and more usage from defensive coaches that prefer to attack the offense, dictate what they’re able to do, and try to see if college players can handle facing a defense that forces them to think through both their own options as well as those of the defensive coordinator.

Making a HUNH offense think about what the defense is doing… that’ll slow things down more than a 10-second substitution rule.

There is a catch, though.  (There’s always a catch.)

While the spread looks to use space and options to attack their opponent rather than size up front, the 8-3 defense eschews trying to “line up sound and make ‘em beat us” and instead looks to win on a mental level through disguise, dictation, and disruption.

It’s ultimately a 3-4 defense in terms of positions on the field and pre-snap alignment, but instead of matching power up front with two-gapping DL, the 8-3 is defined by the eight stand-up players will shift around to assume different roles.  [Emphasis added.]

The 8-3 sounds like a great way to put a spread offense on its heels, mentally speaking, but a power offense would be licking its chops.  This puts me in mind somewhat with what John Thompson did with his defensive linemen before the snap when he was Spurrier’s defensive coordinator.  That lasted one season.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think there’s definitely something to this.  But as a base defensive scheme in the SEC, even with all the offensive evolution we’ve witnessed over the past three of four seasons, I’m not sure how the 8-3 would hold up through a complete season.  I guess I’ll need to watch Missouri’s defense more carefully this year.

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Take the wheel.

I had a random thought last night for a blog post exercise for you guys:  you’re named as the head coach of a typical D-1 football program.  What kind of offensive and defensive schemes would you run?  And why?

Lay it out in the comments.

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As spring practice gets underway, who rubs off on whom?

I won’t say it’s the biggest question of the spring, but it’s the most intriguing one to me:

Richt and Schotty have said multiple times that the offense won’t change much at all, but we’ll begin to see how much of that is coach speak and how much is true when spring practice starts today.

We all know Richt’s criteria in making the hire to replace Bobo, but there’s also this comment.

“If the staff doesn’t change at all, you’re still going to visit somebody to learn new ideas to stay on top of what’s going on out there,” Richt said. “When you change staff, then you have guys that live in house who maybe you would go visit, so you have that chance to exchange ideas and have it all come together to where it makes the most sense for us.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But it does make me wonder if Schottenheimer puts more of his mark on the offense than we might have otherwise expected.  And, of course, what that leads to.  Stay tuned.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Rodney Garner gets ready to do what Rodney Garner does.

That is, adapt to a new defensive coordinator’s scheme.

Will Muschamp explained some of the ways he is changing Auburn’s defense last week. “There were a lot of hybrid guys,” Muschamp told reporters. “They played the Star position, which is a Nickel for us. We ask our nickel to do a little bit more coverage in our scheme and system.” Former coordinator Ellis Johnson used the Star as a safety/linebacker combo in his 4-2-5 scheme. Muschamp’s Nickel is more of a third safety or third corner, depending on the situation.

Muschamp also uses a hybrid position called the Buck, which is a 4-3 defensive end who can move around the formation like a 3-4 outside linebacker. At Florida, Dante Fowler Jr. filled that role. At Auburn, redshirt sophomore Carl Lawson should thrive in the position. “I think he’ll be very effective,” Muschamp told reporters. “I know he has very good initial quickness and a very good first step. That’s one of the critical factors at that position that you have to have to be successful.” The 6’2”, 261-pound Lawson is still working his way back from a torn ACL suffered last summer, but he should be at full speed by preseason camp.

Really, think about it.  How many defensive line coaches have played under as many different approaches as Garner has over the last fifteen years?  He ought to write a survival book about it.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Strategery And Mechanics

Power corrupts, unless you’re talking about offense.

Ian Boyd looks at what Mike Gundy is up to at Oklahoma State and wonders if he’s coming up with the next big thing.

The nature of the spread offense is to isolate defenders in space and attack whichever defender is out-leveraged with someone fast. Originally that focused mostly on the passing game with the run game as a constraint if the defense spread too wide and left themselves outnumbered up front.

Oklahoma State’s spread-I looked to add the component of attacking the interior of the defense with size and versatility in the running game but with the main overall purpose of still setting up fast people to out-leverage opponents.

The Power run offense is a different beast than the spread and power generally hasn’t been combined much with spread offenses save for the 3rd generationsmashmouth spread” systems that use the QB as a runner or with the RPO-heavy Baylor and West Virginia attacks.

The power run is about imposing your will up front with a scheme that will drive defenders off the ball and put hats on hats so that the running back is generally always running for a gain, potentially a big one if he can juke a safety or the defense wears out and huge holes appear.

It makes for a ball-control run game that is often accompanied by a deep strike passing game off play-action.

Maybe I’m missing something, but that sounds familiar to anyone who’s watched what Mike Bobo was doing the past couple of seasons.

Not that this is dumb by any means.  If defenses all over the country are retooling themselves to deal with conventional spread offensive attacks, going after those with power running games makes very good sense.

Then again, Alabama, which already runs a power attack, may be taking steps to meet Gundy in the middle.  Take a look at a quarterback Saban is chasing right now:

Despite his name, Pass’ greatest weapon is his legs. At 6’5 and 220 with incredible athleticism and the potential to play at 240-plus, he’s drawn comparisons to Cam Newton or Cardale Jones. Pass is not yet a refined passer, but teams running the spread option don’t care much. Even some elite pro-style programs believe Pass can be a great passer from the pocket.

North Carolina, Alabama, Auburn and Louisville are major players. Alabama’s recruitment, following its use of mobile QB Blake Sims, could signal a change in recruiting philosophy.

And offensive philosophy.

Saban’s no dummy.  He knows what gives him problems defensively.  He’s already shown a willingness to let Kiffin introduce some hurry up principles into Alabama’s offensive scheme.  A big running quarterback seems like another example of going “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”  And perhaps an acknowledgement by a defensive guru that it’s the offense’s world that the game is living in now.

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