Saturday, November 2, 2013

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 84

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Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 84

By Gir Todafunk
Special To The Daily Magi
September 15, 2056


Hello everyone, it's me, Gir Todafunk, with another weekly column for the Daily Magi and the Magi Football Blog. Well, it's down, up to 11 more to go as we continue this season. What a road trip, with nothing but blowouts, and a few national player of the week honors. It's nice to get some rest every now and then and get everything reset for the next game, which is Homecoming against Boise.

This week, I want to continue talking about the 4-4 defense. There are two inside linebackers in the 4–4 scheme sometimes known as the Mike and Buck linebackers. Where and how they play, and personnel types preferred, are highly scheme dependent. At least one of these linebackers assumes substantial pass coverage responsibilities. As there are two inside linebackers, there are also two outside linebackers. These outside backers can be described generically as the Sam and Will positions. The Sam linebacker typically sticks to the strong side, often outside the strong side defensive end, and has substantial pass coverage responsibilities. The Will position will generally play on the weak side. However, the Will can be moved to just about anywhere to better suit the defensive call or adjustment. Depending on the call and the personnel in place, Will’s job could be purely to get after the quarterback, play at linebacker depth, or to drop into coverage.

The nature of the defense requires a great deal of athleticism from these positions. Roman describes the Sam as the most difficult linebacking position to fill in his defense, and describes the Will as a strong safety type. In the defenses of Virginia Tech, Sam is compared to a cornerback, and Will to a free safety, in terms of the personnel types preferred for this role. The cornerbacks are often on islands in man coverage or in a deep zone, and they need to possess exceptional speed and change of direction skills. They also need to be intelligent when diagnosing the play and when in zone coverage, must be able to play the ball. The corners will generally line up several yards off the ball. The safety in the 4–4 defense should be one of the team’s best athletes. He needs to be fast enough to play in coverage, diagnose plays well, and hit like a linebacker. The safety will almost always be assigned to the deep middle of the field, but can also be blitzed in various packages.

There are teams that line up in a 4-4 as a base. An example is the Virgina Tech team of Frank Beamer. Another eight man front with four down linemen (most of the time) is "Erk" Russell's Junkyard Dog defense. The other form of a 4-4 is seen in teams that use a 4-3 base set along with an overshifted secondary. Instead of two cornerbacks and two safeties, these teams use two cornerbacks, one free safety, and one monster or rover back. This monster is a hybrid, who can play linebacker techniques when needed or pass protection when needed. An example of this approach is seen in the Eagle defense of Ron Vanderlinden, who was a defense coordinator at Penn State.

And that is the 4-4 through the eyes of yours truly, Gir Todafunk. Next week, I talk some more formations and plays, as well as Homecoming. Are you ready to Get Lucky? I sure am. I'm Gir, Mr. Wonderful, signing off. You are not alone.

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