Mike Clark decided after a loss to Hampden-Sydney two years ago in which his Eagles had struggled to keep up with the Tigers’ fast-paced offensive attack that he was going to turn the tables on everybody.
The 2010 season will be the third with BC using a 4-2-5 alignment as its base defense. The 4-2-5, which replaces a member of the front seven with an extra defensive back, is in vogue across the college-football landscape as the answer to spread offenses that use four and five wideouts to put pressure on defenses with speed.
“It allows you to just keep your best people on the field,” Clark said of the alignment, which counters speed on the offensive side of the ball with more speed on defense.
The trick is that a defense in a 4-2-5 is committing to stopping the run with six guys in the box instead of seven.
“The overall scheme of the defense is to stop the run,” said linebacker T.J. Montague, a 5-11, 211-pound senior who was second on the team in tackles last year with 48. “My role as a linebacker is to do whatever we can do to stop the run so we can make teams one-dimensional. Once we eliminate the run, we heat them up.”
“If we can stop the run on first and second down and get them to third-and-long, they have to change personnel,” explains 5-9, 191-pound senior rover Brandon Mitchell. “We have our speed out on the field already, so with one call, we’ll have a run-stopping defense, and maybe have six, seven, even eight people in the box, or depending on the formation and the call, with the same defense on the field have six or even five in the box. It gives us the advantage of keeping the same players out there without a lot of substituting in and out.”
It’s the chess match that is football – the game within the game.
“We don’t have to deal with substitution issues all the time,” Clark said. “With all the no-huddle offenses that you play and the pace of the game, to try to take an NFL approach and make sure your defensive personnel matches the offensive personnel, that really became tough, at least at our level.”
Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at [email protected].