So said Oregon State defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake today after practice.
It was an interesting comment on several levels. For one thing, its interesting to hear anything from Sitake on a regular basis. I've already heard more from Sitake than I can ever recall being said by Mark Banker in any given year, and we haven't even gotten to the season yet. Banker was a man of few words, especially to the media, but so are most assistants, especially ones on the defensive side of the ball. So Sitake's fairly regular discourse is just another of the new and different things about the Gary Andersen era, and an especially welcome one that at least partially offsets the days of radio silence.
It was also interesting to hear one of the more simplistic and basic offenses Oregon St, fans will see all season characterized as being "one of the most difficult to prepare for."
But looking a little deeper into Sitake's remarks reveals why he would say something like that. He noted the variety of packages, from the heavy, multiple tight end sets to the 5-wide sets, and the multiple personnel groups that offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin runs through the same sets.
And today's practices began to showcase further wrinkles, including a direct snap to Storm Woods, and a wide receiver pass play. The plays don't have to be unduly difficult to be challenging to a defense when run out of a number of personnel groups, and with a variety of options available in them.
The spread read option offense run at a fast pace with no huddle also means the defense must defend all their responsibilities time and again, and without time to catch their breath.
The approach has been slower to take affect in the NFL for 2 basic reasons that aren't present in college and high school, where they have been spreading rapidly, and successfully.
For one thing, a professional defense is comprised of almost exclusively all-conference caliber players, which makes assignment football easier; you can rely on each player to generally be able to handle his matchup without much help. Below that level, the odds are much better that there will be a relatively weak link an offense can exploit, be it a talent or experience one.
And the multiple personnel groups Sitake referenced also make a difference. There are still roster limits, especially for conference road games, but the numbers are still much higher than the active roster for an NFL game. Fresh troops, if only for a play or two at a position or two, can create the mismatch the spread read option is trying to find.
And even when its Marcus McMaryion, and especially when its Seth Collins, defenses have to at least account for some possibilities that have never existed at Oregon St. And ones you won't see from California's Jared Goff, or USC's Cody Kessler, good as they are, for that mater.
There was also good news for the wide receivers, as Rahmel Dockery, knocked out of Saturday's scrimmage, was back in action, no worse for wear.
Hunter Jarmon was held out of contact drills, but was in uniform and gear, and worked on the side, a much better sign than when we last saw him, walking away from Reser Saturday with ice on his left knee, and a crutch under his right arm.
Isaac Seumalo was held out of at least the later portion of practice, and so was Kammy Delp, but Seumalo's absence appeared to be a part of the work load distribution system intended to keep him fresh.
Freshman Paul Lucas, who was a spectator Saturday, was also in action, and Malik Gilmore, who suffered a shoulder injury on the first day of practice, finally resurfaced as well. Andersen characterized the team's health as about as good as could be hoped for at this point.
Oregon St. will do another double day with no on-lookers, and no words for the press again tomorrow.
Andersen and Sitake both made reference to working more on putting "Weber State stuff" in, which they both felt has added to the energy and excitement of practice, as the team begins to ramp up to opening night a week from Friday.