Morning Conversational: How Many Defensive Packages Are Too Many For Buckeyes?
Every defense is made of separate defenses.
You know base, nickel, dime, goal line, and packages like that, but every defense also has other bells and whistles that they rely on.
The question of just how many packages is the right number can be different for every team. It’s a matter of personnel, time, teaching, and necessity.
There is no ideal number, according to Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. Generally, it comes down to feel and communication from the entire defensive staff.
“You get a great feeling and our staff has a lot of experience, so what will end up happening is it looks really good to Jeff and I, or Al and I, and then all of a sudden Larry goes, ‘that’s a little much,’ and pretty soon you go ‘Okay, that’s good. Let’s bring this thing back a little bit,'” Mattison explained.
“In the back of your mind though, I know I feel personally we’ve got very talented players. Let’s let them play. Let’s not confuse them and have them have the thing where during a game they’re looking over, looking for the call. As a coordinator, that’s always been something I have nightmares of. When you look over there and the guys are going, ‘Just give me the call,’ you go, ‘Oh man I’m really making it hard on this guy.’ You don’t want to do that.”
Fellow co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley is on the same page. His preference is to find a set number of alignments, and then find roles in those packages for the players.
Rather than teaching 10 different defenses, he’d rather teach fewer, but give players opportunities to find a place in those packages where they can thrive.
“I was around some systems when there were like 10 packages in a game. I think that’s too many,” Hafley said. “What I think is important that we do is that players that deserve to play and have proven they deserve to play – they’re doing all the right things in the weight room, in school, off the field and on the field – I think you can create simple packages and just plug in a guy to have a role.
“I think the more guys have a role on the team the more ownership they’ll have and the more they’ll feel a part of it. t think that’s really good for a football team and really good for a defense.”
The ownership angle is interesting. Players can’t own a defense that is difficult to process. It is never truly their defense.
“We have really good players here,” Mattison said. “Let’s get them feeling really good about it. Let’s have a package where maybe the 11 that are out there may not be as fast as you could put in there, but they’re playing faster, and therefore you play the best guys at that time.”