Your Best 11 Mailbag: Defending the Flexbone, Early Signing and a Lot More!

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Your Best 11 Mailbag: Defending the Flexbone, Early Signing and a Lot More!
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It's Thursday and while that means the weekend is just a day or so away, the real reason to get excited is the YB11 Mailbag! We've got a bunch of questions here and guess what—none of them are about realignment or the BCS's future!

 

Great question to kick off our week of actually talking about football! I'm going to go ahead and circle the NC State-Tennessee game on a Friday night in Atlanta. The Wolfpack have a good squad this year and I'm looking forward to seeing how they respond on the biggest stage they have been on in quite some time. Tom O'Brien has a solid quarterback and he will get to test out Sal Sunseri's new look Volunteers defense.

On the Tennessee side of things, I'm looking forward to Derek Dooley trying to rebound and save his job. This game is going to say a lot about how far his team has come on both sides of the ball, so it will be appointment viewing for me that first Friday.

 

I don't think either squad will be dominating each other in the trenches. The Bayou Bengals will win some and they will lose some. On the flip side of things, so too will the Crimson Tide. Alabama is going to lean heavily on folks, but LSU has so many bodies they will be able to withstand the punishment as they run in fresh players. 

So no, they won't be dominating, but they will have opportunities. Both sides will.

 

Don't do it! The only change that I'd like to see in overtime is moving the starting point from the 25 back to the 40 or so. That would take teams out of immediate field-goal range and force them to have to pick up some yards and play actual football before trying to kick the field goal.

It would help defenses out and give them a chance to truly put the game on their back and not put so much of it on a kicker missing a field goal.

 

I'm going to ride with Isaiah Crowell. Look, I know Keith Marshall is a heck of a ballplayer, and with Crowell's nagging injuries and taking himself out of games last year, picking him seems a bit silly, but hear me out. I think with the pressure of missing time for a productive back who could unseat him on the table, we'll be seeing a more dedicated, focused Crowell this year.

No one likes to sit on the side and watch a guy take his spot. I'm thinking the "football player-ness" of Crowell is enough to push him to compete harder, knowing he could legitimately lose that gig.

 

Not a fan. Look, I like the idea of players inking early as a measure to avoid getting gamed in the scholarship crunch as teams oversign and get too many commitments. However, in the proposals, we are not talking about an early signing period where guys are inking far, far in advance; we're looking at a December early signing period—two months before the traditional signing period. 

Perhaps if it was a bit earlier, I could get on board with it. However, in December, what we're dealing with is coaches who want to firm up their numbers and stop the flipping that comes in January and early February. They are already pressuring kids to commit; if they pressure kids to sign early, I don't think that's a benefit. 

Football has a short evaluation period, for both sides. If a kid is truly committed to a school, he can shut down his recruitment and ignore any letters and calls. It takes being persistent, but once he lets the coaches know he's not interested, they will get the point and bark up another tree.

 

First and foremost, even before we talk fronts and coverages, we have to talk personnel. I'm going base people in the game against Georgia Tech at all times. The lone exception will be is I've got a big lead, it is late in the game and they have to pass. I always assume they will run the ball, regardless of formation. That is what they do.

So with base 4-3 people in the game against Georgia Tech, I'm a fan of the over front. It keeps your linebackers cleaner, makes your rules a bit easier than having Sam walked up to the line.

In this formation, with the A-back set in the wing, I'd have my defensive end lined up over the wing. While he is off the line, he is still the most immediate blocking threat, and I can't have him crashing down on the end in the same fashion of a tight end. Keeping down the line, I'd have my three-technique tackle, a shaded nose and a standard five-technique.

As for linebackers, I'd have Will and Mike in as close to base alignment as possible. Will in the weak-side B-gap and Mike in the play-side A-gap. The reason for this is you still have a dive back OR the weak-side sprint option possibility. If you overadjust Will or Mike, they can kill you with a quick dive to an uncovered play-side A or a sprint option to the weak side, where Will cannot get to the pitch back. Sam, on the play side, would be near his traditional play-side C gap, loosened up to respect the overload to his side by aligning more over the tackle.

In the back end, I'd play a Cover 3 set. Most safeties are more reliable tacklers than corners, and trips indicates passing strengths so I'd walk my strong safety down into the box. No need to disguise here, because I need him down in the box for quick force to engage the blocker more than I need him to hold the Cover 2 shell. Corners should be about six to seven yards off, playing deep third, with my free safety in the back middle third.

I trust my ends to crash every play to the quarterback. Mike and Nose are responsible for a dive on an every-play basis. Will, Sam and the safety have to get to the pitch man, while corners and the free safety look pass first and then alley fill.

The ability to run to the weak side terrifies me, I don't like the idea of moving more bodies out of the box or closer to the trips side—fight through blocks and make a tackle. Option to the trips side, in this scenario, means Sam must check the play-side C-gap before scraping to the pitch as the safety defeats the Z-receiver and gets to the pitch as well.

Not in this formation, but in more balanced looks I'm a fan of the Mike linebacker being mugged up in the A-gap to discourage dive.

 

Clemson. They have a quarterback; I'm still not sold on Kiehl Frazier as being ready to throw the ball consistently for Auburn.

Both teams bring new defenses into the action, which means there will be some big mistakes made. However, I think Clemson with Nuke Hopkins, Andre Ellington and Tajh Boyd will be better prepared to take advantage of Auburn's mishaps than Frazier and the new-look Auburn Tigers.

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