Dance With Who Brung Ya, Fran!
In case you haven't noticed, this is a University of Texas blog. So any of you non-Horns Powerhouse readers probably find Scott's Saturday night blog on the Tech-A&M post refreshing.
And I'm here to contribute more, but in an even more universal sense.
You see, there is an epidemic in the sport of football. One that does not so much effect other sports. It's a disease that spreads from coach to coach early in their careers. And this, unlike bird flu, goes from coach to player.
It's the failure to stick with what works. A violation of the "dance with who brung ya" principle. And A&M's Coach Fran gave us the latest example.
Now, in other coaches, it manifests itself in the prevent defense. These coaches play defense agressively, blitz, create turnovers and build big leads. But instead of sticking with work works, they soon get cute and call off the dogs to protect the lead. They quit blitzing. They drop eight men into coverage. They take their foot off the other team's throat.
And you know what happens often. The other exploits this. Sure, they have trouble making the big play, but they can dink and dunk and get out of bounds to stop the clock with little resistance. Combine this with the fact that a coach with the lead also suddenly forgets he can pass the ball and the other team rattles off 10, 14, or 20 unanswered points and steals the game.
The aggressive style brought you to the dance. You stayed with it until you felt it was old news. Then, you were got in the bathroom with the passive-style. It all falls apart and you wind up the loser.
Well, Coach Fran did the opposite. He and his staff figured out at half time that dropping into a zone against pass-happy Tech gave them fits. This, along with Tech's lack of run defense, allowed them to hold Tech to 99 second half yards to rally back from 10 points down and have a three-point lead with just over two minutes remaining in the game.
What does Fran do? He goes away from that strategy.(Or at least allows his defensive coordinator to do so) First, he blitzes on 3rd-and-11 leaving Jarrett Hicks one-on-one for the first down and his first catch of the day. Then on Tech's last offensive play, he blitzes again. Tech QB Graham Harrell sees the corner press up on Robert Johnson and audibles his route from a slant to a streak. Touchdown baby! Aggies go el foldo. And I could really care less except this is one in a long line of coaches failing their players by playing it "safe."
And I suppose someone might say you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. If you change your play trying to protect a lead and lose, you'll be criticized. If you stay with what has worked, your players don't execute in the end and you get beat then you'll be lambasted. If I was a coach I'd look any detractors in the eye and proudly say we stuck with what had worked and we just got beat. But I suppose coaches like to play it safe so they can hide behind convention. I say there is one way to win:
Dance with who brung ya, Coaches.