Mailbag question: Tiny slots — advantage or disadvantage?



Thanks for your website. I appreciate your explanations and thoughts.

Here are some questions:

Would you talk a little about the advantages / disadvantages of having tiny slot receivers in Coach Rodriguez’s offensive system? Could two be used at the same time? How does having several slot receivers under 5’9″ for one position on the field (or at most two) help the team?

In addition, what is the ideal depth at any position? People seemed concerned we do not have enough, say, cornerbacks, even though we only need to put two on the field at a given time, right?

What are your thoughts on the young and developing offensive linemen? When do you think they will be ready to contribute effectively? It seems it would be very difficult for an 18 year-old or even a red-shirt 19 year-old to contribute a position that demands so much power, technique, and knowledge. How does the offensive line compare to the defensive line in this respect?

Thanks for your time! Here is to hoping we get a few more great recruits.



Thanks for the question and comments.

A few years back, the Detroit Lions were running a version of the Run & Shoot system.

They put together a large contingent of small wide receivers to play slots in this offense. When asked why, Mouse Davis gave this answer, “We would love to have a stable of 6’3″ wide receivers that are capable of doing all the things necessary to play slot in our offense. Problem is, there just are not many of these type players, so we make do.”

What he was trying to say is that it is skill set that determines if a player can be used in slot, not size. There just are not many 6’4″ wide receivers that can create in space, be pitch-phase in option, and do other things necessary to make Coach Rod’s version of the spread successful.

Most coaches are never satisfied with depth at any position. Most would be very satisfied to have two deep at every position.

From reports we are getting, a few of the young offensive linemen are beginning to separate from the pack. Barnum and Khoury are two we hear had the best year. Though we have also heard that the two young men have struggled some, they are very talented, and Michigan likes their potential.

It’s tough to grade Mealer, as he was slowed by injuries and surgeries from the car crash.

Offensive linemen take longer to develop then defensive linemen for a couple reasons:

1) Pass protection: linemen must prepare for, and learn to — as a unit — correctly react to, all the different blitzes defenses will throw at them. This takes time.

2) Cohesion: Time spent playing together is crucial in zone blocking schemes because all the linemen must work and move as one.

3) Technique: Many high school offensive linemen are just bigger and stronger than their opponents and can just overpower them. In the college game, this physical advantage is much less, and might not even exist, so the learning and execution of proper techniques becomes crucial.

It is vital that all linemen understand and adapt to all their roles and all that’s expected of them.

For instance, lets say I’m playing offensive center and the defensive tackle is lined up head up on the offensive guard.

The entire offensive line must step in the same direction. If the defensive tackle plays tough, the offensive guard will punch with left hand and the offensive center (me) will punch with the right hand. We will step hip-to-hip, roll our hips through, and drive the defensive tackle backwards. If the defensive tackle angles hard into the A-gap, area between the offensive center and the offensive guard, he will, again, be punched in the same manner, only this time I have to step up and cover the defensive tackle while the offensive guard will now disengage and head to the second level to “chat” with the linebackers. If the offensive guard is not confident the I will get there, or if we don’t step in unison and the same distance, we will leave a gap for the defensive tackle to split and get penetration which destroys the offensive zone schemes.

Thanks for stopping by
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Written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine