In talking with the new Vandal Defensive Coordinator Ed Lamb he struck me as a man very confident in his abilities to coach. Confidence is exactly what the defensive needs after last year's season. Our opponents should expect to encounter a more aggressive defensive as well as new defensive schemes. Last year's team was young and with the addition of new recruits and players returning from season ending injuries improved play from one area of the defense will improve the play in other areas.
VandalVenue.com: Every football fan has heard the debate about whether a team's success is because of talent or scheme. Florida and Spurrier's offense is a case in point. Can the same be said on defense? Can a scheme make up for an imbalance of talent? To the point: UI may not have the talent of a few of the teams we play but can we engineer a scheme to allow us to win?
Ed: A player's talent level is subjective to many variables: height, weight, strength, speed, motivation, awareness, and technical mastery. With the exception of height, all other variables can be influenced to some degree by coaches. For example, a well-engineered scheme, efficiently taught, can increase a player's awareness, technical level, and even motivation. Therefore, coach Spurrier deserves credit for having a talented team. As for the Vandals, yes we can earn a victory over any team, but scheme will be just one of a number of important contributing factors.
VandalVenue.com: Everybody's an expert on how to play offense and most fans understand offense to a greater degree than defense. Unless one's actually played football, at least at the HS level, defense is much less understood. Can you tell us what base defense you want to run at UI and can you explain it in basic terms. How will it differ in theory from what we have done the last few years?
Ed: Tactically, defense is gap discipline, ball containment, and coverage. Inside running plays are impeded by gap discipline. Outside running plays and QB scrambles are thwarted by ball containment. Pass completions are broken up or intercepted by coverage. We will run multiple defensive sets next fall. Depending on the defensive call and the offensive formation, as many as 8 and as few as 3 defenders will be assigned gap discipline. As for ball containment, 2 players will always be assigned to contain the quarterback, and two players will be assigned to contain outside run plays. Concerning coverage, we will assign a minimum of four defenders to man coverage and a maximum of 8. In zone coverage we will use between 5 and 8 defenders to occupy the zones.
VandalVenue.com: Do you watch other football teams on TV or on film so as to get ideas about what you (we) might try?
Ed: When I watch games on television I look for uncommon offensive or defensive plays. When I am watching game film from videotape I watch for technique and basic scheme concepts.
VandalVenue.com: As far as defensive philosophy goes, do you like to run a more aggressive defense than most teams?
VandalVenue.com: If you've had a chance to look at game films from recent years what did you really notice right off the bat?
Ed: I noticed that the players played hard. I see hustle and courage. I am excited to work with them and for them.
VandalVenue.com: Will our opponents next year see any new defensive schemes not seen in years past?
VandalVenue.com: What will be the biggest challenge for the defense this spring and fall practices?
Ed: We need to develop confidence. As I stated before, these guys are a high effort bunch. They need to see their hard work pay off.
VandalVenue.com: With the addition of the new recruiting class do you see any of the existing players possibly changing positions to a new defensive assignment?
Ed: No player has approached me about changing positions. I like players to play where they feel they are best suited.
VandalVenue.com: What is one overall improvement that can be made on defense that will have the biggest overall impact on the defense?
Ed: Our coverage will be tighter inside and looser outside. Any more information would compromise our plan.
VandalVenue.com: On the defensive side of the ball what part of the defense (CB's, LB's, DL...etc.) do you expect to see the biggest improvement in next year?
Ed: I expect our pass coverage to be much improved. I also expect the defensive linemen will have more sacks and the secondary will have more interceptions. We were young in those areas last season, and improvement in either area will naturally lead to improvement in the other. As for the linebackers, we have a smart, aggressive bunch. They were the strength of the defense last year and they will benefit the most from improved secondary/defensive line play.
VandalVenue.com: Tom Cable and the BYU staff who recommended you obviously have a lot of faith in your ability to get the Vandal defense turned around. What would you say are your biggest assets to this team and how has your experience in other programs helped to prepare you for this position?
Ed: If the people that I have worked with have confidence in me, I hope it is because I have been organized, thorough, and worked hard. I received valuable experience at the University of Redlands, where the Head Coach (Mike Maynard) entrusted me to execute a variety of tasks. In addition to coordinating the defense there, I was the recruiting coordinator, strength and conditioning coach, and University Administrator assigned to a variety of management/committee tasks. Having gained some experience Redlands, I felt ready for a new challenge. BYU was an opportunity to test what I knew in comparison to a different, but likewise successful program. I observed and noted everything I could during my time as an assistant at BYU.
VandalVenue.com: Where do you plan to recruit in the future and with the Sun Belt conference affiliation do you expect to recruit in new markets?
Ed: The emphasis will always be to recruit the best players in Idaho, and fill in where needed after that. I have recruiting contacts throughout California and Utah. Arizona and Texas might be areas of consideration for the future, but that is up to Tom Cable and Brian Thure (Recruiting Coordinator).
VandalVenue.com: Who do you think will be impact players next year on defense?
Ed: I don't want to speculate. Every player is working to earn respect from the new staff right now. I'll know more after Spring Football.
VandalVenue.com: Which coaches do you model yourself after and who would you say has taught you the most or been a mentor to you?
Ed: I couldn't name them all because I have a little bit of every coach I've had in my style. As a young little leaguer, my dad worked as my coach in several different sports. He was always demanding yet positive. It is a tough combination, but demanding, positive coaching works best at every level. Rick Sira (my high school football coach) made a tough sport fun. LaVell Edwards showed me that character is the most important quality a