Leach and Defense

WAGopher

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We've had plenty of discussion regarding Leach's offense, but we haven't heard much about his defense. We do know he hasn't had terrible defenses at TX Tech and has in fact had some very good defensive games. While I have Leach in my current top 5 new coach's list, I do have a concern about his defense.

As we've seen with our Gopher's preparation in the spring and pre-season practices, it may not translate to playing well in games if the defense cannot practice against an offense they will actually play against. If we don't have a power running attack that is run in our own offense, the defense will be at a disadvantage when they play teams like Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska and MSU.

I just don't completely buy the notion that having an Air Raid offense will help us rise to the top of the Big 10, largely because our defense won't be as prepared as the could be for the power running teams that are at the top of the Big 10. I'd like to see our team be more like Ohio State and have packages that can be used for different situations. They are able to both run and pass out of either their power or spread packages.

With Minnesota not being a destination school for recruits, we may not be able to recruit enough athletes to be good at both styles of offense, so we may need to choose between a wide open offense like the Air Raid or run and shoot, and a more Big 10 style of power run and play action pass. If we had to choose, I think our best shot is to stay with the conference identity and emulate the top teams. Yes, the spread can yield a champion when enough teams are having off years, but that hasn't built a consistent winner in the Big 10.

All this comes down to being able to have a defense that is well prepared for the best teams in the conference. If the D is practicing against the Air Raid all spring and summer, how can we expect them to excel against the power teams, which have traditionally been the best teams in the Big 10?
 

glovedgopher

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We've had plenty of discussion regarding Leach's offense, but we haven't heard much about his defense. We do know he hasn't had terrible defenses at TX Tech and has in fact had some very good defensive games. While I have Leach in my current top 5 new coach's list, I do have a concern about his defense.

As we've seen with our Gopher's preparation in the spring and pre-season practices, it may not translate to playing well in games if the defense cannot practice against an offense they will actually play against. If we don't have a power running attack that is run in our own offense, the defense will be at a disadvantage when they play teams like Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska and MSU.

I just don't completely buy the notion that having an Air Raid offense will help us rise to the top of the Big 10, largely because our defense won't be as prepared as the could be for the power running teams that are at the top of the Big 10. I'd like to see our team be more like Ohio State and have packages that can be used for different situations. They are able to both run and pass out of either their power or spread packages.

With Minnesota not being a destination school for recruits, we may not be able to recruit enough athletes to be good at both styles of offense, so we may need to choose between a wide open offense like the Air Raid or run and shoot, and a more Big 10 style of power run and play action pass. If we had to choose, I think our best shot is to stay with the conference identity and emulate the top teams. Yes, the spread can yield a champion when enough teams are having off years, but that hasn't built a consistent winner in the Big 10.

All this comes down to being able to have a defense that is well prepared for the best teams in the conference. If the D is practicing against the Air Raid all spring and summer, how can we expect them to excel against the power teams, which have traditionally been the best teams in the Big 10?
So you think we can beat OSU at their own game? Teams like Wisky and Iowa are not hard to prepare against. You just need to have a D-line that can match their O-line. Wisky ran the same play like 5 times in a row last year at TCF and we still couldn't stop it. That wasn't about schemes or who you practice against is was about getting pushed around.
 

lakesgopher

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in theory I hear ya, but then I think if this statement is true we should for sure get leach. if teams like iowa, wisky, mich st, psu, osu all practice for the same traditional offense all season the leach offense is then that much more difficult to stop! teams like wisky/iowa/psu/msu rarely have offenses that can score @ will so if we had leach and his offense with an average defense(leach's defenses @ tech were average) we should be able to come up with 3-4 stops a game while scoring 50 points...bring me some leach!
 

positively4thstreet

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The best defense is a great offense. If we're up on a team like Wisconsin by three touchdowns and they have to beat us in the air, I'll take our chances.

That being said, Leach is a pretty smart guy. I'm confident he'd figure out what we would need to do defensively to win in the Big Ten.
 

WAGopher

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So you think we can beat OSU at their own game? Teams like Wisky and Iowa are not hard to prepare against. You just need to have a D-line that can match their O-line. Wisky ran the same play like 5 times in a row last year at TCF and we still couldn't stop it. That wasn't about schemes or who you practice against is was about getting pushed around.

That had as much to do with not seeing that type of power running game in practice as the skill and depth we had on defense. Last year we had 2 problems on D, one at weak side line backer (undersized against the run) and on one side for outside runs and screens (end not containing and corner not tackling).

However, if you don't practice against a different offense than your team runs, you usually won't have as much success when playing against it.
 


MrGopher

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The best defense is a great offense. If we're up on a team like Wisconsin by three touchdowns and they have to beat us in the air, I'll take our chances.

This is a good point. On the flip side of that, Leach's offense is pretty much the same whether winning or losing. The score never would force us to comprise our strength as an offense --- passing the ball.
 

Bob_Loblaw

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With Minnesota not being a destination school for recruits, we may not be able to recruit enough athletes to be good at both styles of offense, so we may need to choose between a wide open offense like the Air Raid or run and shoot, and a more Big 10 style of power run and play action pass. If we had to choose, I think our best shot is to stay with the conference identity and emulate the top teams. Yes, the spread can yield a champion when enough teams are having off years, but that hasn't built a consistent winner in the Big 10.
QUOTE]

There have been teams who were very pass happy in the Big 10 who have been succesful. Tiller had a run of a lot of bowl games with a Rose Bowl and another Jan 1 bowl mixed in.

As far as not being a destination for recruits, that is really I think the driving force in why people want Mike Leach. He won at a place that is far from a destination for recruits. Crabtree was a decent recruit but he won with guys who weren't offerred anywhere.
 

lakesgopher

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That had as much to do with not seeing that type of power running game in practice as the skill and depth we had on defense. Last year we had 2 problems on D, one at weak side line backer (undersized against the run) and on one side for outside runs and screens (end not containing and corner not tackling).

However, if you don't practice against a different offense than your team runs, you usually won't have as much success when playing against it.

not sure if you played high school football or college ball, but, when preparing for an opponent no team practices starting offense vs starting defense. starting offense plays a dummy defense usually of underclassmen, walk ons, etc etc. that dummy defense will run the style of the upcoming team.

its not like if we had leach that we would prep our defense by running the air raid, we would run the dummy offense and so on!
 

glovedgopher

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not sure if you played high school football or college ball, but, when preparing for an opponent no team practices starting offense vs starting defense. starting offense plays a dummy defense usually of underclassmen, walk ons, etc etc. that dummy defense will run the style of the upcoming team.

its not like if we had leach that we would prep our defense by running the air raid, we would run the dummy offense and so on!

I think they call it the scout team. I think a scout team running the air raid is just a little trickier than running a power run offense. Good luck, Wisconsin.
 



dpodoll68

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Crabtree was a decent recruit but he won with guys who weren't offerred anywhere.

I'd like to clear up this commonly-held misconception. I've been doing the research, and Leach recruited very few players during his entire tenure that didn't have at least one other BCS offer. Sure, he wasn't recruiting on the level of Texas or Oklahoma (few are), but this idea that he was winning 8-10 games a year with one-offer/walk-on type players is simply erroneous.
 

lakesgopher

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I think they call it the scout team. I think a scout team running the air raid is just a little trickier than running a power run offense. Good luck, Wisconsin.

scout team works too! we called it dummy o/d. and we were told to basically make the read and beat the hell out of the dummies, ha! either works for me though!
 

ruralgopher

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I'd like to clear up this commonly-held misconception. I've been doing the research, and Leach recruited very few players during his entire tenure that didn't have at least one other BCS offer. Sure, he wasn't recruiting on the level of Texas or Oklahoma (few are), but this idea that he was winning 8-10 games a year with one-offer/walk-on type players is simply erroneous.

True. But my point would be that he won with the type of recruiting we can reasonably expect here.
 

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scout team works too! we called it dummy o/d. and we were told to basically make the read and beat the hell out of the dummies, ha! either works for me though!

When I was a sophomore, We called it 'target defense' because we had to wear the red vests over our practice jerseys. The upperclassman used the red vests as targets when they were running full speed and putting their shoulder pads in our chests.
 



lakesgopher

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I'd like to clear up this commonly-held misconception. I've been doing the research, and Leach recruited very few players during his entire tenure that didn't have at least one other BCS offer. Sure, he wasn't recruiting on the level of Texas or Oklahoma (few are), but this idea that he was winning 8-10 games a year with one-offer/walk-on type players is simply erroneous.

pretty sure no one believed he was winning @ tech with walks ons and single offers! graham was a 4 star qb not sure what crabtree was ranked out of high school but I doubt he was a single offer kid. I think stephens was a 4 star rb that leach stole from us as well! leach won with a lot of 3 star kids, this is easily the kind of kids he could bring to minny!
 

dpodoll68

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True. But my point would be that he won with the type of recruiting we can reasonably expect here.

That's not really true, though. Outside of the amazing season of 2008, Brewster's average class would be about in line with Leach's worst at Tech. I've seen it in enough places (even in the 60 Minutes piece, for example) that it has begun to bother me. Nobody goes .500+ over 10 seasons in a BCS conference with scab recruits.

Hell, take this example of his worst-rated class during his tenure (2002, 2.42 stars avg, ranked #10 in the Big 12, ranked #48 overall):

Out of 24 commits, 9 had no other BCS offers. Only 7 players had no other offers at all, and one of them was a 4-star recruit. And, remember, this was his worst class.

The class had players who received offers from:

West Virginia (4)
UCLA
Baylor (2)
Kansas St. (2)
Purdue (3)
USC (2)
Cal
Oregon St.
Syracuse
Arkansas (2)
Colorado (2)
Maryland
Florida
Iowa
Missouri
Washington St.

Again, this was his worst class. The obvious counter is that we're dealing with mostly Texas recruits, and his recruits had a lot of BCS offers because everybody recruits Texas. The problem is that, if anything, that is a detriment to Leach's resume as a potential Gopher HC because he doesn't have playing in your home state as a selling point for recruits.
 

dpodoll68

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pretty sure no one believed he was winning @ tech with walks ons and single offers!

Actually, a lot of people do! It's already even been mentioned in this thread! I've read it here many times, not to mention multiple other sources! Look it up if you don't believe me! Loud noises!
 

ruralgopher

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Recruiting would have to be better, but I think better within a reasonable expectation. I think with a winning program we can recruit 3 star recruits regularly with the occasional 4 star guys.
 

lakesgopher

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Actually, a lot of people do! It's already even been mentioned in this thread! I've read it here many times, not to mention multiple other sources! Look it up if you don't believe me! Loud noises!

I guess I haven't read that yet but if that's the case many are stupid. only thing I would say is a texas 2 star is probably a 3 star in the midwest. a 4 star texas kid is probably a 5 star and a 5 star texas kid isn't going to the midwest so we can't compare them!
 

dpodoll68

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only thing I would say is a texas 2 star is probably a 3 star in the midwest. a 4 star texas kid is probably a 5 star and a 5 star texas kid isn't going to the midwest so we can't compare them!

That is not germane to the discussion, because a 2-star from Texas counts the same in overall recruiting rankings as a 2-star from Idaho.
 

TCF=UnitedWeStand

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with regards to Leach's defenses, he was going against some pretty good offenses that were doing a lot of things that were really innovative at the time, and had amazing athletes running those offenses: Texas (Vince Young and Colt McCoy), Oklahoma (Sam Bradford), Nebraska's spread (under Callahan; I understand they were not very good, but it was still a spread-like offense), A&M had a good QB a few years ago and was decent, and Oklahoma State. Defending against those offenses and those athletes requires some serious athletes, of which there are only so many to go around (never mind UT, how about every other school in American that recruits Texas!) and trying to get them to go to Lubbock of all places could not have been easy.

While speed is beneficial for defending pretty much any offense, I don't know if defending power running games would require it to the same degree.

My point is, I think Leach is a good recruiter that would recruit the kind of athletes needed to defend the types of offenses he would be going against in the Big Ten (QBs Robinson and Martinez will be a handful for anybody).
 

monk10

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It is hard to tell what Leach's defense would be like. His last staff has moved on. Unless he is going to get some of them back, all we really know is that even with the best offense we'll not get a best defense. That he is really loyal to his staff. So we won't have Brewster like merry-go-round, but we also are stuck with whoever is willing to work with him.
 

Silvio

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Recruiting would have to be better, but I think better within a reasonable expectation. I think with a winning program we can recruit 3 star recruits regularly with the occasional 4 star guys.

I believe that is what most recruiting classes looked like for Brewster. Not sure what you mean by better? As a whole Brewster was a better recruiter than Mason, and I think as his players graduate we will see that on the field. Brewster just wasn't the coach to get them to that point.
 


ruralgopher

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I believe that is what most recruiting classes looked like for Brewster. Not sure what you mean by better? As a whole Brewster was a better recruiter than Mason, and I think as his players graduate we will see that on the field. Brewster just wasn't the coach to get them to that point.

good point.
 

glovedgopher

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with regards to Leach's defenses, he was going against some pretty good offenses that were doing a lot of things that were really innovative at the time, and had amazing athletes running those offenses: Texas (Vince Young and Colt McCoy), Oklahoma (Sam Bradford), Nebraska's spread (under Callahan; I understand they were not very good, but it was still a spread-like offense), A&M had a good QB a few years ago and was decent, and Oklahoma State. Defending against those offenses and those athletes requires some serious athletes, of which there are only so many to go around (never mind UT, how about every other school in American that recruits Texas!) and trying to get them to go to Lubbock of all places could not have been easy.

While speed is beneficial for defending pretty much any offense, I don't know if defending power running games would require it to the same degree.

My point is, I think Leach is a good recruiter that would recruit the kind of athletes needed to defend the types of offenses he would be going against in the Big Ten (QBs Robinson and Martinez will be a handful for anybody).
I made this point in another thread about the prolific offenses in the Big 12 during the Leach era. He also had to face high scoring teams in Kansas and Missouri. Seneca Wallace at Iowa St also put up huge numbers. Josh Freeman another stud from the Big 12 that Leach had to try and stop.
 





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