The defensive coordinator for the
Archer was very anxious to see his team
in pads for the first time, as the first couple of practices this spring were in shorts.
Why, do you ask? Because things change, said the defensive
specialist, when you put pads on. I think the first days have been very
productive. I think our guys have had a great attitude. Were putting in
a new defense, and the learning curve has been very, very good. We started out, we
gave them some new things, and then we added some things. I was really pleased with
the way they competed with each other, against the offense, etc, which is what youre
trying to get out of shorts. Were going to find out the ones that want to play
in the SEC, because we do play the game in pads. But after two days, were very
pleased with whats happened so far.
The switch to a new defense would make
ordinary coaches tremble, but Archer sees a switch as a challenge. Besides, Archer
believes a switch to the 4-3 from the 3-4 is much easier than the reverse. Plus, the
Cats have been semi-transitioning throughout the past two years. A big key for the
Wildcats switching was, believe it or not, the loss of Deion Holts. We played
the 3-4, two years ago, a lot, said Archer. And then when Deion was not
with us last year, as the year went on, as we struggled with the running game and trying
to stop people in the running game, we were not physically able to match up people.
We went to the 4-3. As we looked in the off-season, we were in a 4-3 front
60% of the time last year. To the fans they wouldnt have known that. But
we were subbing a defensive lineman a lot. We were playing with three linebackers
most of the time. The complete changeover this season, according to Archer,
comes from studying the other SEC teams. What weve done in the
off-season is, weve studied Auburn, weve studied Alabama and LSU, who are
three of the top teams in our league, to try and get some new ideas and concepts. Weve
tried to implement some of the things that they did. Thats kind of what were
trying to do, is to mix the three of them.
Even though Mike Archer flirted with
the idea of going back to the NFL, when he was interviewed this winter by the new staff of
the Miami Dolphins, the league may still help him a little bit, through the back
door, so to speak. When I went down to
Jim Tirey returns on Wednesday with part two of this story.