New Longform: How will Nick Saban solve his Johnny Manziel problem?

It’s now up:

But maybe Rip/Liz isn’t the answer. It was in Alabama’s playbook last season, and they still lost. Instead, maybe Saban and his defensive coordinator, like Belichick and Saban himself back in 1994, must react by devising some modern tactic as they face this modern problem.

Right now, at every level of football, defensive coaches have been racking their brains trying to find a way to stop the onslaught of deadly dual-threat quarterbacks, particularly those captaining uptempo, spread attacks. With Manziel and Texas A&M, Saban is facing an acute version of the problem NFL, college and high school defenses are also facing.

Read the whole thing.

  • Mr.Murder

    When you pass blitz outside, run stunt the D line so he cannot step up. When you zone blitz, make it a run blitz. Then J.Football, esq. sees open lane, runs into it, and a blitzer from across formation nails him.

  • IrishBarrister

    From my perspective, it wasn’t that Alabama and Nick Saban lacked the answers scheme-wise, but proper execution.

    Take the 2nd-and-7 play, for example. I don’t know the exact coverage Saban’s running, but I 95% certain Mosley needed to stay in the hook zone unless the RB left the pocket (and perhaps not even then). Mosley floats out to his left, and leaves the middle of the field wide open for Manziel.

    Or the 1st-and-10 play from the Alabama 24. Again, I don’t know the exact coverage, but I know Milliner has help inside (safety and ILB). In Saban’s system then, Milliner needs to maintain outside leverage on Kennedy at all times because he has no help to the sideline (its okay if Milliner is low shoulder on Kennedy if he goes inside since the safety is in the middle). Milliner instead bites hard inside, loses all outside leverage, and never recovers.

    Another thing is that the defensive backs have to take their eyes off Manziel and keep them on the receivers. A “packaged play” offense wants the defensive backs looking at the QB because it causes the defensive backs to hesitate; and it only takes a little hesitation to lose position. Take for example the 1st-and-10 play from the Alabama 41. Lester is eyeing Manziel until McNeal is almost on top of him, and by then it’s too late.

    I think Saban’s got the Xs and Os: now it comes down to the Jimmys and Joes.

  • brophyfootball

    Well written and entertaining article. Saban and Smart certainly have answers schematically and both have proven themselves. What may be interesting to note is if Bama has more competent answers for uptempo TAMU this time around. As for the Manziel dilemma, I would expect a lot more 5 & 6 man pressures this time around to frustrate the easy scramble options. Can Holmes, Kennedy, Malena, and Evans stay consistently healthy to do sustained damage and bail Johnny out?

  • Miles_Ellison

    Judging from the shootout against Texas A&M, Saban still has a Manziel problem. Lucky for him, it won’t last that much longer.

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