Fetch Friday is running a little late today but for a good reason, we've got a podcast for you folks. With the BCS Championship Game coming on Monday we decided to get one of our favorite guests on the show, Russ Mitchell again folks! Russ is from the fine folks over at the College Football News and if you don't know he is a big time SEC guy. Perfect to talk over the SEC heavyweight match up between the Bayou Bengals and the Crimson Tide.
Russ and I get into the game from a couple angles, starting with the fact that this BCS game is sitting smack dab in middle of the NFL's build up to wild card weekend. College is fighting with the league for the build up to the culmination of their season and that's a tough row to hoe. Then Mitchell and I get into why LSU is the prohibitive favorite in this rematch of the two juggernauts. We also get into what Alabama must do to win this game and that includes a little Eddie Lacy. Some key players who could have huge games to wrap up and you're all set for Monday.
If the widget doesn't work then be sure to download the podcast here. See as the game is in NOLA here's a little tune for you. I was going to go with some Weezy F. Baby or maybe some Master P but you know, kids are listening and all.
Now we can get to something that has been talked around plenty but might as well be discussed here as it is near and dear to my heart. The lost art of tackling and how the disease that is bad tackling has grossly become and epidemic in the college football world.
Tackling is an art form. It is a science. There are so many tangibles and intangibles to tackling that to describe it as merely an effort is to do the complicated practice of tackling a disservice. It isn't just effort. It isn't just strength. It isn't just want to. It isn't just power. Tackling is a beautiful blending of all these things and so much more.
Tackling is about angles, leverage, body control, explosion, strength, head and hand placement, body positioning, hips and feet. Every tackle can't be a "form tackle" but every tackle has to get the opponent on the ground, preferable with him feeling more of the pain than the man doing the tackling.
A lot of the discussion of tackling and how it has degraded points back to the "well they don't tackle in practice" movement that the NFL made popular and injuries have made a standard in college football. Personally, I think that's a lazy explanation, especially when many defensive units do tackle their scout teams, everyone does "thud tempo" in practice and there are scrimmages and live portions of practice.
Simply put, it's an excuse.
You look at missed tackles like the eleventy million missed in the Orange Bowl or the Alamo Bowls pitiful display and you'll see why I think that. These guys aren't just missing tackles because they aren't wrapping up, or because they don't have their head across the body or because they aren't running their feet and end up bull dozed. No, the bulk of your missed tackles are guys reaching and grabbing, guys diving and out of position from the beginning, before they even have a chance to make the tackle an act.
That's angles, that's pursuit, that's run fits, that's getting off blocks and that's all pre-tackle science that has to be taken care of before any attempt is made. If a guy doesn't take a good downhill angle he has no shot at making a legit tackle, all arms and horse collar and diving for him. The same goes for pursuit once the ball carrier has breach the first level. Improper run fits and a failure to get off blocks and what you're left with are defenders reaching for ball carriers not putting pad on pad.
Now, let's say that a guy does get those things in the last paragraph right. The defensive end takes a good angle, the defensive tackle gets off the block, the safety takes the proper pursuit angle or the linebacker makes a good run fit. That happens and now we have a guy actually in position to tackle, unlike the diving, arm grabby, horse collar yanking.
This tackler has taken the "pre-tackle" steps, now he's got to initiate the tackling sequence. That means closing the distance between himself and the ball carrier, making contact, exploding the hips, running his feet, shooting his guns and grabbing cloth to secure the tackle. That is tackling.
Taking the guy to the ground is the end result of running the feet, the last part of the tackle. Everything before that you pick that up in "thud tempo" at practice. At practices there aren't a ton of guys running around diving at ankles, chicken winging teammates, hand grabbing each other. They run to contract, thud up, grab cloth and come to balance.
Yet kids from so many schools get into games and do all the wrong things. Blaming it on tackling in practice is a copout. Fact is kids aren't doing what they're taught. They get into the games and decide to freelance; that means looking to make big hits and avoiding getting ran over by diving at ankles. You'll notice the best defenses are the most disciplined, not just in eliminating blown coverages and being lined up correctly but the teams who tackle well and tackle correctly. That's not a coincidence.
You do what you're taught in the film room, meeting sessions and at practice and good things happen. Both from a schematic stand point and from a football, and in this case tackling, standpoint.