Coaches Need to Resurrect Defense to Keep Up with College Football Offenses

Michael FelderNational CFB Lead WriterJanuary 14, 2013

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 24:  Defensive coordinator and assistant coach Kirby Smart of the Alabama Crimson Tide against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 24, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

During the season, here at Your Best 11, we hit on why college football offenses were so dominant in recent years. The sophistication of the systems and the rush to put the best athletes on offense have created a true imbalance in the offense-versus-defense force.

Now, it's the offseason and the best defensive minds in the college football world have got their work cut out for them. Packaged plays. Zone read. Read-option. Tempo offenses. Mobile quarterbacks.

All of the things that have gashed defenses need to be broken apart and studied.

If you are Nick Saban, Will Muschamp, Kirby Smart, Lorenzo Ward, Ellis Johnson or John Chavis, you know that Johnny Manziel is not going anywhere. He's a force that you will have to reckon with for the foreseeable future.

This offseason is the time where you look to solve that riddle.

For Bob and Mike Stoops or Manny Diaz, this is about looking at Dana Holgorsen's scheme and figuring out how to truly beat it. Watching the Kansas State and Texas Tech games until your eyeballs bleed. Cracking the code to figure out how to integrate what works into your own scheme. 

Out west, Jim Mora has to be giving the Oregon Ducks' system a thorough once-over. Although, for his sake, it is more important to figure out how to get better at beating the Arizona State Sun Devils. Judging from the Bruins' performance against Arizona, Mora understands how the zone read works. The same cannot be said for his team's showing against Todd Graham's squad.

In the Big Ten, solving the Urban Meyer riddle is going to be every defensive coach's primary job. With Braxton Miller at the helm, Meyer's team is the biggest offensive threat in the league and will be treated as such. The opposition will be watching tape of the Michigan State game and pushing to figure out the best way to limit the Buckeyes.

Right now, the players are lifting as they await the start of winter conditioning. Coaches are on the road recruiting.

Soon, coaches will be sitting in offices looking to solve the puzzles that cost them games a season ago. This offseason, look for coaches to talk, as they always do, about the biggest bugaboo to current defenses: the zone-read scheme.

It has infected the NFL, and while college coaches have struggled with it for several years, the NFL provides fresh sets of eyes in solving the problem. Football is cyclical, and as more minds work to break the new offenses' success streak, defense will slowly start to cycle to the top.

Odds are we won't see any of the new schemes or looks until spring, but make no mistake, winter is when the wheels start turning. Winter is when the coaches make phone calls, get together for clinics and hammer out schematic ideas.

It has to happen. Defenses are so grossly outpaced that teams are scoring points at will and that is not a good thing for the game.