It's Thursday, and we're back with another round of the Your Best 11 Mailbag. We skipped the topics this week and decided to open it up full force; All Reader Topics Everything, Folks! We've got a little of this and a little of that, so let's get this thing started.
Um, duh, obviously my favorite question ever. I'm going to start with TJ McDonald. This kid is the best safety in college football. It doesn't matter what conference he's in, McDonald is the nation's best at the safety position, and the rest of the guys—Robert Lester, Eric Reid, Bacarri Rambo, Kenny Vaccaro and the rest—are all lining up behind him.
He's a fluid body, he has great range and he can really move in the deep half off of the hash. He also is strong against the run and comes up to deliver quite the blow.
As for David Amerson, the NC State cornerback, he is an interesting beast. Kid has a nose for the football, and he is capable of turning offense into defense better than most people in the nation.
As far as being a cornerback goes, he's right up there with Johnny Adams, Johnthan Banks, Xavier Rhodes, Jordan Poyer and the rest.
Right now, there is no Mo Claiborne, Patrick Peterson clear-cut best at the position. All of these guys have great skills, some better in zone than man, others the opposite. If you've got a zone scheme that will afford Amerson the freedom to roam in a quarter or a third then take him first, because he has that sort of ability.
Hell of a ballplayer. He outproduced what I expected him to do in year one on the job. We all knew the talent was there, he just put it all together a lot quicker than I thought he would.
This year, if Marcus Davis can be the monster his talent affords him to be, expect Logan Thomas to have a shot at getting to New York.
With that said...
@inthebleachers Dark horse Heisman candidate?— Mike (@KyNDfan) August 9, 2012
Logan Thomas is my guy. Hokies have a schedule they can run, Thomas has that run-pass thing working for him and, as we've seen, he can go full beast mode when it is required.
@inthebleachers How many packets of Alka Seltzer will Brian Kelly go through this Fall?— Chris Bains (@Bearcats_Nation) August 9, 2012
I think the Fighting Irish defense is going to be solid, even with the loss of Aaron Lynch. They have some issues in the back end to work out, but they have through most of October to fix the kinks against inexperienced or unaccomplished passers.
The real heartburn will come from the quarterback position, as we all expect. There is no real answer here—go with Tommy Rees or Andrew Hendrix and Kelly will be bothered with just how "extra regular" the two are OR go with Everett Golson and be infuriated at his up-and-down style of play. Sort of a damned if you do, damned if you don't proposition.
Which leads to this...
@inthebleachers who'd you rather throw a red zone int for:Brian Kelly or Bo Pelini?— Kevin Crawmer (@kjcrawmer) August 9, 2012
Haha, not touching this one. I played defensive back from high school on and throwing a red-zone interception is not in my repertoire. The answers appear to be A) Yelled At or B) Also Yelled At. My answer? Pass.
@inthebleachers is WVU being overlooked, as no one is picking them to win their league— Jeffrey Wesler (@jmwesler) August 9, 2012
I don't think they're overlooked at all. I think people are keeping them at arm's length because they are uncertain about the transition. As I plug myself here, I took some time yesterday talking about the preparation aspect of switching leagues, and it is going to be an interesting step up for the Mountaineers.
Everyone is excited about Dana Holgorsen, but the Mountaineers still have to play defense, and this is the same team that was in a fight until the final week to win the Big East, after losing to Syracuse and Louisville.
Arm's length is a good place to watch them from.
@inthebleachers how different is playing the nickel from field or boundary?— Big nole fan (@osceolafan2) August 9, 2012
Yay, football! Another defensive back question, what, what!!
Field corner plays in space a lot more. Boundary corner plays the short side of the field. Typically field guys have more coverage responsibilities and boundary guys are more adept at mixing it up in the run game.
So, how does nickel play into all of this?
Playing the money guy is hard. You don't have the luxury of the sideline to push receivers towards and generally, when you're lined up on the slot guys you don't get the benefit of the jam, as the players get a clean run off the line.
As far as how different it is, the answer is very. In zone you play a lot of underneath hook, curl, seam techniques as opposed to thirds, quarters and flat defense. In man coverage you're playing more tuff technique, warding off the quick inside pass while protecting your outside shoulder and chasing men in motion as they look to pick you off through traffic.
Everyone ought to give all of the respect in the world to nickelbacks. The money is a guy who has a special job. You'll notice that a lot of teams will bring in a corner, move one of their starters, a better player, inside to play the nickel, and the third corner will play the outside.
The position is that important and that difficult. Good nickel guys, like Ronnie Brooks from LSU a season ago, are had to find. Especially in college, where there players aren't generally that good.