The Clawfense: Complicated? Yes. Cure-all? Maybe.

 

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Now that practice has started and the media is permitted to ask questions of players instead of tight-lipped coaches, hints of what the Clawfense will look like are beginning to emerge. As I guessed as an EDSBS Visiting Lecturer, it is apparently a spready-type, West Coast-ish (emphasis on the "-ish") thing. It's also apparently quite complex. Josh McNeil calls it "really complicated," Brandon Warren says "he's never seen anything like [it]," and Gerald Jones thinks it's "a whole lot harder than Cutcliffe's offense." How much of the complexity has to do with The Incredible Flipping O-Line, we don't yet know, but I suspect that that's only a small part of it.

Frankly, I have mixed feelings about the fact that it appears to be so complex. If it's over the players' heads, it could be disastrous, like playing chess with checkers. Even if it's merely difficult for the players to grasp, there could be a steep and long learning curve, which could signal serious trouble considering our early, front-loaded schedule. However, the coaches must be trusted to give the players only what they can handle, and I think our current players are smart enough to handle most everything thrown at them and to catch on quickly and in time for the season.

Assuming the Clawfense is complex without being overwhelming, Vol fans have to be excited about the possibilities. The Incredible Flipping O-Line should create mismatches in the trenches as well as at the skill positions. That's new. The flexibility of being able to "run four different plays out of one formation" certainly sounds like a cure for predictability, the second-leading cause of death for offenses. That's new. And if the article that suggests that the Clawfense will feature some razzle-dazzle with players inserted into skill positions they don't typically play," then it will at the very least be exciting. What we've missed the most over the past handful of seasons are a couple of truly dynamic and consistent playmakers. It's looking like we not only have those now, but that we have the system to best use them to our advantage.

 

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