Alignment says it all

The linebackers during the Spring scrimmage. (Will Gallagher/IT)

The linebackers during the Spring scrimmage. (Will Gallagher/IT)

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…as it pertains to UT under the Herman way of life. Alignment determines attitude, develops desire, and will eventually either make a man out of the 100 plus on the field or they will slink off into the night looking for the old greener grass story. Doing the right thing the right way at the right time leaves little room for major mental errors. You can look it up—see Royal, Darrell K or Bryant, Bear if you must.

Let’s talk about declaration. Nod if you have seen UT defensive players still moving toward their “alignment” when the opponents snap the ball. It drove me batty watching our DE’s, OLB’s, or safeties still swapping sides of the formation with indecision while the QB was barking signals. There were too many times the ball was snapped while both DE’s/or OLB’s/ or safeties were caught in the middle of the formation.

If you listen to Orlando close enough you can bet the ranch that won’t continue under his watch. Alignment is attention to detail. Focused on assignment and responsibility is the new way of living here. In order to accomplish the new routine you need to have basic and simple rules to get properly aligned. You can bet the family jewels this will be done because these guys leave nothing to chance.

We always used the same four rules to declare our defense in the old days. This system covered every imaginable formation and would still work with a simple adjustment or two in today’s wide world of sport game. Every member of our defense could recite these four rules in order and most could explain why they were in this order. We always

1. Declared to the TE first. If no TE then:

2. Declare to the multiple receivers side. If numbers are even then:

3. Declare to the wide side of the field. If the ball is in the middle then:

4. Declare left because most offenses are right-handed.

Defenses universally wanted their strongest run defenders aligned to the offense’s strength so the front always went to the TE side. It became necessary later to divorce the front from the secondary (declare front to TE—secondary to SE against wishbone or slot/trips) against the wishbone, doubles, and trips because you wanted to utilize your inverted safety (SS) in quick run support and covering the flats/slot receiver while your (FS) adjusted to play centerfield against those particular offensive sets. We could get away with the separation with only the Willie backer making a slight adjustment to his normal responsibilities.

I realize now that the “tempo” will make any DC add to his way of teaching proper alignment. Cross-training will certainly be one way to eliminate costly misalignments. Instead of racing across the field they can swap assignments with alignment adjustment carrying responsibility change with them. It’s all about being ready and prepared on the snap of the ball. The game is easier when your toughest assignment is to just play the game.

I appreciated the hell out of Orlando’s definition of what he wanted in his Mike backer. I can remember always using my Mike as a teaching tool for the younger kids during two-a-days every year. Not sure if all my Mikes were the toughest kids on the team but would strongly advise finding out where they fit on the totem pole. We had some serious talent through the years.

Each year I would alert the current Mike that he was fixing to get a blood raw butt chewing during the next drill and to think nothing of it. They would smile and nod or wink. Regardless of his performance in that drill he received the old dress down “you can’t go through these drills half-ass and expect to be a great player” shoutout mixed with a few other choice adjectives along the way—you know my standard pep talk.

The current Mike knew I was not serious (from years past). This was simply for the newbies. I always figured if they saw me rip the best we had for underperforming effort they would wonder how bad would it be for them to give less than their best. Worked every year. Effort never seemed to be a problem.

It doesn’t appear that effort will be a problem for the ones that remain with this staff. We may lose a few that reflect back on the country club atmosphere and long for the good times of yesteryear but the ones that stay will appreciate the leadership later in life. When you get enough of those what play the game for what it’s worth you learn what it’s like to win as a team. There ain’t a better feeling in the sports world.