Hope you’re doing well. Five items for you.
1. I talked to linebacker Olufemi Opanubi after practice about the run defense, and he brought up run fits, which is where a lineman or linebacker is supposed to be lined up to defend a run. Theoretically, if each player has his run fit correct, every gap in the line will be plugged up for the running back.
“At the beginning of practice, we’re doing run-fit drills,” he said. “Coach (John) Thompson is on everybody’s butt about run fits. Everybody’s trying to get their assignment right and know what they’ve got to do so we can be more physical at the point of attack.”
A lineman can be beating his guy off the ball, but if he’s not in the right place in the scheme, the running back can go through the space the lineman just vacated. It’s sort of coach-speak, which I loathe, but that sort of explains why talent isn’t the only factor in a team defending well or poorly – knowing the scheme and executing it are important, also.
Said Opanubi of the team’s run defense problems in the first three games and their relation to improper run fits, “I think it was more of, let’s say, not being used to it, the comfort level with it. That’s getting better.”
2. It sounds similar on the other side of the ball. Offensive line coach Mike Riddle said the line coach is becoming more consistent in recognition, finishing blocks, combination blocks and run fits (the same thing as on defense, except the other way around. An offensive lineman has to know which player(s) he’s trying to move out of the way, and in which direction.)
“We’re definitely going to get the running game cranked up in a hurry,” he said.
Point worth noting: Riddle said pass protection comes more quickly (at least in this scheme) than run blocking. There are three pass protections, but “a dozen or more run plays with nuances within those plays,” he said. “You can focus more on technique when you’re working your ‘pass pro’ than with your run game. You’ve got to hammer scheme and technique, so it takes a little bit longer because you’ve got a bigger menu of plays.”
3. Bill Curry said he’s interested to see his players’ comportment on the trip.
“We have very specific parameters about how you handle yourself whether you’re in a public conveyance or whether you’re in a lobby,” said Curry, who may have become the first coach in NCAA history to call a plane “a public conveyance.”
It’ll be the first road trip for many as a college athlete and Curry said some players will be flying for the first time. Among the “parameters”: “We’re polite to every single human being, even people who might tend to be obnoxious fans. We don’t talk back to anybody.”
Players will be wearing GSU warm-ups. My favorite rule: Everyone has to have his shirt tucked in.
According to the athletic department, about 30 fans bought tickets through the GSU ticket office. That does not include players’ and coaches’ families, though.
Don’t know if you all caught it on the last blog, but you can watch the game on streaming video from Campbell. Here’s the link. (the good folks at Campbell had better mail me some swag for sending all this business their way.) (kidding.)
If you’re wondering – and I know you’re not – Campbell actually isn’t the only NCAA school nicknamed the Camels. First with the answer (I know of at least one other school nicknamed the Camels) will get some sort of prize. I haven’t figured out what yet. Maybe the awesome swag I’m not going to get from Campbell. For the record, I think Googling is against the spirit of the competition.
4. After much deliberation after I asked him who the most improved player after three games was, Curry decided on strong safety Fred Barnes, the redshirt freshman from M.L. King Jr.
Said Curry, “He can get people lined up and get his own alignment and help others and still make plays. You don’t know if a guy’s going to do that when he’s never played before.”
5. Your Star Jackson update. I asked Curry if Jackson was ready to play. Curry: “I think Star’s been ready for a couple of weeks. It’s just a matter of having the right situation to put him out there.”
You can flog me for not asking the obvious follow-up – “What’s the right situation?”
So apparently, Jackson could have played last week (last Thursday, you might remember, Curry said, “Star is better each week, that’s all I can say. ‘Ready’ is a very different term from improving every week.”). Obviously, Drew Little’s play made it pretty hard to put in a backup quarterback. If memory serves, Kelton Hill played one first-half series, didn’t move the ball, and then didn’t come back in again until the final play of overtime. We’ll see what happens in Buies Creek, N.C.
I’ll say this – from afar, Jackson has had a good attitude about the waiting game. When I see him in practice, he’s encouraging his teammates and seems engaged.
I talked to Campbell coach Dale Steele and will post blurbs Friday. Interesting note: He was Georgia Tech’s recruiting coordinator for about four weeks. Explanation forthcoming.
Thanks for reading. Follow me on Twitter. I’ll be posting game updates from Campbell, if that sweetens the ole Twitter-following pot for you. (Cue sounds of chirping crickets and a howling coyote, followed by a rolling tumbleweed.)