I got a great look at the Utah goal line defense today. I was up close and personal! Every once in awhile the Utah SID had to ask me to get off the field. It’s strange, there’s a magnetic pull on the goal line that reels me in. I find myself 3 yards on the field with my hands up and knees bent. I wonder if I’ll have that same pull to a mic after I retire from radio. I doubt it.
I actually feel that Utah will be stouter defensively at the goal line than they will in the open. You could actually pull Orchard and go with Seni Fauonuku, Palepoi, Ianu and Tuipulotu across the line. That’d give you a combined 1230 pounds you’d have to move off the ball. Do you people realize how difficult that is to move? Not to mention they all come off the ball like Tyson Gay (post drug use). These guys can shut down gaps and cover the edge. It’s a sad deal that Tu’ikolovatu is gone for the season, he could have been in this rotation.
Next you go with Trevor Reilly, V.J. Fehoko, Jacoby Hale and Jared Norris in some type of rotation set to give you beef, speed, strength, nasty and coverage. Trevor is the full package, Jacoby Hale is the beef/speed/nasty, Jared Norris is the speed and coverage, V.J. is strength and nasty. These guys have some dog in them that I like. It’s a good goal line group.
Goal line is a different world. It’s a different mentality as a defender. You have to pretend that the goal line is a wall that extends straight up and you have no room to go backwards. You have to stay low, be twitchy and fast off the ball. You scrunch your neck a little tighter, your senses are heightened just a bit. You can hear the fans at that point; they get louder as the ball is getting closer to being snapped. You know as a DT this could be the swing point in the game, you could be the hero, you could be recognized, talked about, loved. Yeah, it’s a different world on the goal line. Other than my 1 TD I scored against SDSU there’s not a better moment defensively than a goal line stop. A sack doesn’t even compare. As a coach you have to find that junk yard dog that loves the goal line grind.
When this defense gets their back against that wall, watch for 3 names to make things happen. You won’t see him but he’ll be 3 men deep in a pile at the line of scrimmage, or 1 yard past it. Palepoi is goal line nightmare. He has a low center of gravity that’s tough to root out. He has a twitchy get-off that’s tough to stop. He’s the kind of guy I hated seeing on any goal line as a guard. Do you guys remember Chris Hovan? I’ll never forget having to block him on the goal line in a preseason game against the Vikings. He had the nasty in him! That’s what I want from my defense at the goal line. Trevor Reilly is another force to be reckoned with. He’ll be disruptive. And look for Jacoby Hale, he’s a true goal line back. Treat goal line as another game inside the game. Tell yourself, we might lose this game, but they’re not getting into my end zone. Open your eyes and keep your head up and don’t fall for the stupid statue of liberty! Be quick and aggressive, but be keen and aware! Yeah, I’m telling you, nothing like a goal line stand in football, and this is a good goal line group.
Here’s a bit of good news for Utah fans. You’re going to have a solid run game. Karl Williams is a monster, Kelvin York is a beast and James Poole has the glo (Bruce Leeroy reference). This will allow Travis to get into 2nd and 5 which gives him short routes to roll into. This is imperative! He can’t face a 2nd and 10 or a 3rd and 8 and be truly successful. He can hit you deep, if defenses are worried about chunk yardage on the ground but he’s dead in the water if you need him to convert on consecutive 2nd and 11’s or 3rd and 9’s. That’s not his game. I’m not saying he can’t do it, I’m just saying that those are not his strengths. My guess is you’ll find yourself in 2nd and 6 or 3rd and 2 much more often this year than you did last. That’s good news for Travis.
I have to finish on a small worry that I’ve stressed through camp. The corners are scaring me! Kalani may have to play some safe zone. I know he prefers press man, but they might not have a lot of options. As far as I’ve seen, Justin Thomas is your most capable corner. I watched Walker in nickel today and thought he performed well, but this league will kill you with quick routes that break off of aggressive, inaccurate corner play. I see too much of that from this group right now. These guys have the desire and effort, but in press play, desire and effort without experience and confidence can turn into bad body position and a broken coverage.
Other than that, I continue to like this group. Even the kickers are coming along….a little.
See you tomorrow.