We are officially just one week from the start of the season. That means one week from pads popping in meaningful games. This is shaping up to be a big year, so let's get into these questions!
@InTheBleachers At which position on the field is it most important to have quality depth?— TheIrishWon (@TheIrishWon) August 15, 2013
Um, I don't know. I think that depends on one's philosophy as a team or a coach. Personally, I'd say defensive line, because I'd like to have a rotation of guys that can get in the game, give me a sell-out, max effort for three plays or a series and then get replaced. A defensive line that sells out every play can go a long way toward aiding linebacker and defensive back issues, including depth.
Other people like running-back or back-seven depth more. More backs means splitting carries and fresher legs in an effort to wear down defenses. More linebackers or defensive backs can add depth and versatility to the back end.
One of the more intriguing parts of football is using the depth a team does have to cover the areas in which it is lacking. Teams with a lot of linebackers but a weak defensive line can go to LB-heavy sets. Teams lacking linebacker depth but with plenty of defensive backs can go to the increasingly popular 4-2-5 and 3-3-5 sets.
As for me, give me line depth over anything: defensive line first, then offensive line. If I can beat you up front, I can win.
@InTheBleachers Will UVA win more than 2 games this year? The talent on this team seems limited, particulary at QB.— Big Al, the _'s Pal (@BornBermudican) August 22, 2013
Yes, Virginia should win more than two games this season. This team does not lack talent; it lacks quality depth of talent. More importantly, however, it is completely lacking an identity. That's the issue for Virginia. Simply put, the team is inconsistent.
It is time for Mike London to put together some wins after doing a solid job recruiting the last few seasons. Unfortunately, while I do think the team wins more than two games, I do not think it builds the consistency to get to a bowl in 2013.
@InTheBleachers What team is setup for the biggest "bust" this season?— John Maddox (@johnmaddox) August 22, 2013
This is a tough one for me to answer because "bust" is such a subjective ruling. It is not the team's fault that people heaped unrealistic expectations on a group of guys. It is not the team's fault that a team or two on its schedule played remarkable football or that some key players went down with injuries.
Therefore, bust is not so much a bust as a team that does not live up to the expectations of the casual fan. With that in mind, I'm going with Texas A&M and Georgia. A&M's vulnerability has nothing to do with Johnny Manziel's off-the-field drama, and everything to do with the defense. That unit is so inexperienced and has so many holes, teams are going to find ways to score, and that will spell more losses than the preseason Top-10 team is expected to have.
As for the Dawgs, the answer is simple: September. This is a team that could easily go 2-2 or 1-3 to start the season. If that is the case, their season is already null and void. Clemson, South Carolina and LSU in the first month is not an easy task. That rebuilt defense has to mature quickly. There's a lot of potential for disappointment there.
@InTheBleachers do you think D's who play a spread-heavy schedule & tons of nickel get enough reps to be effective vs 2 back teams on (1/2)— jmnpb (@jmnpb) August 22, 2013
@InTheBleachers short notice (ie 1/2 week prep). Part 2: those going jumbo while spread proliferates, being contrarian, thoughts?— jmnpb (@jmnpb) August 22, 2013
We have hit on this before in the #YB11 Mailbag in the macro view. As for the micro view, I have to agree with the picture view. Practice is an interesting beast in college football, as coaches are often forced to use reserves who are ill-suited to simulate the coming week's opposition.
When a team plays a schedule heavy on spread looks and that forces nickel and dime packages and a pass-first mentality, changing gears is not easy. The Sun Belt with Western Kentucky's power attack bullying people is an example. Kansas State and its Power-I look is another example that speaks to the same point.
If a team does not play base or big personnel a lot, then it does not practice base and big people a lot. Trying to smooth out the kinks in three days is not without mistakes—alignment, mentality mistakes and simple personnel package mistakes. It's tough to get linebackers moving forward if they are going sideways or backward in most games. It's tough to get defensive linemen to hold the point if they are chasing flow or picking a side in most games.
@InTheBleachers thoughts on repositioning of Auburn's last year's starting qb Frazier at safety from qb? (Insert Mack brown jokes here!)— Danny V (@fiveboroball) August 22, 2013
I am not sure what to think about Frazier moving to quarterback. Optimistic Auburn fans would have me believe that because Frazier played safety in high school, he'll make this transition no problem. Unfortunately, my eyeballs lead me to more skepticism.
That said, I am rooting for the kid and for Auburn's defense. The Tigers were woeful a season ago and need all the help they can get. If Frazier can help then, that is a plus.