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Tuberville was part of Jimmy Johnson’s staff at Miami in the 1980s that helped revolutionize college football defense by using smaller and lineups and more aggressive schemes. Linebackers became defensive ends, safeties became linebackers, and cornerbacks forced the run at the line of scrimmage. As a result, the Hurricanes wrecked wishbone and triple-option offenses that posed little threat with the pass.

Now teams need more defensive backs than ever to defend four and five wide receiver sets and Tuberville is looking at offenses to find them.

“What we have done is we signed a couple of kids this year that played offense. That could run, that could jump, but they’ve never covered anybody,” he said. “We’re going to switch them from offense to corners.”

More defensive backs and big guys who can rush the passer AND drop into coverage. A player like Carl Bradford of Arizona State, a freak of an athlete who is listed as a 6-foot-1, 241-pound defensive end but is one of a growing breed of hybrid outside linebackers. Morgan Breslin of Southern California, Anthony Barr of UCLA and Ronald Powell of Florida also fit the prototype.

Graham said Bradford’s versatility is the key to his defense and he has only one other player on his roster like him, and that player is a freshman.

Until major college teams can regularly stock their rosters with four or five Carl Bradford-types, defenses are going to have problems.


This might be the biggest problem for defenses.

“I think there has been a lot more forward-thinking on the offensive side of the ball,” said Graham, whose teams have become known for their fast-paced and prolific offenses.

And it’s not just those pesky spread offenses that are doing all the damage. Even what has become thought of as traditional is, in reality, pretty high-tech.

Alabama’s one-back offense has more in common with Don Coryell’s Chargers than Vince Lombardi’s Packers.

Brown said the ability of offenses to attack so well in so many ways has defenses losing the most basic numbers game. To stop the run, defenses need to have more players closer to the line, but that leaves them exposed to downfield throws. Move those safeties and linebackers back and here comes the run.

It’s not quite that simple, of course. Schemes vary and many ways to solve the same problems _ or at least try to solve them.

Graham said about five years ago he felt the defenses were starting to figure out how to slow down the spreads, but then _ with Oregon leading the way _ teams started pushing the pace and defenses have been playing catch-up ever since.

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