Your Best 11 Mailbag: Defending the Option, Auburn's Relevancy and More!

Michael FelderNational CFB Lead WriterDecember 28, 2012

EUGENE, OR - SEPTEMBER 1: Head coach Gus Malzahn of the Arkansas State Red Wolves calls a play against the Oregon Ducks on September 1, 2012 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images)
Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images

We are back, folks! Hopefully, everyone had some great time off and now we are back here ready to get rocking and rolling with some good football talk. We missed Thursday, pardon my long drive back from Ft. Myers, Florida; so here's your mailbag!


@inthebleachers how long before AUBURN becomes relevant again???

— Jeremy Pace (@pace_jeremy) December 28, 2012


I'm not even sure that I know what relevant really means in the world of college football, anymore. To me, relevant is not synonymous with good. So, keeping that in mind, I think Auburn is currently relevant and they don't have to wait any longer. They can get their foot in any door where recruiting is concerned, they have an ability to move the discussion meter, even when they are "bad" and that's what "relevant" means to me.

Now, as for good, I think they have a ways to go. The team looked like children out there on the field, and that means they need strength and conditioning work—something that doesn't come just after a winter and a summer. It takes diet, exercise and all of those things together to start with fixing a program.

So, to answer that question, I think Auburn will have some schematic success as early as 2013, but it is going to take a few years in the program to build muscle, create depth and develop players to be a team that, year in and year out, can be very good.


@inthebleachers What does the future hold for NCSU Football?

— Sports Wench(@Wufpackin) December 28, 2012


The same as the past, most likely. Most programs are 7-8 win teams. Every now and again they might win nine. Hell, if the stars align they have a shot to win 10 and maybe a conference title. Notice I said "shot to win 10" and not "every now and then they should win 10 games and a conference title." Even in the years with a good team, sometimes teams of equal caliber beat you and higher-ceiling teams are better.

Honestly, the real issue here is everyone is so geeked up on "accepting mediocrity" so they think seven or eight wins a pop is a bad thing. What you should be working to avoid is the dips that mediocre programs are a lot closer to than they are elite success.

Hopefully Dave Doeren avoids the slip into being a bad team, and then gets a shot to build upon some success. In other words, Doeren's real chance at getting to where fans want to be is building that 7-8 win base and then pushing from there. We'll see if he gets long enough to do that.


@inthebleachers What are the top 3 things you are looking forward to next season?

— Patti Jones (@DrPattiJones) December 28, 2012


It is sad to think that we're already looking to next year, but the days are growing short, that's for sure. Honestly, I think UCLA's defensive improvements are atop my list of things I am looking forward to. They were largely clueless out there this season and I think year two is where new defensive coordinators make the biggest strides—should be fun to watch.

Another thing I'm looking forward to is how defensive coaches, as a whole, work on these new offensive schemes. Between the influx in zone-read principles, more packaged plays and run-action passing there is a lot to tackle, but I think we will see some tweaked defensive moves to combat those things.

Lastly? Give me Ohio State and what they do in 2013. Last year we all watched USC become a darling because of the pieces they returned and the great 2011 season they had. Now, Ohio State coming off of a 12-0 run, will likely get a lot of the same fanfare, but they have their work cut out for them in 2013.


@inthebleachers GT and the triple option struggle when opponents have time to prepare. Best way to prepare for triple option offense?

— AJ Fritsche (@Fritsche12) December 28, 2012


Wrapping it up with a football question. I love this question because it gives me a chance to expose just how extremely rigid I am with respect to defending option football. So here is my theory:

Best way to prepare is to simplify your scheme and practice with no football. I'm a guy who believes in tackling everyone, on every play where the option is concerned, and that is a lot easier to drill into your players when they are not chasing the ball.

There are a couple different schools of thought on defending the option. Some folks go for the "string it out" theory, slow playing things to the sideline. Others like to attack the quarterback and force an early pitch.

I'm a tackle everyone guy and that starts with dive back. From there you tackle the quarterback and lastly you hit the pitch man. Ideally, I'd run it out of a 4-4 front, let my other three defenders play pass and don't come out of it until they prove they can throw.

Sidenote: I think USC's defense is going to get embarrassed by Georgia Tech because they don't play great assignment football, they don't tackle well and they don't get off blocks well.