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Major Applewhite on physical practices: "The risk is worth the reward"

Texas running backs coach and co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite weighed in yesterday with his thoughts on tackling in practice. Texas has prefered to practice at a thud tempo to reduce opportunity for injuries.

"Most coaches, if they're honest, will tell you when you start flying around and it's full contact during the season, you start to worry - it's a double edged sword," Applewhite told Orangebloods.com. "We're helping our team learn how to play with better pad level. We're helping our team learn how to fly to the ball and be more physical at the point of attack. The defensive players are getting better at their tackling. The offensive players are getting a better feel for the pad level they're going to have to block at. The running backs are getting a better feel for the pad level when they're approached by a tackle."

The topic has become a subject of conversation around Austin after the Texas defense, which was expected to be among the best in the country, surrendered nearly 50 points per game through its first four Big 12 games. But to Applewhite, physical practice benefits the enitre Texas team and not just the defense.

"Personally, as a running backs coach, I like those shots because I can't, in certain periods of practice, emphasize pad level enough," Applewhite said. "The only thing that's going to teach you how to get your pads down is when someone is coming at you. 

"I think it helps us across the board."




Gotta have that Swag

From time to time we have shown you clips from Stanford's "How we do it" series; and today we're going to encourage you to watch this entire short video. 

From the intro scenes from the stadium, to David Shaw's final message to the team before the game ("You've got one job today...to Play Your Ass Off!"), to the insight into the gameplanning and execution to the post-game swag. Excellent video. 

We talk from time to time about the value of these kinds of videos in marketing the program to recruits, their families and to the fanbase; but seeing the end of this one made us think about the psychological warfare those smart guys at Stanford are employing here. The final clip in this video shows some Stanford Swag in Cal's house. That's big boy stuff there, the kind of stuff we're pretty sure Cal's staff will show to their team next year. If you're Stanford and you choose to include that clip, you're basically saying to Cal, "that's what we did at your house...can't wait to have you at home next year...woof!".

Gotta have that Swag!




"Michigan's defense is like facing a knuckleball pitcher"

Nebraska and offensive coordinator Tim Beck come into this weekend's match up with Michigan leading the league in rushing offense, total offense, and scoring offense. But they don't expect to run into a Wolverine defense with a basic game plan.

“They know how people are trying to attack them. Their defensive package has grown," Beck has noticed this season. "They’re doing more things out of it. And they’re veteran players. They seem to have found a gear.”

Last season, Michigan's defense (which had improved over a hundred spots under Greg Mattison since 2010) held the Cornhuskers to just 9 completions on 23 attempts for 122 yards, and 260 total yards of offense when it was all said and done. Beck credited their offensive struggles against the Wolverines to defensive coordinator Greg Mattison's creative looks and alignments.

It’s like facing a knuckleball pitcher, it’s weird because you haven’t seen it.” Beck explained of the looks they got last season. 

To remedy that, during the offseason Beck and the staff prepared some creative looks for the offense to run against, often imitating schemes and alignments that teams, like Michigan, did throughout the 2011 season that gave them trouble.

The extra preparation seems to have helped. Compared to 2011, Nebraska has played three common conference opponents at this point through the season (Wisconsin, Ohio State, Northwestern), and have eclipsed last season's point total in two of those three contests, while also putting up more yardage against each of those opponents than they had in 2011.

Against Wisconsin last season they put up 335 yards of total offense in a 31 point loss. This year Nebraska put up over 100 more total yards (440 yards of total offense) and earned a close 30-27 victory.

Against Michigan at 8pm ET on Saturday night (on ESPN2), Beck and the offensive staff will have their guys better equipped to handle the knuckleball. 

 




Breaking down film with Matt Barkley

In this week's addition of the "Barkley Breakdown", Woods and Barkley break down their record setting plays (Barkley's 100th career touchdown pass and Woods' 217th catch) and what their reads and adjustments were on each play.

We have a feeling that these two have spent a few hours together in the film room before...

This series from the USC program has become a great tool to give casual fans, as well as coaches, an inside look at the playbook, and their playmakers. Good move.




Thursday TV - NFL and ACC games on tonight

NFL and ACC action on tonight. Tomorrow night we'll have Cinci and Louisville and Nevada and Air Force to enjoy.

All times are eastern. 

NFL:

Tampa Bay at Minnesota - 8:20 - NFL Network

College: 

Clemson at Wake Forest - 7:30 - ESPN

Delaware State at Morgan State - 7:30 - ESPNU

Valdosta State at Shorter - 7:30 - CSS

High School:

John Burroughs (CA) vs Maplewood - 3 - FCS




Pre-game locker-room talk at Vandy (with special guest)

That's just a great video there from Vanderbilt.  Think about how much recruits (and their families) enjoy watching that.

Stick around for the end as well. Good scene. 




The three keys to beating Alabama as Les Koenning sees it

Mississippi State offensive coordinator Les Koenning will take the Bulldog offense to Tuscaloosa Saturday night to square off against Alabama in a battle of the unbeatens. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30pm ET.

According to Koenning, in order to get out with a win, they'll have to win three key phases of the game.

"The No. 1 thing you have to be aware of when you're playing Alabama is the turnover ratio. They're an opportunistic offense, a lot like ourselves. With turnovers, it's a lot easier to get in the end zone." Koenning told AL.com

Alabama ranks third nationally in turnover margin, forcing an average of two turnovers per game (+14 on the season). In their first seven games, the Tide have taken the ball away 20 times, converting an impressive 15 of those into touchdowns.

"This will be one of those patented games that we have in the SEC. Field position will be a must. Third-down conversions will be a must and taking care of the ball will be a must." Koenning explained.

Third down conversions are another area that Alabama has excelled in this season, ranking second nationally. The Crimson Tide have allowed opponents to convert on just 24 of their 96 attempts (25%). Also pretty impressive.

Write that down. Turnover ratio, field position, and third down conversions will be three areas of emphasis for the Bulldogs on Saturday night. They'll have their work cut out for them on all three sides of the ball

You'll be able to catch the game on ESPN. Should be a good one.

 




Dave Christensen apologized to Troy Calhoun

Glad to see that Christensen called Troy Calhoun to apologize for his actions after their game. 

Christensen won't be on the sideline this weekend vs Boise State as he serves a one game suspension.