Innovative Defense

I’ll admit right now that I don’t know how to coach a defense. My only experience was as a high school defensive back — for a very short period of time. So with that said, I probably learned more about schemes and the such from our mutual friend the Internet than anywhere else (but that isn’t that odd is it?)

Now then, let’s get to the topic of the day:

Let’s. Get. Innovative.  /Darkwing Duck Theme Voice

I talked at length yesterday about offensive schemes etc. Again, I don’t really think that a scheme makes a team. Or an offense. Or a defense. There is a balance between talent and philosophy that must be achieved. The best coaches know how to use the talent they have and put them in the best positions to maximize said talent, limited as it may be.

So what is the big deal about running our 4-3 defense?

Nothing. It is fine. Plenty of teams have used it and had lots of success. USC runs a 4-3 Under. So does Florida. Pretty much says it all huh?

So why is it not good enough for wil’ ol’ UNT?

Well, its not that it isn’t good enough but that it isn’t interesting enough. It is not different enough.

I’ll have to revisit yesterday’s topic real fast-like. Although schemes don’t make all the difference, they are important. It’s is why teams disguise coverages or play fake, pump fake, run double moves, or run counter-treys. It is easier to do than trying to run over the guy in front of you for sixty plays. The battle of brains is one of the reasons I love football. The battle to outwit the other guy is a fascinating one to watch.

This is why smaller schools are typically the testing ground for new ideas. Urban Meyer developed his version of the spread option while an assistant (after learning it from, among others, Rich Rodgriguez) and tested it at Bowling Green, where he took his Falcons to unprecedented success. That led him to Utah and an undefeated season and well, eventually to failure.

Pictured: Failure

At Nowhere U (enrollment 5000) you can’t just try to out-muscle the other guy. That is why balance is imperative. If you focus too much on talent you get outschemed (see: Northwestern versus Michigan) if you lean too much toward scheme you get out-talented (see: Notre Dame-Charlie Weis era)*

*Tenuous. Just wanted to make a Weis joke, mostly.

It’s much harder to innovate on defense where speed size and strength are more important than on offense. The offense has the advantage and the defense has to be able to cover ground quickly to make up for the time delay. Great coaching shortens the time gap. Nicky Saban emphasizes pattern reading (nothing new– lots of coaches do it) and playing the ball. The finished product is a defense that smothers and is seemingly in the other teams huddle. But none of that matters if the offensive line is blowing their counterparts off the ball and the back doesn’t get touched for the first ten yards. Again: balance.

This is why I want to see a little 4-2-5 by us. Maybe some 3-5-3. Of course that would require that we went out and got someone who knows the ins-and-outs of that kind of D. That is beside the point however. If we are going to go down, I want to go down swinging. I really don’t care. I’d love to be Blitz U. That’d be the greatest part of all this. In this business you have to have an angle. What is ours right now defensively? ‘Come be apart of the team that doesn’t put pressure on the QB!’

I figure that we’d give up a huge number of big plays if we gambled and brought five or six guys every down. I don’t have anything against sound, solid defense. I expect that from the Cowboys who can seek out the most talented and pay them the requisite fee for doing so. I don’t think we have the resources or the clout or the time to develop 2-star guys into defensive stalwarts consistently enough to have sustained success, however.

Again: it is not impossible to have a Sunbelt school with a stout defense. I just don’t think it happens often enough here. We just can’t get the talent to have it for a long period of time.

So let’s be innovative on defense. I matters not if we implement a certain defensive scheme just that we try to be different. Let’s do on defense what the spread did for offense ya know?

Next: I figure I’ll have to think of something to talk about. Probably more rehashing. Woo!