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'Offenses don't line up to beat you into submission anymore'

Vic Koenning has led some impressive defenses during his time as a coordinator. This fall he entered his first season calling the defensive shots at North Carolina, and reflected back on how the game has changed over the years during an interview on the Inside Carolina Radio Show.

Koenning explained that he doesn't think new schemes will be invented to stop the prolific spread attacks, but does think that new strategies and the creative use of personnel and hybrid players will continue to evolve.

"I don't think that anything is going to be invented, I think things are going to get reinvented," Koenning said. "What modern things that we do, are offshoots of old defenses."

"You can't let offensive coaches today know what you're doing. If they know what you're in...they've got the answers. The old days of lining up in the I-formation and running it and just saying that 'Our Jimmies are better than you're Joey's and we're going to beat you into submission'...Nobody wants to do that anymore."

"Now everything is about space, and if you have guys that can't compete in space, then you're going to be struggling."

Very good insight from a quality defensive mind. With most programs putting their best guys in space, and forcing defenses to spread out, the days of lining up and playing smash mouth football are on the decline. Take it from Koenning, who has gone from coordinating the defense against the smash mouth Big Ten style, to the more spread out, multiple looks of the ACC where teams use various different formations and philosophies in order to get their best playmakers in space.

Interview with a recruiting director on the effects of the NCAA rules changes

Over the weekend, the NCAA passed comprehensive and potentially game-changing recruiting rules. To fully wrap our arms around what will change, and how much, we talked to a guy who will be on the front lines of the NCAA's new recruiting world when the rules come into effect on Aug. 1.

Matt Dudek has been the director of on-campus recruiting and player personnel at Arizona since December 2011. Like many in his position, he took a circuitous route to get where he is today. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, Dudek worked for a Fortune 500 company for two years until, burnt out on the corporate world, he contacted then-Pittsburgh head coach Dave Wannstedt to inquire if there was any way he could help the program. Wannstedt responded with a job offer, and Dudek worked his way up the Panthers' football administration ladder while earning a M. Ed. in Instruction and Learning, eventually becoming the assistant director of football operations. 

After Wannstedt's departure, Dudek worked for a year as the director of football branding and events at Rutgers before getting a call from Rich Rodriguez soon after he was hired at Arizona. 

FootballScoop: You have a job that didn't really exist when you graduated from college. Did most of the guys in your job at other places take similar routes to their current positions as you did to yours?
Dudek: I know a lot of the guys that have similar positions as me. I think everybody started off somewhere, whether it was equipment manager, an operations GA, something like that, I think most people started off like that in the business. Ten or 15 years ago it was maybe an older coach that you wanted to keep around the program, or maybe it was a coach trying to get in the program but now I think it's less about someone looking to be a coach and more about someone looking to be an administration role.

FS: You tweeted on Saturday that your job changed "significantly" with the rules changes. How so?
Dudek: The big thing for me personally is going to be the ability to evaluate talent as well as be able to communicate (with recruits). I'll be able to make phone calls, I'll be able to text, whereas before I was allowed to accept phone calls and send emails and Facebook messages but I was never allowed to initiate the call. I was never allowed to evaluate the talent of a guy and then say, 'Hey coach, he's a great player, let's get him.' It was more of gathering of film and putting it in the system for the coaches to evaluate. It was logging what film was coming in, keeping an eye on guys and giving stats to the coaches and things like that, but the evaluation side of it had to be done by the assistant coaches and Coach Rodriguez.

FS: Does that mean you'll get to make recommendations to coaches on who to offer?
Dudek: Yeah. I think it's going to streamline the process, especially during the season, for everybody. (Coaches) don't get the recruiting film the week you play your rival or as often as you'd like in the season. Now you'll have guys like me, where my job is 24/7 recruiting. I don't have to worry about what happens on Saturday because I don't really have an impact in what happens in that game. I'm going to watching film, getting video of the first six games of a guy instead of giving that to a coach and he gets to it when he gets to it. It's going to me watching and saying, 'Hey coach, you've got to watch this.' It's going to really help the process for everybody from that aspect.

FS: Did the recruiting calendar get moved up at all in terms of how early in a recruit's career a school can contact him?
Dudek: That part of it got tabled until April. They did nothing with the recruiting calendar yet. If they take away the restrictions, I don't think it will go all the way back to freshmen, but in the contact period you'll be able to do home visits with juniors. You'll be able call and text them unlimited. It will definitely push that up. In the past, home visits wouldn't happen until December of your senior year, now you maybe getting them in December of your junior year, so that would move it up a whole year.

FS: Are these changes going to lighten the load for coaches in recruiting, or will it do the opposite?
Dudek: I think it will alleviate some of the short-term things but if you're going to have to call and do home visits and do all these things with juniors and text messaging now, maybe the evaluation and communication side of me being able to do things will lighten that load, I think all the other stuff will make it significantly more competitive. Now you're going to have to work every day. It's not just sending a 'Good morning' text message to 100 guys, you're going to have to follow up. If they say 'Thanks coach, how are you?', you're going to have to respond to that text message. While certain aspects will be lightened, I would think everyone's (work loads) are going to be significantly heavier. 

FS: Do you think we'll see schools beefing up their recruiting staffs moving forward?
Dudek: I definitely think so, especially after these rules go into effect and you see how it all works. I certainly think it's going to be a lot like the NFL. You're going to have your coaches side and then you're going to have a front office to do this work.

FS: How many other schools employ a full-time player personnel/recruiting director?
Dudek: I think in the BCS level, I think almost all of them have it. Some call it assistant director of football operations, some call it director of recruiting, some call it director of player personnel, high school relations, I think everyone has a different name for it but at the end of the day I would almost venture to say everyone in the BCS has a position like mine, plus an assistant to that position as well.

FS: A decade from now, do you think we'll look at player personnel staffs as indispensable as we do full-time strength & conditioning and football operations staffs today?
Dudek: I definitely think it's going to be. I really do. This opens up a big door for guys like me. If someone's going to have three guys, then someone's going to say 'Hey, that guy got four guys' and then all of a sudden you're going to have the NFL-type staffs.

FS: What other rules changes passed by the NCAA this weekend caught your eye?
Dudek: Now you don't have to worry about the Baton Rule, it's going to be all 10 coaches going out. It's not a matter of figuring out, Okay I have to give this guy three days, this guy five days, give this guy two days. It's going to be, 'Sunday through Friday, you guys are on it.' There's no more of that, which is going to help out drastically in how you're seeing guys and how you're scheduling yourself. I think the mailing of printed materials, too. Now it's fair game to mail whatever you want. I think that some some people are going to be over the top with it and really get after it from that aspect. 

The stat that guarantees victory in the NFL playoffs

We at FootballScoop spend a good amount of time studying stats and, specifically, how they correlate to wins and losses

While those studies have focused exclusively on the college game, the NFL playoffs have greatly exposed one truth that applies to every level of the game: turnovers. 

Take a look at the NFL's turnovers committed rankings, and the top of the list is a laundry list of 2012 playoff teams: Washington, San Francisco, Baltimore, Green Bay, New England, Houston and Seattle comprise the top seven spots on the list. The four playoff squads that did not make this list: Minnesota, Denver, Cincinnati and Indianapolis, all went one-and-done. 

In the actual playoff games, teams that win the turnover battle are a perfect 7-0 in 10 games to this point:

Green Bay 24, Minnesota 10. Packers win, 3-0.
Seattle 24, Washington 14. Seahawks win, 2-1.
- Houston 19, Cincinnati 13. Tied, 1-1.
- Baltimore 24, Indianapolis 9. Tied, 2-2. 
- San Francisco 45, Green Bay 31. 49ers win, 2-1. 
- Atlanta 30, Seattle 28. Tied, 2-2.
Baltimore 38, Denver 35 (2 OT). Ravens win, 3-1.
New England 41, Houston 28. Patriots win, 1-0.
San Francisco 28, Atlanta 24. 49ers win, 2-1. 
Baltimore 28, New England 13. Ravens win, 3-0. 

Collectively, those seven winners own the turnover margin, 16-3. In keeping with the trend from the regular season, the 10 winners have lost a sum of only eight turnovers. 

While forcing turnovers is great, being selfish with the football is a sure-fire way to keep your season alive. 

Brian Polian: 'In recruiting, you can out-work people'

Today's edition of Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback touched on an interesting angle to the Manti Te'o story. King looked back to a time before Te'o even arrived at Notre Dame, back to when he was being recruited and the efforts to which Charlie Weis and Brian Polian went to ensure Te'o signed with the Fighting Irish.

King recalls that Notre Dame sent Polian, the team's special teams coordinator, on the nearly-5,000 mile one-way trip every Thursday afternoon so that Polian could see Te'o play in person every Friday night. Once his recruiting duties were done, Polian would then jet from Hawaii to South Bend or wherever the Fighting Irish happened to be playing that Saturday, as King puts it, "sometimes making it in time for the game, sometimes missing the game."

"When he committed to Notre Dame, that changed the perception of me as a recruiter," Polian reflected. 

Polian would later go on to become the special teams coordinator, recruiting coordinator and safeties coach at Stanford from 2010-11 and as the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach at Texas A&M in 2012. Polian was introduced as Nevada's head coach on Jan. 11, and detailed how much the time he spent recruiting Te'o and others at his various stops will influence his philosophy as a head coach. 

"I do believe you can out-work people in recruiting. I don't think you can out-work people in coaching," he said. "During the season, we all grind it out pretty good. We're limited in the amount of time by the NCAA that we can spend with our players. Everybody's fairly equal when it comes to the coaching end of it. But, with the recruiting part of it, you can out-work people.

Polian plans to send his staff, which is yet to be announced, to turn over rocks in Nevada, California, Texas and the Pacific Northwest. That's a lot of rocks.

"When you have assistant coaches that are willing to drive that extra 90 miles to a little town that nobody's ever heard of because there might be a kid there, and you turn over that rock and you find one of those guys that turns out to be a player, that's where you can get people," Polian concluded. "When you have guys that can connect with people and connect with their families and high school coaches and build on those relationships, when you have guys that understand that process, you can be effective in recruiting." 

Excellent 'ReVealed' video from Vandy

As Brandon Barca of Vandy's athletic communications department promised a few weeks ago, Vandy would be releasing a new "ReVealed" episode highlighting their bowl victory over NC State, even if it did take them a little longer to put it together than usual. 

The video was worth the wait. They've got emotional pre game speeches from defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and offensive line coach Herb Hand, and plenty of in game highlights that illustrate just how well coached these guys are. 

At the end of the clip, James Franklin points out some impressive accomplishments from this group of guys.

"We focus on one game at a time, and we don't spend a whole lot of time talking about the past, or talking about the future. But I do want you guys to really let this sink in and think about the significance of it." Franklin said as he looked down at a few notes.

"This team tied a team record for the most wins. The last nine win season was in 1915. The 15 wins in two consecutive years hasn't happened since 1926-27. The seven game win streak is the highest since 1948...and it's also the longest streak in the SEC."

Franklin and his staff have done an impressive job building the Vandy program, and brand, down in Nashville. This video does a great job of highlighting the last part of the journey for the 2012-2013 team.

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