What better way to kick off the blog than with a recap of the 2010 Spring Football Season.
• Multiple schematic changes were made on the offensive side of the ball going into spring ball. The staff decided they needed to get more plays during the course of the game due to the changes that were made in the past couple years to the play clock. Their decision was to go to a ‘No-Huddle’ look and also install the ‘Pistol’ formation as a part of that. Seems like a good idea to get the changes out of the way during the transition instead of after.
• The Pistol – In a nutshell, the Pistol is where the QB lines up 4 yards behind the center so it appears he is in the shotgun but is actually 3 yards closer to the line of scrimmage than normal. The running back would line up 3 yards behind the QB. It was made famous by the Nevada Wolfpack (Coach Chris Ault), who still run it very effectively to this day. UCLA, Arkansas, and Portland State are also installing it this spring. The coaching staff visited Indiana to get the specifics of the Pistol and No-Huddle.
• So what does the Pistol do for an offense? First, it gets the QB the vision capabilities of the Shotgun without having to offset the RB to one side or the other of the QB. The offsetting of the RB tips the offenses hand as to what side the protection is set to, etc. The defense in turn can blitz check away from that if they want. Not so in the Pistol. It also gives you the ability to use the traditional downhill running game by allowing the RB a running start to the line of scrimmage instead of using the ‘flat-footed handoff’ (my own verbage!), as is seen in the shotgun formation.
• As far as the No-Huddle change, I am very much looking forward to it. I think it will bring some excitement and tempo back to the offense that had been missing the last couple years. It can be run at any tempo the staff wants, meaning they can snap it 20 seconds into the play clock or use the entire 40 if they want. Just because they go to the line immediately after the previous play doesn’t mean they need to run the play immediately also. One other aspect is that it will allow the offense the time needed to trade and motion. If they can identify some playmakers and use them correctly this could be a very ‘fan-friendly’ offense.
• Offensively, there were also a few freshman that made an impression this spring and will push for playing time in the fall. Blair Townsend and Greg Hardin at WR will both bring play-making ability that has been lacking. Townsend has the prototypical big-body to make plays and Hardin is more a small, quick, get him the ball in space, type of receiver. Joe Kleason will see time on the OL as he is the most polished of the OL coming out of Cretin-Derham Hall. Darren Deneui will also see time at an OT position. With the OL returning 5 players who started or got significant playing time things should be looking up for the 2010 season at those positions.
• Not much changed at the QB position. Jake Landry will be back as the starter with Brent Goska providing a change of pace as the backup QB who can run. A big key will be how well the QB’s pick up the nuances of this new offense scheme and how they handle the accelerated pace.
• Josh Murray was running like a man possessed this spring. Coaches on both sides of the ball were raving about his speed and quickness. He was obviously putting in his time in the weight room during his time off because he looks better than ever. Teaming him up with GWC 1st Team/Rookie of the Year RB Mitch Sutton gives the Sioux a potent 1-2 punch in the backfield.
• A move back to the original 3-4 defensive scheme was decided upon over the winter. The Sioux have been running the 3-4 defense since 1989-1990 and had gotten away from the fundamentals of it in recent years. The coaching staff wanted to simplify things, which they hoped would get the defense playing faster. If spring ball is any indication, the mission was accomplished. The overall speed of the defense was noticeable, which could be contributed to both the scheme and the fact that faster players are being ushered into the program now.
• Overall, the defense returns 9 starters and should be the strength of the 2010 Fighting Sioux team. Spring ball ended up being an important time for the entire defense due to the scheme tweaks that the coaches installed over the winter. Everyone was learning, even upperclassmen, so it kept things fresh as the spring wore on.
• A number of freshman impressed the staff during spring ball. Seth Stanchik played his way into the rotation on the experienced defensive line. Garrison Goodman will play significantly at the strong side inside linebacker position, backing up Curtis Dublanko. He has progressed as the coaches had hoped after bringing him in from California.
• Three freshman OLB’s worked their way into the rotation for next fall. Cordero Finley, Dominique Bennett, and Damon Andrews all had good spring showings and will contribute, with Finley and Bennett being 2nd string at the OLB position. They are both very fast but young and inexperienced. However, playing behind Ryan Kasowski and Ross Cochran will give them the time they need to learn the position.
• In the secondary, Chris Hall and Chavon Mackey both played well and should see some time at the corner position. They both bring good speed and athleticism needed at the FCS level. The safety position is as solid as it has been in years with all the upperclassmen/experience back so it will be hard for young guys to break through next year. Injuries always change things though.
• The Sioux are looking at a couple possible transfers from Big 10 schools for the upcoming season. No word yet but I would assume we will hear more once schools start to break for the summer. Positions of need are the usual suspects – OL, Skill, DL. Most teams are open to transfers at those positions.