Film Room: Shakeel Rashad

The Inside Carolina staff convened to review and discuss the film from UNC's final spring football scrimmage. In this segment, beat writer Greg Barnes and Xs and Os analyst Jason Staples discuss a play by senior linebacker Shakeel Rashad.

Jason: This provides a reason for hope on the defensive side. One of the things that Gene Chizik is bringing to this defense is this very aggressive, one-gap kind of scheme, where everybody is trying to get penetration to cause a redirect in the backfield. What you see here on the right side is the offensive line does a good job, but watch Shakeel Rashad pick his seam and make a play in the backfield. He doesn’t make the tackle but causes the redirect by the running back in the backfield – that’s a linebacker who recognizes the play and shoots the gap. Look how quickly he does this. He’s on the weak side and just goes. Because he’s unblocked there, he needs to make the tackle – excellent job by Logan to not go down in the backfield.

The difference here is you have guys making a decision and attacking up front, getting penetration, and instead of a running back getting a full head of steam and heading toward the second level, he has to redirect and hope to get back to the line of scrimmage on a play that was actually pretty well blocked.

Greg: That’s one of the things about Vic Koenning. The complexity of his scheme, he liked to talk about faking pressure. Meaning you’re only going to rush four but you rush from different angles and sometimes put two in a gap to overload it. And that’s good if it works…

Jason: … but if it doesn’t, then you have nobody in one gap.

Greg: And we saw that plenty of times.

Jason: This is not poorly blocked, but you have a defensive player who is able to hit his gap, get penetration and that totally changes things for the defense. All you need is one guy to get penetration, if everybody else is staying in their gaps. Even if they are reasonably well blocked, you’re able to prevent a guy from making a play. So even if you don’t have a lot of difference makers up front, you hope you can get some penetration and get some guys in the backfield. Then instead of 2nd-and-4 like it was last year, you’ve got 2nd-and-8, and defenses can win in those environments. And then you don’t have to fake pressure, you can actually pressure.

It’s a good play by Rashad. He really looks better going forward. When he’s able to make up his mind to try and get penetration, he’s got some size, he’s able to take guys on in the hole, he’s a load and moves well moving forward. Got some concerns about coverage and moving side to side, and against the pass that may be a problem, but when he’s moving forward against the run, I like what I see.

Greg: The fact that when they go to the nickel, he comes off the field, so that helps with the coverage aspect of that.

Jason: If it were me, I’d consider moving him to defensive end in the nickel. Greg: They brought him in at linebacker and the only reason they moved him to bandit is because they never had a legitimate prototype bandit. The one guy that they did sign that fit that mold, Marquise Haynes, wasn't able to enroll and was Freshman All-America at Ole Miss last year. So they were trying to fit a round peg in a square hole.

Jason: Seems to be the theme of the Vic Koenning defense at UNC, trying to fit guys who didn’t fit into his scheme

Greg: So I think linebacker is a more natural position for him. I agree with Jason that with some more weight you could use him at the end.

Jason: He’s really strong. You can see him deliver a blow with those hips.

Greg: The linebacker corps, the way they handled it in the spring, was very interesting because Larry Fedora seems solidified with Schoettmer at linebacker. They didn’t rotate any of those guys. They switched the secondary depth chart, they changed things up there and on the line, but linebacker was solid and steady throughout the entire spring. And that’s interesting because you do have young guys with some promise but they didn’t play around with it much.

Jason: I understand why they have Schoettmer in the middle and they’re not thinking otherwise. At that position in this defense, you have to have a quarterback and that’s his role there. And he’s going to do as good a job as anybody on the roster getting up the seam. He showed he could do that in the last defense. He fits a lot of what you want there. A little undersized – not the prototype – but he can do what you want in that system.

Greg: He came in as a safety. While he describes what Chizik put in as a modified Tampa-2, because the middle linebacker doesn’t have the extent of responsibilities as the basic, he has that familiarity with moving in coverage – and he’s a great leader.

Jason: That’s what they need. You have to have a guy who makes sure the proper defense is called and everyone is in their proper gap. He’s a guy they’ll lean on for that.

Greg: And I think that’s one of the reasons Rashad is there, too. He’s very bright, and with him and Schoettmer in the middle, that’s two guys that can be looked to for leadership and communication.

Jason: Agreed – and it’s because he’s 245. That puts a guy next to Schoettmer who is a little more of a load and can help make sure they can stop the run with six in the box—and you’ve got to be able to do that in today’s game.

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