It is Thursday, and that means it is time for Your Best 11 Mailbag where you, the readers, get to send in your questions. After growing weary of the same expansion questions week in and week out we've decided to theme up our weeks on the questions. This week? We're going all coaches, so enjoy it folks!
@InTheBleachers what impact will the combo of new coach and #1 RB at Arkansas State have initially, and will Malzahn ever make ASU relevant?— Jeff Jones (@JeffJones99) June 21, 2012
This question combines one thing I love, Sun Belt football, and one thing I hate, NCAA transfer policy. Michael Dyer won't get to be the instant impact player that we know he could be for the Red Wolves; at least all signs point to no as of now. So, I think he'll be a great scout team player for them as he sits on the bench and has to decide whether to come back and play his third season of college football or just turn pro based off his workouts and his track record at Auburn.
Now, with respect to Gus Malzahn, we'll get to see how much of a genius he really is in Jonesboro. Well, sort of. Hugh Freeze went 10-3 last year, and the Red Wolves were undefeated in Sun Belt play. This year, Malzahn's guys look to take a step back as they lose some crucial elements on their defense and offense. As far as systems go, the transition for Arkansas State should be easy, as Hugh Freeze ran an up-tempo multiple set run-pass attack just a year ago.
I really don't think that Arkansas State will ever be more relevant than they were at 10-3 in 2011. That's not a knock on the Red Wolves or on Malzahn's ability, rather a tip of the cap to Hugh Freeze and what he was able to do in Jonesboro.
@InTheBleachers is college coaching more knowledge of game, or understanding young adults? Which is the more valuable commodity?— Aprince15 (@APrince15) June 21, 2012
It has to be understanding young adults. There are a lot of X and O guys out there who just cannot get it done at the college level. Obviously, Charlie Weis, one of the "gurus," comes to mind as one who just couldn't get it right at the college level. On the flip side of that, guys like Mack Brown have built a career around hiring well and being able to manage personalities.
College football is about relationships. Clearly the relationships with young people, but also relationships with their parents, relationships with high school coaches and relationships with your own staff. It is a lot more about hand shaking, smiling and doing the little things than the business of the NFL. Spending spring and summers gladhanding boosters and fans. Spending summers and falls telling high schoolers how good they are and reminding their coaches how important their school is to your master plan.
The best combination is a guy that can do both, but good luck finding a bunch of them just hanging out waiting to get hired.
@InTheBleachers Dabo Swinney, great football coach or greatest football coach?— ichaseferalcats (@ichaseferalcats) June 14, 2012
Best question I ever got in the mailbag or best question ever, period? I think Dabo Swinney is, at best right now, a solid head coach. He understands that game-planning and the scheme itself is not his strong suit and recognizing one's weaknesses can be a strength when you solve the problem that exists. Where Swinney makes up ground on better gameplan and prep coaches is in his recruiting. He's been Clemson's best recruiter since he was just a wide receiver coach with a frat swoop.
In reference to the previous questions; Dabo is one of those guys who understands and relates to the young athlete. They like playing for him, and that's probably his most valuable asset to the Tigers' program.
@InTheBleachers Which coaches can you see coming in behind Saban at Bama? Is Dabo, who is an alum, a possibility? Or Smart?— BamaBoysCFB (@BamaBoysCFB) June 21, 2012
Quite honestly, I just cannot imagine Saban not being at Alabama for the time being. That said, we all know that every good thing comes to an end at some point, and when that time comes, replacements will be lining up for the gig. Yeah, Dabo's name could be on that list, only if he has some legitimate success at Clemson. The type that doesn't include getting boat raced in another BCS Bowl game.
When you look around though, Smart's name has to be on the list; all dependent upon what he does with his career when and if he decides to leave Tuscaloosa. Jimbo Fisher is a guy that should be on people's radar as an up and comer, built in Saban's mold who could grab that job if he can push Florida State back to where they feel they belong.
One thing to note about Alabama; they are not really about that "quirky" lifestyle. I'm not sure there is a fanbase that takes more pleasure in their team beating people up and shoving the ball down their throat in college football. So with that said, you look at his tree, look at coaches that fit that mold and go from there, whenever that happens far in the robot future.
Alright, for starters, tip of the cap for the language used because that is, simply put, awesome. For those uncertain of what he means, he's asking about an offensive set that has four wide receivers and one running back with receivers in a 2x2 alignment. A 10-personnel doubles set.
When I see 10 people in the game, I go nickel. That's just about a given. So my Sam backer comes out and I put in my moneyback. The money, Mike and Will are in the game, along with my two safeties and two corners. Depending upon down and distance, you can put your speed rush guys in the game, but for the sake of this, we'll keep standard four-man front in the game: two ends and two tackles.
Up front, it would start standard, two five-techniques; remember, there is no tight end, a three-technique tackle and a shaded nose. Most offenses are right-handed; that's just a function of the quarterback being right-handed, so in a generic scenario with a mirror set, I'd designate the defense's left side as the strong side and line up accordingly up front.
I walk my nickel player out over the slot receiver. Inside technique, four to six yards off. Mike would remain in the middle and stay responsible for playside A. Will is tricky. You can't leave the left-side slot receiver uncovered, so Will has to walk. That means tightening up the defensive end on the weakside so he can play the B-gap and as Will walks out the end adjusts. Communication and all that jazz.
Now, to answer the actual question: I'm a quarters coverage guy here because while the question is about run/play-action, passing is still the primary concern in this formation. On playside run, I'm golden; Mike in A, 3-technique in B, end with contain, moneyback hammering plus corner and safety alley fill once it is a certain run.
Backside is a bit more interesting. If you crash the end to B-gap, that splatters things to Will as Mike scrapes over the top. That's how I'd probably play it. Another way is to loosen Mike up in general and allow him to get over to B-gap while sitting frontside A and keep End on contain duty.
Ultimately, the the slot receivers pose a blocking threat, and if the run stretches wide, it is on the Nickelback and the will to defeat a block and make a play. That's football. We saw Oklahoma State wear this formation out with Joseph Randle, and he was able to get gobs of yards because of the passing threat.
As for play-action; that's all about quick diagnosis. Deciphering between run and run-action, the pass has to come quickly for the defenders because they have drops to take or tackles to make. It's pretty straightforward, the hardest thing in this formation and set to truly diagnose is the pass-action run. Draw plays have become one of the most amazing tools in the shotgun sets, and because teams are so focused on getting their pass drops when the quarterback hands the ball off, things part like the Red Sea.