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Jumbo Package: Taking the fight to spread offenses

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Auburn v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Michigan’s Don Brown, one of the more interesting characters in college football, runs a pretty bizarre scheme. Titularly, Michigan is a 3-4 team that brings pressure on nearly every play. However, like so many 3-4 teams in the spread era, UM is more a variable defense than anything — playing anywhere from one- to five-man fronts. Alabama does get creative in its multiple looks, but the variability tends to come in personnel packages and in the back-end, the secondary in particular.

Brown had an interesting series of thoughts about the strategy of defending spread offenses, one that strikes me as having a lot of truth. Most college defenses today, no matter the front, tend to play a quarters formation against spread teams: it keeps the offense in front on you; it entails wide coverage responsibility to be in position against the east-west play-calling; it keeps an eye on the option game.

However, Brown is decidedly not a fan of that approach, and here’s why:

“These spread teams, what they want you to do is line up in one of two looks. That’s what they want. That’s exactly what I’m not going to do, OK? So let’s get that straight,” Brown said matter-of-factly. “We’re going to be extremely multiple, we’re going to stay on the aggressive side, and that’s how we’re going to go, and we’re going to learn it. Trust me, we’ve made significant improvement in that area. Let’s get that straight.

These guys want you to line up in quarters and a static front and kick your you-know-what. We’re not doing that. If it is, it’ll be over my dead body, OK? We’re going to stay aggressive, we’re going to stay focused, and we’re going to stay multiple. What it will turn into is (the QB looking to the sideline for a change). That’s where, who’s controlling the tempo now?”

Why do we bring this up? Because next week, we’ll look at how multiple defenses like Michigan and Alabama remain aggressive against offenses that want to nickel-and-dime their way down field while taking deep shots against a static defense. In that forthcoming Knowledge Base article, we’ll specifically look at one way defenses have had success defending the rise of the spread offense.

In the meanwhile, this is good insight into what look spread offenses are trying to force upon defenses through personnel, formation, and play-calling.

Run, Tony. Run.

Alabama cornerback Tony Brown is one of 13 members of the Crimson Tide track & field team that will take part in national championship meets in the United States, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago from June 22-25, according to Alabama Athletics.

Brown, along with six other Alabama track & field athletes, will run the 100-meter dash at the United States Track & Field Outdoor Championships at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento, Calif. The championship meet will take place June 22-25.

At stake for Brown, a second-team All American, is a spot on the U.S. National team. Should he succeed, he will miss time on the field. Selfishly for football, you do not want to lose your Star CB. However, not many people have the skill, training and timely performances to qualify for America’s Olympic teams. Best of luck to Brown and the other Alabama athletes in the Caribbean.


Coach Johnson opens up on the Tide basketball program.

This is an expansive look at the state of the program this offseason. The always-loquacious Avery Johnson never gives you coach-speak. In this longform interview with BOL, CAJ hits on many, many subjects:

Tide’s ambitious schedule:

"We had a [SEC] team [Vanderbilt] make the NCAA tournament with 15 [losses]. We were pretty much right in that same group and we didn't make it to the tournament, so we analyzed with some of our advanced analytical metrics of how we needed to improve our schedule and we think we've done it."

Hall’s development

I think his deal is having confidence in his body. You know, Donta came to us at 192 pounds and now he's up to 220, 230 pounds, so just having that confidence to make moves against bigger guys was big for him."

How the freshman free up Alabama offense to runs and create

According to head coach Avery Johnson, an offensive attack that won't be as dependent on sets as it was during his first two years in Tuscaloosa [ed. note, dead last in the SEC at 68.7 ppg.]

"Offensively, our team is going to have a lot more freedom," Johnson said on Tuesday. "Sometimes, we've been too structured and too stale, but we'll have a lot more freedom and a lot more reads so we won't be so easily scout-able."

Braxton Key buying in

As for Key's mindset since making his way back to UA, Johnson described it as "two feet in".

"He's been focused and shown more leadership at this stage of practice," Johnson said. "I think the NBA experience helped. He had a chance to have a workout and play against some really good players and he's gotten better. We need him to lead more this year. He's not a freshman anymore."

Johnson also hits on the Freshman class; Tevin Mack; the post as an area of strength; the explosion of Alabama’s basketball camps; veteran leadership, and much, much more.

Athlon picks Tide to win Nat’l Title; honors seven players

Athlon Sports unveiled its 2017 preseason All-America team Tuesday morning, and after being picked to win the national title, Alabama was well-represented on the outlet’s four teams.

The Crimson Tide led the way with seven selections on Athlon Sports’ 2017 All-America Team. Washington had the second-most selections with six players, while the other two playoff teams, Clemson and Ohio State, each had five players make the teams.

Reload. Reload. Reload.

Someone bubble wrap Robert Foster

Alabama wide receiver Robert Foster was injured and at the team's athletic facility over the weekend.

Foster says he was riding his dirt bike when he was hit by a car on Saturday, and he posted pictures of his injuries on his Facebook page. Those have since been removed.

According to Foster, he needed 27 stitches in his back and two in his wrist. If there's any good news, it's that Foster's injuries don't seem to be any more serious than that, and he's not expected to miss any time due to them.

Not another trip on a dirt bike. Not so much as a pickup game of basketball. In fact, someone give Foster plastic cutlery when he eats. The last thing Alabama’s fastest player needs is an off-field injury.

Eddie Jackson is impressing the Bears in his OTAs. If Jackson stays healthy, this is the steal of the Draft class, unless you want to include Jonathan Allen, another steal at No. 17. Speaking of...

PFF lists 10 recent draft picks that should start immediately. And, it’s hard to quibble with them Pat Elflein (G, Ohio State,) Forrest Lamp (LT, Western Kentucky,) Dan Feeney (G, Indiana,) and, of course, Jonathan Allen (DT/DE, Alabama) made our All-American selections at some point over the past two seasons.

Here’s an excerpt on Allen:

Allen was college football’s best player in 2016, as he amassed 13 sacks (the most among all FBS defensive interior players) and 36 total pressures, which earned him the highest pass-rushing grade in the country at his position (93.4) as well as the third-best overall grade. His burst at the snap and ability to dominate blockers at the line of scrimmage will be a welcome addition to Washington.

SEC Shorts, one of my favorite humor pieces, has dropped a YouTube playlist for this summer. These are usually very good because the crew just get the mindset of SEC football fans. In fact, I’ll leave you with one for the day, probably my favorite of the bunch.

Josh and Alex killed it.

BTW Alex is also a really cool chick with a nice timeline if you’re the twittering sort. Don’t be creepy though. I have that one covered.

Go forth to evil. We’ll have a countdown coming for you a bit later today and antyhing else of relevant interest. We are, alas, deep in the dog days, folks (unless you want to talk NHL expansion draft, in which case, I’m your man.)