1. Cameron

    I think one of, if not the, biggest challenges for college defenses is dealing with 11 personnel with a true tight end.

    The Belichick/Saban method of dealing with it is that in their Money (nickel) package, they have a Star player who replaces the Sam *and* a Money player who replaces the Will. When you get down to it in practice, however, who they have at Star and/or Money may be the same as who they have at Sam or Will respectively, depending on that week’s game plan. (That’s easy to do, for example, when your Will is CJ Mosley.)

    And this ties in to your point above, but with a bit of my take on it. More and more defenses are going towards “dime”, but with a bit more of a twist. The “dime” player may be a back up linebacker, a safety, etc., but it is a very specific role for the package. Similar to how the nickel went from “5th best DB we’ve got” to actual specialty role, I think you are going to see more teams follow the Belichick/Saban model of just making that guy a 12th or 13th spot on the depth chart.

    And that dime player is there to specifically deal with the tight end the offense rolls out in 11 personnel. If the TE is a bit more of a blocker, then maybe the Money/Dime guy is a linebacker that week. If the TE is a shifty dude out in space, then maybe the Money/Dime guy is a safety who can cover and isn’t a liability against the run.

    So in the same way that I think defenses do not run “nickel” the way that word would be interpreted back in say 2000, I think you are going to see defenses run “dime” in a way that word would probably not be interpreted today.

    That’s how I see things headed to deal with 11 personnel to deal with the tight end problem.

    • ianaboyd

      Good thoughts. For Saban last year the “money” backer was one of their big safeties and he stayed on Jordan Leggett in the title game…but was bested.

      I think what you’re prescribing is more of a blue blood deal tho, where it’s feasible to have 13-14 “starters” on your team. Your typical Big 12 team often wants to have a “best 11” package that can deal with most anything they’ll face on a standard down and that means defining the “star” and “money” or “nickel” and “dime” roles so that those are just subsets of the roles for the starting sam and will linebacker.

      • Cameron

        Maybe, but several Pac-12 teams like to switch up who is playing the Will depending on the opponent, e.g., Oregon State. And maybe that’s because there’s a little more variety in offensive philosophies out here. For example, the look you’ll get when Stanford or Utah lines up in 11 personnel is very different from when Wazzu or Cal does it. So being static all the time, I guess maybe teams like UW can get away with it, but it is something I’m seeing less of out west.

  2. jobhr

    I agree with Cameron. Blue-blood teams should identify specific packages for players, and some already are. Stanford does this. It serves multiple purposes:
    – Specific skill sets target specific offenses.
    – Keeps more players engaged in weekly planning.
    – Builds depth for inevitable injuries.
    – Serves as a recruiting tool as it shows players that they can have a role early in their career even though there may be returning starters.

    For example, OU should have had a “quality control” coach devising specific roles for 2-3 defenders for the anticipated Ohio St Wilson/Meyer spread attack all summer. Those players film review may be limited to Indiana and Ohio St games.

    OU’s experience in Cbus will translate to the Texas game and somewhat to K-State probably. So coming up for solutions to the Buckeyes’ attack would basically address 3 of the most likely losses on the schedule (Ok St being the fourth).

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