Thursday, August 31, 2006

the Ol' Switcharoo | by Jay

Some more info on Minter going up into the box on gameday, with Lewis coming down to the sidelines. Here's what Charlie had to say about it yesterday.

As a matter of fact, we are making a shift on defense. Rick is going up into the box for the first time in 22 years. And Bill Lewis is coming down. Part of it is communication with the secondary. Jeff [Burrow, grad assistant] works with Bill with the secondary so he’s up with Rick.

I felt some of our biggest problems last year were communication problems in the secondary. And I felt the easiest way to take care of that problem was to have the DB coach down on the sidelines. We had to do some practice sessions over in the stadium to see if Rick would feel comfortable in doing that or not, because if he didn’t feel comfortable in doing it, I wouldn’t make the switch.

There’s some give and take. What’s more important, I obviously want Rick to feel comfortable calling the game. I know he hasn’t been up in the booth for awhile but as a play-caller you have a whole different perspective of the game being up in the box because you have less distractions and you see the game a whole lot better. Every time we went into the stadium at night, we went into the booth and worked it out that way. After the second time, he was ready to roll.

I’m asking him, I’m not mandating, hey, what we are going to do, but that’s what we’re doing.
Lewis was also asked about the change yesterday; here's what he had to say:
First off, I think it gives Rick an opportunity to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the sideline, so he can see from up top. As far as my being down on the sideline, you need two defensive coaches on the sideline, so with Rick going up I'll be doing what Rick was doing in between series, and that is trying to communicate to the secondary all the things going on in the secondary, and then tying the secondary into the linebackers. Coach Oliver will do what he did last year, being responsible for the defensive line, tying them into the linebackers as far as the running game is concerned.

Rick can then communicate to us what things need to be addressed as far as each of those groups are concerned.
I confess some conspiracy theories swirled about my mind when I first heard of this change, but if you think about it, what Charlie said about Lewis being able to work more hands-on with secondary is the most obvious explanation for the switch.

Now when a defensive series ends, Lewis can talk face to face with Zibby and Nedu (and especially the younger DBs) as they come off the field. That's a far cry from last year, where Lewis had to relay instruction through Minter. Last year, according to Lewis, it went like this:
[Before] Rick was on the sideline, and of course he had a feel for what needed to be done with the secondary, and if I had anything in addition to that I could hear what Rick was saying to the DBs, and was able to add anything I needed. Now we just reversed roles; I'll be down there dealing with them, and he'll be hearing what I'm saying.
I think this is emblematic of the entire makeover on defense; no stone was left unturned in an effort to improve performance, and having Lewis on the sideline is probably a huge advantage when addressing those "communication problems" we've heard so much about.