Monte Kiffin is gearing up to play the Gators. It seems that everyone wants to know what Kiffin will come up with for Florida. I’m not sure but I wouldn’t be it would be anything magic. Yet he is taking it quite seriously:
Kiffin, an NFL assistant for 26 years before joining his son’s staff this year, said he has seen Meyer’s offense in person and was awestruck. When the Bucs had a bye week from the NFL schedule several seasons ago, Kiffin went to Colorado State to see his youngest son, Chris, play against Utah, Meyer’s former team.
“He was a dang good football coach, but I didn’t worry about it because I was in the NFL and I didn’t have to go against it,” Kiffin said. “I thought Alex Smith, the Utah quarterback, was good, but you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve seen Tim Tebow run it.
“I was talking to (former Tennessee coach and player) Johnny Majors one day; he’s an old single-wing player, and he and I said the more we looked at it, the more it reminded us of the old single wing. They run the single-wing plays and then the next play they spread you out. … I have spent a lot of time at the office this week.”
The edges of a defense are vulnerable against the Gators because Tebow can make defensive ends charge inside, then pitch to a back racing outside. The divide-and-conquer spread puts linebackers and defensive ends on islands.
“He’s been drawing on napkins since the spring, studying the spread, theorizing about it,” said Lynch, who visited the Kiffins in the offseason in Knoxville.
[Former all-pro safety under Kiffin John] Lynch said Tennessee’s defense has to attack Florida’s offense the way the Bucs attacked Michael Vick when he was with the Falcons. “Instincts make you passive; what you have to do in a game like this is play all out,” Lynch said.
Kiffin visited Meyer and his staff in Gainesville following the 2007 season when the Gators went 9-4. The Florida staff leaned on Kiffin for insight on coaching defense, but he will not overstate his impact on Saturday’s game.
“We can get them in position,” Kiffin said, “but I can’t make the plays, The players have to make the plays.”
There is a lot of talk about Kiffin’s “Tampa Two” defense, but I don’t really expect them to play a lot of true “Tampa Two.” In that coverage, the two safeties play deep and show a “cover two shell,” but the middle linebacker retreats down the middle, making it like a three-deep defense, which lets the safeties squeeze the outside corner routes. The advantage of Tampa Two over regular three-deep is that the cornerbacks can press and jam the outside receivers and funnel them inside. (They also can either sit shallow for short throws or retreat if the outside receiver runs deep; this is infuriating too and defenses can switch up this technique.) But the thing the Tampa Two defense does as well as anything is take the other team’s outside receivers — often their best — out of the game. For more, see this fairly informative video from nfl.com.
That’s a great strategy in the NFL because offenses are designed to get the ball to the outside guys. But with Florida? Their strength is inside to out: Tebow, Demps, Rainey, and the tight-end Hernandez. If Kiffin overemphasizes taking away the outside receivers, this plays into Meyer’s hands. Instead, expect Kiffin to do what his protege Tony Dungy did with the Colts more often than people gave him credit for: to go to a single-safety look with one of his safeties in “robber” coverage both spying Tebow and taking away inside routes. Likely Eric Berry will play the “Bob Sanders” position. Kiffin appears to be a big fan of Tebow, but he knows the easiest way to lose to Florida is to get spread out and have them run right up the middle on you; he will test to see if Scott Loeffler, Tebow’s new quarterbacks coach, has taught him anything and, more importantly, if Tebow’s new outside receivers can make enough plays. If they can, it could get ugly.
- Will the Supreme Court bless (or even hear) the dispute over the Redskins’ name? The case is being appealed to the Supreme Court (keep in mind the Court grants review in very few cases):
The long-running dispute over the appropriateness of the “Redskins” name for the Washington D.C. NFL football franchise reached the Supreme Court today. Philip Mause, partner at Drinker Biddle & Reath in D.C., representing a group of Native Americans offended by the name, filed a petition for certiorari in the case titled Susan Harjo v. Pro-Football, Inc.
“This is a derogatory term for Indians that sticks out like an anomaly,” said Mause today. “No other group still has to deal with this kind of a term being used” in such a public and widespread way.
The case began with a petition in 1992 to cancel the Redskins trademark under the Lanham Act, which bars trademarks that “disparage … persons living or dead … or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” The latest ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the claims were barred by the doctrine of laches, a defense that acts like a statute of limitations to protect defendants from being sued for long-ago violations of rights.
- Well, he does need some help. Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman has turned to an unlikely source for some assistance (hat tip to reader Chris):
It took almost two decades, but Lake Travis head football coach Chad Morris went from cheering the Aggies to victory at Kyle Field to helping them win the season opener against New Mexico.
Morris was among those Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman sought advice from in formulating the Aggies’ no-huddle, fast-paced offense that got off 90 plays for 606 yards in the 41-6 victory over New Mexico.