Friday Chalk Talk

One key to running a successful 4-2-5 Defense is having Safeties that understand the defense to the "Nth" degree. Rice should have no problem finding the requisite intelligence needed to excel in what is its "base" defense...

No longer a "fad" defense, the 4-2-5 has become quite popular among college and high school defensive coordinators. The advantages it gives you is that most of the formation adjustments are made in the secondary, which allows the fronts to be very multiple. There are opinions of strengths and weaknesses for every defensive formation. A popular one is that the strength of the 4-2-5 is widely considered its effectiveness in stopping the pass, the weakness is defending the run. Actually, it goes much deeper. Having the right personnel (and having them execute assignments) can make most any defense effective, especially the 4-2-5.

There are advantages in recruiting personnel also. It's generally considered easier to find a couple of Inside Linebackers than a true Middle Linebacker. Secondly, the same can be said for finding a Weak (Kat) and a Strong Safety versus two really good Outside Linebackers. Speaking of, Safety is a critical position in the 4-2-5 - running it effectively weighs heavily on the play of the 3 Safeties in the alignment.

For conversation sake, the 3 Safeties in the alignment are: a Free Safety, a Strong Safety, and a Weak Safety. The Weak Safety is sort of a hybrid position. The player have the qualities of a Weakside Linebacker in terms of tackling ability, but also must be able to drop into and provide adequate coverage.

Though each position benefits from having exceptional ability for the demands of the position (ex. coverage skills for free safety) for the 4-2-5 to be exceptional the Safeties are ideally interchangeable. This allows the defense to move personnel all over the field without compromise. It allows blitzing from a myriad of attack points. It can be extremely confusing to an offense. But it also requires complete comprehension and a thorough understanding of all moving parts to be most effective.

Potential Rice Advantage

It stands to reason that Rice would have a marked advantage over the competition in terms of intelligence. True, Rice athletes tend to be very cerebral but this isn't the advantage I'm speaking of. Football intelligence is. Having a 26 ACT score doesn't necessarily mean a player has a high level of football intelligence.

Looking For It All

Where Rice can ultimately gain the upper hand with its defenses is finding players that are a combination of superior athlete, exceptionally intelligent, and gifted with the ability to digest the intricacies of football - turning the complex into second nature.

The Prototype

I'll use 2009 commit Jarek Lancaster's skill set as an example of what the Owl's are looking for:

6-1 205 4.52 Forty, 4.02 Shuttle, 34" Vertical

...obviously Lancaster has the athletic "measurables" to excel at coverage, but also the size to grow into a run stopping force.

1100 SAT score, was also nominated as one the top 5 Scholar/Athletes in San Antonio recently.

...obviously Lancaster is intelligent.

Lancaster has played on both sides of the ball and understands the game very well. Will play QB for O'Connor for the second time in his career this fall

...obviously playing Quarterback is a huge plus for Lancaster with the Owls, it gives him a very deep perspective of offensive tendencies - one that he will no doubt utilize as a defensive player at Rice.

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