Last week we went with a hefty mailbag. This week we have it back to regular levels. That said, there are some very interesting questions, so I'm going to hit them pretty hard. Let's go!
Honestly, I don't know anymore. I think there are a handful of teams out there still playing good, hard-nosed, aggressive defense, but they are becoming fewer and farther between. Stiffer rules and penalties have handcuffed defenders, as has teams moving talent to offense to get more depth at skill positions.
And the limited practice time, where coaches are so busy implementing schematic changes to counter the offense's plans, has created less culture of practicing the very basics. The result is poor angles, bad tackling and a lot of confusion at all three defensive levels. After watching last week, it has clearly permeated the once impermeable SEC. Georgia and LSU looked just like Oklahoma State blowing coverages and paving the way to the end zone for each other.
My only real answers are I hope so, but probably not. As we've seen with the NFL, the trend is to push scoring up and college is doing just that as teams use tempo, new offenses and work the rules to light up scoreboards. The average fan really digs it. Really, me, you and Nick Saban are the only ones really complaining beyond the "my team's defense is bad" realm of things.
It's nice for television and regular Joes who assess teams by the points they score. But for me it is painful to see and I wish it would go away, and that the hands of the defense had more influence for the results on the field
I've already answered the second half of this so I'll spare you the continued whining. As for the first half, the first thing they need to do is talk. Communication is the key to every successful relationship and a secondary is no different in that regard. The guys in the back end got lost several times this past Saturday and it created space for big plays.
If I see Jalen Mills with his hands up basically saying, "Where were you, dude?" that's a pretty clear indicator that someone didn't know what was going on, be it Mills or the safety.
Up front, the Tigers have to make better run fits. They have the personnel to get it done, as they showed prior to the Georgia contest. It is merely a matter of doing it. Seeing how they rebound and prepare going into the rest of the tough games on the schedule should be interesting.
My man, asking about them Tigers. I really love what Clemson has done so far this year. They survived against NC State in the first road contest, something that so many people keep saying the team couldn't do. They also took care of Wake Forest in a big way.
Right now, Clemson is probably a Top Three team in terms of what they have done to impress me on the season. Beating Georgia was huge and then surviving against NC State went a long way to showing me this team is not going to give a game away to anyone.
Looking over the course of the season, I think they end up at 11-1 (a loss to Florida State is nothing to be ashamed of) and get into a BCS Bowl with an at-large bid. Possibly heading to the Sugar Bowl, provided Georgia is not in that game, or the Fiesta Bowl if Georgia does wind up in New Orleans.
And yes, that is a win over South Carolina that I am predicting. As this season continues, I really like the way the defense continues to get better. Vic Beasley is a player, and I think that Tajh Boyd wants to close it out with a W over the Gamecocks, so they get that done.
All of the above.
I have been railing against this targeting rule since it was proposed in February. It is not a good rule. It is impossible to enforce properly and the worst part about the execution is that when the ejection is overturned, the penalty remains. It is just plain bad. People, officials included, clearly do not understand how bodies colliding, differences in height, or jumping versus falling work, and it seems no one knows what the crown of a helmet is.
I know that you mean DPI, because I am a humongous supporter of OPI. Not just the nail lacquer either, although it must be noted I love "Last Friday Night" as far colors go. I also love offensive pass interference—the most under-called penalty in all of sports. It happens on so many plays but hey, it's against the defense so let's just continue to make them operate from a disadvantage.
So, DPI, defensive pass interference, which does seem to occur anytime a DB breathes on a receiver, is the worst. While OPI is under-called, DPI is over-called and it bails out so many offenses in such critical situations. Quarterbacks know to just chuck it up to a receiver and receivers know to just beg the ref for a flag. It burns me up.
Which brings me to another thing that infuriates me. Folks, listen, if your team lines up in the shotgun from inside the five, or on a third or fourth and two or less, I hope that you fail. I hope you do not score a touchdown and have to settle for a field goal. Or, I hope you turn the ball over on downs. Or fumble.
If you cannot boss up and pick up a few yards from under center, then you do not deserve the score. If you have to throw from the shotgun because you cannot protect the quarterback in that situation, then you do not deserve the score.
Thus, I will eternally be baffled at people with 18 inches to go, who then move the ball backward five yards with a shotgun snap, then try to go the five yards and 18 inches, when they were already so much closer to begin with. Mind-boggling.