It's Thursday, which means that we are going to be answering all of your questions here at Your Best 11 Mailbag. The season has come to a close but college football is a 24/7/365 sport and that's why we are here. So, no need to wait, here we go!
@inthebleachers how much of the tide domination had to do with just brute power and execution and how much was it Saban outcoaching kelly?— Danny V (@fiveboroball) January 10, 2013
I think it started out with the Saban out-coaching Kelly from the jump, and then the players' execution and brute power took it from there. The gameplan was brilliant. They sucked Notre Dame up early and then killed them with play action on the second play. The subtle tweaks, like letting Barrett Jones fend for himself to let Anthony Steen and Chance Warmack get on the linebackers, was a blend of coaching and player talents. It was a brilliant move that only got better because the players were gobbling up Manti Te'o and Dan Fox.
There was also no adjustment by Brian Kelly or Bob Diaco. They were completely out of sorts from the get-go, and that's a testament to Saban's plan. The game got ugly because of the talented players, but it was won because of the man on the sidelines.
@inthebleachers Will Saben or other coach be able to gameplan well for the playoffs, or will it be a continuation of the regular season— Big Sant (@dre3dub) January 10, 2013
Yes! Another Saban question!
I think the issue with the playoff system is going to come in the title game. Teams are going to spend 30-some days preparing for their semifinal and then they have a week for the title shot. Now, you can approach that in one of two ways: prepare for just the semifinal and then treat the final like a game week OR prepare for the semifinal while doing background prep for the other two opponents.
Personally, I'm a fan of working in the background to develop a plan for the final, while also keeping your team focused on the semifinal. We see it with conference championship games, as teams enter the regular season finale and have to also prepare for the next week. It definitely requires long nights and more work, but in the end, that extra time of focusing on the future opponent could be the difference between a title and being a runner-up.
@inthebleachers mailbag: How would you change the "leave for the NFL vs staying in college" rules for players? ie, allow to come back, etc— Joshua Guiher (@collegiatestdms) January 10, 2013
There are a lot of layers to this, but here it goes. Currently, when a player decides to enter the draft he forfeits his eligibility. The first move that has to come is shifting that schema so that eligibility is only disqualified when the players sign a pro deal. If they don't like their drafted situation, they can return to school, provided that they do not sign with the team.
As for the agents part of things? That's where people freak out. Unlike most folks, I don't think agents are bad people or negative influences. They are a must where negotiating with professional teams are concerned. So, in that vein, I'm very much for football players working with agents much in the way collegiate baseball players are allowed to from high school through their careers.
The true, lone, sticky issue here would be the money where training is concerned. The easiest way to fix it? Let the players accept loans. That would allow the players to borrow against future earnings to technically pay their own way and retain their eligibility.
There are a couple of things at play. For starters, the offensive line is the hardest group to assemble for most football teams. Secondly, the cohesion that you need from this group is extremely high. Lastly, what you are asking out of the two sides is very different.
Schools that have a wealth of talented offensive linemen often do rotate. Stanford and Wisconsin, in recent years, come to mind as squads that used more than just their starting five to make their rushing machines go. However, in general, beyond some spot or mop up duty, you're sticking with your starting five because they are the best that you have and they know what they are doing.
Cohesion is a big thing because these guys have to work as one. If someone comes in and ruins that then running backs get tackles for a loss and quarterbacks get sacked. So more than just knowing all the calls and being ready to play, guys have to also understand how their linemates are going to execute.
Which brings us to the big reason why defensive linemen get subbed out so frequently: what's being asked of them? You're asking for maximum effort out of the defensive linemen on every play. That's the reason why you hear the talk about motors and loafing. Whether it's speed rushing or pushing through a gap, holding the point against a center and a guard, or holding the edge, you're asking for a lot.
That's not to say that playing offensive line is any easier. Rather it is to say that where effectiveness is concerned, defensive linemen need more breathers to be able to operate at a high level. Offensive linemen are more "in the groove" type players, where they get rolling and pick up momentum as the game wears on, and they wear on defenders.
@inthebleachers in pregame/locker room before games were you the loud hype guy or towel over head chill type?— Rhett (@rsl52) January 10, 2013
I was a quiet guy for the most part. No sense in wasting my energy hooting and hollering beforehand. I also wasn't a big group chant and jump around guy because I hated getting bumped into and having my feet get stepped on. I was like the last guy through the tunnel, last guy through the banner, very slow jog and making sure no one stepped on my toes.
Now, during the game? If I ever did anything good then you would know because I would be acting a fool.