A View from the Sideline

Opening Weekend is HERE!! For months we’ve waited for the opening of the college football season. It’s been almost eight months since we were blessed by CFB’s Big Three - OU’s Trophy Sam Bradford, Florida’s Tim Tebow and Texas’ Colt McCoy. But, that time is behind us and we’re ready to kick off the 2009 season, with a complete slate. The Road to Pasadena begins...NOW!
Catch Lance Zierlein from 6 to 10 am daily, alongside John Granato. Listen to John Harris on the Sean and John show, with Sean Pendergast show 3 to 7 PM daily. www.1560thegame.com




Oregon (0-0) vs. Boise State (0-0)
September 3, 2009 - ESPN 9:15 PM CST
280.1 ypg - 2nd 204.8 ypg - 67th 484.9 ypg - 7th

2008 Ranking
Run Offense Pass Offense Total Offense Scoring Offense Run Defense Pass Defense Total Defense Scoring Defense 152.3 ypg - 54th 288.5 ypg - 13th 440.9 ypg - 18th 37.6 ppg - 12th 118.0 ypg - 22nd 190.2 ypg - 34th 308.2 ypg - 20th 12.6 ppg - 3rd

Keys to the Game No Johnson, No Problem - In most situations, when a squad loses one of its all-timers, said team struggles. Not only is that not the case for Boise State, the “loss” of Ian Johnson Projected Starting Lineups could make this team even better. Jeremy Avery and D.J Offense Harper are as explosive a pair of backs as you’re going to QB #2 Jeremiah Masoli find anywhere in the nation. The dimension of speed, RB #9 LeGarrette Blount excessive speed, will help the Bronco ‘O’ stretch defenses WR #91 Rory Caville horizontally. The Broncos were 54th in the nation in WR #23 Jeff Maehl rushing last year, but with these two flyboys, there’s a good WR #19 Jamere Holland chance, the Broncos will be a top 20 rush unit. Oregon’s TE #83 Ed Dickson LBs and DBs have seen speed, especially in the Pac-10, but LT #69 Bo Thran the Oregon ‘D’ couldn’t handle the Kellen Moore passing LG #77 Carson York game last year. And, now there’s more? Yes, speed. C #54 Jordan Holmes RG #79 Mark Asper Blount Trauma - Although LeGarrette Blount had a few RT #68 C.E Kaiser off-season issues, the power back is the one weapon that

2009 Schedule 9/3 @ Boise St. 9/12 Purdue 9/19 Utah 9/26 Cal 10/3 Washington State 10/10 @ UCLA 10/24 @ Washington 10/31 USC 11/7 @ Stanford 11/14 Arizona State 11/21 @ Arizona 12/3 Oregon State

41.9 ppg - 7th 119.4 ypg - 23rd 270.2 ypg - 11th 389.6 ypg - 82nd 28.2 ppg - 78th

2009 Schedule 9/3 Oregon 9/12 Miami (OH) 9/18 @ Fresno St 9/26 @ Bowling Green 10/3 UC Davis 10/14 @ Tulsa 10/24 @ Hawaii 10/31 San Jose State 11/6 @ La. Tech 11/14 Idaho 11/20 @ Utah State 11/27 Nevada 12/5 New Mexico St. Projected Starting Lineups

QB #11 Kellen Moore RB #27 Jeremy Avery OR #6 DJ Harper FB #40 Richie Brockel WR #2 Austin Pettis WR #4 Titus Young TE #85 Tommy Gallarda LT #72 Matt Slater LG #59 Will Lawrence C #66 Thomas Byrd RG #62 Kevin Sapien RT #54 Michael Ames

DE #39 Will Tukuafu DE #58 Kenny Rowe DT #90 Blake Ferras DT #88 Brandon Bair MLB #55 Casey Matthews SLB #11 Eddie Pleasant WLB #35 Spencer Paysinger S #37 Talmadge Jackson III S #2 TJ Ward CB #6 Walter Thurmond III CB #17 Willie Gasper

can present serious issues for the quick, but small, defensive front. He’s the one guy who can keep the Bronco offense out of the end zone, even off the field. His ability to pound the ball in the fourth quarter will keep the Oregon offense on the field. The problem is that the Ducks can’t fall behind by three touchdowns as they did last year. If they stay ahead, he’ll dominate the third and fourth quarter. Weapons of Mass Destruction - Oregon safety TJ Ward and Boise State safety Jeron Johnson are two of the hardest hitters in the nation. In fact, Johnson might be one of the most hated players in all of Eugene after a couple of “late” hits on Oregon ball carriers in 2008. Either way, the physical presence in the middle of the field for both teams affects where each offense wants to, and can, be successful.

DE #98 Ryan Winterswyk DT #90 Billy Winn NT #97 Chase Baker SE #96 Jarrell Root WLB #36 Aaron Tevis MLB #52 Derrell Acrey NB #17 Winston Venable S #8 George Iloka S #23 Jeron Johnson CB #1 Kyle Wilson CB #13 Brandyn Thompson

Conclusion - I just don’t like taking the visiting team out on the blue turf. The Broncos haven’t lost a regular season home game since Sept. 2001. Moore should start his sophomore campaign with a 300 yard/2 TD performance and a BSU win.

Boise State - 34 vs. Oregon - 27



Virginia Tech (0-0) vs. Alabama (0-0)
September 5, 2009 - ABC 7:00 PM CST
174.4 ypg - 35th 129.1 ypg - 111st 303.4 ypg - 103rd

2008 Ranking
Run Offense Pass Offense Total Offense Scoring Offense Run Defense Pass Defense Total Defense Scoring Defense 184.6 ypg - 30th 171.1 ypg - 97th 355.8 ypg - 63rd 30.1 ppg - 35th 74.1 ypg - 2nd 189.4 ypg - 30th 263.5 ypg - 3rd 14.3 ppg - 7th

Keys to the Game Hashing it out - Last year, the Crimson Tide lost two games the entire season - Florida and Utah. The common thread between the two teams was the fact that each offense Projected Starting Lineups excelled with plays outside the hashes. In moving the Projected Starting Lineups Offense offense outside the hashes, both teams took away the Offense QB #5 Tyrod Taylor strength of the Alabama ‘D’ - its middle with Terrence Cody QB #12 Greg McElroy RB #34 Ryan Williams at nose and Rolando McClain at linebacker. Why is that RB #22 Mark Ingram FB #42 Kenny Jefferson significant for this game? The Virginia Tech offense is a FB/TE #17 Brad Smelley WR #29 Xavier Boyce traditional-between-the-tackles power ‘O’ that has trouble WR #8 Julio Jones WR #19 Danny Coale pushing teams boundary to boundary. That’s great news for WR #4 Marquise Maze TE #8 Greg Boone Bama’s defense - VT playing the game inside the hashes. TE #84 Colin Peek T #77 Ed Wang LT #77 James Carpenter G #70 Sergio Render The Hammer - Once the Tide coaching staff made the LG #78 Mike Johnson C #60 Beau Warren concerted effort to cut down on the passing game and rely C #73 William Vlachos G #68 Jaymes Brooks more on the power run game, Bama became a 12 win team. RG #75 Barrett Jones T #62 Blake DeChristopher RB Glen Coffee was a wonderful running back for the Tide, RT #79 Drew Davis and although he ran with power, he wasn’t the hammer. That was Mark Ingram. He proved last season, in a backup Defense Defense role, that he’s a load to tackle. Now, that he should get 15 to DE #97 Lorenzo Washington DE #6 Jason Worilds 20 carries a game, he’s an unwanted sight for most defenses DE #47 Nekos Brown DE #96 Luther Davis DT #95 Cordarrow Thompson late in the game. When this guy gets rolling, he’ll pound on NT #62 Terrence Cody Virginia Tech’s defense incessantly and wear them out by DT #91 John Graves LB #13 Cory Reamer the fourth quarter. LB #52 Barquell Rivers LB #30 Dont’a Hightower LB #26 Cody Grimm LB #25 Rolando McClain The Other Ocho - Every team across America has some form LB #36 Jake Johnson LB #32 Eryk Anders of the Wildcat offense. But, no team has ever put a TE at the S #24 Dorian Porch S #27 Justin Woodall Wildcat QB position like V Tech did with TE Greg Boone. S #17 Kam Chancellor S #4 Mark Barron His arrival in the Wildcat was the perfect tonic last season CB #22 Stephan Virgil CB #28 Javier Arenas for a team struggling on offense. I don’t know if we’ll see CB #21 Rashad Carmichael CB #3 Kareem Jackson him in the Wildcat in this one, but he’s a 287 pound beast who has good hands and can get open against linebackers. He’s going to be a key for sure on Saturday night. Conclusion - I just don’t think Virginia Tech can run its normal, conservative offense and win. Alabama is content getting in a slugfest for 12 rounds and surviving. Virginia Tech isn’t scared of a fight, but it’ll wear out by the 4th in a UA win.

2009 Schedule 9/5 Alabama (ATL) 9/12 Marshall 9/19 Nebraska 9/26 Miami 10/3 @ Duke 1010 Boston College 10/17 @ Georgia Tech 10/29 UNC (Th.) 11/5 @ East Car. (Th.) 11/14 @ Maryland 11/21 NC State 11/28 @ UVA

22.1 ppg - 90th 104.4 ypg - 14th 175.0 ypg - 16th 279.4 ypg - 7th 16.7 ppg - 9th

2009 Schedule 9/5 Va. Tech (ATL) 9/12 FIU 9/19 North Texas 9/26 Arkansas 10/3 @ Kentucky 10/10 @ Ole Miss 10/17 South Carolina 10/24 Tennessee 11/7 LSU 11/14 @ Miss. State 11/21 Chattanooga 11/27 @ Auburn (FRI)

Alabama - 21 vs. Virginia Tech - 13



September 5, 2009 NBC 2:30 PM CST If you’ve listened closely enough since the Hawai’i Bowl win over the Hawaii Warriors, you’ve heard the rumble coming loud and clear from Touchdown Jesus. This is Notre Dame’s year. This is the year that the 3-9 2007 season is forgotten. This is Nevada Players to Watch the year losses to QB #10 Colin Kaepernick mighty Syracuse RB #34 Vai Taua RB #7 Luke Lippincott (yes, that’s tongue DE #99 Kevin Basped in cheek) go up in smoke. This is the year for ten wins and a return to dominance. Now, it might be redemption time in South Bend, but don’t tell Chris Ault and the Nevada Wolf Pack who may be the second best team the Irish face all season long.

Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick was a 2,000/1,000 QB last season and is one of most talented dual threat quarterbacks in the nation. He’s a long striding runner who doesn’t wow you with his speed, but he consistently gets away from the defense. The Irish defense may need to use linebacker spies to make sure Kaepernick doesn’t get loose on the perimeter where he’s as dangerous throwing as he’s running. QB #7 Jimmy Clausen The Irish offense C #55 Eric Olsen DT #9 Ethan Johnson is the key, as usual. S #28 Kyle McCarthy With QB Jimmy Clausen throwing the ball downfield to WR Michael Floyd, Golden Tate and TE Kyle Rudolph, the Wolf Pack can’t stop them. If the Irish get a lead, then Kaepernick has to throw the ball to get back in the game. Once Nevada is one dimensional, it’s over.
Notre Dame Players to Watch

This is the perfect opening game for the Irish, yet it’s also the trickiest opponent with which to open the season. Irish fans not familiar with Nevada will think this should be a blowout. Whereas it won’t be a blowout, the Nevada defense (91st in total ‘D’ in 2008) isn’t stout enough to stop ND offensively.

September 5, 2009 ABC 2:30 PM CST CLICK ON LINK FOR JH/LZ PODCAST http://www.divshare.com/flash/playlist?myId=8377457-603 It’s been two long years since these two have taken the field against one another. The Cowboys flew to Georgia with a load of hype, ready to shock the SEC world. Uh, Georgia Players to Watch well, that didn’t QB #14 Joe Cox WR #8 AJ Green happen. Georgia DT #95 Jeff Owens put a hurtin’ on LB #35 Rennie Curran the Cowboys that they’ve been feeling for the last two years. The Cowboys, ironically, have even higher expectations than they did in 2007, but this matchup is in Stillwater. And, that, my friends, changes everything. The Cowboys have dealt with the embarrassment of that loss for a while and they’re determined to not let this happen


again. Especially at home. The main question is whether Georgia is going to be able to handle the run game haymaker that OSU is going to throw at them. For Oklahoma State, the key is to not fall in love entirely with WR Dez Bryant down the field. Now, it’s got to stretch the field with the great WR, but it has to make it’s living with RB Kendall Hunter 20 to 25 times. When UGA got hit in the face last OSU Players to Watch season, it QB #11 Zac Robinson struggled badly. RB #24 Kendall Hunter WR #1 Dez Bryant LB #20 Andre Sexton UGA QB Joe Cox is an experienced winner - he didn’t lose a game at Charlotte Independence HS, but Stillwater isn’t Charlotte and OSU isn’t Providence Day HS. He needs some help from the run game to have a chance to hit the 30+ point mark - to have a chance to win. But, Caleb King and Carlton Thomas aren’t Knowshon Moreno. And, that could eliminate UGA’s shot at a win.

I truly believe when teams are relatively evenly matched, emotion and fire always win out. Playing at home with a huge red and black chip on its shoulder, OSU won’t, and can’t, lose. The Triplets - Zac Robinson, Hunter and Bryant - will show the nation how tough it’s going to be to stop them.


BYU VS. OKLAHOMA September 5, 2009 ESPN 6:00 PM CST

The key to the game though is whether BYU can handle the running game of Oklahoma. With four new starters and a completely revamped OL, the Sooners must spend more time on the ground, running Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray (if healthy). The Cougars are not the 1985 Bears against the run, more of a bend-but-not-break unit, if you will. As such, expect to see a ton of Brown and Murray. When that happens, TE Jermaine Gresham OU Players to Watch will be a big factor QB #14 Sam Bradford RB #7 DeMarco Murray against the BYU DT #93 Gerald McCoy ‘D’ CB #2 Brian Jackson BYU will control the ball with the short passing game, so the Sooners can’t allow Hall to sit and get comfortable in the pocket. If he does, he’ll pick apart any defense, even a great ‘D’ like this.

Although there aren’t a ton of games on the week one slate that truly trigger the meter, the OU-BYU matchup is an intriguing one. The MWC is one of the six best conferences in the nation, but it’ll take another huge win over a BCS power to truly get people’s attention. BYU can carry the mantle for the BYU Players to Watch conference with a QB #15 Max Hall huge upset over RB #45 Harvey Unga OU. The two TE #32 Dennis Pitta teams are meeting DE #84 Jan Jorgensen up in the new Cowboys Stadium and the ball figures to be in the air for most of the day with two of the best passing quarterbacks in the nation - OU’s Trophy, aka, Sam Bradford and BYU’s Max Hall.

Many think that BYU will be the MWC’s best team this season, but I don’t think the Vegas insiders agree given the -21.5 number up on the board. Either way, the Sooners will “up-tempo” BYU’s defense right out of the building in the second half winning by two touchdowns, not three.

MIAMI VS. FLORIDA STATE September 7, 2009 ESPN 7:00 PM CST


Man, just saying the words...Miami vs. FSU. Oh, that’s sweet. The moments come flying into view. Wide Right I, II and III. The 1988 FSU debacle. Michael Barrow’s hit on Tamarick Vanover. Stanford Jennings’ hit on Roscoe Parrish. The OB. The Doak. Michael Irvin in 1987. Charlie Ward in 1993. What a series this has been Miami Players to Watch QB #12 Jacory Harris over the past LT #64 Jason Fox couple of decades. LB #31 Sean Spence This one, as it has DT #99 Marcus Forston been since 2004, has conference connotations, but beyond that, it’s a rough way to start the season. Don’t expect a repeat of last year’s point-a-minute scoring fest. Not in the first game of the season. Remember all of those Labor Day slugfests in the mid 2000s? U-G-L-Y!

On paper, Miami looked to have a nice offensive balance with QB Jacory Harris throwing and RB Graig Cooper running. But, with Cooper injured, the onus on moving the Hurricanes offense falls squarely on Harris. The FSU defense has major holes to fill, but I don’t think the Miami offense will be able to account for FSU’s lack of experience. Although Miami OC Mark Whipple (Brown U Class of 1979) is a wonderful offensive mind, he Florida St. Players to Watch can’t turn this unit QB #7 Christian Ponder LG #62 Rodney Hudson into the 2002 LB #36 Dekoda Watson offense just yet. CB #21 Patrick Robinson The key for Florida State is running behind one of the best guards in the nation Rodney Hudson. The youthful FSU OL has transformed into an experienced bunch that must open holes for the FSU running backs. If FSU rushes for 135 yards or more, the Seminoles will be in great shape to win this game.

This one won’t be pretty in the slightest. An early game in Tallahassee will be hot. It’ll be intense. It’ll be hard hitting. And, it could be ugly as most early season games are. But, at home, FSU will have a decided advantage if it can run the ball and Miami can’t. That advantage will lead to a win.



This week, we’re going to take a look at a play that is one the most underrated aspects of the University of Florida offense. With speed to burn, the Gators have the perfect complement and counter - the inside TE shovel pass.

Pre-snap, QB Tim Tebow has an “option” called to the right, to the two receiver side of the field. He looks over to that side and knows his one and only read is the Alabama linebacker #25 Rolando McClain. With no safety help to the top of the field, Tebow knows he has the right play.

Two DBs are in man coverage, so they’re essentially “blocked”, regardless of the play. On the snap, Tebow, his RB Jeff Demps and TE Aaron Hernandez start right, while the line blocks down to the left. LG #57 pulls around to the right to lead the way for Hernandez, if he gets the pitch.




Tebow has three options - one is to pitch forward to Hernandez, two is to pitch to Demps and the third is to keep it himself. With only 1 defensive player unaccounted for, Tebow really can’t make a wrong decision. The play is designed for Hernandez, but if it’s not there, there’s 2 and 3.

Bama’s McClain, not accustomed to playing on the edge against the option, picks option 3 - Tebow - leaving open the “option” to either pitch to Demps or to the original intended target - Hernandez. The OL has “walled” off the inside and the LG is pulling around to hit someone.

Tebow easily flips the inside shovel to Hernandez who just has to make an easy catch and turn upfield. The LG has pulled all the way to the opposite side of the field and is still looking for someone to block. As he turns up, he can look up the backside safety or the backside LB.

There isn’t much resistance between Hernandez and the first down marker. On 3rd and 5, this might’ve been a risky call, w/the Gators down 3 in the fourth quarter. However, knowing that the Tide would be in man coverage, therefore no safety “alley” help, it was hardly risky and it was perfect.


South Carolina at NC State 6 PM ESPN - State is much improved over last year and they have QB Russell Wilson - NC State 24 vs. South Carolina - 20 Troy at Bowling Green - Troy is just too athletic, keep an eye on DE Brandon Lang. He’s got 1st round ability - Troy - 23 vs. Bowling Green - 21 Villanova at Temple - If this one was hoops, people might care. Regardless, Temple coach Al Golden is one of the bright young stars in coaching - Temple - 23 vs. Villanova - 13 Coastal Carolina at Kent State - In a Flash... - Kent State - 27 vs. Coastal Carolina - 10 North Texas at Ball State 6:30 PM ESPNU - Ball State will rely on the running game of MiQuale Lewis, with no Nate Davis on campus - Ball State - 42 vs. North Texas - 21 North Dakota State at Iowa State - The Paul Rhoads era had better start with a bang and with offensive coordinator and former Rice offensive coordinator Tom Herman, QB Austen Arnaud should light it up - Iowa State - 38 vs. NDSU - 14 Eastern Kentucky vs. Indiana 7 PM Big Ten Network - Indiana should be solid defensively, led by DE Greg Middleton who must rebound and have a great season - IU - 31 vs. EKU - 10 Utah State at Utah 8 PM MTN - Utah may not have the firepower it did last year under Brian Johnson, but the defense is still one of the best in the nation - Utah - 35 vs. Utah State - 12

Friday September 4th
Tulsa at Tulane 7 PM ESPN - Tulane will have to run to win and keep Tulsa off the field. Unfortunately, there’s not enough Andre Anderson to beat this potent Tulsa squad - Tulsa - 51 vs. Tulane - 35 Central Arkansas at Hawaii - Hawaii won’t lose the opener to a DII team - expect the Warriors to rebound from the embarrassing loss to Notre Dame last bowl season with a resounding win - Hawaii - 51 vs. CAU - 21

Saturday September 5th
Towson at Northwestern 11 am Big Ten Network - Northwestern QB Mike Kafka is more runner than passer, so expect a 350 yard rushing day for the Cats against the overmatched Tigers of Towson - Northwestern - 49 vs. Towson - 17 Montana State at Michigan State 11 am Big Ten Network - The Spartans will audition Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol, but it won’t matter much with Montana State coming to town - Michigan State - 34 vs. Montana State - 10 Appalachian State at East Carolina - With Armanti Edwards, the Mountaineers had a chance, but without him, it’ll be a bit dicey. The ECU defense is one of the more underrated units in the nation and won’t be tested - ECU - 31 vs. ASU - 10 Minnesota at Syracuse 11 am ESPN2 - One of the more intriguing opening day games. We get our first look at Syracuse QB Greg Paulus, former Duke point guard. I don’t know if I should have a tea in honor of Mr. TeaBag under center. With WR Eric Decker back, the Gophers should win a close one - Minnesota - 31 vs. Syracuse - 27 Kentucky at Miami U 11 am ESPNU - Kentucky could be a major surprise in the SEC this year with Mike Hartline under center, alongside a solid defense, led by CB Trevard Lindley - Kentucky - 34 vs. Miami U - 24 Navy at Ohio State 11 am ESPN - With a week to prepare for the option, I’d worry about this a little bit for Ohio State. With the entire summer to prepare, I’m not. Terrelle Pryor will have his way with a smaller Navy ‘D’ - Ohio State - 42 vs. Navy - 10 Akron at Penn State 11 am Big Ten Network - The offense should have little trouble with the Zips. QB Daryll Clark should have a big three quarters, if he even gets that far - Penn State - 42 vs. Akron - 10 Liberty at West Virginia 11 ESPN360 - Honestly? Really? Does anyone think that these two teams playing one another is a


good idea - West Virginia - 54 vs. Liberty - 3 Toledo at Purdue 11 am Big Ten Network - This is an interesting one. I’m not sure if the Boilers can handle stopping 5’5” 170 lb. Eugene Jarvis, but then again, Purdue head coach Danny Hope can’t lose his first game - Purdue - 31 vs. Toledo - 24 Northern Iowa at Iowa 11:05 am Big Ten Network - Iowa will need to find a running back now that Jewel Hampton is out. Regardless, No. Iowa doesn’t have the firepower to knock off the Hawkeyes in Iowa City - Iowa - 38 vs. Northern Iowa - 10 Western Kentucky at Tennessee 11:20 am ESPN360 - The Lane Kiffin era begins and it had better begin with a win. Lose to Western Kentucky and it’s going to be a rough day/week/month/year for Mr. Kiffin - Tennessee - 27 vs. Western Kentucky - 3 Jacksonville State at Georgia Tech 12 PM ESPN360 - No Ryan Perrilloux? Shocking, right? Either way, Perrilloux’s presence wasn’t worth a hill of beans last year. It’ll be just as ugly this year - Georgia Tech - 51 vs. Jacksonville State - 10 Youngstown State at Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh shouldn’t have a tough time with the Penguins, but it could struggle offensively as it might all season long - Pittsburgh - 28 vs. Youngstown State - 13 Northeastern at Boston College - The Eagles have so many issues - Dominique Davis, Mark Herzlich are just two of them - but Northeastern can’t match the Eagles score for score, even with a youthful BC offense - Boston College - 23 vs. Northeastern - 10 Nicholls State at Air Force - Air Force runs the flex/spread/wishbone option to a T, but could struggle slightly with a solid group of athletes at NSU. Altitude will hurt Nicholls late as the Falcons pull away in the 2nd half - Air Force - 31 vs. NSU - 13 Portland State at Oregon State - The Rodgers brothers aren’t about to let the Beavers half-step for the opener. With both guys healthy, it won’t really matter who’s taking snaps under center - Oregon State- 51 vs. Portland State - 13 Weber State at Wyoming - Wow, this one has me captivated. Yeah, that’s a shout-out to the one and only Chompers - Wyoming 34 vs. Weber State - 13 San Jose State at USC - SJSU can’t beat USC, it just won’t happen, but with a true freshman starting QB for USC, it might force the Trojans to rely more on the talented stable of USC running backs. And, that’s not a good thing for SJSU - USC - 49 vs. SJSU 20 Western Michigan at Michigan - The Wolverines have lost their last two openers - one to Appalachian State and last year’s to Utah. I don’t like this opener at all for Michigan, but RichRod’s squad CAN’T lose this one. More desperation than anything else, especially with the rotate-a-QB whirlybird he’ll have going on Saturday - Michigan - 27 vs. Western Michigan - 24 Baylor at Wake Forest 2:30 PM ESPN360 - The Bears are much improved over last year and with QB Robert Griffin, they’re going to make some tremendous waves in the Big 12. But, with experienced QB Riley Skinner still in Winston-Salem, I’m taking the Demon Deacons to win a close one - Wake Forest - 23 vs. Baylor - 20 Jackson State at Mississippi State 2:30 PM ESPNU - The Dan Mullen era begins in Starkville and it should mean a win over a D1AA school. But, then again, it was Mississippi State that lost to D1AA Maine a few years ago. Don’t worry MSU fans, Mullen won’t let it happen this year - Mississippi State - 31 vs. Jackson State - 14 Missouri vs. Illinois in St. Louis 2:40 PM ESPN - With Juice Williams pitching and Arrelious Benn catching, I’m rolling the dice with an inconsistent, but highly athletic Illini squad. Keep an eye on Mizzou’s #12 Sean Weatherspoon, one of the best defensive players in the nation. Too bad he can’t play both ways. - Illinois - 38 vs. Missouri - 31 Rice at UAB - This year, the Blazers have the experienced signal caller Joe Webb, who was a 2,000/1,000 QB last year (passing for 2k and rushing for 1k). If the Blazers don’t shoot themselves in the foot, they’ve got more experienced talent than Rice at this point. But, UAB can’t and won’t stay away from the mistakes and Rice can move the ball on anyone, regardless of what QB is under center. - Rice - 34 vs. UAB - 31 Southern Illinois at Marshall - Marshall has an experienced offensive line with RB Darius Marshall as the bell cow of the offense. Riding Marshall is the right thing to do against a D1AA power. - Marshall - 31 vs. SIU - 21


Northwestern State at Houston - The Cougs have as powerful an offense as any school in the state of Texas. With four receivers , each of which could catch 60 passes this season, and RB Bryce Beall in his second year, Houston won’t have any hiccups against the likes of NW State. QB Case Keenum starts his dark horse Heisman campaign with a 400 yard, 4 touchdown day Houston - 63 vs. NW State - 14 Citadel at North Carolina - The Tar Heels are one of the teams with a ton of expectations this season after an 8-win season in 2008. Citadel will be notch number one on UNC’s belt. - North Carolina - 45 vs. Citadel - 12 MTSU at Clemson - Clemson was so over-hyped last year entering the 2008 campaign, but this year, they’ve really got a shot to be a nine win team. I love CJ Spiller at RB and you’ll see the beginning of the Kyle Parker era at Clemson. It’s going to be a good one.Clemson - 38 vs. MTSU - 10 William & Mary at Virginia - W&M is a solid D1AA program, but UVA should take care of business. - Virginia - 34 vs. W&M 21 Samford at UCF - Another D1A-D1AA matchup, this one in Orlando, where head coach George O’Leary is trying to leave 2008 in the rear view mirror. A win over Samford is at least a nice start. WR #5 Rocky Ross should have a great final season for UCF, starting with a strong game against Samford. - UCF - 34 vs. Samford - 14 good idea - West Virginia - 54 vs. Liberty - 3 La. Tech at Auburn 6 PM ESPNU - Auburn is one of those schools flying under the radar this season with a new coach Gene Chizik and perhaps most importantly Gus Malzahn as offensive coordinator. The up-tempo scheme that Malzahn brought to Tulsa last season may not be Auburn fans’ cup of tea, but if it works, they won’t care. It should on this day against a decent La. Tech team that went to a bowl last year. - Auburn - 35 vs. La. Tech - 17 Missouri State at Arkansas 6 PM ESPN360 - I’m so pumped for year one of the Ryan Mallett era at Arkansas. The 6’7” 245 pound gunslinger has one of the best arms in the game and has one of the best minds in the game molding him, head coach Bobby Petrino. The Hogs should have little trouble with Missouri State - Arkansas - 51 vs. Missouri State - 21 Charleston Southern at Florida 6 PM FSN/ESPN 360 - The spread is 73 for this one. 73?!? That’s only if Tim Tebow and company were to play for three quarters. They’ll only play one and a half. Tebow will be in street clothes by the third quarter, while John Brantley leads the Gators to a big second half. - Florida - 72 vs. Charleston Southern - 7 Wofford at South Florida - USF will win the game, but what I’m most interested in seeing is whether USF can find a running back. Both Mike Ford and Jamar Taylor are out with injuries, putting more pressure on home-run hitter Moise Plancher. QB Matt Grothe won’t get much time, but should shred the Wofford secondary nonetheless - USF - 41 vs. Wofford - 14 Richmond at Duke - If Duke has truly taken the next step or is ready to take the next step, it can’t lose to a D1AA school. The problem so to speak is that the Spiders are damn good. How about defending D1AA champs with 16 returning starters good? This will be a four quarter game with a close finish, but the Blue Devils will get a narrow win at home - Duke - 27 vs. Richmond - 24 Florida Atlantic at Nebraska - The Huskers are a big favorite for this one, but many people think that FAU will be fighting for a Sun Belt title. Sun Belt, Sun Schmelt - the Huskers will take care of business, but not in a manner that will please the legion of Nebraska fans on Saturday - Nebraska - 35 vs. FAU - 21 U Conn at Ohio - I’m not completely sure what to expect from the Huskies this year. But, the running game should still be strong with Andre Dixon and Jordan Todman at running back, U Conn should take care of business in Athens - U Conn - 28 vs. Ohio - 21 New Mexico at Texas A&M - The Aggies took it on the chin in last year’s opener against Arkansas State, but should be an improved squad. They took care of business against New Mexico in Albequerque last season and should do so again, behind the pass catch combination of Jerrod Johnson to Jeff Fuller/Ryan Tannehill. Keep an eye on whether TAMU’s defense has improved as it tries to stop a new, high-tempo Lobo offensive attack - Texas A&M - 31 vs. New Mexico - 21


ULM at Texas - Texas is as good as any team in the nation. The New Orleans Saints could be coming with the Warhawks to DKR and it wouldn’t matter in the slightest. Texas QB Colt McCoy will make the most of his two and a half quarters of play, with a trio of touchdown tosses and a TD run for good measure - Texas - 54 vs. ULM - 10 Northern Illinois at Wisconsin 6 PM Big Ten Network - No one really got to see the real John Clay last season, but as THE back in the Wisconsin running game this year, he could have a huge season. And, it starts against the Huskies solid defense. Clay should have 125 yards and a couple of touchdowns to get the Big Ten’s attention. - Wisconsin - 35 vs. NIU - 14 Southern at ULL - ULL returns all five starting offensive linemen from last season, but they don’t have much experience under center and at running back. It won’t hurt them in this one, but down the road it could be a tough go if a QB doesn’t emerge - ULL 31 vs. Southern - 10 Army at Eastern Michigan - This is not an easy opener for Eastern Michigan in the slightest. New Head coach Ron English is facing an Army team with a new head coach (Rich Ellerson) and a new bag of tricks, especially with the Desert Swarm scheme on defense. Army’s offense is still a shade behind and that’ll be the difference - a win for English in the opener - EMU - 27 vs. Army 21 Northern Colorado at Kansas - Okay, so Mark Mangino once coached with Bill Snyder, but it doesn’t mean he has to follow his scheduling practices. Either way, it’s a huge blowout in favor of the Jayhawks. - Kansas - 63 vs. UNC - 7 Alcorn State at Southern Miss - The Golden Eagles should breeze through this one, no matter if WR DeAndre Brown is healthy enough to give it a go or not. - USM - 51 vs. Alcorn State - 13 North Dakota at Texas Tech - Tech should have little trouble taking care of business against UND, but regardless, QB Taylor Potts gets his first meaningful action under center and his progress is paramount for this team this season. The Red Raiders will need him to shine quickly, given the Sept. 19th trip to Texas and Sept. 26th trip to Houston - Texas Tech - 54 vs. UND - 14 Miss. Valley State vs. Arkansas State - Unless Jerry Rice shows up, this could be a real snoozer. The Red Wolves are thought to be one of the contenders for a Sun Belt championship, so they better come out of the chute in a solid way against MVSU Arkansas State - 49 vs. MVSU - 13 U Mass at Kansas State - So, do you say the Bill Snyder era is starting or re-starting at Kansas State? Either way, the Wildcats should win, but it won’t be pretty, at least not this season - Kansas State - 31 vs. U Mass - 17 San Diego State at UCLA - There’s no good reason why these two teams are not in a bowl game every single year. The Rick Neuheisel era started with a whimper and a lot of injuries, but in 2009, the Bruins have some solid defensive talent to get excited about. SDSU? Not so much, at least not this season. - UCLA - 28 vs. San Diego State - 14 Indiana State at Louisville 6:30 PM ESPN360 - As a late 1970s hoops matchup, this would be a must see game. As a late 2000s football matchup, uh, not so much. - Louisville - 41 vs. Indiana State - 7 Western Carolina at Vanderbilt 6:30 PM ESPN360 - Vanderbilt is doing something it hasn’t done since, well, I can’t think back that far - starting a season after a previous season’s bowl win. That experience was worth it’s weight in bowl season practices. With a defense that still will knock your block off, the ‘Dores should cruise in this one - V andy - 35 vs. WCU - 7 Idaho at New Mexico State 7 PM ESPN360 - A WAC game in the opener? Wow. That should make this one a little bit more exciting than the D1A/D1AA matchups that are dominating the landscape in week one. New Mexico State will squeak by in DeWayne Walker’s debut as NMSU head coach - NMSU - 21 vs. Idaho - 20 Stanford at Washington State -Stanford is a “hot” team in many people’s eyes this season and the insertion of former five star QB Andrew Luck into the starting lineup did nothing to diminish the white hot glare on the team on the Farm. This is a perfect spot for Luck to get his feet wet at the same time facing a defense that is one of the worst in the nation - Stanford - 42 vs. Washington State - 21 SFA at SMU - The second year of the June Jones experiment holds a ton of promise, especially with the number of offensive skill players returning. QB Bo Levi Mitchell will hook up with his talented WR for four TDs in a SMU win.- SMU - 42 vs. SFA - 21


Central Michigan at Arizona - Boy, what a matchup for Arizona. Expectations after last season have got to be through the roof yet again, even with the number of personnel losses for UA. Then, on top of that, the Wildcats get a visit from one of the most dangerous offenses in the nation, led by QB Dan Lefevour and WR Antonio Brown - Arizona - 34 vs. CMU - 31 Buffalo at UTEP 8 PM CBS CSTV - Buffalo shocked the Miners last year in Buffalo, but this isn’t near being the same Buffalo team. QB Drew Willy graduated and just last week star RB James Starks hurt his shoulder and is out for the season. It probably wouldn’t matter anyway as QB Trevor Vittatoe should have a field day against the Bulls secondary/defense - UTEP - 42 vs. Buffalo 27 Idaho State at Arizona State - The Sun Devils were an embarrassing bunch last season after a ton of preseason hype came their way in 2008. Idaho State won’t stand in the way of redemption. At least in week one - Arizona State - 49 vs. ISU - 14 Maryland at Cal 9 PM ESPN2 - In 2008, Cal was ranked going into this matchup against an average Maryland team. With the game at 12 PM EST, the Golden Bears never adjusted and got the stuffing knocked out of them. However, Cal is at home this time and has the best player on either team - RB Jahvid Best. He should start his Heisman campaign with a solid outing...and a Cal winCal - 35 vs. Maryland - 17 UC Davis at Fresno State - UC Davis isn’t a team to take lightly, but the Bulldogs won’t trip on themselves until the WAC season starts. This should be a systematic cakewalk. - Fresno State - 42 vs. UCD - 17 Sacramento State at UNLV - Wow, um...well...huh...alright, that’s all I have to say on that. - UNLV - 38 vs. Sacramento State 10 LSU at Washington 9:30 PM ESPN - Back in the day, this would be a wonderful battle of purples, but in 2009, the Huskies are way out of their league, even with a new head coach Steve Sarkisian. I want to see Washington do well, soon, but the LSU opener is as tough a way to open the season as possible. The Tigers need to get a solid performance from QB Jordan Jefferson to prepare for the SEC slate. They should get it. - LSU - 42 vs. Washington - 14

Sunday September 6th
Ole Miss at Memphis 2:30 PM ESPN - Perhaps no team in college football has as high expectations vs. last season as Ole Miss. But, then again, a win at Florida, six straight wins to close the season and a Cotton Bowl win over Texas Tech will do that for a program. Ole Miss must prove it can stop RB Curtis Steele and get the Memphis offense off the field. It should. - Ole Miss - 35 vs. Memphis - 21 Colorado State at Colorado 6 PM FSN - There isn’t one thing screaming at me in this game, one way or another. Colorado State has to replace RB Gartrell Johnson, while CU must replace the entire 2008 season. At home, the Buffs should get enough from QB Cody Hawkins to get win number one - Colorado - 28 vs. CSU - 21

Monday September 7th
Cincinnati at Rutgers 3 PM ESPN - The 2008 Big East Champs are ready to defend their title, but they’re going to have to do it in the toughest way possible. Only three defenders return from last year’s physical, nasty unit, while the offense still has some growing pains to overcome. Not only that, they travel to Rutgers for a monster of a first game. Rutgers must replace QB Mike Teel, WRs Tiquan Underwood and Kenny Britt, but the defense is still rock solid, led by LB Ryan D’Imperio. At home in Big East play, the Scarlet Knights are tough. Too tough for UC in this one. - Rutgers - 28 vs. UC - 24


1. I just can't bring myself to get excited about Matt Cassel as QB of the Chiefs.  Besides having one fewer target to throw to this year with Tony Gonzalez gone, the Chiefs seem way too unsettled on offense for me to be buy into Cassel having a good year fantasy-wise.  However, I think he's a decent QB2 option as his plays in a below average division defensively and the Chiefs will be behind plenty this season.   2. I saw that Matthew Berry from ESPN's fantasy division isn't as high on DeAngelo Williams as I am, but with Jonathan Stewart sitting out almost the entire preseason with an achilles problem, I think DeAngelo Williams has a chance for a monster season that could land him in the top 3 RB spots by the end of the year.  Williams has the type of frame and balance that lends itself to being successful near the goal line and he has a chance to be a huge factor in the passing game as well.   3. If you haven't had your fantasy draft yet, I'll will warn you in advance that you will see a run on tight ends in the 4th round that may extend into the 5th round.  The good news is that if you choose to wait on the tight end position, you should still be able to pick up a pretty good TE within the last three rounds of your draft.  Zach Miller, Heath Miller and even Kellen Winslow were around in rounds 14, 12 and 12 respectively.   4. I always look for "safe" players within the first four rounds of a fantasy draft and not only is Michael Turner "safe", but so is Roddy White and Matt Ryan.  The Falcons offense is only going to be better this year and Matt Ryan is unlikely to experience a sophomore jinx because he had experience throughout college in a pro-style offense and he's proven to be a very poised decision maker in the pocket who knows that White will get open most of the game so Ryan's numbers and White's numbers will both be stronger than last year.   5. If you are trying to figure out the RB situation in New England you are wasting your time.  Sure Belichick likes veterans so Fred Taylor will probably figure in, but he's not going to get a huge number of carries and he won't be the guy who gets redzone touches.  Maroney has the most talent on the team, but he's in the doghouse and Sammy Morris figures to get the TDs around the endzone.  Look for the RB situation in New England to be fluid throughout the season and you'll basically have to guess right from week to week if you want to rely on one of them

1. Al Davis loves him some big and some fast and that is why you could shelve your notions of Justin Fargas or Michael Bush being the lead horse this year in the Raiders RB stable.  While one agent told me that his client (a defensive player) believes that Fargas is actually the most complete back of the group, look for Darren McFadden to get his shot to tote the rock this year.  Al Davis isn't paying McFadden to be only a bit player once again this year so I expect the former Hog to get plenty of touches this year for the silver and black.   2. After watching the San Diego vs. Atlanta game last weekend, I came away very impressed with what I saw from Falcons rookie DT Peria Jerry and second year DE Kroy Biermann in terms of their energy and athleticism.  The Falcons offense, as noted in the fantasy section, is coming along, but HC Mike Smith is a defensive guy and he wants to build his defense quickly and that means utilizing the energy of guys like Jerry and Biermann.  Biermann is a great athlete who has a jarring punch on tackles when rushing the passer and he has a terrific motor.  Jerry does a great job of utilizing his hands and was able to disengage and chase plays throughout the game.  The Falcons are going to be Super Bowl contenders by next season, mark my words.   3. Green Bay Packers RB Ryan Grant took some heat last year because he was such a non-factor early in the season, but he was one of the most productive backs over the second half of the season and the Packers believe he is set for a huge season.  When you think about it, that makes sense.  The Packers have a solid offensive line and Aaron Rodgers looks like he could finally be that Jeff Tedford QB pupil who takes off on the next level.  With Rodgers and a cast of talent at WR, the running lanes could be plentiful for Grant.   4. The Texans loss was the Bears gain as defensive line coach, Rod Marinelli, has been a huge hit in Chicago.  The Texans pursued Marinelli before watching the defensive line guru head to Chicago to help the Bears defense get back to the level where they once were under former Bears DC and current Chargers DC Ron Rivera.  Marinelli has a way of lighting a fire under players that helps them give maximum effort and with the Bears depth on the defensive line, some insiders are thinking big with this “marriage”.   5. Speaking of the Bears, former Texas Longhorn RB turned DE Henry Melton has been a perfect fit for the system in Chicago but he might not be the same player that Horn fans were used to under Will Muschamp.  Muschamp saw potential in Melton as a pass rusher and asked for him to be part of the defense and Melton made waves on that side of the ball.  The Bears are now hoping to add weight to Melton's frame and turn him into a 3-technique (think Cory Redding who Marinelli converted from DE to DT in Detroit) since they believe his speed will be too much to handle for OL


Four observations from the Texans and Vikings game You can admit it. 2005 has snuck into your mind, hasn't it? You remember before the 2005 season when there was playoff talk all around the city of Houston after the Texans finished 7-9 in 2004 after losing the last game of the season to the lowly Browns. Of course, it turned out that the thumping at the hands of the Browns was a foreshadowing of what was to come in 2005. So the Texans finish 8-8 last year and playoff talk has engulfed the city again, but after the last two preseason games the thoughts of the 2005 letdown (meltdown) might be running through your mind. There won't be a 2-14 season this time, but a losing season IS a possibility if the Texans don't get into sync on both sides of the ball. Here are four things LZ saw: 1. The secondary continues to have problems in run support and that can plague a team for an entire season. The Texans just continue to have DBs take bad angles or miss tackles. Dunta Robinson's return will certainly help, but the safeties need to step their game up. Eugene Wilson's poor tackle attempt on the screen pass TD to Chester Taylor was horrible. Tackling in the secondary is one of the most important, but undervalued, characteristics of successful defenses. 2. I know that any time I doubt Matt Schaub's durability in print I will get a retort stating that all of Schaub's injuries have come from hits that probably could have or should have caused him to be injured. What I say to that is that some players are more durable than others. Sometimes it's just genetics. We saw Schaub limping around yet again yesterday and if you aren't going into this season worried about Schaub's durability then you haven't watched much Texans football during the last two seasons. 3. The defensive tackles hung in much better yesterday. While I don't see Cody as a full-time NT, I did think he did an okay job hanging in against double teams and combo blocks on running plays. While Okoye wasn't much of a factor against the run, he played with much more fire against the pass and was finding ways to pressure Favre even though he never got home with a sack. Antonio Smith, on the other hand, has been damn near invisible this preseason and he hasn't been near the factor on pass rushing downs that I was expecting and I think it was his responsibility to shut down the backside on Adrian Peterson's TD run and I don't think he took care of his responsibility. ** UPDATE ** I was at the game and didn't DVR the game so I didn't get to see Peterson's TD in slow-motion like I wanted until I found it on Youtube and you readers are correct. The mistake on the backside was by Adibi who basically guessed wrong rather than reading the play and keeping his responsibility. Fred Bennett screwed the pooch too. That was his lane to fill as well which is one of the reasons that this coaching staff is getting very fed up with "doesn't correct his mistakes" Fred. 4. I enjoyed the different blitz packages from Frank Bush against the Vikes and I was happy to see him utilize DeMeco with a few run blitzes which should help against the run. Overall, the LBs were much more active this game than against the Saints and I feel pretty good about how the Texans will rush the passer once Cushing gets back and they get him incorporated into the blitz packages as well. Stopping the run is my biggest fear.

Texans Podcast - JH and LZ 9/3/2009


2. Tom Brady - Patriots 3. Aaron Rodgers - Packers 4. Peyton Manning - Colts 5. Kurt Warner - Cardinals 6. Philip Rivers - Chargers 7. Matt Schaub - Texans 8. Matt Ryan - Falcons 9. Donovan McNabb - Eagles 10. Tony Romo - Cowboys 11. Jay Cutler - Bears 12. Carson Palmer - Bengals 13. B. Roethlisberger - Steelers 14. David Garrard - Jaguars 15. Eli Manning - Giants

1. Adrian Peterson - Vikings 2. Maurice Jones-Drew - Jaguars 3. Michael Turner - Falcons 4. Matt Forte - Bears 5. LaDainian Tomlinson Chargers 6. DeAngelo Williams - Panthers 7. Steven Jackson - Rams 8. Chris Johnson - Titans 9. Steve Slaton - Texans 10. Frank Gore - 49'ers 11. Brandon Jacobs - Giants 12. Clinton Portis - Redskins 13. Ryan Grant - Packers

14. Ronnie Brown - Dolphins 15. Marion Barber - Cowboys 16. Brian Westbrook - Eagles 17. Pierre Thomas - Saints 18. Darren McFadden - Raiders 19. Kevin Smith - Lions 20. Marshawn Lynch - Bills 21. Derrick Ward - Bucs 22. Larry Johnson - Chiefs 23. Knowshon Moreno - Broncos 24. Thomas Jones - Jets 25. Ced Benson - Bengals

1. Adrian Peterson - Vikings 2. Maurice Jones-Drew - Jaguars 3. Matt Forte - Bears 4. LaDainian Tomlinson - Chargers 5. Michael Turner - Falcons 6. Steven Jackson - Rams 7. DeAngelo Williams - Panthers 8. Chris Johnson - Titans 9. Frank Gore - 49'ers 10. Steve Slaton - Texans 1. Larry Fitzgerald - Cardinals 2. Andre Johnson - Texans 3. Greg Jennings - Packers 4. Roddy White - Falcons 5. Randy Moss - Patriots 6. Calvin Johnson - Lions 7. Reggie Wayne - Colts 8. Steve Smith - Panthers 9. Anquan Boldin - Cardinals 10. Marques Colston - Saints 11. Wes Welker - Patriots

12. Chad Ochocinco - Bengals 13. Vincent Jackson - Chargers 14. Dwayne Bowe - Chiefs 15. Terrell Owens - Bills 16. T.J. Houshmandzadeh Seahawks 17. Roy Williams - Cowboys 18. Braylon Edwards - Browns 19. DeSean Jackson - Eagles 20. Antonio Bryant - Bucs 21. Eddie Royal - Broncos 22. Brandon Marshall - Broncos 23. Lance Moore - Saints 24. Santonio Holmes - Steelers 25. Bernard Berrian - Vikings

1. Larry Fitzgerald - Cardinals 2. Andre Johnson - Texans 3. Greg Jennings - Packers 4. Roddy White - Falcons 5. Randy Moss - Patriots 6. Calvin Johnson - Lions 7. Steve Smith - Panthers 8. Reggie Wayne - Colts 9, Anquan Boldin - Cardinals 10. Wes Welker - Patriots 11. Marques Colston - Saints 12. Chad Ochocinco - Bengals 13. Dwayne Bowe - Chiefs 14. Vincent Jackson - Chargers 15. T.J. Houshmandzadeh - Seahawks 1. Jason Witten - Cowboys 2. Tony Gonzalez - Falcons 3. Antonio Gates - Chargers 4. Greg Olsen - Bears 5. Dallas Clark - Colts 6. Owen Daniels - Texans 7. Chris Cooley - Redskins 8. Kellen Winslow - Bucs 9. Visanthe Shiancoe - Vikings 10. Jeremy Shockey - Saints 11. Zach Miller - Raiders 12. Dustin Keller - Jets 13. Kevin Boss - Giants 14. John Carlson - Seahawks 15. Vernon Davis - 49'ers

1. Steelers 2. Ravens 3. Giants 4. Patriots 5. Vikings 6. Titans 7. Chargers 8. Eagles 9. Bears 10. Dolphins 11. Panthers 12. Jets 13. Packers 14. Cowboys 15. Colts



The 1985 Bears and Buddy Ryan made the 4-6 defense famous for many years. Although the 4-6 doesn’t permeate many defenses in the NFL, the Texans have made use of it early in the season. It can be successful as seen below.


Here you see the Texans in a "46" defensive alignment.  One of the ways to recognize this front is to key on the SAM (strongside LB) as he will be lined up on the line of scrimmage over the tight end as we see in this figure. He’s one-on-one w/TE in man.

In this figure, the defensive tackles and Antonio Smith are lined up over the guards and the center while the SAM and WILL linebackers are on the line of scrimmage.  This alignment occupies the offensive linemen and doesn't allow them to get to the second level and block D. Ryans.


As you can see, all of the offensive linemen are occupied and strong safety D. Barber (#34) is down in the box as an extra defender and he is the player who the FB is assigned to block. So that leads us to the next figure.

With all the linemen occupied and with the FB isolated on the strong safety against the 46 front, DeMeco Ryans is able to flow to the ball untouched.  The 46 can be high risk against the pass, but it is one of the toughest defenses to face for teams who like to run zone plays.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful