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Big-Play Breakdown at GamecockCentral.com

Tuesday, September 20, 2011
This is my weekly Big-Play Breakdown for GamecockCentral.com for the Navy game. (Click here to read it on their website.)

I discuss how our passive approach to the defensive scheme hurt our ability to stop the triple-option.

I have already seen some comments asking some questions so I will address them here.

Question #1: We can't gamble on defense every play and get way behind to the Navy offense, they will just grind it out on us then. Why do you think we should gamble every play?

Answer: I never said we should gamble every play. I merely pointed out that we should gamble "some." Until the fourth quarter Coach Johnson NEVER gambled. Also, I think our schemes tended to be passive never allowing our players to force action but rather read and react. I was not saying we should try and blow up a blitz on every play.

Also, gambling that pays off would have been worth it. We would have been just as likely to create a turn over as we would have been to give up a touchdown. That was my point.

Question #2: I heard Brad Lawing say that Travian, our nose tackle, has got to win the battle in the three man front. Therefore Clowney never was assigned the fullback on the dive in a three man front. Marty, you said in your analysis that Clowney should have the dive and Brad Lawing is saying that he didn't. So you were wrong about this. What gives?

Answer: Let me clarify. In fundamentally sound defensive schemes designed to stop the option, the unblocked man on the line has got to account for the first man through, which would be the dive. Any other plan is taking into account the talent levels of the players at each position and therefore game planning, not the same as "fundamentally sound defense."

Since Ellis Johnson said to the media that the option removes athleticism from the table, I assumed he would have developed a scheme that would be the most sound on paper. Instead, he developed a scheme that included assuming our nose tackle could defeat a play-side double team (or beat the center individually.) Not taking into consideration that every offensive triple-option coach "HOPES" that the defense will assume this. Every option coach finds their center first, then builds their offense around them. This is option 101.

Next time the South Carolina High School Coaches Association has a coaching clinic, sneak into it and raise your hand and ask a question. Ask Dr. Jerry Brown or John McKissick how they think their option attacks would do against a team that had a decent nose tackle and that defense assigned the nose tackle to the dive and the unblocked man to the quarterback.

Report back here with what they say.

One last thought on this as well. If Clowney was responsible for the quarterback in three man fronts, then why were there several times in the game when he is tackling the dive man when the dive man doesn't have the football? Also, why didn't Clowney blow up the quarterback every play?



From coach to comedian: Marty Simpson is a former USA Today high school All-American and collegiate Academic All-Conference player for USC who scored the Gamecocks' first 6 points in the SEC. During 8 years as a high school varsity coach, Simpson led his team to the state finals and saw one player advance to set an NFL rookie record. Simpson now divides his time between his family, running a multimedia company named Blue-Eyed Panda and getting the same pre-game jitters by performing stand-up comedy nationwide.

Check out Marty's performance dates here.


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