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Varsity Blue

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Dual-Barrel Mailbag

2 questions this time around. The first comes from the ever-curious RJ, and it relates to slot receivers:
What makes all these small fast guys work better in the slot? It's seems like fast running backs are almost interchangeable with this position.
The point of the slot position is to have guys who can get the ball in space, and do something with it from there. This means making a guy or two miss, or running over a guy, or just outsprinting people to the endzone. Mismatches are the name of the game, and these speedy small guys creates a speed mismatch against linebackers and even some defensive backs.

However, the small speedy guy isn't the only type of player who can work out in the slot. Tight ends create mismatches as well, by being bigger than safeties, and (sometimes) faster than linebackers. They are able to make things happen by being a physical force from the slot. Toney Clemons is a physical specimen with near-TE size, but good speed and shakes like a smaller player, which makes him a monster in the slot.

As far as being interchangeable with running backs, that isn't a bad observation. A lot of slot guys were scatback-type RBs in high school, whose speed is good, but size is lacking to take the beating that a running back will get in college. A lot of Michigan's recruits at the position can be multiple-position players.

Next question comes from an anonymous e-mailer, relating to coaching clinics:
what is the point of coaching clinics? it seems like the coaches are just giving away their secrets. i heard that michigan state even sent some scouts to michigan's clinic. what is the benefit of these clinics?
Well, the clinics are held with an intended audience of high schools coaches. While Michigan State's coaches may have been at the clinic, Coach Rod has always been very open with his system, and he doesn't fear that opponents will crack the system. College coaches are always traveling to other schools to swap ideas.

So now that we know the clinics are for the benefit of high school coaches, what does Michigan get out of it? They build a rapport with the high school coaches, and happy coaches will be more likely to send their top players to colleges that they have a good relationship with. It's one way that college coaches can make inroads in recruiting.

The clinics also help develop future talent that will be able to run Michigan's system. Teaching the zone-read offense to high school coaches means that more high schools in the state of Michigan (and Ohio, and wherever else the coaches come from to attend the clinic) will be running this offense. This means that players will be in the right positions for a transition to Michigan, and they will be more comfortable running the system by the time they get into school. It breaks down like this: if a lot of high schools are running pro-style offenses, there will be more dropback quarterbacks, blocking fullbacks, and road-grading offensive linemen developed in the high school ranks. If a lot of high schools run the zone-read, there will be more scrambling QBs and slot receivers to come out of the high school ranks, (more) ready to play in college.

Thanks for the questions, guys. Keep sending them and I'll keep doing my best to answer them.

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“Dual-Barrel Mailbag”

  1. Blogger RJHOVE Says:

    So it's kinda of how Reggie Bush lined up in the slot. He has never been big enough to take the full load, so SC and New Orleans have put him in the slot to create space for him in other ways. Rich Rod could do a lot of things with the slot. McGuffie or Brown look like they could spend some time there. Brown has a lot of speed and they to find ways to utilize it in the offense since it looks like coming into summer he will be at 3rd on the depth chart.

  2. Blogger RJHOVE Says:

    I'm confident Rich Rod will put his playmakers in a position to make big plays.