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Clemson: "We're the total package"
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D-II version of "Evolution of Dance"

Video: Mark Snyder wants takeaways, not turnovers

To Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder, and defensive coaches around the country, giving the ball back to your offense is one of the best feelings you can experience on game day.

In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter whether it's a snap that goes over the quarterback's head and is recovered by the defense, or if a ball is ripped from the running back's hands and recovered by your guys. Obviously, both scenarios result in an extra possession for your offense, which is always a good thing.

But to Snyder, there is a distinct difference, and take aways is an area they have to get better in because teams in the SEC don't turn the ball over very often.

"We talk to our guys about taking the football away. If a team isn't going to turn the football over, we've got to take it away. So we talk about takeaways on defense."

"Turnovers are something that the offense gives to you." Snyder notes in the clip.

There you have it defensive coaches. Focus on takeaways, not turnovers.

Heading into this weekend's game with Auburn, the Aggies are coming off back to back weeks (against  Louisiana Tech and LSU) that the defense has failed to come up with a turnover (or takeaway for that matter). They currently rank 103rd nationally in turnover margin (-1), and have only gained 7 turnovers on the year (110th nationally).

Snyder says that needs to change in the coming weeks with road games against quality opponents like Mississippi State (7-0, 3-0) and Alabama (7-0, 4-0) in the next few weeks.

Brian Kelly on Oklahoma: "We want that consistency"

You may or may not be aware that Notre Dame will visit Oklahoma on Saturday night. It's the first time since 1966 that the Fighting Irish have traveled to Norman, and it's kind of a big deal. College GameDay will broadcast from the OU campus Saturday morning, and Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit will call the game to a national, primetime audience  later that evening. The Oklahoman has called this game the second most anticipated Sooners home game in the Bob Stoops era

Beyond the noise, Notre Dame wants Saturday's game to turn into a symbolic passing of the torch. Oklahoma has won one national championship under Stoops and has played for three more. Meanwhile, Notre Dame is looking to go 8-0 for the first time since 2002. A win on Saturday night would likely throw Notre Dame into the thick of the national title chase deep into November for the first time since 1993. The Irish's next three opponents (Pittsburgh, Boston College and Wake Forest) are a combined 8-12 before a trip to USC on Thanksgiving weekend to close the regular season.

But Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly doesn't just want to occupy Oklahoma's usual perch among the nation's elite for this season. Kelly wants his program to emulate OU's dedade-plus run of success well beyond this fall.

“We want that consistency,” Kelly told the Oklahoman. “Year in and year out, you know Oklahoma is going to be part of the conversation. And that's where we want to get our football program.

“We're nowhere near that yet. We think we're moving in the right direction; we're trending the right way. But I think the hallmark of great programs is that consistency, the consistency that we saw here for a number of years that we haven't seen; we want to be able to bring that back.

“That takes time, and that takes a lot of winning," Kelly continued. "And that's why there's so much pride and tradition in their program as well.”

Indeed, Oklahoma has been a model of consistency during Stoops' tenure. Seven conference championships. Eight BCS bowl apperances. Ten seasons of double-digit wins. 

To his credit, Kelly does have Notre Dame's needle pointed in the right direction. After posting back-to-back 8-5 marks in his first two seasons at the helm for Notre Dame, Kelly has the Fighting Irish primed to boost its win total in year three, just like he did in previous stops at Central Michigan and Cincinnati. After winning 10 games in his first two years at Central Michigan, Kelly led the Chippewas to a 9-4 mark in Year 3. Likewise at Cincinnati, 10-3 and 11-3 records were bettered in Year 3 as the Bearcats finished the regular season 12-0. Success at Cincinnati ultimately led Kelly to Notre Dame.

Kelly's message to his program can be summed up as: "If you want to join 'em, beat 'em."

Develop a consistent message for recruiting success

Every college head coach has their own way of dealing with commitments from recruits. Some coaches allow recruits (who have already committed to them) to still go on their other official visits, while many other programs have a no visit policy in effect after a commitment is made.

A recent Rivals.com article explored the different approaches from three different programs around the country, specifically USC, Oregon, and Arizona.

Lane Kiffin is one of the coaches who still allow commits to visit other schools.

"I don't discourage it at all. I have a rare stance on it. I just think some of these kids never have an opportunity like that. To fly around the country and visit different places and meet new people whether it's other recruits or other coaches." Kiffin explained.

"I let our kids go visit all over the place, our commits. I know that's rare nowadays. I don't think it's my job, I don't think I'm in a position to be limiting kids' abilities to take free trips around the country and see different parts of the country and meet new people."

Chip Kelly on the other hand, views a commitment in a very different light. 

"We talk to our guys about what a commitment is. We're going to make a commitment to you it's the same thing as us not pulling a scholarship when you make a commitment to us" Kelly said. "There's got to be a two-way street. I think our players understand what being committed means here."

Although their views are polar opposites, both coaches and their staffs manage to bring in some of the top talent in the country on a consistent basis. There's no doubt it helps to have a clear and consistent message from top to bottom.

For Rich Rodriguez, recognizing the difference between interest and commitment is something that him and his staff have recently zeroed in on.

"When a guy wants to commit to us we make sure that he understands what that means. If you have a guy who's committed to you but he's making a bunch of visits to other places you wonder if he's truly committed or just interested. That's the key for us."

"If a guy is taking it to have fun and he tells you that up front that's one thing but if they're taking the visit they must have some kind of interest in another school and that puts you in a tough situation because you may have dropped some other guys or moved off some other guys and then all of a sudden you lose this guy in the end."

At Arizona, the staff understands that if a recruit is going to continue to take his visits, don't be surprised if he de-commits. It all goes back to recognizing that difference between interest and commitment.

"If a guy is committed to you and he's visiting other places and all of a sudden he changes his commitment or something like that, I don't know why a coach would be surprised because he's visiting other schools so there aren't as many surprises as you'd think."

We understand that every level of college recruiting is very different. But each of those coaches (Lane Kiffin, Chip Kelly, and Rich Rodriguez) have helped sign a top ten recruiting class at some point in the coaching careers, and have all done it with very different approaches. The lesson is to find something specific to your level of football, and making it something that you all can buy into as a staff. At the end of the day you'll start to see the results of a consistent message.

A few notes on the game tonight

Clemson travels to Wake Forest tonight for another Thursday night extravaganza (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). Dabo Swinney's team comes in riding a three-game winning streak with a 6-1 overall record and in first place in the ACC's Atlantic Division at 3-1. Jim Grobe's squad is 4-3 on the year and 2-3 in the ACC.

Clemson has won three straight in the series, but Wake Forest has won three of the past five games played in Winston-Salem. Jim Grobe and co. have experienced success in the Thursday night spotlight. ESPN's last two Thursday night games at Wake Forest ended in Demon Deacons victories: 24-21 over Florida State in 2007 and 12-7 over Clemson in 2008.

Clemson clinched the Atlantic Division championship in last season's 31-28 meeting with the Demon Decaons. Wake Forest made the Tigers sweat for it, though, as Clemson battled back from a 28-14 hole by scoring the game's final 17 points on two Tajh Boyd touchdown throws and a Chandler Catanzaro 43-yard field goal as time expired. 

Wake Forest will have to find a way to slow down Chad Morris' explosive offense to pull off the home upset. Clemson ranks in the top 20 nationally in scoring offense (40.8 ppg), total offense (492.9 ypg, 6.17 ypp) and passing offense (301.1 ypg). The Tigers have scored 37 or more in every game since their season-opening 26-19 win over Auburn. Quarterback Tajh Boyd ranks second in the conference in total offense, while wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is second in the country with 845 receiving yards.

Unfortunately for Wake Forest, its best statistic, turnover margin, is also an area where Clemson excells. The Demon Deacons are plus-5 for the year, while Clemson is slightly better at plus-7. Still, the Demon Deacons will need to re-create its recipie from last year when they forced Clemson into three turnovers while committing none of their own. A fumble and interception in Clemson territory on consecutive drives allowed Wake Forest to push the score from 14-14 to 28-14. They will need more where that came from tonight. 

Here is what Jim Grobe sees coming into the game tonight.

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.