Friday, September 15, 2006

Handy Household Tips for scUM Removal | by Michael

ScUM can find its way into the damnedest of places, but with gameplanning, some elbow grease, and a little vim and vigor, it can be removed quite effectively. Here are some basic suggestions for cleaning your home field from scUM.

How to Attack scUMmy Buildup

• Make Michigan's base defense defend your backs and tight ends. Last year Notre Dame had much success using its personnel package of 3 WRs, 1 RB, 1 TE. They spread the field, which forced Michigan's base defense to defend the pass from sideline to sideline. In the process, this opened up running lanes for Darius Walker until Michigan finally adjusted. Last year, however, Weis had the benefit of gameplanning with three outstanding receivers in Jeff Samardzija, Maurice Stovall, and Rhema McKnight. This year is different, not only on the Irish side, but also on the scUM side. Ron English will bring a much more aggressive defense to South Bend. Don't be surprised to see the Irish force the Michigan linebackers to defend every inch of the field using Walker, John Carlson, Marcus Freeman, and possibly even Munir Prince. There are winnable match-ups for Notre Dame against scUM.

• Run right at defensive end Lamarr Woodley. I'd expect one of the Irish TEs (Freeman) to line up next to Ryan Harris and pound Woodley on running plays. Given that the left side appears to be the strength of this Irish offensive line, it would make sense for the Irish to focus their running game at Woodley rather than allowing him to chase down plays from the backside.

• Misdirection also has a way of washing scUM defenders away. English wants an aggressive defense, and given the results of Penn State's passive defense as compared to Georgia Tech's aggressive defense, it would be surprising if scUM's attack didn't mirror the Yellow Jackets' gameplan. Charlie Weis didn't call any misdirection plays against Tech (to the best of my memory), and the only memorable one from the Penn State game was the brilliant play fake to Samardzija in the slot followed by the hand-off to Walker up the middle. That could all change on Saturday. Sometimes scUM can get too aggressive (see the beautiful counter draw run by CMU), and I suspect there will at least be one trick play that incorporates misdirection.

• The Irish can make life difficult for scUM's linebackers by spreading them out and isolating them in coverage. Especially David Harris, the middle linebacker. Then, if scUM adjusts by bringing in nickelback/safety Ryan Mundy, it might be easier to run the football.

How to Defend Your Home from scUM

• Stop Mike Hart. I don't care how it's done, whether it's 4-3, 3-4, 4-2-5, 5-2, 4-4, 3-3-5, or 8-1, but the defense must control the line of scrimmage and prevent Hart from consistently picking up yardage. Also, Hart must not be allowed to get out of bounds, because every time he totes the ball, he should be punished by at least two tacklers. I'm going to guess that Minter and Weis will be creative and variable with the defenses we use Saturday.

• Force Chad Henne to beat you. Braylon Edwards is gone, and so is Jason Avant. The tight end production just hasn't been as good as it once was. As a result, for the first time since 2002 the Irish finally have corners whom we should feel confident can defend the pass. If there are eight guys defending the run, the corners will have man coverage. On the plus side, the Irish can blitz aplenty against Henne; pressure causes him to make not only mechanical errors (throwing) but also mental errors (progressing too quickly to his check-down receiver). Dwight Ellick and Preston Jackson are no longer manning the defensive backfield, so aggression will work. Putting Ambrose Wooden, Mike Richardson, and Terrail Lambert on islands won't have the same results.

• Wrap up, wrap up, wrap up. Make scUM earn every inch of the field.

That's it. Four easy steps to rid your house of scUM, and three more steps to make sure it doesn't come back. If problems persist, there are always Special Teams who should be able to dominate scUM in the coverage and return games.

Yep, special teams. Placekicking? Let's just hope it doesn't come down to that.