It is Thursday, and after doing some work behind the scenes here at Your Best 11, we're getting to your questions. There is plenty to discuss, so let's have at it!
This is an oldie but goodie, that I never got around to from Sully. I think I'm going to ride with LSU in this discussion, and that does not include the hyper controversial Jeremy Hill. Rather, if I'm taking a backfield, it is Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard.
Alabama doesn't actually have an established duo yet. It has T.J. Yeldon and a bunch of studs waiting to get on the field. As for Georgia, I think Todd Gurley might be the best back in the SEC this year, but I don't think he and Keith Marshall are an actual "tandem" in that backfield. To me, Gurley is THE GUY, and Marshall is the backup.
Blue, when healthy, is just a notch below Gurley and Yeldon, which still makes him a dangerous running back. On the flip side, Hilliard is a more capable feature back than the unproven Bama guys, or Marshall.
Wring your hands at numbers all you want, I'm taking LSU's tandem, but honestly, you can't go wrong with either of the picks.
Ah, the classic field-corner discussion.
Basically, a field corner plays to the field side, while the boundary corner plays to the boundary side. You see it in a lot of different college defensive systems as a way to put your best cover corner and more versatile guy in the best possible alignments.
A lot of teams like to pass toward the boundary, but more important than frequency of passing to the boundary is that this is the cornerback with the least help. That means he can't be a liability covering the other team's best receiver when he is isolated away from the defense.
A lot of teams like to run to the field side, but the real problem for defenses is the amount of space to the field side in the college game because of the wide hash marks. Because there is more ground to cover, teams like to have more defenders to protect all of the extra area. That also means more safety help.
When an offense likes to run to the field side, having more safety help allows the corner to be aggressive against the run, while safeties protect over the top.
Playing the boundary corner is a position that a lot of corners earn over time in a program. After proving they can handle the field duties, they show they can excel on an island and then transition to the heavy responsibility of the boundary corner.
There are plenty of teams that use the simple left and right alignments. The beauty of football is that you do not have to be married to anything. Teams that play boundary and field assignments can easily become left and right units if the offense they are facing dictates such a move.
The same goes for teams that play sides. Should an opponent present a time when matching up man full-time or playing boundary and field present itself, a team will not hesitate to do just that.
I don't even know that James Gayle is the best defensive lineman at Virginia Tech, let alone best defensive lineman in the league. He can certainly play, and is among the best, but the league has legit players both inside and outside on the defensive line.
Starting with Gayle's teammate, Derrick Hopkins, in the middle I really like Aaron Donald from Pitt, Timmy Jernigan at Florida State, and I am patiently waiting to see what becomes of Kaleb Ramsey. He was once a big time prospect at Boston College, especially to be a long-stick end at the next level, but injuries have sidelined him. I'm looking forward to seeing Ramsey, and these other guys, put it together.
As for the ends, a lot of folks like Kareem Martin at UNC, I'm curious to watch Jeremiah Attaochu assert himself in Ted Roof's system at Georgia Tech. Gayle fits right into the thick of this group at the top of the ACC. A few of these players will have to separate themselves as the season progresses.