Amongst the innovations of the spread we've seen a return to the double eagle defense, or the bear defense, to get numbers back for the defense.
Does anyone remember this? It was mostly shelved last season for the 4-3 Over that generated situations where Kindle could attack from the outside as a stand-up end paired with Lamarr Houston as the 3-tech.
This season Muschamp has the following in his toolbox:
1). 2 corners good enough to be the no. 1 coverage man in almost every other college defense along with another who would start anywhere else lined up by a 2 year starter at safety. A 4.6 safety with limited athleticism can still do a lot of damage in college football when maxed out with experience and tricks. See Nic Harris.
2). An assortment of safeties and linebackers who can run sideline to sideline, strike in the open field, and blitz.
3). 3 league-class 260 pound ends who are versatile as one-gap defenders or pass-rushers.
4). A 2-gap Nose-tackle.
That last feature matches very well with the anti-spread bear defense because it covers the defense against the run in a 2-deep nickel alignment so long as the pursuit is good and the nose is a bad ass.
Done and done. You can line up Sam Acho and EJ or Oak on the guards and let them use their quickness to destroy most of the guards in this league and you can spare them double teams by using the Buck, acho uno ocho, Dravannti, Jeffcoat or whomever as outside backers threatening the tackles and keeping them from doubling down on your undersized ends playing with their hands in the dirt against the interior OL.
In that column you can find a snide and precise ChrisApplewhite comment to the effect that 2 years ago this scheme was freeing up Bobino to still suck. Well, now you're freeing up Earnest at worst and Robinson or Acho at best. Things just keep getting better in the linebacker corp here.
Let's get back to strength no. 1, teams trying to match Texas' plan to power through the conference or trying to pick on the lack of experienced big guys in the Texas D can be hopelessly outnumbered if they revert to the I-formation or do anything other than spread. The quality of the corners makes an 8-man front a terrifying possibility and don't forget that the 8th man in the box will be Christian Scott, potentially the best man for that role since...
...I'm not even sure really. In strictly that role he may very well be the superior of Michael Griffin or Huff. If he's close to those guys in coverage talent it's all over.
So there really isn't a weakness to this defense that teams in the conference are equipped to exploit unless Randall doesn't pan out or is injured. All the talk you hear from the local media will be about having to handle power-running teams with Acho ocho uno having to play inside some or with an unproven new tackle but those are really only issues of depth. Muschamp is more than equipped to handle the running teams on the schedule.
Remember that teams aren't going to want to invite an 8-man front, or even a 7-man front, by loading up with tight ends and fullbacks against this back 7 and Randall's 2-gap abilities make the numbers against the spread running game pretty favorable to the 'Horns as well. Even against power teams Keenan Robinson will likely still be free to simply find the ball while Randall keeps the playside guard and center occupied.
In the other possible play scenarios facing the D, CA covered the benefits of this alignment against the spread in pass-rushing possibilities and that was before this secondary grew up into what it is today. One on one matchups for the Buck, Randall and Acho are likely to lead to results such as we saw against Alabama where half the pass attempts ended in sacks. Against teams with less conservative quarterback play those are turnovers.
Mack identified UCLA, OU, Nebraska, Kansas St., and A&M as the power running teams on the schedule. I would describe the quality of those running games as warm-ups for the sort of thunder Bama or Buckeye brings. They should give the linebackers a chance to be linebackers and find out which of the freshman is ready to be on the 2-deep in the front 7. Against an elite-level power running team you have to figure Texas will be better off than in the last 2 seasons in which the defense hardly embarrassed themselves.
For the upcoming bloodfest Chykie Brown is thinking 7, maybe 8 interceptions. Sounds good to me but don't feel the need to insure it with catches at our own endzone, yeah?
If you are interested in hearing directly from the sweatervest himself exactly how he will pound your defense (and you don't have the 2009 fiesta bowl DVD) here's a primer on their base "Dave". You''ll see it in NCAA as Power-O. It's a power run and it defines Ohio State. Simple, effective, and execution-based. That tends to work better as a philosophy with defense but they've gotten a little more creative with Terrelle Pryor recently. It still starts with stopping Dave though. If they reach the title again that will be priority 1 for the opposing defense.
Notice the depth of the package from one base play. That's what you need to be able to do with your base run with other plays thrown in for different defenses and situations. Dave will be applicable in every game for Ohio State. For Texas this play has been the inside-zone since 2003. I defy anyone to find a transcript of Davis teaching how to install the Texas version of it at a clinic in the last 4 years. Actually, free BC tote bag to anyone who finds a transcript of Davis teaching anything at a clinic.
Funny thought, what if Ohio St. and OU played for the championship? Who would avoid the big choke? Okay, not that funny but still kind of interesting right? I mean, I would watch with great interest even if half the outcomes could push me to take a sledge hammer to my own car.
We've all heard about the one who wouldn't earn the right. Sherrod never wanted to be consistently good to be great, never really took dead aim, didn't whatever the other awful slogons are that Mack annually works into his press conference quotes. I don't know what Sherrod's deal was but this is probably the end of the zone-read offense at Texas. Ash, McCoy, Wood and Gilbert are all of the pocket-passer mode. Clearly Greg Davis clings to the spread, and rightfully so, as the greatest opportunity that ever came his way in emphasizing the pass, but I think he's done with the option save for in his passing concepts.
There is now no reason for the speed option to see any practice time either. If I see it on Wednesday (I work thursday, I'll miss the full pads practice) I will induce vomiting to find a better taste for my mouth.