Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics

Sunday morning buffet

Dig in, folks.

  • Bruce Feldman talks to Jim Donnan about the state of the SEC East.  No particularly earth-shattering disclosures, but I was amused to hear Donnan slip and use the word “we” once, when speaking about Georgia.
  • Michigan cooks the books to keep that home attendance streak going.
  • On the other hand, this is an impressive turnout.
  • Granted, this is about the NFL, but it’s still a great contrarian question to ask as college defenses continue gearing up to handle the spread.
  • And another question – is football going to start seeing smaller nose tackles?
  • Field Street Forum asks if Jacob Eason is the next Matthew Stafford.  Their answer may amuse you.
  • A senior football advisor with the Patriots when they drafted Aaron Hernandez had this to say about the organization’s misgivings about his character coming out of Florida:  “We knew he had some issues prior,” Reese said. “[Former Florida coach] Urban Meyer and Bill [Belichick] were very, very close, and I think Urban convinced Bill that, you know, that these things weren’t going to be an issue…”  Oopsie.

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Filed under Big Ten Football, Gators Gators, Georgia Football, SEC Football, Strategery And Mechanics, Urban Meyer Points and Stares

Wednesday morning buffet

Definite Georgia flavor to the buffet today…

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Filed under General Idiocy, Georgia Football, Pac-12 Football, Recruiting, Strategery And Mechanics, The NCAA

The next big thing at linebacker?

In kind of a nice counter to my post the other day about whether Pruitt might decide to deploy on occasion a four-OLB set, Ian Boyd looks at offensive trends in the NFL and college and wonders if we’re about to see a transformation at inside linebacker.

In an attack like the Buckeyes’, the spread RB was not marginalized but elevated over inside linebackers chosen for their ability to dominate between the tackles. Ezekiel Elliot accomplished the seemingly impossible task of running for over 200 yards on the Tide D.

The result has been teams beginning to prize speedsters rather than big thumpers at the inside linebacker positions. Ohio State has been ahead of the curve here, starting with weakside linebacker Ryan Shazier, who brought freakish athleticism to the position. Despite sizing in at 6’1″ 237, he ran the shuttle in 4.21 seconds (faster than many CBs) and the 40 yard dash in under 4.4 seconds (faster than most RBs)…

… Teams are lining these players up in the box where their size allows them to play between the tackles but their speed to pursue the ball or skill players to the edge prevents spread teams from easily flanking them.

These elite athletes will undoubtedly push further evolutions to the linebacker position as defensive coordinators figure out how to best use such rangy and versatile athletes to stop spread attacks.

I think some of what he posits is a bit of a stretch – his question “Which college teams want to invest the time and energy on one player who will be hit hard every play when they can get even greater production from a QB who often goes untouched?” has a pretty obvious answer from teams still playing with a classic, drop back pocket passer and/or teams that rely on a bruising running game needing depth at tailback – but it’s still interesting to look at more ways to skin the spread ’em out cats that have proliferated at the college level.

I’m wondering, though… does Georgia have anyone with the kind of speed Boyd describes who’s ready to play ILB?

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“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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Filed under Georgia Football, 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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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

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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