The NFL is pondering changing the extra point rule because it’s almost automatic now. That’s not exactly the case on the college level, but given there’s a certain percentage of folks who think that anything the NFL adopts should automatically be considered by the NCAA, you might be interested in reading what Chase Stuart has to say about the prospects of a mandated two-point play rule.
Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics
Jeremy Pruitt may be out of the same Saban defensive school as Todd Grantham, but there’s at least one way in which he’s different. While Grantham claimed that he didn’t need a behemoth manning the nose guard position, he sure was happy using 360-pound monsters like John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers as space eaters there.
Pruitt told reporters Wednesday that he’s looking for slimmer, sleeker players. That’s especially true up front.
“We’re trying to get a lot of our bigger guys down,” Pruitt said. “Personally we feel like everybody’s a little heavy. We’d like everybody a bit faster. That’s our preference. We’re trying to slim up just a little. Including the coaching staff.”
Defensive end Ray Drew said he’s now about 282 pounds, after playing at 287 last year. His goal is to be at 275 by the fall.
“It’s that little 1/10th of a second that counts,” Drew said. “There were a few times last year where I had an opportunity to make some plays if I was a step quicker here or a step quicker there.”
I can’t argue that the move doesn’t make sense when you’re trying to catch running quarterbacks in spread attacks. But how will it hold up in the face of a power offense running out of twin tight end sets? (Of course, given how Alabama’s running attack mauled a Georgia defense with Jenkins and Geathers, you could certainly argue Pruitt’s approach couldn’t generate any worse results.)
Weiszer’s got a good story on Hutson Mason. One thing to keep a close eye on this spring is his mechanics, which sound like they still need a bit of polish.
“There are just some things he does with his drop that we’re going to try out this spring,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “It will be interesting how to see how it works. Hutson’s a guy that we’ve got to do a good job keeping on balance sometimes. His feet get a little bit too close together and he kind of gets up on his toes. A little bit looking at Tom Brady more of how he keeps a good base in the pocket is what I was showing him.”
Aaron Murray struggled with his footwork at times, but overall made good progress in that department (especially last season), so it’s not like we’re looking at the end of the world here. But a lot of Murray’s shortcomings in that department came from inconsistent offensive line play, something that wouldn’t surprise me to be much the same in 2014. And as Mason himself observes, it’s not like he’s got the luxury of working things out over a four-year career.
“Every little thing you have to do as far as preparation as far as holding guys accountable bringing guys along that need to be brought along, you can’t really sit here and say, ‘I’ll figure this out or get my feet wet,’” Mason said. “You’ve kind of just got to go all in. If that’s my point of view, win, lose or draw, I won’t have any regrets because the regrets will come if I didn’t say I didn’t go all in. At the end of the day, I can’t look back and say I can do this different next year because there is no next year.”
Let’s hope he’s a quick learner.
I thought I’d share some quotes from Mark Richt about what’s behind the hiring of his last two defensive coordinators. Start with a couple of things he said when he hired Todd Grantham. One:
“There were so many names that crossed my desk and people calling from all around that recommended people and when Todd’s name came up I was very interested in learning more about him. The more I learned about him the more excited I got about him. It just so happens that a lot of coaches that I know in the business know Todd and know of what he’s done in the past and know of his football knowledge. I think a lot of people in the college game who have spent time with Todd and grown as coaches, let’s face it, the NFL is really the cutting edge of football and Coach Grantham is one of the best minds out there. [Emphasis added.] And it also turned out that my brother in law, Brad Johnson, who played quarterback for the Cowboys at the tail end of his career and was there last year and got to know Todd as a coach … and was highly impressed with him and his energy and how he would teach and the respect that players had for him.”
“I think it is particularly valuable that he has a wealth of experience on the defensive side of the ball at both the NFL and collegiate levels…”
Here’s what Richt has to say about where his head’s at now:
“You could have great scheme and poor tactics, and you’re going to have no success. I’d rather have less scheme and more tactics and more fundamentals because I think we’ll have a better chance of winning. That is what is happening right now,” Richt said.
To answer the question in the header, no, I don’t think Richt is abandoning defensive scheming. But it’s pretty obvious he’s blowing off all that NFL-based expertise for something more practical, something that Grantham gave plenty of lip service to, but never seemed to instill in his troops. Will that pay off, or will we be reading about a new approach from Richt in a few years?
when he says this about defending the HUNH:
“Based on all assurances, especially when you bring in medical people, they say it’s more of a conditioning matter than it is truly a medical item.”
Then, the question becomes what do you want to do about it? Do you have the NCAA step in to protect programs that don’t make a maximum effort to condition their players? Or do you leave it up to the schools to proceed along these lines?
Pruitt is looking for Georgia’s big defensive linemen to slim down also. Georgia lists linemen John Taylor, John Atkins and Chris Mayes at 336, 322 and 321 pounds, respectively.
“We’re trying to get some of our bigger guys down,” Pruitt said. “Personally, we feel like everybody’s heavy. We’d like to be a little faster. That’s just, I guess, out preference. Trying to slim up just a little, including the coaching staff.”
Defensive end Ray Drew said he’s gone from a high of 287 last season to 282 and hopes to get down to 275 by the fall.
Here’s what Richt had to say about the 10-second substitution rule yesterday.
“I support the officials being in position to call the game. I think you can go so fast that an official is out of position. There ought to be something in there to help the officials be in position to call the game, for their safety and for the integrity of the game, so to speak. I think that’s important. I think that not many people snap the ball faster than the 10-second timing that we’re talking about. If everybody snapped the ball right at 10 seconds, they’re flying and they’re going fast. I don’t know how much it would even affect us, but do I think that the rule should change? I don’t think the rule should change. Should it be modified somewhat if it needs to be to help the officials get in the right spots? I’d say yes. I think we’re in an off-year for rules changing, and the only way a rule can change is if it has a player safety issue involved in it. I think it’s more of a style issue than a safety issue. That’s what I think.”
Some of that is probably colored by Richt’s own experience trying to import the no-huddle offense into the SEC a decade ago. But some of that is probably colored by the pace at which Georgia runs its offense now.
Here’s a rundown of the entire SEC in the last two seasons in terms of offensive snaps per game:
1. Ole Miss: 79.8
2. Missouri: 75.5
3. Georgia: 74.6
4. Mississippi State: 74.2
5. Auburn: 73.8
6. Texas A&M: 73.8
7. South Carolina: 72.5
8. Vanderbilt: 70.8
9. Florida: 68.9
10. LSU: 67.7
11. Tennessee: 67.7
12. Kentucky: 66.8
13. Alabama: 65.9
14. Arkansas: 64.7
Given that Mason likes running the hurry up, I don’t see that ranking dropping much in 2014.
Who said this?
“We are now getting plays off every 12 or 13 seconds,”… “We are moving so fast I frequently can’t get a play in from the sidelines. We’ll hit 100 plays a game soon.” This, coming from one of football’s bastions of the conservative, makes it plain that something big has happened.
That would be Woody Hayes. In 1968.
And Alabama has always been at war with Eastasia. Or something.
Quite naturally, all of this is driving the game’s coaching giants goofy. Bear Bryant is sitting down there in Tuscaloosa with one of the best defensive teams he has ever had, allowing opponents only 10 points a game, but the Tide has been beaten twice and scared witless almost every week because it just can’t score enough. And coaches with teams that can score try to score plenty, because they pace the sidelines knowing a two-touchdown lead is far from a safe one anymore. (Halftime last Saturday: Ohio State, 24; Illinois, 0. In the fourth quarter: Ohio State, 24; Illinois, 24.)
“What’s happened is obvious,” says Bryant, the master of defense. “First of all, due to the pro influence, there are more good pitchers and catchers coming out of high school. They all want one of those Joe Namath contracts. Then, of course, most colleges use their best athletes on offense, as backs and receivers. That’s not necessarily true in the pros. They’ve got some of their best athletes on defense, especially corner-back. When the defense is forced to spread out, it must go to man-to-man coverage. But if the offensive boy—the pass receiver—is a better athlete than the defensive boy, he’ll beat him. So you have to go to double coverage, and that weakens you against the run.”
It’s the offense’s job to make life semi-tough for the defense. (Had to get that Dan Jenkins reference in here somewhere.) Eventually defenses catch up and the cycle renews. It’s as true now as it was fifty years ago.
I made a joke about it before in the context of SEC Media Days, but it’s hard to ignore the personal aspect of the debate over the 10-second substitution rule. Some of that’s probably the result of the high-handed way the vote was perceived to have been conducted. Some hackles were raised over the implication that coaches like Bielema and Saban are more concerned about player safety than no-huddle gurus are.
But there’s something else happening here, something that I’m surprised hasn’t gotten more attention paid to it. Especially because it’s what makes the college football world go ’round.
“Gus (Malzahn) and I were talking (Tuesday); it’s actually taken our time,” Freeze said. “It’s our livelihood…” [Emphasis added.]
You’re screwing with these coaches’ checkbooks. Hells, yes, they’re going to push back. And they have – hard.
“… We care about what happens with our sport. Our sport’s at one of the highest peaks of interest from the public opinion that it’s ever been. People are enjoying the games. We’ve kind of structured a nationwide attack of how we’ll go about voices heard before this is final. From our conference, coach (Kevin) Sumlin, Gus, myself and coach (Butch) Jones have led the way the most and coach (Steve) Spurrier. We divided up names that we were going to call that we felt like had an interest in this. It’s kind of been nationwide. It has taken time. We’ve tried to find if there was any documentation out there. We have routinely had a group of us calling the rules committee pretty regularly to continue to stress our opinion of where this is headed.”
I don’t think this unpleasantness is going to settle down any time soon, if for no other reason than that I expect the rules committee to punt the proposal for 2014, but decide to invite further consideration of it for next season. All kidding aside, this year’s edition of SEC Media Days will be awkward. Maybe as a peace gesture Slive could suggest realigning the divisions with the HUNH programs on one side and Bielema’s “normal American football” schools in the other.
UPDATE: Um… it’s possible that Freeze is misreading the level of Spurrier’s enthusiasm on the subject.
Spurrier said he “left a voicemail” with someone on the NCAA rules committee regarding the proposed 10-second rule, which would forbid teams from snapping the football in the first 10 seconds of the play clock. Spurrier is against the rule. Where does it stand with the committee? “I don’t know. I’ve heard they’ve hopefully tabled it, but I’m not sure.”
There’s probably a great Spurrier voicemail parody out there just dying to meet us.
Geez, Nick. You were doing so well keeping your opinions about the 10-second rule to yourself. And then you had to go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like this:
“The fastball guys (up-tempo coaches) say there’s no data out there, and I guess you have to use some logic. What’s the logic? If you smoke one cigarette, do you have the same chances of getting cancer if you smoke 20? I guess there’s no study that specifically says that. But logically, we would say, ‘Yeah, there probably is.’”
Nice tortured analogy. However, if you really want to go there, shouldn’t you apply the same logic to the effect of schedule expansion? In the last two decades or so, the regular season has gotten longer and most conferences have added a championship game. And now, the postseason is embarking on an expansion kick. Starting this season, an Alabama team that plays for the national title after winning the SECCG will be hitting and tackling opponents for the fifteenth time. That’s a 25% increase from the early nineties, assuming bowl eligibility.
Funny how Saban has nothing to say about that.
And unlike the up-tempo stuff, there may be some relevant data out there about schedule size. Per Dave Bartoo,
In the 2013, 133k play FBS season, 526 guys were lost for the year during the season to injury. In the 32 team, 16 game, 32k plays NFL it was 205 season ending injuries. OR season ending injuries during the season occurred 162% more often per play in the NFL than FBS. OR one SEI in the NFL every 156 plays to 253 on the FBS.
The NFL doesn’t have a pace problem. Even Saban acknowledges that. What it does have is a longer season. While I won’t insist correlation equals causation, that’s not the banner of logic ol’ Nick’s marching under here.
Saban is as calculating a man as you’ll find. I don’t take this as some sort of irrational outburst. It indicates two things to me – one, that the rule proposal is a big deal for him, and, two, that he’s concerned it won’t pass. He’s playing the player safety card because it’s the way to get a change in the rule this season and because it’s easier to generate support for this than it is for a debate over tactics.
What I can’t figure out are his motives. Why the rush? I have a hard time believing he’s that insecure about defending HUNH offenses. He’s smart and his program recruits better than any other in the country. Something doesn’t add up.
Not to mention he’s handing Alabama’s biggest rival a most handy club to bash him with on the recruiting trail.
“It’s a joke, is what it is,” Jacobs said in an interview with AL.com this week. “Everything’s going faster in sports. You get penalized if you don’t play fast enough in golf. Now you’ve got pitch counts in baseball to throw a pitch. And to think we’re slowing something down without any data is just ridiculous to me. The thing about it is, kids today, they love playing in this hurry-up type offense because it’s fun. So if you like to have fun, you need to go to a place like Auburn.”
Is it just about screwing with what Auburn does? You got me.
UPDATE: Jon Solomon makes a similar point, with a twist.
… There are potentially more meaningful, under-the-radar ways than the 10-second rule to help player safety.
1. Reduce the number of games.
Good luck seeing that happen. That would be one less home game for schools to generate revenue. But it’s the easiest and simplest way to guarantee fewer hits to a player during the course of a season and his career. Saban, who wants to reduce the exposure for players, is the loudest proponent for a ninth conference game in the SEC, which is considered the most physically-demanding conference.
When Florida State won the national championship in 1999, the Seminoles played 12 total games the whole season. The Seminoles played 14 games last season to win the national title. If they reach the national title game next season in the new College Football Playoff, they will have likely played 15 games.
Florida State’s offense had 15 percent more total plays in 2013 than in 1999, and the Seminoles’ defensive plays increased by 29 percent. Yet Florida State’s plays per game on offense barely moved up from 68.3 in 1999 to 68.7 in 2013. Tempo adds to more plays for many teams in football today, but not necessarily to the toll more games places on the body.
Football coaches and a handful of conferences (the ACC was one) lobbied against 12 games when the change occurred in 2005. More leagues (including the ACC) have added conference championship games since then. Not to mention, what about the exposure to hits that overmatched teams face against elite teams due to more guarantee games being added by an extra game?
The maximum number of games most college football players in the early 2000s could have played over a four-year career was 48. Starting next season, the four-year maximum will be 60. College football’s hunt for money means up to an entire regular season could be added onto players’ bodies over the course of their career. [Emphasis added.]
One thing more important than player safety is bank balance stability.
This is pretty clever.
I await Bert’s retort.
UPDATE: Well, maybe.
Arizona's Rich Rodriguez makes 'Speed' parody in protest of 10-sec. proposal. Nick Saban, Bret Bielema counter with 'Grumpy Old Men' parody.—
Matt Murschel (@osmattmurschel) March 03, 2014