Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics

“I feel like his offense is going to help utilize our talents.”

If there’s one group of players who are excited about Brian Schottenheimer’s arrival in Athens, it’s the tight ends.  And with some justification, it seems.

With Schottenheimer coordinator with the St. Louis Rams, tight end Jared Cook led the team each of the past two seasons in receptions. He had 52 for 634 yards and three touchdowns (ranking 15th in receptions in the NFL at the position) in 2014 and 51 for 671 (a team record for receiving yards for a tight end) and five touchdowns in 2013.

Teammate Lance Kendricks was 28th among tight ends in the league last season with 27 catches for 259 yards and five touchdowns and had 32 catches for 258 with four touchdowns the previous year.

When Schottenheimer was coordinator with the New York Jets before that, tight end Dustin Keller led the team in both 2011 and 2010 in receptions. He ranked ninth among tight ends in the NFL in 2011 with 62 catches for 811 yards and five touchdowns and 11th in 2010 with 55 for 687 with five touchdowns. Keller in 2010 had two more catches than receiver Braylon Edwards and three more than receiver Santonio Holmes and running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

That may be one answer if wide-out depth doesn’t develop too quickly this season.  If Rome stays healthy, Schottenheimer’s got some options with experience to work with at tight end.

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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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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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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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