I read an excellent bit on matching coverages to multiple fronts that got me thinking about how Muschamp will utilize his veteran corners next season.
Last year Aaron Williams was probably the 2nd best defensive back on the roster and he spent his time covering slot receivers, assisting in the running/screen game, and generally being avoided by offenses. There weren't any great options for attacking the secondary last season, especially with Sacho, Kindle, Houston, and whoever else bearing down.
The short middle of the field generally had Aaron Williams nearby with Earl Thomas roving around and the deep middle was fairly adequately patrolled by Blake Gideon. When teams took their shots it was typically in the flats against the Browns or deep down the sidelines against them in hopes that Gideon couldn't get there to help (a solid bet).
Now unless Christian Scott is a Roy Williams for the modern Big 12, possible, Aaron Williams is almost certainly the best defensive back. Last year Earl Thomas (and Gideon to some extent) were put in position to make things happen while the corners did the dirty work in man coverage. So how can Muschamp put AJ in position to force turnovers or is that a role Muschamp usually delegates to his safeties?
One way to get him active is simply to move him around to harass whoever is the no. 1 target on an opposing offense. However the reason he was moved inside was for his strength against the run as opposed to skinny Curtis or Chykie who Alabama revealed to be probably the weakest tackler of the bunch. On the flip side, the difference between the Brown bros and Aaron in outside coverage isn't nearly so large a gap as the edge he holds inside.
So then what's the answer? Another year covering the slot? Moving one of the Browns inside some to match up Aaron Williams where ignoring him derails an offense? Zone coverage could create a lot of opportunities for Aaron to be a robber and be more of an aggressor but it negates the strength of Texas in playing man coverage on the outside and potentially exposes the lack of excellence in zone this team has demonstrated to this point.
In the long term I speculated that Muschamp might take advantage of the depth at safety to use a Ben Wells or other coverage-prone safety as the nickel and stay in "big nickel" more of the time while playing more zone in general. You know it must kill Muschamp not to be able to stuff running quarterbacks and attack with multiple positions keeping their eyes on the quarterbacks. Especially after the A&M game.
For next year it seems like the most likely course of action is simply leaving Aaron Williams to do more Eric Berry-style dirty work inside and hope his excellence is uncontainable. At some point next year teams will have to throw near him because throwing at the Brown Bros. is becoming even less of a winning strategy. I would be calling runs and play action over the middle on the safeties mixed with screens and flares from unbalanced formations all day were I an opposing coordinator rather than just trying to beat these guys straight up.
Of course it would also be immensely entertaining to line him up 28 yards back every now and then and watch the fireworks.
David Ubben has his weak/strong "analysis" up for Texas now. You will be disappointed to learn that Texas doesn't have a proven starter at the "playmaker" position but is looking good in the secondary, as I've just detailed, as Curtis Brown and Blake Gideon are back after their honorable mention seasons...I'm interested to see if Ubben ranks the top 40 or so Big 12 players like Tim Griffin did last year and who he selects for the list. It's not an easy undertaking (mine would be fairly heavy on OU/Texas) being knowledgeable on every Big 12 squad but I question Ubben's football IQ.
As far as Texas concerns about playmakers, I would say go-to receiver is a more accurate label for the biggest concern. Marquise Goodwin is a playmaker, Malcolm Williams has lots of playmaking potential, someone from Chiles/Kirkendoll/freshmen I suspect will provide another strong receiver and I think it's possible Chiles actually finally realizes his potential on the field. With a quarterback who can lead a receiver like Gilbert and strong line play you will always see plays made. The question is whether someone can overcome heavy defensive attention and convert a 3rd and long.
Dedfischer took a break from whatever it is he occupies himself with (some mysteries are best unresolved) to preview the Tech offense and continue his love affair with Tech linemen. Tech really looks like Texas most dangerous opponent for 2010, even more so than the mercenary legions or the roidhuskers. They have some good pieces in the trenches on both sides and veteran leadership at quarterback (if they can resolve their choice).
Their ability to run the ball, potentially test the depth of Texas' secondary with any injury, and that they get Texas in an early draw makes them the most likely loss in my book. They aren't loaded with pass-rushers but that's probably less of a need with Hix and Mitchell just settling in.
I forgot to add moral decay to the metaphor of the fall for 00's OU sports, it was too easy...and so it was that Tiny Gallon waddled into the sunset.
Word over at Boomer and Sooner is also that "TMG", which deductive reasoning leads me to believe is their creative nickname for Tommy Mason-Griffin, has up and left. NorthDallasSooner is right, guys like that just aren't worth having in the program. I wish TMG absolutely no luck in using his dribble penetration and off-balance jumper against NBA defenders although I think he will need it.
Brickhorn had a nice piece on the move to a 96 team tournament. I agree entirely with his points, introducing more teams into a single elimination tournament is a terrible means to determining a champion, only for making more money. The current 64 team tournament isn't even a particularly great means for picking a champion.
Let's say of the 64 teams, none of them can consistently beat every other team because of matchup difficulties. Let's say the best record that would happen in probability is 59-5. Well, if that team plays one or more of those 5 teams en route to the championship than their chances of being champion isn't going to be great. Let's say the 2nd best record is 55-9 and the 3rd best is 54-10 and the third best team wins. Do you feel content that they are a worthy champion? Granted those potential records came out of the Nickel Rover BS machine but the point is that tournaments are a questionable means of determining the best team, especially if they are single-elimination where anomaly's are virtually certain, they're just more entertaining.
I love entertainment, but I also want titles to be a good indicator of the best team.