College Game Is All About Speed
By FirstDown PlayBook on Oct 29, 2017

Watching the college games yesterday there were a lot of interesting observations about how the game is constantly evolving. The announcers are more than eager to give their assessments. We heard both “College coaches now know that you have to have a mobile quarterback to be good” and we also heard “Colleges are now understanding that a mobile quarterback is not enough to win week in and week out”. Huh?

Well,  yes that’s what the announcers get paid to do and at the end of the day they are probably both right. Coaches are always evolving to keep up with what they have to play against, be it the offensive or the defensive side of the ball. The best college teams out there right now have quarterbacks who are not one dimensional and it’s common sense why this makes defending an offense harder when the quarterback can both run and pass well.

What jumped out at us yesterday from the defensive side of the ball was just how much the defenses are relying on the speed of their players regardless of the players’ size. As a person just watching the game and not knowing what the personnel grouping is on the field it looks as if there is rarely base personnel on the field for the defense and if you had to label it there are often five or six defensive backs on the field on first down.

This personnel is not necessarily on the field to stop the passing game but instead to level the playing field when it comes to defending the spread offense and the multiple run-pass option attacks that we are now seeing on Saturdays. It reminded us of some college visits we made last year with a couple of Southeastern conference defensive coaches. They were already preparing  “Spread Beater” packages that were designed around personnel that could run and defend the width of the field better than they could the fullback lead play.

If you have ever been privileged enough to get to sit around and pick one of the older coach’s brain you will find that football just cycles and recycles and there is a tweak here, a wrinkle there but when you look a little closer the trend is normally just a version of something that has been done in a previous generation or two.

So without making this Sunday morning article too long the thought occurred to us, how long will it be before we start to see offenses sneak in a fullback or two, forcing the offenses to reconsider the smaller lineups on the field. One of the arguments against this a couple of years ago was that the fans would not stand for a boring low scoring game anymore and college offenses had to spread it out. Well, don’t look now, but the defenses have closed the gap some and we are not seeing those spread offenses throw up 40 or 50 points every week like we did early on.

We don’t want to act like we have any idea about the future of college football but it will be interesting to see if in five to ten years from now more teams come out in 21, 12 or even 22 personnel some forcing the teams in their conference to at least recruit some size on defense. From a broad perspective it would seem like a natural progression. So stay tuned and if you are a high school fullback or linebacker out there who is regarded as a “thumper” don’t give up all hope just yet of playing on the next level. You never know your day might be right around the corner!

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