Your Best 11 Mailbag: Kyle Van Noy, Rice vs. Manziel, Pre-Snap Reads & Targeting

Michael Felder@InTheBleachersNational CFB Lead WriterAugust 29, 2013

Dec 20, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Brigham Young Cougars special teams coach Nick Howell pats linebacker Kyle Van Noy (3) on the helmet after he blocked a punt during the third quarter against the San Diego State Aztecs at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

It is Thursday, and from what I hear, a lot of folks are pretty pumped up today for some reason. Everyone keeps saying, "Football is back." Folks, we've been here all along, but in honor of real games we've got a super-sized mailbag for you!

This question gets the lead because it is the best question ever. Obviously, Rice has spent weeks preparing for Johnny Football and his wiles, now the NCAA has come and flipped the script on them. They have to prep for Matt Joeckel on short notice, and that just is not fair.

Except it is a little easier for the Owls, granted the time for prep in practice has already passed since the news came out Thursday. By Thursday teams already have game plans installed, and best-case scenario for David Bailiff and staff is they caught wind of the decision before Thursday's shells only walk-thru type practice.

So perhaps they got their Manziel stand-in to throw more than he ran for the short defensive period at practice. Either way, not a lot they can do now, since they only have a Friday before the game. No sense in shaking it up; just let Paul Porras and Cameron Nwosu do their thing.

This is a simple one: UNC steals kids from Virginia because it can. If the Wahoos and Hokies could keep every quality ball player in Virginia in the state, that'd be amazing, but alas they cannot. It is not just North Carolina that takes quality talent from the state, other schools have been pilfering the Commonwealth's talent for years as well. 

Mike London has done a better job of getting kids to stay home, but the relative proximity of UNC means it will always be a player for kids out of Virginia.

Good question. To be honest, I don't have an answer. I already crush beers with my favorite person to have a cold one with, myself. I also enjoy tossing back a few with my dad, really tough to beat a refreshing adult soda with your dad, honestly.

So, I guess that's my answer. I wish my dad would drive the 20 minutes across town to my house to shotgun a beer with me in my front yard and then we could spike them like we just won the Super Bowl.

Everyone gets so up in arms about the cushion being given, but I'm not really one to do that. UNC went through the same thing in playing defense a few years ago and people kept screaming about press coverage like that was some sort of magic answer to something.

Every team in America plays off-coverage. Every. Single. Team. The teams who play a lot of off-coverage do so for a reason—they are trying not to get beat deep, thereby conceding the short passes, with the idea that they will come up and make a tackle.

Playing off is fine. That is not the issue. The issue is missing tackles, not having the personnel to play more varied coverages and not using that cushion to read quarterbacks and break on the ball more quickly.

This myths that you cannot be aggressive in off-coverage and that tightening up your coverage will fix something is a total fallacy. In off-coverage corners should see more quarterback action, break on more balls, more quickly because they have the cushion in space and time to read the quarterback. While conceding the completion of the smoke route, the corner should recognize ball out and make a tackle for a minimal gain.

Off-coverage is not the issue. What teams are doing in the off-coverage is the problem. Tightening up coverage with players who have no business playing press is a recipe for a lot bigger disaster than conceding quick hitters.

Alright, I can dig this. For those who do not know, I am a big Vin Diesel-Pitch Black fan, so I'm pretty pumped about this new Riddick movie coming out next Friday. The "Toombs" reference is to Chronicles of Riddick, which was the second film in the series.

I've got to go with Toombs' crew on this one. Personally, I don't think quarterbacks are nearly as scared of Jadeveon Clowney as a regular fan likes to believe. Basically, I get it that the regular dude on the street is terrified of him, but playing against guys like that is sort of why you sign up for football and a big part of why football is not for that regular dude.

The NCAA element is a twist. It was not shaking in fear of Manziel; rather, I think it just could not make the case it wanted due to a lack of cooperation and thus, the NCAA ended up taking the half-ounce of flesh it could get. It certainly is not the pound of flesh the NCAA wanted, but it seemed better than leaving empty-handed.

At least at the time.

You're talking to a huge Kyle Van Noy fan here and a guy who really believes BYU has an outside shot at getting to a BCS-type bowl if it executes well. As for the Heisman, with games against Texas, Utah, Boise State, Wisconsin and Notre Dame, the eyeballs will likely be there. Unfortunately, Van Noy will not be doing anything remotely as amazing, visually, as Clowney and that will hurt his chances.

That said, he is a treat to watch if you are someone who just likes good, sound football. He does not make many mistakes and he continuously finds a way to be around the football and to make plays. It's going to take more sacks, forced fumbles and even getting to the end zone for Joe Fan to really see Van Noy as a legit contender, though.

The Weakside Cowboy is my favorite thing in all of football. Imagine if you will, ball on the left hash, tight end and two wide receivers to the right, wide side of the field. Another receiver to the short side of the field with a cut-split, in an effort to get across the field in a hurry. Running back in the backfield checking strong side for pressure.

On the snap, the receiver takes off across the field, while the corner comes hot off the edge untouched and explodes on the quarterback. Perhaps a forced fumble since that right-handed quarterback never even saw that corner coming form his left side as he opened up to the play-side to make his throw.

It is a thing of beauty, where corners get to play behind the line of scrimmage, deliver a little punishment and sometimes force a big play. Gorgeous. I love it. The reason it works is simple: It can be disguised somewhat decently, wide receivers aren't used to calling out blitzes, offensive lines don't look outside the box for potential threats often and corners are fast enough to make up the distance.

Interestingly enough, I've actually talked about that this week with the cornerbacks, in the link here. So, a quick look at safeties to complete the puzzle. Yes, safeties have pre-snap reads, and since it is tough to go long here, I'll drop some abbreviated versions.

Knowing the call is paramount, and then safeties must recognize formations, tendencies and of course, down and distance. Like corners, safeties need to recognize where the receiving threats can hurt them based on a given call. Cover Three is weak in the seam while Cover Two has holes in the deep middle and the deep sideline.

Recognizing which receivers can get to those points, and which guys are likely to get to your areas, is paramount in safety play. In man-to-man the safety coming into the box has to recognize who he is assigned to. If he is playing a slot receiver in man, but his team is blitzing he has to stop possible hot routes. Whereas if he if playing a tight end in man, out of a base defense, he must be ready to collision the tight end and then trail him in his route.

Pre-snap football is where everyone on the field is trying to figure out what everyone else is going to do. People harp on quarterback pre-snap reads because mostly all anyone cares about are quarterbacks. They largely ignore that linemen have to make good reads to set up an offense or that backs and receivers have to make reads to adjust routes or protections.

Same goes with defenses, they adjust pre-snap to shut down quarterbacks and to put themselves in position to succeed. It is not always that a quarterback makes a bad read; a lot of times the defense just makes a better one.

Patti is like one of my favorite question askers in #YB11 history, and this question is just great. Now, with full disclosure, as Patti and many others know, I am not a fan of buying team gear, so put that in your pipe and smoke it, to start. I don't think you should buy team gear from anywhere, and I certainly don't think you should be wearing it. Put on real clothes like an adult—that's what I do.

That said, if you must purchase team gear because that is the only way to show your affinity for a school, then I say opt for the best gear you can get. Support your apparel brand in a big way. Obviously Auburn, Maryland and South Carolina people know all about this, since all they seem to wear is Under Armour stuff, no matter how unfashionable it is.

And I will say, if you are going to buy team gear, do yourself a favor and buy some authentic basketball shorts for your school. Best shorts you'll ever buy and you'll thank me later. That is authentic, as in the game shorts; don't skip out and get the replicas—that is not the same.

If I could answer this in one word, it would be: negatively.

The rule is forcing the referees to make more subjective calls, calls that will alter games in a major way, based largely on how bad a hit looks. Yes, they have a replay official who can overturn, but in the grand scheme of things, the way the rule is being pushed as the end all be all of safety, I'm not counting on many overturns.

Part of the issue is that rule will undo good football practices such as head up, chest-to-chest finishing position and flat-back tackling. As players are suspended and ejected, defenders will have to counter by waist-bending and targeting the lower half of opponents. More bend at the waist, than at the hips, means more poor neck angles in tackling and that is a problem.

Targeting the lower half of the opponent is a problem in two ways. One, the receiver is vulnerable and susceptible to serious injuries. Two, the defender is opening himself up to punishment from knees. As a guy who has had plenty of concussions, being kneed in the head will make you see the same stars as getting hit in the earhole.

I am not fan of the rule and ultimately, it falls in line with a lot of the policies surrounding football that cater to the informed. "Devastating hits" are bad and cause Traumatic Brain Injuries, no arguing that. However, the long-term issues with football are sub-concussive blows, and as the rules committees try to decrease what looks bad to fans, the real harm goes unaddressed.


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