By Brian Rock
We've had some fun running what some fans have been calling the "Swinging Gate." We call it the "Polecat."
Unique formations are part of our offense. We want to show opponents something they haven't prepared for, and we always want to try to keep a defense off balance.
The Polecat originally came from a guy named Tiger Ellison, who invented the Run and Shoot Offense back in the 1920's or 30's. As a gift, an old friend of mine gave me the original book on the offense. A portion of the offense was called the Pole Cat, and he had five or six plays off of this formation.
We didn't just go through a bunch of old books and decide to give this formation a try. We've had it in for a while. We've talked about it all season, and we just felt last week was the right week to use it.
The formation forces defenses to decide how to line up, and it is all based on numbers. That makes it an easy read for the quarterback. There are usually only a few ways defenses line up against it, and the quarterback in the formation can usually figure it out, and then it's up to him to either throw it or run it.
Teams have to practice for it.
Looking ahead to Saturday's game, the Northern Illinois defense has great team speed, the players are very athletic, and they are very well coached. They are good. There is a reason why they are undefeated right now. That's because they play hard and they play sound gap-control defense. They will get after you. They are not a sit-back-and-wait defense. They are a take-the-game-to-you defense.
The thing that really jumps out to me watching Northern Illinois' defense on tape is their team speed and how athletic they are.
Their defense in 2013 is very similar to the defense we prepared for last season when we played them in the Mid-American Conference Championship game. The defensive coordinator was on the staff, so it's not going to be drastically different.
They do play a little bit more "Wide-Nine" technique out of their 4-3 whereas last year they were more over-and-under based. They've gone back to a little more of a true 4-3 defense, and that's something a little bit different. Their coverages are the same base coverages they played last year.
Saturday is going to be a great test.