SOLVING THE DEFENSIVE PUZZLE.Byline: Bob Clark For the 19th century baseball player, see Bob Clark (baseball)
Benjamin "Bob" Clark (August 5 1939 – April 4 2007) was an American actor, director, screenwriter and producer best known for directing and writing the script with Jean Shepherd to the The Register-Guard
If only there was a simple solution.
Instead, Oregon spent the last week evaluating how to improve its defensive play, and didn't find obvious answers.
The coaches have looked at who is playing.
`We're playing the right people,' UO coach Mike Bellotti Robert Michael Bellotti (b. December 21, 1950 in Sacramento, California) has been the head coach of the University of Oregon football team since 1995. His accomplishments at Oregon include an 11-1 season and #2 national ranking in 2001. Education
The schemes have been compared to what other teams do in similar situations, and there were more similarities than differences.
`We need to tweak To make minor adjustments in an electronic system or in a software program in order to improve performance. See calibrate.
1. tweak - To change slightly, usually in reference to a value. Also used synonymously with twiddle. some things, but we're always looking at tweaking tweaking Vox populi Fine-tuning to produce optimal results some things,' UO defensive coordinator A defensive coordinator typically refers to a coach on a football team in the National Football League or college football who is in charge of the defense. This position aids the head coach a great deal in many ways by delegating play calling to other coaches and allowing the head Nick Aliotti said.
The players have been asked for their input on how methods and techniques are being taught.
`It's not back to the drawing board,' Bellotti said. `It's making sure the way we're teaching it is understood.'
Because essentially, the UO coaches believe what they're doing on defense should work better than it has, and provide better results than the statistics that list the Ducks 109th in the nation in passing yards allowed and tied for last in the Pac-10 in touchdowns allowed.
So what's wrong?
`The bottom line is we need to make plays,' Aliotti said.
There are specific examples. Oregon's defense has come up with only two turnovers, both recovered fumbles, in the past three games. In the first four games, Oregon had 10 takeaways from opponents.
Bellotti said the Ducks `need to do a better job on third down, especially defending the pass.'
Utah and Washington State combined to convert 22-of-37 third downs into first downs, a conversion rate of almost 60 percent. Only two offenses in the Pac-10 are converting third downs 40 percent of the time so far this season, and only two did it that often for the entire season in 2002.
Yet, in Oregon's three-game losing streak, the opponents have converted 51 percent of their third downs. Contrast that with the first four games of the season, when opponents converted only 23 percent (13-of-56) third downs into first downs.
To stop those third downs, Bellotti said, the linebackers need to cover in the short zones better and the line must improve its rush on the passer and `we need to perform better and with greater confidence in the secondary.'
And for the how?
It's not the scheme, Bellotti said, which has evolved to the point the Ducks are, he said, `close to the norm' in the Pac-10.
`Two or three years ago, we were unconventional,' Bellotti said. `Now we're conven- tional.'
Instead of lining up with eight or nine defenders `in the box,' that area that roughly stretches the width of the offensive line and about 5 yards deep into the defense, the Ducks more often line up with seven defenders in that area, Bellotti said, moving the safeties back off the line.
Analyzing the details
The extra time during the bye week allowed self-analysis, so the Ducks studied the tendencies of other Pac-10 defenses. What might Cal or UCLA UCLA University of California at Los Angeles
UCLA University Center for Learning Assistance (Illinois State University)
UCLA University of Carrollton, TX and Lower Addison, TX do on defense in this second-down scenario? How does Arizona State or Stanford play this third-down with that yardage yard·age 1
1. An amount or length measured in yards.
2. Cloth sold by the yard.
Noun 1. needed for a first down?
`We found our calls mimic their calls probably 80 percent of the time,' Bellotti said. That shows, he said, that the UO defensive plan isn't `putting our players at a disadvantage.'
`We have to pay greater attention to our technique in whatever scheme we're in, whether it's man or zone,' Bellotti said. `We've done a lot of work on that, this week and last week.'
The way Oregon plays defense does put extra pressure on the cornerbacks, but what defense doesn't, particularly in man-to-man coverage? It's more so for the Ducks, UO cornerback Steven Moore This biographical article or section needs additional references for verification.
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Unverifiable material about living persons must be removed immediately, especially if potentially libelous or harmful. noted, because `our man-to-man is different. We don't have a free safety in the middle (of the field). Most teams that play man, it's a `man-free' with a safety in the middle.'
In Oregon's man-to-man coverage, free safety Keith Lewis Keith D'Andre Lewis (born on October 20, 1981 in Sacramento, California) is a safety in the NFL. He went to the University of Oregon. He was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 6th round (198th overall) in 2004 NFL Draft. Lewis is superb special teams player. is generally assigned to the tight end.
`All they've got to do is hold up Keith and the middle of the field is open,' Moore said.
He isn't, though, an advocate of the Ducks simply switching to zone coverage.
`Zone takes a little pressure off the corner ... which is good in certain situations,' Moore said, adding that pass coverage `can work either way.'
As a former offensive coordinator An offensive coordinator typically refers to the coach on a football team in the National Football League or College football who is in charge of the offense. This position aids the head coach by designing and scripting plays, delegating work to offensive position coaches during himself, Bellotti said that offenses will simply adjust their plans to the defense they play, if they know what to expect. Against a zone, an offense can `flood' three receivers into areas covered by two defenders. The offense can `stretch' a zone by having one receiver run a deep route, either as a threat or a decoy DECOY. A pond used for the breeding and maintenance of water-fowl. 11 Mod. 74, 130; S. C. 3 Salk. 9; Holt, 14 11 East, 571. , to open up room in the shorter zones. And a receiver can find the seam seam (sem) a line of union.
osteoid seam on the surface of a bone, the narrow region of newly formed organic matrix not yet mineralized. of a zone, as Michigan did for its final touchdown, by splitting the defenders.
`Any steady diet of a certain type of defense, people are going to design plays to defeat that,' Bellotti said.
Varying the plan
What the Ducks What the Duck is a humorous webcomic by Aaron Johnson. The first strip was posted in July 2006, and there are more than 300 strips. The strip has appeared as print in numerous photography magazines including Amateur Photographer. have attempted to do is not let the offense know what pass defense they're in from play to play. They've had the safeties and linebackers shift as the quarterback eyes the defense, and then move again. The cornerbacks may start up in `press' coverage and back off, but do it just before the play to disguise the scheme as long as possible.
`We're actually doing a decent job of that,' Bellotti said, though then adding `it has not in the past couple of games resulted in overall better play.'
The Oregon defense performed relatively well through the first four games, all victories. Michigan was held to two offensive touchdowns and only one play that covered 30 or more yards.
Except, maybe Michigan wasn't a true test of a defense. As good as the personnel for the Wolverines might be, there wasn't a lot of mystery.
`It would be nice if everybody came out and just ran the same plays Michigan ran, but they don't,' UO linebacker Jerry Matson said. `Everybody has a little different thing.'
Washington State was aided greatly by nine Oregon turnovers, but the Cougars also had four offensive plays that covered 30 or more yards. Utah scored only two touchdowns against Oregon, but one was a pass play covering 69 yards and the other was set up by a 50-yard completion.
Then came Arizona State, which had six pass plays that covered 26 or more yards. Four different Sun Devils
`There was a different reason every time,' Aliotti said. `The bottom line is, we're not making plays.'
Limiting the `explosion' plays is an obvious key for any defense. Mike Hankwitz Mike Hankwitz (born 1948 in Ludington, Michigan) played college football for The Michigan Wolverines. His head coaching stint was a 7-game interim stretch at The University of Arizona after John Mackovic was fired where he earned his career 1-6 record. , the interim head coach at Arizona, said the reason the Wildcats have been close in recent games is that `we've forced teams to drive the length of the field.'
`If you make teams go a long way, even the best offenses have a hard time doing that on a consistent basis,' Hankwitz said.
That said, Hankwitz still maintains the view that a defense needs to generally play its cornerbacks in man-to-man coverage. His background is as a defensive coordinator, including the `Wrecking Crew' defenses that were famed for their aggressive play at Texas A&M.
`If you don't have great cover people, to plan man with the corners on that island, it doesn't give you the best chance,' Hankwitz said. `You have to mix man and zone.'
An improved Cardinal
Stanford, Oregon's opponent on Saturday, might be the most-improved defense in the Pac-10 this season. The Cardinal are allowing opponents 40 fewer rushing yards per game, and the pass efficiency rating of opponents has gone down from 131 to 113. It's meant a 10-point reduction in the points allowed per game by Stanford.
The reason for the improvement? Neither a revised scheme nor new players.
`We've got experienced guys who played last year with no experience and took some lumps,' Stanford coach Buddy Teevens Eugene Francis Teevens III, more commonly known as Buddy Teevens (b. October 1 1956, Pembroke, Massachusetts) is the head football coach at Dartmouth College. Early life, college career, and personal life said. `They're playing with confidence, because they've been in this environment before.'
Ah, confidence. Aliotti calls it the `chicken-or-the-egg thing.' Do the Ducks start making plays and gain confidence, or do they need confidence to play better?
`All I know is we hit the field against Michigan and we felt good about ourselves and we made some plays,' Aliotti said. `What's happened between then and now? If I had the answer, I'd bottle it and sell it to everybody in the country, in every profession.
`I know this: If we can keep our spirits up and play hard, then we'll play better.'
OREGON FOOTBALL UPDATE
Stanford's starter: Chris Lewis Chris Lewis may refer to:
After Edwards suffered a concussion concussion
Period of nervous-function impairment that results from relatively mild brain injury, often with no bleeding in the cerebral cortex. It causes brief unconsciousness, followed by mental confusion and physical difficulties. and an injury to his throwing shoulder in last Saturday's game against Washington State, Lewis completed 9-of-22 passes for 199 yards, with an interception and a touchdown. Lewis has completed 23-of-50 passes this season, with two interceptions and two touchdowns.
Edwards' status will be reviewed during the week to determine if he is available to play Saturday. Lewis was injured in·jure
tr.v. in·jured, in·jur·ing, in·jures
1. To cause physical harm to; hurt.
2. To cause damage to; impair.
3. last year and didn't play against Oregon, but two years ago he replaced an injured Randy Fasani Randy Fasani (born September 18, 1978 in Granite Bay, California) is a former professional American football quarterback. High school career
Fasani started his football days at Del Oro High School in Loomis, California. in the first half as Stanford rallied for a 49-42 win over the Ducks.
Expected back: Reserve linebacker Ramone Reed, who had been back at his Berkeley, Calif., home for his mother's funeral, is expected to return to Eugene today and possibly practice with the Ducks. David Martin David Martin may refer to: Politicians
Adam Hazel, a backup quarterback, has been absent from workouts since the recent death of his father. These two deaths of an Oregon player's parent follow the the late September death of the stepfather step·fa·ther
The husband of one's mother and not one's natural father.
a man who has married one's mother after the death or divorce of one's father
Noun 1. of receiver Samie Parker Samie Jabar Parker (born March 25, 1981 in Long Beach, California) is an National Football League wide receiver currently playing for the Kansas City Chiefs. He graduated from Long Beach Polytechnic High School. .
`It puts all this in perspective,' UO coach Mike Bellotti said prior to Tuesday's UO practice. `It's a reminder that there's a lot more going in (the players') lives than football.'
Return to offense: Kellen Taylor, who had been moved from wide receiver to defensive back because of a bulky bulk·y
adj. bulk·i·er, bulk·i·est
1. Having considerable bulk; massive.
2. Of large size for its weight: a bulky knit.
3. Clumsy to manage; unwieldy. cast he was wearing to protect a broken left wrist, has been switched back to offense. Taylor wore a smaller cast at Tuesday's practice and, after proving his reliability to Bellotti in a game of catch, was back running routes with the other receivers.
"That was actually a pleasant surprise when I walked out today," Bellotti said after practice. "We were going to try the new cast and see. They cut it back, and it does what the doctors need to do to stabilize the wrist, but allows most of his fingers and thumb to be free. So we thought we'd try it, and it was positive."
No more football: Senior fullback Luke Rowley has decided he will no longer play football after suffering his latest concussion in the Arizona State game on Oct. 11. Also a regular on special teams in addition to being a reserve fullback, Rowley joined the Ducks for the 2002 season after playing two years at Riverside (Calif.) Community College.
Rowley is the second Duck this season who has followed medical advice to give up football after suffering multiple concussions in his playing career, following junior rover Stephen Clayton.
Oregon's defense stuffed Chris Perry Chris Perry is the name of: