Thursday, October 31, 2013

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 81

[Image: gvd6.jpg]

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 81

By Gir Todafunk
Special To The Daily Magi
August 25, 2056


Hey everybody, it's me, Gir Todafunk, back with another weekly column for the Daily Magi and Magi Football Blog. As we get set for the BYU Cougars tomorrow, I want to wrap up my thoughts of the 3-4 defense. The 3–4 defense generally uses four defensive backs. Two of these are safeties, and two of them are cornerbacks. A cornerback's responsibilities vary depending on the type of coverage called. Coverage is simply how the defense will be protecting against the pass. The corners will generally line up 3 to 5 yards off the line of scrimmage, generally trying to "Jam" or interrupt the receivers route within the first 5 yards. A corner will be given one of two ways to defend the pass (with variations that result in more or less the same responsibilities): zone and man-to-man. In zone coverage, the cornerback is responsible for an area on the field. In this case, the corner must always stay downfield of whomever it is covering while still remaining in its zone. Zone is a more relaxed defensive scheme meant to provide more awareness across the defensive secondary while sacrificing tight coverage. As such, the corner in this case would be responsible for making sure nobody gets outside of him, always, or downfield of him, in cases where there is no deep safety help. In man coverage, however, the cornerback is solely responsible for the man across from him, usually the offensive player split farthest out.

The free safety is responsible for reading the offensive plays and covering deep passes. Depending on the defensive call, he may also provide run support. He is positioned 10 to 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage, toward the center of the field. He provides the last line of defense against running backs and receivers who get past the linebackers and cornerbacks. He must be a quick and smart player, capable of making tackles efficiently as well as reading the play and alerting his team of game situations.

The strong safety is usually larger than the free safety and is positioned relatively close to the line of scrimmage. He is often an integral part of the run defense, but is also responsible for defending against a pass; especially against passes to the tight-ends. 

The 3–4 has two basic defensive variations the one-gap and the two-gap. In a two-gap system, the linemen are charged with tying up two blockers. This allows the linebackers to "flow downhill" and make tackles without shedding blocks. The one gap, on the other hand, distributes the responsibility for gap coverage evenly between the linemen and linebackers. Each player had a few "key reads" after the ball is snapped. For example, the middle linebacker may be covering the strong side A gap (gap between center and strong side guard). If he sees the guard move right, then he flows with the guard. If the guard moves left, he attacks downhill and "shoots his gap." Responsibilities in the one gap vary depending on the defense.

Very few teams use purely one or two gap systems in today's NFL. However, the majority of teams, such as the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers primarily use the two-gap 3–4. The Houston Texans primarily use the one gap 3–4. The New York Jets use a versatile, hybrid defense combining one and two gap looks.

Check in with yours truly next week on the Magi Football Blog and Daily Magi for my thoughts on how we did against the vaunted Cougars, and our preparations for Minnesota. Yes, we're facing THOSE GUYS again. I'm Gir, Mr. Wonderful, signing off. You Are Not Alone.

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 80

[Image: gvd6.jpg]

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 80

By Gir Todafunk
Special To The Daily Magi
August 18, 2056


Hey, what's going on, folks? It's Gir Todafunk once again with another weekly column for the Daily Magi and the Magi Football Blog. This week, I'll talk about the linebackers in the 3-4 defense and their role. n a 3–4 defense, four linebackers (LBs) are positioned behind the defensive line. The linebacker unit is made up of two inside linebackers (ILBs) flanked by two outside linebackers (OLBs). The OLBs often line up closer to the line of scrimmage than the ILBs, but may also be positioned at the same depth or deeper in coverage than the ILBs (though this is somewhat rare).

There are two types of ILB's, the Mike and the Ted. The Mike typically is the more athletic linebacker, who can blitz, drop into coverage, play the run, and "spy" the quarterback. NaVorro Bowman is a prototypical Mike linebacker in a 3–4 defense. The Ted is typically the stronger and larger of the two linebackers, and is used almost like a Fullback on the defense. He takes on and occupies blockers for the Mike, allowing the Mike to flow to the ball and make tackles. Bart "Can't Wait" Scott is a prototypical Ted linebacker in a 3–4 defense.

The 3–4 also has two types of OLBs. The Joker, Jack, or Elephant is usually the primary pass rusher. Depending on the scheme, the Joker can be on either side of the defensive formation. He must be an excellent pass rusher, and has to be able to beat both stronger right tackles and rangier left tackles off of the edge of the formation. Demarcus Ware is a prototypical Jack linebacker. The other 3–4 OLB does not have a specific designation. Like a Sam linebacker in a 4–3, the other 3–4 OLB must be able to cover, blitz, and play the run. Anthony Spencer is a prototypical OLB in a 3–4 defense.

Strengths of the 3–4 include speedy ILBs and OLBs in pursuit of backs in run defense and flexibility to use multiple rushers to confuse the quarterback during passing plays without being forced into man-to-man defense on receivers. 
Most teams try to disrupt the offense's passing attack by rushing four defenders. In a standard 4–3 alignment, these four rushers are usually the four down linemen. But in a 3–4, the fourth rusher is usually a linebacker, though many teams, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, use a talented safety to blitz and confuse the coverage, giving them more defensive options in the same 3–4 look. However, since there are four linebackers and four defensive backs, the fourth potential rusher can come from any of eight defensive positions. This is designed to confuse the quarterback's pre-snap defensive read.

A drawback of the 3–4 is that without a fourth lineman to take on the offensive blockers and close the running lanes, both the defensive linemen and the linebackers can be overwhelmed by blocking schemes in the running game. To be effective, 3–4 linebackers need their defensive line to routinely tie up a minimum of four (preferably all five) offensive linemen, freeing them to make tackles. The 3–4 linebackers must be very athletic and strong enough to shed blocks by fullbacks, tight ends, and offensive linemen to get to the running back. In most cases, 3–4 OLBs lead their teams in quarterback sacks.

Usually, teams that run a 3–4 defense look for college "tweeners"—defensive ends that are too small to play the position in the pros and not quite fluid enough to play outside linebacker in a 4–3 defense—as their 3–4 outside linebacker. The wisdom of this strategy is demonstrated in the career of Harry Carson, who played as a defensive lineman in his college career and then went on to become a Hall of Fame ILB for the New York Giants in the 70s and 80s. According to NFL coach Wade Phillips, 3–4 linebackers "are a little bit cheaper, and you can find more of them," while "it's harder to find defensive linemen to play a 4–3 and pay for all of them."

I'll wrap up my thoughts of the 3-4 defense next week. I'm Gir, Mr. Wonderful, signing off. You are not alone.

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 79

[Image: gvd6.jpg]

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 79

By Gir Todafunk
Special To The Daily Magi
August 8, 2056


Happy British Columbia Day, readers of the Daily Magi and Magi Football Blog. I am Gir Todafunk with another Weekly Column for you wonderful folks to peruse. In this segment, I'll talk a little bit more about the 3-4 defense. In the 3-4, defensive line is made up of a nose tackle (NT) and two defensive ends (DEs). Linemen in 3–4 schemes tend to be larger than their 4–3 counterparts to take up more space and guard more territory along the defensive front. 3–4 defensive ends were usually defensive tackles (DTs) when entering at first. They must be strong at the point of attack and are aligned in most cases head-up on an offensive tackle. First and foremost, they must control run gaps. Size and strength become more of a factor for linemen in 3–4 defenses than in 4–3 defenses because they move primarily within the confines of line play and seldom are in space using athletic ability. Ideally 3–4 DEs should weigh 285–300 pounds (129–140 kg) and be able to beat double teams by getting a push.

The 3–4 nose tackle is considered the most physically demanding position in football. His primary responsibility is to control the "A" gaps, the two openings between the center and guards, and not get pushed back into his linebackers. If a running play comes through one of those gaps, he must make the tackle or control what is called the "jump-through"—the guard or center who is trying to get out to the linebackers. The ideal nose tackle has to be much bigger than 4–3 DTs, weighing around 330 pounds or more. Ted Washington is considered the prototypical nose tackle of this era. "In his prime, Ted Washington was the ideal guy," says an AFC pro personnel director. "He was huge, had long arms, and you couldn't budge him. He could hold off a 320-pound lineman with one hand and make the tackle with the other." Since most college teams run a 4–3 defense, most college DTs are more of a 4–3 tackle than a true nose tackle, which makes good 3–4 NTs hard to find.

The base position of NT is across from the opposing team's center. This location is usually referred to as zero technique. The two DEs flank the NT and line up off the offensive guards. The location off the offensive guard is usually referred to as three technique.

Some 3–4 teams (such as the Pittsburgh Steelers) use the three down linemen primarily to occupy the offensive linemen. In such systems the defensive linemen are assigned two gaps to defend. The NT is responsible for defending plays which occur in the spaces, or gaps, between the center and guards. Each of those spaces is called an A gap. Flanking the NT, DEs defend the gaps on either side of the tackle he lines up across from. Each guard-tackle gap is a B gap and the space outside each tackle is called a C gap. Other 3–4 teams (such as the San Diego Chargers and the Dallas Cowboys) primarily make each lineman responsible for only one gap.

According to former general manager Randy Mueller, "the 3–4 defensive end is easier to identify and find when it comes to scouting and acquiring personnel," while 4–3 DEs "are rare and hard to find and therefore very expensive to keep. There is no question that speed pass rushers are very much an impact position on the football field and their cap numbers reflect that. On the other hand, 3–4 defensive ends can be found easier and are much less expensive when it comes to 'cap dollars'."

I will continue my spiel on the 3-4 next week. We are getting fired up for our season opener with BYU. Everyone is getting hyped up. I'm Gir Todafunk, Mr. Wonderful, signing off. You are not alone.

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 78

[Image: gvd6.jpg]

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 78

By Gir Todafunk
Special To The Daily Magi
August 2, 2056


What's going on, everyone? I'm Gir Todafunk with another weekly column for the Daily Magi and Magi Football blog. We are inching close and closer and closer to the start of the college football season, and this week, I want to talk a little bit about the 3-4 defense. In American football, the 3–4 defense is a defensive alignment consisting of three down linemen and four linebackers. The 3–4 defense declined in popularity over the years, but has found renewed use by modern professional and college football teams. The 3–4 defense is so named because it involves 3 down linemen and 4 linebackers. There are usually 4 defensive backs.

Teams that regularly incorporate the 3–4 defensive alignment scheme include the Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers, Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, and Houston Texans. The Cardinals already incorporate the 5–2 defense, an older variation of the 3–4, in some of their defensive schemes. The Miami Dolphins have also incorporated elements of the 3–4 defense into their scheme, under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, but with the hiring of Kevin Coyle as their new defensive coordinator, the Dolphins will switch to a 4–3 defense under new coach Joe Philbin. The Ravens run a hybrid defense and occasionally shift to 4–3 schemes during games. With the hiring of defensive coordinator Dom Capers, the Green Bay Packers have switched to a 3–4 defense (2009). With the hiring of Chuck Pagano as their new Head Coach, the Indianapolis Colts have switched to 3-4 Defense. The Buffalo Bills installed a 3–4 scheme to begin the 2010 season, but made frequent use of 4–3 sets as the season progressed, and will stick with the 4–3 for 2012 following the signing of free agent defensive end Mario Williams. However, with Mike Pettine as the Bills new defensive coordinator, they will move back to the 3–4 defense and Williams will move back to outside linebacker. Under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the Houston Texans have adopted the 3–4 defensive scheme for the 2011 season. The Dallas Cowboys will switch to the 4-3 Defense with the hiring of Monte Kiffin as their defensive coordinator. Sean Payton announced that the Saints will switch to the 3–4 defense for the 2013 season, and the Cleveland Browns will switch to a 3–4 "stick-em" defense. With the hiring of Chip Kelly as head coach and Billy Davis as defensive coordinator, the Eagles will shift to a hybrid defense that will incorporate 3–4 and 4–3 schemes.

Typically, there are two major variations of the 3–4 defense. Both variations are directly related to coverage schemes on obvious passing downs. For the first type, the outside linebackers will rush the quarterback, the great majority of the time. This defensive scheme is largely attributed to Dick LeBeau, although there is some discussion that Joe Collier of the Denver Broncos "Orange Crush" was the actual originator of the "NFL 3–4". In the 1970s the Miami Dolphins would bring in Linebacker Bob Matheson (number 53) to be a fourth linebacker in passing situations, a formation known as the "53 Defense." On key situations, the rush linebacker will be sent to cover the flat on the opposite side of the blitzing defensive back; this is called a "zone blitz". The other common 3–4 defense is typically associated with the New England Patriots. This scheme requires outside linebackers to have the ability to back pedal and drop into coverage. Of course they do rush the passer at times, it is just that they are much more likely to drop into coverage.

The Chicago Bears are the only NFL team that have never used the 3–4 as their base defense. Before the 2010 season, the Washington Redskins had also never run a base 3–4, but under the direction of new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, the Redskins have adopted the 3–4 and its many variants, such as the 2–4–5 and the 1–5–5, based on formations used by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Conversely, the Steelers have used the 3–4 as their base since 1982, the season after Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive tackle Joe Greene and end L. C. Greenwood retired. In fact, the Steelers were the only NFL team to use the 3–4 defense during the 2001 NFL season, but finished the season as the number one defense in the NFL. It is believed that the Steelers success with the 3–4 defense is the primary reason why many NFL teams have started returning to the formation.

The 3–4 defense was originally devised by Bud Wilkinson at the University of Oklahoma in the 1940s. Chuck Fairbanks learned the defense from Wilkinson and is credited with importing it to the NFL. The 1972 Miami Dolphins were the first team to win a Super Bowl with the 3–4 defense, going undefeated and using number 53, Bob Mathison as a down lineman or rushing linebacker. When the Oakland Raiders defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV, it marked the first Super Bowl in which both teams used the 3–4 as their base defense. Also notable, the Big Blue Wrecking Crew, the defensive unit for the 1986 New York Giants who won Super Bowl XXI, was a 3–4 defense and featured all-time great Lawrence Taylor as outside linebacker. By the mid-1990s, only a few teams used a 3–4 defense, most notably the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers.

I'll talk a little bit more about the 3-4 defense in my next weekly column. I'm Gir, Mr. Wonderful, signing off. You are not alone.

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 77

[Image: gvd6.jpg]

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 77

By Gir Todafunk
Special To The Daily Magi
July 28, 2056


Hey, what's up folks, I am Gir Todafunk with another weekly column for the Daily Magi and Magi Football Blog. We are inching closer to the start of the 2056 college football season and I wanted to continue my personal thoughts about the 4-3 defense and the roles of all the players on it. 

There are two defensive tackles in the 4–3 scheme. Teams whose base front is an "over" or "under" front will have a nose tackle in this scheme. In schemes whose base set is an even 4–3, there is no nose tackle. Instead there is a left and right defensive tackle. When teams don't have a nose tackle, the tackles line up face on the offensive guards. The nose tackle is generally slightly larger and stronger and plays a shade or head-up technique which means he lines up on either outside shoulder of the center or in the middle of his body depending on which way the strength of the play is going. The nose tackle's primary job is to stop the run and take on the double team (which is getting blocked by both the center and the weak-side or pulling guard) thus freeing up the linebackers to make a play. The second defensive tackle (simply referred to as the defensive tackle, under tackle or three tech) is generally a bit quicker and faster than the nose tackle, ideally weighing close to 300 pounds (140 kg) but quick-footed enough to shoot through a gap at the snap.[7] He plays a three technique meaning he lines up on the outside shoulder of the strong side offensive guard. The job of a three tech is to: prevent the run, keep the guard off linebackers, and rush the quarterback on pass plays.

The defensive end's primary role in the 4–3 defense is to get to the quarterback and create pressure. The 4–3 DE's are the smallest of all of the defensive lineman due to their emphasis of speed over strength. They still need to be strong enough to fight their way past offensive tackles, yet quick enough to pursue the running backs on runs to the outside. Ideal 4–3 defensive ends are athletic and agile and their strength is getting up the field quickly and they usually weigh between 260 and 275 pounds (118 and 125 kg). Right ends, who line up against the offensive left tackle and attack from the blind side of a right-handed quarterback, are usually the best athletes on the line, combining a 275-pound body with incredible quickness and agility to outflank blockers who are bigger and heavier. Defensive ends generally play the 1 gap technique, though will occasionally be forced to play a 2 gap in the event of a TE pinching in to block on run plays. In most schemes, they are also responsible for keeping the quarterback from rolling out of the pocket to make big running gains.

Some teams like the Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders use an alternative sort of the 4–3 defense. They like to use a big, strong, 290 and plus strongside defensive end to stop the run on their base formation, and on passing downs they kick inside at defensive tackle to insert a pass rush specialist. But, players like Von Miller and James Harrison, two elite and undersized defensive ends, play strongside linebacker on 1st and 2nd downs and use their pass rushing ability on passing downs by lining up at stand-up defensive end to bring pressure on the quarterback.

There is only one inside linebacker in the 4–3 scheme, so he is called the Middle linebacker (MLB), sometimes known as the “Mike” linebacker. He must be as smart as he is athletic, acts as the “quarterback of the defense” and is often the defensive leader.[7] The primary responsibility of the “Mike” is to stop the run, though he will often be asked to fall back in zone coverage in pass protection; man to man pass coverage has him assigned to the fullback typically. The MLB is often the largest and strongest of all of the linebackers.

The 4–3 defense relies on having a sure tackler at the middle linebacker spot. Most notably, Monte Kiffin's “Tampa Cover 2” scheme makes high demands on the MLB, requiring him to have above-average speed, and additional skills to be able to read the play and either maintain his central position to help the outside linebackers cover short passes, drop behind the linebackers in coverage and protect the zone of the field behind the outside linebackers from 11–20 yards out, or run up to the line of scrimmage to help assist in stopping the runs.

As in the 3–4 defense there are two outside linebackers in the 4–3. These outside backers are known as the Strong-Side and Weak-Side Linebackers. The Strong-Side, or “Sam” linebacker, is so named because he typically sticks to the strong side of the defense, across from the TE. The “Sam” does his fair share of blitzing, however he also needs to play the run and take on blockers, making him a bigger linebacker on average than the Weak-Side linebacker. He will usually be relied upon to cover the tight end or potentially a back out of the backfield. Daryl Smith is a prototypical Sam linebacker. The Weak-Side, or “Will” linebacker, will generally play on the weak side and has more freedom than the other LBs, often blitzing the QB or guarding against the screen. He also has heavy coverage responsibilities, making a good number of today's Will linebackers former safeties. Jerod Mayo is a prototypical Will linebacker.

The 4–3 defense generally uses four defensive backs. Two of these are safeties, and two of them are cornerbacks. A cornerback's responsibilities vary depending on the type of coverage called. Coverage is simply how the defense will be protecting against the pass. The corners will generally line up 3 to 5 yards off the line of scrimmage, generally trying to "Jam" or interrupt the receivers route within the first 5 yards. A corner will be given one of two ways to defend the pass (with variations that result in more or less the same responsibilities): zone and man-to-man. In zone coverage, the cornerback is responsible for an area on the field. In this case, the corner must always stay downfield of whomever it is covering while still remaining in its zone. Zone is a more relaxed defensive scheme meant to provide more awareness across the defensive secondary while sacrificing tight coverage. As such, the corner in this case would be responsible for making sure nobody gets outside of him, always, or downfield of him, in cases where there is no deep safety help. In man coverage, however, the cornerback is solely responsible for the man across from him, usually the offensive player split farthest out.

The free safety is responsible for reading the offensive plays and covering deep passes. Depending on the defensive call, he may also provide run support. He is positioned 10 to 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage, toward the center of the field. He provides the last line of defense against running backs and receivers who get past the linebackers and cornerbacks. He must be a quick and smart player, capable of making tackles efficiently as well as reading the play and alerting his team of game situations. The strong safety is usually larger than the free safety and is positioned relatively close to the line of scrimmage. He is often an integral part of the run defense, but is also responsible for defending against a pass; especially against passes to the tight-ends.

And that is the 4-3 in a nutshell. Next week, I get to talk about the 3-4 defense, which we occasionally run as a bit of a changeup. I'm Gir Todafunk, Mr. Wonderful, signing off. You are not alone.

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 76

[Image: gvd6.jpg]

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 76

By Gir Todafunk
Special To The Daily Magi
July 21, 2056


Hey, hey, HEEEEEYYYYY! It's me, Gir Todafunk, back for one more year and with another Weekly Column for the Daily Magi and Magi Football Blog. Yep, I'm doing one more series before I call this career. I decided not to forgo my final season of eligibility. I'm kind of bummed out that Bo Morrow decided to leave our Cornerbacks Crew, but we do wish him well. So it's just me, Bryan, Nathan and Quinton...and a new guy, Josh Joyce, who we will pass our collective cornerback mojo to.

So what we know is that we only have four games at home this year. So we are going to have a lot of recruits coming in to check us out and see what we're all about on all four game days. Of course, we do have three bye weeks, but recruits give us additional brownie points for impressing on the field. We already have five recruits sign up with us, so spots are filling fast.

Over the next several weeks ahead of our game with BYU, I will talk defense. First up: the 4-3. In American football, a 4–3 defense is a defensive alignment consisting of four down linemen and three linebackers. It is probably the most commonly used defense in modern American football and especially in the National Football League. NFL teams that use the 4–3 defense as of 2013 include the Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants. The Broncos returned to the 4–3 with the hiring of John Fox as head coach. The Patriots returned to the 4–3 in the 2011 NFL Season. The New York Jets used variations of the 4–3 for the 2012 NFL Season against spread offenses, but will stick with the 3-4 Defense as its base. The Cowboys will return to a 4–3 Defense with the hiring of Monte Kiffin as their Defensive Coordinator. The Bills will not have base defense with new Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine, who came over from the Jets, where they ran a 3–4 Defense. However, the Bills ran a 4–3 Defense in 2012, so it remains to be seen what the TV will show. Early in training camp, indications point to the Bills using a 3-4 Defense with Mario Williams at OLB.

The invention of the 4–3 is often attributed to legendary coach Tom Landry, in the 1950s, while serving as the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants, in large part because the Giants were the first to adopt the 4-3 as their base defense. Others attribute the creation of the 4–3 to Chicago Bears Hall of Fame linebacker, Bill George. It has also been said that the 4–3 defense was a creation of Garrard "Buster" Ramsey, the defensive coach of the Detroit Lions teams in the 1950s.

In the original version of the 4–3, the tackles lined up over the offensive guards and the ends lined up on the outside shoulder of the offensive tackles, with the middle linebacker over the center and the other linebackers outside the ends. In the mid-1960s Hank Stram developed a popular variation, the "Kansas City Stack", which shifted the strong side defensive end over the tight end, stacked the strongside linebacker over the tackle, and shifted the weakside tackle over center. At about the same time the Cleveland Browns frequently used a weakside shift. The Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry developed a "flex" variation, in order to take advantage of the quickness of his Hall of Fame tackle, Bob Lilly. In Tom Landry's original 4–3 defenses (4-3 Inside and 4-3 Outside), both defensive tackle were flexed. In the "flex", on a pro set right, with defensive keys showing a run to the right, the right defensive tackle would be flush on the line and was supposed to penetrate. The right defensive end and left defensive tackle were flexed two feet off the line of scrimmage, the right defensive end now head on with the left offensive tackle (i.e. a 4-2-2-5 front instead of the more common 5-2-2-5 front). This gave the defense a "zig zag" look unlike any other of its day. More modern versions of the 4-3 include the Tampa 2 scheme and the 4-3 slide.

I will talk some more about the 4-3 next week. I'm Gir, Mr. Wonderful, signing off. You are not alone.

Week 1 2056 Preview

2056 Preseason All-Americans and All-Conference Selections

Madoka 2056 Recruits List

2056 Mitakihara Magi Football Schedule

2056 Mitakihara Magi Football Team

2056 Mitakihara Magi Football Staff

Magi Football Coaching Staff (2056)
Head Coach: Tatsuya Kaname
Offensive Coordinator: Haruyuki Arita
Quarterbacks: Daisuke "D.W." Hinoi
Running Backs: Rio Onjouji
Receivers: Ron Takakamo
Offensive Line: Darrell Hashida
Defensive Coordinator: Maako Asagiri
Defensive Line: Buntarou Okabe
Linebackers: Kit McGlynn
Secondary: Mickey Tsuruta
Special Teams: Florence Southwick
Graduate Assistant: Stephen Atkins

Tatsuya Kaname became a Coach Level 54 in 2022. He became a Coach Level 27 in Recruiting in 2019 and a Coach Level 27 in Game Management in 2022.

Magi Sprint Football Coaching Staff (2056)
Head Coach: Brendan Lewis
Offensive Coordinator: Jose Collier
Quarterbacks: Sam Tremblay
Running Backs: Dominique Wright
Receivers: Pat Jones
Offensive Line: Jack Graves
Defensive Coordinator: Brian Robinson
Defensive Line: Derek McGill
Linebackers: Thomas Pittman
Secondary: Trevon Miller
Special Teams: Darrell Fletcher
Graduate Assistant: Harold Roberts

Team Doctor: Ruiko Saten, M.D.
Athletic Director: Mami Tomoe

Chancellor: Dr. Homura Akemi
Vice-Chancellor: Sayaka Miki
Provosts: Asuna Yuuki (Mitakihara), Suguha Kirigaya (Leafa College), Rika Shinozaki (Japan Campus), Fernandia Malvezzi (Mitakihara-Squamish)
Visitor: Rt. Hon. Steven Wicks, Premier of British Columbia

Leeroy Jenkins leaves Mitakihara for Nebraska

Leeroy Jenkins leaves Mitakihara for Nebraska

By Shinobu Kawanishi
The Daily Magi
January 11, 2056


More shuffling took place regarding the Mitakihara Magi football coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Leeroy Jenkins has become a hot commodity and was named head football coach at Nebraska, according to reports today. As a result quarterbacks coach Haruyuki Arita was named offensive coordinator while the soon-to-be graduating D.W. Hinoi was named quarterbacks coach after deciding not to declare for the NFL Draft.

"This is an honor for me to take over as the offensive coordinator for a school that I have nothing but boatloads of praise for," said Arita, gauged to be a Level 19 in terms of offensive coordinator skill. "I am ready to continue my work in serving this university and use it a stepping stone to bigger and better things in the future."

"I could have been a star playing professional football, but I decided to try my hand at coaching the game," said Hinoi, who will graduate with a degree in kinesiology from Mitakihara. "So I want to learn from Coach Kaname on what it means to be a teacher of the game. I can't wait to get my feet wet and help develop the next group of players."

In other news, cornerback Gir Todafunk announced that after further discussions with the coaches and with family, the star on defense known as "Mr. Wonderful" will be back for his fourth year with the team. Todafunk is the most prolific cornerback in Mitakihara Magi football history, with 128 interceptions to his credit. He won the Bednarik, Nagurski, Thorpe and Tatupu Awards last season.

Bo Morrow declaring for the NFL Draft

Bo Morrow declaring for the NFL Draft

By Shinobu Kawanishi
The Daily Magi
January 10, 2056


The fallout from the 2055 Mitakihara Magi football season has begun, with one of the top players on the Magi electing to leave for the pros. Cornerback Bo Morrow was offered a chance to finish his degree, win another national title and get a shot at winning the Bednarik. Ultimately, he chose to follow the money and declare for the draft.

"My time here has been great, Coach, but I'm ready to move on," Morrow told Magi head football coach Tatsuya Kaname in his face-to-face meeting today.

"It's unfortunate that Bo has decided to move on, but that's the way the cookie crumbles, you know," Coach Kaname told the press after the decision made by Morrow. "We offered him everything, and he turned it down for a decision that will trigger major consequences for himself and for those who rely on him.

"We do wish Bo all the best in whatever he decides to do, but at this point, he's now on his own. If he wants to return to the university and finish his degree, he may, but he will have to do so through his own pocket as per our policy and NCAA regulations. Again, we thank Bo for his contributions to the football team for the past three years and wish him well."

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 75

[Image: gvd6.jpg]

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 75

By Gir Todafunk
Special To The Daily Magi
January 10, 2056


What a year we've have had here at Mitakihara University! I'm Gir Todafunk, Mr. Wonderful, your defending Thorpe, Bednarik, Nagurski and Tatupu Awards winner, with what could be my last weekly column here on the Daily Magi and the Magi Football Blog. If it is, it's been a great ride and I'm glad you've been a part of it. But at the same time, there is a part of me that is telling me, no, I still have one more year to go, and I need to finish it on top.

I'm really torn as to whether I should declare early or if I should wrap up my degree first. I already have 128 interceptions, a plethora of awards and three national championship rings. A lot of secondary people in college people would die to have all the honors I have. I have proven that I am ready to take on the challenge of playing in the NFL, but I don't know if I'm really ready. Hopefully in my meeting with Coach Kaname, I can make my decision and it will be an easy one.

I want to talk about how the blitz works. On passing plays, the offense always has at least five men blocking. From the quarterback's left to his right, they are: left tackle, left guard, center, right guard, right tackle. Depending on the personnel, formation, and blocking principles the offense uses, they can have a maximum of nine players blocking on any given pass play (this type of maximum protection is succinctly called "Max Protect"). Since the quarterback is throwing the pass, he cannot block and must have at least one receiver to catch the pass. Assuming the lone wide receiver is covered by a defensive back, this leaves the defense ten players to rush the quarterback versus the offense's nine blockers — the offense is outnumbered and at a disadvantage. Because the quarterback cannot block during passing plays, the defense always has one more man available to rush than the offense can block.

Usually offenses do not max protect, varying the levels of protection available depending on the play design and the quarterback's pre-snap read of the defense. The more receivers the offense has running passing routes, the better their chances are of completing the pass. This factor allows defenses to devise and execute a staggering variety of blitz packages between any number of their coverage personnel, trading tight coverage of receivers for proactive aggressive disruption of the play.

By nature, blitzes are risky endeavors for the defense. Since the defense is taking away coverage defenders to rush the quarterback, this usually means that the secondary can't afford to miss any coverage assignments. The defense does not and cannot cover all offensive players, but rather through the blitz, is proactively involved in pressuring the quarterback — specifically, trying to sack him, throw off his timing, or force him to make an error such as an interception or fumble.

The most common blitzes are linebacker blitzes. Safety blitzes, in which a safety (usually the free safety) is sent, and corner blitzes, where a cornerback is sent, are less common. Sending a defensive back on a blitz is even riskier than a linebacker blitz, as it removes a primary pass defender from the coverage scheme. The pressure, however, is very severe because a blitz by a defensive back is usually not anticipated by the offensive team’s blockers.

Advantages gained by blitzing are obvious: proactively disrupt the offense's play before it develops and cause enough pressure on the quarterback to force him into a turnover, sack or incomplete pass.

Disadvantages abound in any blitz scheme as well. First, the offensive linemen are usually trained to recognize a blitzing player before the snap of the ball. They communicate with each other at the line of scrimmage using code words that shift the protection to the blitzing player's side, thus strengthening their blocking front. The quarterback can also call other players into the protection scheme with audibles if he feels that his current protection is weak. With good protection calls and fundamental blocking principles, some blitzes can be "picked up" — stopped at the point of attack. Second, the tight man bump and run technique typical of blitz scheme cornerbacks can be defeated with aggressive wide receiver release moves. Once this happens, the cornerback is at a disadvantage and must regain ground and position quickly to prevent a catch. If the blitz is picked up, the wide receiver can create enough separation to become open relatively quickly.

Third, if the blitz is picked up, the one deep defender (usually the free safety) has an enormous amount of territory to guard. If two players simultaneously threaten his zone, he must decide which one to cover. The quarterback can read his reaction and throw to the other receiver, usually for a big gain. Fourth, if the pass is caught, there are fewer defenders and larger gaps between defenders, meaning that the receiver can get more yards after catch and possibly turn a minimal gain into a dangerous play.

And that's blitzing in a nutshell, and that is my last piece for the season. Depending on how my meeting with Coach Kaname goes, there will either be one more weekly column, or you will see me write one final batch of columns starting in July. Cross your fingers, readers. I'm Gir Todafunk, Mr. Wonderful, signing off. You are not alone, and We Are The Rose.

Down go several records at Mitakihara

Down go several records at Mitakihara

By Noriko Isobe
The Daily Magi
January 7, 2056


Mitakihara Magi football continues to rewrite history every single year. THe Magi defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers, 220-21, in the 2056 BCS National Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, La. Head coach Tatsuya Kaname continues to break records for games coached and victories gained and championships won. Meanwhile, cornerback Gir Todafunk also broke a couple of his own records en route to the program's 43rd national championship. 

Next year, Coach Kaname has a chance to be the first coach to crack 600 wins in an illustrious career that has spanned over four decades. The 2056 Mitakihara Magi football schedule will be announced later this Spring.

Tatsuya Kaname
Coaching Career - Longest Win Streak 345
Coaching Career - National Titles 43
Coaching Career - Bowl Victories 44
Coaching Career - Career Victories 599
Coaching Career - Bowl Appearances 44
Coaching Career - Games Coached 606

Gir Todafunk
Individual Career - Interceptions 128
School Career - Interceptions (Career) 128

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mitakihara 2055 Season Stats

[Image: magifootballintro.jpg]

2055 STATS

Week 18 2055 News

Madoka Magi Football win 43rd BCS National Championship

Madoka Magi Football win 43rd BCS National Championship

By Noriko Isobe
The Daily Magi
January 6, 2055


Tatsuya Kaname's Mitakihara Magi won their 43rd National Championship, defeating the Minnesota Golden Gophers 220-21 in the 2056 BCS National Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Quarterback D.W. Hinoi passe for 658 yards and nine touchdowns while rushing for 101 yards and another score. Cornerback Gir Todafunk was named Player of the Game for his eight tackles and 10 interceptions, three which were returned for touchdowns.

Halfback Chaz Thomas ran for 185 yards and four touchdowns, backup quarterback Dylan Maxwell ran for 135 yards and four more majors, halfback Beauy Day ran for 156 yards and four scores and halfback Michael Wilkerson scored a pair of short touchdown runs. Wide receiver Matt Lewis finished his illustrious career at Madoka with six catches for 303 yards and four scores, while wideout Jeff Scott had four catches for 155 yards and a major.

Wide receiver Patrick Cox led in blocking with 25 while senior left tackle Jack Graves concluded his career on the Mitakihara offensive line with eight pancakes. There were other contibutors on defense besides Todafunk. Strong safety Nick Malceski had four tackles, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Middle linebacker Todd Sparks also had eight tackles to go with a sack. And four different players on defense had three sacks each.

"This was a great year for the team, and we dedicated this season to my sister, who had just retired from being the university chancellor," Coach Kaname said. "Now she can focus on being a housewife, a grandmother and a writer. My sister and I are preparing a book of memoirs from over five decades of being together. She's not only a great wife but also she's my sister, and I treasure her a lot like I do my team. I love everyone that supports what we do. What a year."

"It's a shame that this was my last year being with the team, but I finished it off in style," a teary-eyed Hinoi said. "This was an amazing ride, and it's like a dream that I will never awaken from. This is for you, Dr. Madoka Kaname! We love you and we wish you well. We did it!"

A major question now heading into the offseason is whether or not Todafunk will elect to stay for his senior season or declare early for the draft.

"I don't want to think too much about the draft and about the decision as to whether I should leave early or not," Todafunk said after the game. "I want to think about it for a little bit and talk with my family about turning pro. I'm open to the idea of returning next year, though."

Mitakihara end their season with another 14-0 record.

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 74

[Image: gvd6.jpg]

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 74

By Gir Todafunk
Special To The Daily Magi
January 4, 2055


Hello everyone, Happy New Year! It's me, Gir Todafunk, with another weekly column for the Daily Magi and the Magi Football Blog. We're staying at the Days Hotel New Orleans in Metarie, Louisiana, ahead of the 2056 BCS National Championship Game. We're getting ready for an exciting encounter with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, which will be broadcast by City, TVA Sports, Sportsnet, ABC, BBC, NHK and One World Sports.

I want to talk some more American football terminology, since there isn't much to talk about Minnesota, except that we expect to run them down into the curb and leave them #rekt. In this column, I will talk about the end-around. The end-around is a play in American football in which a wide receiver crosses the backfield towards the opposite end of the line and receives a handoff directly from the quarterback. The receiver then may proceed to do one of two things: he either runs the ball towards the line of scrimmage in order to gain yardage, or more rarely, attempts to pass to another eligible pass receiver. Both versions of the end-around are uncommon and can be considered trick plays.

The end-around should not be confused with an end reverse, in which the receiver takes a handoff from a player who has already taken a handoff from the quarterback. End-arounds are usually preferred to reverses in the NFL; although they are less convincing, they offer lower risk. End-arounds offer less chance of a fumble, as there is only one handoff rather than two. Also, end-arounds require less time to complete, thus reducing the chance of a large loss of yardage. 

A variation of the end around is the fly sweep. Whereas in the end around the receiver runs behind the quarterback, in the fly sweep the receiver runs in front of the quarterback (i.e., between the QB and the offensive line). The fly sweep is commonly seen at the high school and college level, but not as often at the professional level due to the defensive linemen generally being faster and thus able to stop the play for minimal or no gain, or even a loss.

A derivative of the end-around has the quarterback hand off to a running back, then pretend he still has the ball, and is giving it to the wide receiver circling behind the action. This causes the defenders who should be covering the end around to 'stay at home' and not participate in pursuing the actual ball carrier, and desensitizes the defense to the threat of the actual end-around play when it is run. Another variation has the quarterback fake the end-around handoff, then either run with the ball himself in the other direction, or pass to a receiver, including the one to whom the fake was made. This is a form of play-action pass; some of the pass rushers may slow down the attack on the quarterback because of the fake, allowing more time for the receivers to get open.

Often, a team will alternate between running an actual end-around and running a fake end-around on a large percentage of running plays. This technique is intended to increase the effectiveness of the play as the game develops, due to defenders becoming much more hesitant to commit either way. Early on the play may not be as effective, but gradually the defenders may lose their aggressiveness and thus the play can be relied on for a decent gain late in the game.

Well, that's end-arounds in a nutshell. I have one more Weekly Column coming up next week to wrap up this season, so be sure to check it out. Depending on what happens, it will be an upbeat one, or one drowning in damnation. Let's hope it's the usual, a.k.a. the former. I'm Gir, Mr. Wonderful, signing off. You are not alone.

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 73

[Image: gvd6.jpg]

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 73

By Gir Todafunk
Special To The Daily Magi
December 17, 2055


Happy Friday, everyone! It's me, Gir Todafunk, with another weekly column for the Daily Magi and the Magi Football Blog. We shut out rhe Air Force Falcons 80-0, and we get to face the Minnesota Golden Gophers a second time, this time for the BCS National Championship, at the Louisiana Superdome on Jan. 6. I am excited for this one because two years ago, we faced them for all the marbles. As long as we're in the BCS title game, no one's gonna get in our way. Oh yes, and I also won the Bednarik, Naguski, Thorpe and Tatupu Awards. What a year. But the one I really want is yet to come. 20 days to go!

I want to talk a little bit about the draw play. A draw play, or simply draw for short, is a type of play that is run in American football. The draw is a running play disguised as a passing play. It is the opposite of a play action pass, which is a passing play disguised as a running play.

The draw was invented by the Cleveland Browns during their years in the All-America Football Conference. A botched play, originally designed to be a pass play, caused quarterback Otto Graham to improvise a hand-off to fullback Marion Motley. A surprised Motley, who had been expecting to block on the play, instead ran for a big gain. Coach Paul Brown noted the success of the improvised play and began to work it in as a regular play, quickly creating four different versions of it.

The idea behind a draw play is to attack aggressive, pass-rushing defenses by "drawing" them downfield. This creates larger gaps between defenders and thereby allows the offense to effectively run the ball. Draw plays are often run out of the shotgun formation, but can also be run when the quarterback is under center. These types of draw plays are sometimes referred to as "delayed handoffs". The running back will most often run straight downfield through the "A-Gap" (the space between the center and the offensive guard), although there are more complicated variations.

Offensive movement during a draw play
  • The quarterback drops back to pass, just long enough to get the pass rush to come upfield.
  • The offensive linemen momentarily show pass block, but also try to push the defenders to the outside, creating a crease in the middle.
  • The running back momentarily fakes as if he is staying in to help pass protect, then takes the hand-off from the quarterback and heads downfield through the crease created by the linemen.
  • The receivers run clear-out routes downfield in order to take the defensive backs out of the play.

A variation of this play is the "quarterback draw", where the quarterback himself runs the ball, instead of handing it off, meaning the running back is free to help block. Another variation of this play is called the "wraparound draw", which takes longer to develop than a simple draw play.

Occasionally, the offense will actually attempt a double fake and run a play that looks initially like a pass (draw), then take a run (play-action) and end up passing the ball. This technique is especially effective against defenses where the linebackers and safeties are overly aggressive, because they will see pass initially, but the play-action will pull them down towards the line of scrimmage to stop the run. The vulnerable defense will pay no attention to the fact that the play is a fake, because they think they already misread a pass and should be out of position once they realize the play really was a pass.

I'll talk a little bit more about football terminology in the next column, which will be on the week of the National Championship Game. See you then! I'm Gir Todafunk, Mr. Wonderful, signing off. You are not alone!

Week 17 2055 Preview

2055 All-Americans and All-Conference Selections

2055 Award Winners

2055 Heisman Trophy Results

Mitakihara shut out Air Force, 80-0, advance to BCS Championship

Mitakihara shut out Air Force, 80-0, advance to BCS Championship

By Noriko Isobe
The Daily Magi
December 11, 2055


Quarterback D.W. Hinoi passed for 240 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 45 yards and another score as Tatsuya Kaname's Mitakihara Magi leveled the Air Force Falcons, 80-0, in the 2055 Mountain West Conference Championship Game at Mitakihara Stadium in Mitakihara Town, B.C. Halfback Chaz Thomas ran for 71 yards and two touchdowns and halfback Michael Wilkerson ran for 45 yards and a major in the blowout.

Wide receiver Jeff Scott caught four passes for 110 yards and a touchdown, wideout Ethan Brink caught threew passes for 99 yards and a major and wideout Matt Lewis caught two passes for 90 yards and two scores. Wideout Kevin Cronin also had a TD reception. Left guard Kyle Samford led the blockers with four pancakes, while strong safety Trevon Miller led the defense with three tackles and an interception.

"It's nice to get the shutout, but our job is far from done this year," Coach Kaname told the press after the game. "We're there to face Wake Forest or Minnesota or whoever we end up getting in the 2056 BCS Championship Game in New Orleans. We want to win that game and continue our tradition of being the Best College Football Team in All of College Football.

"Fasten your seatbelts, everyone, we're ready to finish this one in style."

Mitakihara improve to 13-0 for the year.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 72

[Image: gvd6.jpg]

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 72

By Gir Todafunk
Special To The Daily Magi
December 10, 2055


Happy Conference Championship Week, readers of the Daily Magi and the View from Avalon. I am Gir Todafunk, your ace cornerback on Coach Tatsuya Kaname's Magi Football Team, back with another weekly column. We're facing Air Force this week in the Mountain West Championship Game. On paper, this is a mismatch but we are not going to take the Falcons lightly. We're going to treat them just like any other opponent: we're going to give them the business and send them on their way. I expect them to go bowling, though.

I want to talk this week about the 46 defense. The 46 defense is an American football defensive formation, part of the eight in the box family, with six men along the line (4 playing line technique, 2 in a linebacker technique). There are two players at linebacker depth playing linebacker technique, and then three defensive backs. The 46 defense was originally developed and popularized by Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, who later became head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals. Today the scheme is currently used on a regular basis by the New York Jets head coach and defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, son of Buddy Ryan.

Unlike most defensive formations that take their names from the number of defensive linemen and linebackers on the field (i.e. the 4-3 defense has 4 linemen and 3 linebackers), the name "46" originally came from the jersey number of Doug Plank, who was a starting safety for the Bears when Ryan developed the defense, and typically played in that formation as a surrogate linebacker.

[Image: 500px-46_green.svg.png]

The 46 defense was an innovative defense with a unique defensive front, designed to confuse and put pressure on the opposing offense, especially their quarterback. Compared to a 4-3 base defense, the 46 dramatically shifts the defensive line to the weak side (the opposite end from the offense's tight end), with both guards and the center "covered" by the left defensive end and both defensive tackles. This front forced offenses to immediately account for the defenders lined up directly in front of them, making it considerably harder to execute blocking assignments such as pulling, trapping and pass protection in general. Moreover, the weak side defensive end would be aligned one to two yards outside the left offensive tackle, leaving opposing tackle 'on an island' when trying to block the pass rush.

Another key feature of the 46 is that both outside linebackers tend to play on the strong side of the formation. To avoid confusion, the strong and weak side linebackers (who are no longer lined up on opposite sides) are often renamed the 'Jack' and 'Charley' linebackers, respectively. The linebackers line up behind the linemen somewhere between one and three yards from the line of scrimmage. The primary tactic is to rush between five and eight players on each play, either to get to the quarterback quickly or disrupt running plays, although dropping some players back into pass coverage after seemingly indicating that they will blitz (see zone blitzing) is another method of creating confusion. Ryan would use all of these rushers to out-man and overwhelm the offense. Another major key to the 46 is the ability of the cornerbacks to play man free and bump and run coverage. Bump and run can allow the defense to take away the quarterback's immediate decision-making ability, by disrupting the timing of short routes needed to make a quick throw to beat the 46 defense.

The formation was very effective in the 1980s NFL because it often negated a team's running game and forced them to throw the ball. This was difficult for many teams at the time because most offensive passing games centered around the play-action pass, a situation that often favored the defense even further with the quarterback lined up to receive the snap from directly behind the center.

Currently, the 46 is rarely used in professional and college football (with the exception of teams led by Buddy's sons, the New York Jets coached by Rex Ryan, and the 2010 Cleveland Browns when Rob Ryan was the defensive coordinator). This is largely because of multiple receiver and spread formations. The eight man line that the 46 presented was most effective against the two back, two wide receiver sets common in the 1980s.

A minor weakness of the 46 defense can be too many defensive players lining up near the line of scrimmage to blitz, leaving areas open for receivers to catch passes. Also, short, timed passes can be thrown before the players blitzing have a chance to reach the quarterback. Another problem is that most teams do not have enough impact players to run the 46 as effectively as the 1980s Bears, the late 1980s Eagles and the 1993 Oilers did. Those teams fielded some of the best front-seven defenses ever, and included such players as Mike Singletary, Steve McMichael, Richard Dent, Dan Hampton, Clyde Simmons, Reggie White and Wilber Marshall.

The ideas of the 46 defense are more often used in today's game by bringing a fourth defensive back (usually the strong safety) up closer to the line of scrimmage, as an eighth man in "the box" to help stop the run. Defenses today may also run safety blitzes and corner blitzes at crucial moments without committing wholly to the "46" defense. Up front, teams still use the concept of the "T-N-T" front, where defensive linemen are lined up over the center and the two guards. This makes it difficult for the interior linemen to reach any of the linebackers on the second level.

Next week, I plan to talk about what happened during our game with Air Force, as well as any awards we ended up winning. The usual spoils, that is. You know what I'm talking about. I'm Gir, Mr. Wonderful, signing off. You are not alone.