Bandits & Rams

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Outside linebackers coach David Duggan spoke to about the Bandit and Ram positions following Monday's practice.

How is practice going thus far?
"It's going well. It's a steep learning curve. Right now I think it's a combination of everybody learning what to do, their heads are smoking right now, and then developing the level of conditioning that it takes to maintain this type of pace for an offense and a defense. It's going to be a work in progress all the way through until these guys have a lot of experience with it under their belts."

It looks like you're coaching both the Bandits and Rams. How are those termed?
"It's outside backers, but the Bandit is more of a hybrid linebacker. He's a guy that rushes the passer and we drop him a fair amount in our blitz package and gives you a lot of flexibility to change up your rushers when you got a guy that can drop and it's kind of a unique position.

"Your Ram is more of an outside Sam linebacker. We play a 4-2-5. He's a little more athletic than a traditional bigger outside backer. He's more of a nickel for us, so we can use him in a lot of different coverage's and we can also blitz him as well, so both spots give us a lot of flexibility."

It seems like it would be a difficult task to coach players who play in secondary in addition to players who play on the defensive line, but it looks like that they run a lot of the same drills.
"Right. Well, the Bandit position is a unique position. It's a pretty skilled guy that can play against offensive tackles, can play against tight ends and, yet, you need him to drop in coverage. You need a pretty good athlete to play that position. It's a hard position to find. You're looking for a taller, leaner guy that has good feet.

"The other, smaller hybrid nickel player, the Ram, is an outside backer basically, so he's used as an old fashioned Sam linebacker, but we use him in man to man coverage so he's got to be an unique athlete. He's got to be big and physical enough to play in the box, yet he's got to be athletic and talented enough to play in space, because he's used a lot in space covering slot receivers and zoning up underneath number one wide receivers, so he plays in a lot of space and needs to be athletic."

We've seen Pete Mangum and Gene Robinson at the nickel position over the years. Is there a pretty close tie-in between the nickel and the Ram? What's the difference?
"Well, the Ram is a nickel, but… we don't take the Ram off the field, so he needs to be a run fit guy. He needs to be part of the box, so you do have to have unique skills to play run, understand run fits, and then you're also going to be a true nickel as in the old fashioned 4-3 nickel – come in the game on third down, play man to man in pass coverage, so he's a space defender then. It's the same position, it's just we're going to play him and not take him off the field."

I know you've got a variety of guys at the Bandit - Dion Guy, Norkeithus Otis and Curtis Campbell. How are those guys shaping up to fill that role?
"Well Dion, he's older, more experienced. Has experience because before we got here, they were moving him around trying to find him a spot it seems like. They had him with his hand on the ground. They had him at linebacker, so he's kind of a natural fit for [Bandit], because he's used both skills, so he's obviously a little bit further ahead than Curtis and Norkeithus are, who were basically used as linebackers. They've got to learn the hands against the defensive ends and the tackles and they got to learn the skills a little bit better with their hands on the ground. They're a little bit more apt in space, so it's a long way to go. We got a lot of work to do, but they'll get there."

We've seen Curtis Campbell at safety, we've seen him at linebacker and now with his hand on the ground. How versatile of a player is he?
"He's pretty talented. He's got great straight-line speed. He's explosive. He's very strong, because in order to be straight-line fast as fast as he his, you got to have some strength. He's really coming along fast, because he's so strong. It's just going to take work. The more comfortable he becomes with his hand on the ground, the better fit he'll be because, obviously, he's played in space. He understands it, so that part is not as much of a concern as his hand on the ground skills. We spent a lot of time in practice with all three of those guys more with their hand on the ground right now trying to develop those skills more than we are in space."

With regard to the Bandit and Ram how much of the defense are you trying to install this spring?
"As we install the defense, those are the skills that we're installing for those guys to learn. Most of their skills that they're going to have to use are being taught now, just because… there's only so many techniques that we teach and then it's just putting in a different defense where sometimes they may use this technique, sometimes they may use that technique, but it will all be carryover now, pretty much."

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