Let’s go ahead and get all of the insults out of the way. He bombed as a head coach at Notre Dame. He needs to lose weight. He is obnoxious and full of pride. He treats his players like trash and berates them constantly. Moreover, he might be the most arrogant coach in college today.
While all of those comments might be true, the truth is, Charlie Weis is an offensive genius. His head coaching record at Notre Dame was an unimpressive 35-27. However, his offenses were explosive, and he helped mediocre players become high draft picks.
Former Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn is a perfect example. In Quinn’s first two seasons, at Notre Dame, he completed 26 touchdown passes, but also threw 25 interceptions. In his final two seasons, now under the tutelage of Coach Weis, he passed for 69 touchdowns and only threw 14 interceptions. As a result, he became a first round draft pick.
This article, however, is not about Coach Weis’ coaching resume. Instead, this article will address why he might be the coach who derails the Tide's hopes for a national championship.
If Florida beats Alabama this week, it will be because of Charlie Weis. More specifically, it will be because Coach Weis is well prepared to face the 3-4 defense ran by the Crimson Tide. In fact, one could argue that Weis is the most qualified coach in the NCAA to scheme against the 3-4 ran by Saban.
Both Weis and Saban got their start under New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. After one season as head coach of the University of Toledo, Saban left the Rockets to become the defensive coordinator for Belichick when he was with the Cleveland Browns. This is where Saban mastered his 3-4 defensive scheme that he would later take to Michigan State on the collegiate level and still runs today for the Tide.
In similar fashion, Weis got his start as an offensive assistant coach with Belichick. He would later become the offensive coordinator of the New York Jets before returning to the Patriots, this time as offensive coordinator. During his four seasons as offensive coordinator with New England, he won three Super Bowl rings. However, the most important thing he did that prepares him for Saban's defense is four seasons of going against a very similar 3-4 defense every day in practice.
Perhaps the most difficult part of facing 3-4 defenses during the season is the lack of preparation time. Until last season, the Tide were the only SEC team who used this alignment as their base defense. As a result, opposing quarterbacks were thrown off when players were in positions they were not accustomed to seeing.
In 2010, only four teams scored over 20 points on the Crimson Tide's defense. Three of those four (South Carolina, Arkansas and Auburn) had played the University of Georgia just a few weeks prior. This was not a mere coincidence. UGA has switched over to a 3-4 last season as well.
The extra preparation against UGA’s 3-4 helped opponents when facing Alabama.
With Weis, you have a coach who has years of experience facing the 3-4 defense. Moreover, he coached under the very coach who taught it to Nick Saban. While Saban has clearly added his own flavor and signature, the base concepts are the same.
When Charlie Weis arrived at Notre Dame, he told the Irish players that they would have a "decided schematic advantage" against their opponents. Offensively speaking, he was correct. Weis shattered almost every Notre Dame record. If you are still a doubter in his offensive abilities, take a look at the Kansas City Chiefs box scores from this season.
Win or lose, we could very well see a great chess match this week between college football’s best defensive mind and one of the world best offensive minds.
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