Coast Guard football has a new, more aggressive look on defense
New London — Tommy Jones’ first thought was that the Coast Guard Academy defensive linemen had been “demoted.”
The Bears, looking for a different scheme on defense and one that favored their stable of linebackers — and those players who are shaped like linebackers, a familiar sight at the academy which has traditionally had undersized linemen — implemented a new defense this fall. It features just two down linemen and five linebackers, with two linebackers creeping forward to line up at the defensive end position.
Coach Bill George calls it a “more aggressive” look.
And it worked in last week’s 34-7 Week 1 victory over Alfred State. The Bears had three sacks after totaling just 10 sacks all last season and finished with eight tackles for a loss.
“We’re all still getting in. We’re getting in fresher,” said Jones, a 5-foot-10, 220-pound junior who is one of the starting defensive tackles along with 6-4, 230-pound junior Jack Brandt. “… We’re working on the same stuff we usually do; I think it’s really good.”
George said he thinks Coast Guard has more linebackers than any other position.
“We have a lot of body types that are linebackers, defensive backs, wide receiver types,” said George, whose heaviest defender on the entire depth chart is Brandt at 230. “We have four guys up front: two defensive linemen and two outside linebackers. It’s more of an even front. We have two defensive linemen and five linebackers and at the same time we’ve become more aggressive. We can’t let our skinnier guys sit there and let people run them over.”
The Bears, who play at Union on Saturday (1 p.m.), allowed 208 yards offense against Alfred State, 23 yards rushing on 24 carries.
The first sack of the game came from a combination of Jones and linebacker Titus Creamer in the second quarter. Down 21-0, Alfred State started a drive with 5:54 to play in the half at its own 6-yard-line and rolled to a first down on a pass from quarterback Eli Frantz. On second-and-eight from the 18, Creamer and Jones then caught Fritz in the backfield, all the way back to the 4.
The defense highlighted the second quarter, in which Coast Guard didn’t score, but maintained its three-touchdown advantage.
“I came through the hole. On film it looked like I missed; people were laughing during film,” Jones said with a smile during Wednesday’s weekly team football luncheon. “But I forced him to the edge. … (The sack) was right in front of the fourth class stands, so they were excited.”
In the fourth quarter, Coast Guard added sacks by linebacker Luke Wilson for seven yards and one by the combination of Creamer and lineman Vince DeTerlizzi for three.
Creamer and sophomore Kane Alletzhauser are listed as the starting linebackers among the front four for Saturday’s game, with Wilson, junior Jake Behne and sophomore Dan Dinges also expected to start at linebacker.
George said he suggested the team do something new with the defense and co-defensive coordinators C.C. Grant and Dana Fleischmann came up with the design. George said the Bears still have the old alignment ready to use also, in case they face a more run-based offense such as the triple-option.
“I think it’s definitely just a group of guys that makes it aggressive, just the atmosphere in general,” Creamer said. “(Moving forward) just means I’ve got to be faster. I thought it was exciting to change the way we play a little bit. Honestly, it worked out perfectly, it worked well, it executed well.”
“Technically you line up some skinnier guys, but our defensive linemen weren’t monster guys anyway,” said George, whose staff is also rotating players at other positions this season, including running back, to avoid wear and tear. “It’s not like we ripped some giant monsters off the field.”
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