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Defense - Next Three Weeks

You gotta love the next three weeks of UT football if you like defensive football. We get the opportunity to see how coach Akina plans to stop the option while defending a strong passing attack against the Cowboys in the first week, slow down the air show complete with circus acts against Texas Tech the second week, and finish with the shotgun option featuring a full grown rodeo bull against the Aggies.

We haven't fared particularly well against the option the last two years playing busy instead of assignment football. Chizik thought his gap control defense should handle the triple option but didn't exactly count on simple built-in option advantages such as angle blocks, motion, or crackback/seal blocks in the alley. One of the major problems of playing reaction technique against the option is keeping the numbers balanced against each part of the option. You might get two or even three on the QB one play but find nobody on the pitch---assignment football against the option makes sure someone is responsible for each of the second two options (keep-pitch).

The angle a defender takes makes a ton of difference in defending his option responsibility in the two schemes. There is a big difference in the angle taken by the LB/S playing the QB inside out to the pitch (busy) than the angle taken by same if they are assigned only the pitch (assignment). There is also a better opportunity to defeat the block or prevent being outrun to the numbers with a straight-line angle instead of the crooked angle that busy teaches you to take.

The key question this week is whether Akina feels option assignments are necessary to stop the Cowboy option. If he decides to stay with technique in getting the option stopped like Chizik before him, I hope he stays with the young group of LB's who might overcome disadvantages against the blocking scheme. Otherwise, it could get ugly.