I saw an interview in the AAS with our favorite defensive coordinator and it was good insight into where we are defensively as well as a reconfirmation of some of his overarching philosophies. Diaz generally says what he thinks and it's even starting to rub off on Mack.
Manny is always money.
When asked if he changed anything philosophically moving from the SEC to the Big 12.
No, because defense is still the same. No matter what league you play in, it's still important to not let people run the football on you. It's still important to harass the quarterback. You have to be right on third down. You have to be great in the red zone. You can't give up long runs or passes for touchdowns.
Those are the five tenets Diaz spoke of last year and they inform every play call and every coverage. Get offenses to third down, hit the QB, don't sell out your defense to achieve the previous two. Play the run accordingly and make 'em kick field goals inside the 20. Hey, football is easy!
On speculation that the Texas defense will be very good.
I will say we like the players we have, but almost every player that we have coming back is in a decidedly different role than what they were in last year. So even though some of the names may sound the same, what is being asked of them is really not the same that was being asked of them last year.
Diaz did things to cover up some of our personnel and experience inadequacies last year and we're going to Defense 2.0 in 2012. We may not see glimpses of it until Ole Miss or Oklahoma State, and the full package until Oklahoma, but expect to see guys like Cobbs, Vaccaro, Hicks, Phillips lined up all over the field with a large burden placed on our DL, Edmond, and the two starting corners to provide the backbone of the defense.
On our expected level of DT play.
We like the four guys that we finished spring with (Ashton Dorsey, Brandon Moore, Chris Whaley, Desmond Jackson). The committee is better now than it was last year. The question is, do we hold a trump card in here? To be a great defensive line, you have to be two deep because their job is the hardest. It's the physically most taxing thing to do in the game. And in this conference it's an absolute necessity.
Translation: we have four guys that are good, but no one is yet a must-be-accounted-for badass. This was my sense after watching the Spring game and seeing these guys grow over the season. No one has asserted themselves as being that motherfucker who wrecks the interior offensive line on 3rd and 1 a la Kheeston Randall (Dorsey, Moore, Jackson all have the potential), but our pass rushing ability from the interior DL should be the best in the league.
The beauty of the spread offense is its ability to negate outside pressure from DEs or blitzers, but if you can get a quick push inside rushing four with seven to cover, you turn the offense in on itself and it becomes a turnover factory.
John Randle - probably the greatest spread DT of all time.
Grendel Steve Edmond.
Of course, he's a big guy. He's hard to miss. And he can move for his size. What he has to learn for us to have a good defense is that on just about every play, he's going to be responsible for one of those inside gaps that last year we did a pretty decent job of covering up. If you don't have the answers there, you can be 500 pounds and be able to bench press the weight room and it really won't matter.
See Oklahoma State. Joseph Randle is still running though our gaping-ness. All it took was a coverage heavy play call and a couple of bad steps.
Edmond will have his growing pains as any first year starter should expect, but I think he's going to be a difference maker and an every down LB who can affect the passing game, lulling QBs with his surprising range and punishing bad protections on interior blitzes. This is a very rare cat.
On unexpected surprises from Spring.
One of the pleasant things that occurred this spring was the development of (ends) Reggie Wilson and Cedric Reed. I think they were really important. Now they give us the ability to roll guys.
Great to hear that our DE depth gives us the confidence to actually mug quarterbacks. Having eight DL that we know can play for us is a huge advantage against our pass-happy slate of opponents. Anything the incoming freshmen give us is gravy. I wrote that the DE depth issues were overdone a month ago and this gives me some confidence in that opinion. From a depth perspective, this defense really is good to go. On offense, it's a Clive Barker nightmare, but that's another story.
On incoming DT Brown getting snaps.
All things being equal, I'm not a good enough coach to not play our best players. If our best players are true freshmen, then it's our duty to get those guys ready to play.
He's said that before. It just makes me happy when he does it, so I'll quote it every time. Quandre Diggs and Adrian Phillips think that Diaz is telling the truth. It's also pretty clear that our staff had to throw out notions of bowing to seniority on both sides of the ball. Get those lumps in now.
How long will Manny be on the 40?
What I have found is if you really just sort of walk the path and really focus on what's going on in front of you, it is amazing the opportunities that can present themselves down the line. Conversely, if you start to get distracted and looking other ways, it's amazing how you'll stumble where you're at.
Manny Diaz is gone. You know that, right? Too sharp, too talented, too organized, has the personality to be a high level recruiter. Over/under is 18 months with guys named Sal The Nostril betting the under. Accept it now and it will hurt less.