As South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp pondered a question about how to prepare a defense, he launched into a philosophical breakdown of the differences between planning as an offense and defense.
An offense has its core blocking rules, its run concepts and pass concepts. Run and drill those things, and the other elements are peripheral: setting specific plans for different pressures or fronts and perhaps combating different personnel issues.
A defense’s job is far more variable.
“Every single week, there’s something new you’ve got to face and you’ve got to introduce,” Muschamp said. “In five days, you’ve got completely switch gears defensively and go from a team that does ‘this’ to a team that does ‘that.’ ”
In a season, a team might run the gamut from two-back power teams (think Georgia) to pass-heavy spreads (Texas A&M) to West Coast attacks (UMass) to option teams. They’ve already gone from Vanderbilt’s pro-style to Mississippi State’s power spread to pass-heavy ECU.
The coach admitted there’s some carry-over from East Carolina last week to the Kentucky team they’ll face Saturday, but there’s still a lot that’s new. So his defense will have to reorganize and reshape itself again.
On short notice. Like always.
“Defensively, you go from playing a team that’s going to go up-tempo and snap it as many times as they can and toss it all over the yard,” Muschamp said. “This team, this week, is going to go up-tempo, but they want to run the ball, and they run it extremely well with some really talented guys. They have all the (run-pass option plays) built off of it.”
▪ Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said Stephen Johnson will start Saturday for the Wildcats. The mobile, tall passer joined the team from junior college after leaving Grambling State and posted a big game against New Mexico State.
▪ After two high-profile incidents last weekend of players dropping the ball before crossing the goal line on long plays, Muschamp could only say: “Not good. It doesn’t need to happen, I can tell you that. We’ve had a hard time getting there, we dang sure don’t want to drop it before we get there.”