Sunday, August 30, 2009

What will our D look like?

As the season approaches we have to wonder what will we see from a D that has been a failure the last 7 years. And what is this Okie everyone keeps talking about? Well after checking into Shafers background, I have come up with guess as to what we will see.

The Okie D is a 3-4 D with 3-3-5 personnel. So there will be 3 DLmen, 3 LBs, a S acting as a 4th LB (Okie), 2 CBs, and 2 Ss. It isnt the base D that Shafer will use. It is a D he will use in passing situations (3rd and 7+) or against Spread teams. It is an attacking D so speed will be important. Out of this D he could bring anyone on a blitz. But for the most part it will be someone from the front 7. In fact it could be the entire front 7. If he decides to play man coverage, you will see all 7 players come. If he decides to play zone coverage it will be 5 players coming.

So who will be in this Okie package? At NT it will be Art Jones. Ideally you want a guy who would be a DE in a normal 3-4. Bigger than a 4-3 DE but still quick enough to put on a pass rush. Kind of a DT/DE hybrid. Jones isnt the physical ideal but he is such a great talent he will get the call here. Next season I would expect Lewis as the guy. At DE you want a pass rusher. Ideally a guy who is an OLB in a typical 3-4. An DE/LB hybrid. I think Marinovich is a perfect fit and will be one DE. The other DE is a question. Sharpe and Battles seem to be physical fits. But they dont have much experience. Which leaves Chandler Jones, Kimmel, and Ball. We dont know a lot about Ball so I would think it is down to the first two. And from that it seems like Chandler is more athletic and will get call. Kimmel though should be the DE when we go 4-3, over Marinovich.

The LBs shouldnt be hard to figure out. The Mike is Smith. The Sam will play like an ILB in a 4-3. While Hogue is the starter in the 4-3, I could see Stenclik possibly at the Sam in the Okie. For the OLBs you want a LB/SS hybrid type. So the Will could be Holmes or a Thomas. But since our DBs have little experience, I think the winner of Carter or Gillum will stay at Will in both the 4-3 and Okie. Hines would have been a great fit here. As to the Okie backer you have to think it is Suter. At SS you want good coverage skills. That is said to be Suters weak spot. So he may be better off at the Okie.

So who will be the SS? This is where Graham would have been. I think he will be a much bigger loss than we all realized. I am gonna guess that it is Phillip Thomas here, but could be Shamarko or McKinnon. The rest of the DBs should all be the same (Scotts at DB and Holmes at FS).

How does this D work? Well we will see 7 guys at the LOS, all showing blitz. The NT will be on the C and put pressure on him. With a guy like Art Jones this will make the Cs job extremely difficult as he wont have help. Should a G give help, it will leave the Mike or Sam a clear path to the QB. Arts job wont be as much to get a sack as to push the C back into the QB and make the QB move. Also it will be important for him to watch for a RB screen. The DEs will be outside the Ts and could speed rush off the edge or could come inside the T.

The Sam and Mike could do a whole lot of things. They will be over the Gs and could blitz through that gap. Or they could do a twist where one LB and the NT slant and the other LB comes around replacing the original LBs gap. Or they could drop back into coverage taking away the slants. In this case they could also come on a blitz should the G block the NT leaving the gap open. Or one will blitz and the other will fall back into a middle zone.

The Okie and Will will have similar responsibilities but the Okie will be on the front side. Both could come off the edge. In this case should the RB come out for a swing pass or screen, they must follow the RB as their responsibility. Should Shafer blitz 7, one of these guys will be unblocked. Should Shafer call a zone blitz, one of these guys will drop into a curl/flat zone.

The DBs need to be able to cover. Shafer from time to time will bring a S or the backside CB on a blitz but his main blitzes these guys are in coverage. If we have man coverage these guys will be all alone. Since we will be blitzing, they wont have to cover for a long time. But they cant be easily beat or we will see a lot of big plays. If we are in zone, you will see the CBs playing deep 1/3. One S will be middle 1/3 (ideally Holmes) and the other S will play curl/flat opposite the Okie/Will dropping back.

So where are the problem areas with the D? Well in man coverage we need good play from the DBs. They cant get beat one on one. Also they need to be able to tackle. On a slant the Ss need to come up and make a tackle or it is 7 points for the O. The good thing is the Sam or Mike could be dropping back on the play making it 7 our way. The flats should be open for the O. However as long as we come up and make the tackle, it will be short of the first down and lead to a punt. In both man and zone, we will have to be careful for screens. If we dont recognize them or if they are blocked well, we can be hurt for a big play.

In Zone the S/OLB covering the curl/flat has to protect against the seem pass. They need to make a seem route alter its course before covering the curl/flat. Should they try and jump the curl/flat, it will leave the seem wide open for a big play. Since we may have true freshman playing here (Carter or either Thomas), it is easier for mistakes to happen. Also should the SS have middle 1/3, it will likely be one of the Thomas boys. They need to play a smart CF and not make a frosh mistake. Another possible issue is if the O sends 4 deep, we only have 3 guys in deep zone to cover them. If the QB can get the pass off, we are out numbered.

Trips will also cause some issues against a zone because of numbers. A pass to the flat or a WR screen will put pressure on the cover guys to make a tackle. Also having trips with one WR going deep and another on a corner should find a hole down the field. If I were going up against SU, I would try and attack the Wills side as we should have a Frosh (Carter) there. Also should a Thomas be at S the same side as Carter, I would attack that. Try and see if you can get a Freshman mistake out of them. The only problem for the O is that this should be the short side of the field.

This should be an exciting, attacking D. We should see a lot of sacks and a lot of TOs. And even some D scores! Which will be the opposite of what we saw with GRobs Ds. If we can cover and we can tackle, we will make huge strides this year.

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