WVU football; my how the game has changed over the years. Teams used to have a 1st string, a 2nd string and a 3rd string. In today’s football the 1s and 2s are the first string and the 3s and 4s are the 2nd string.
There is becoming little to no difference between most of them. The opponent and injuries usually primarily determine who will start.
There was a time when football line-ups were very simple, especially on defense. Now we have a nose tackle replacing the middle or nose guard. There is one defensive end and the other DE is now called a defensive tackle.
Teams now play 3 or 4 linebackers and 2 or 3 safeties, depending on how any linebackers they are playing. The only thing that hasn’t changed on defense is there are still only 2 cornerbacks.
With the way teams play defense today, a player may line up at safety on one play and then a linebacker the next. A defense can go from a 4-3 to a 3-4 or even 3-3-5 scheme without substitution.
A cornerback may move up to blitz and a safety replaces him and covers as cornerback. A linebacker may move up to play what we used to call defensive tackle.
Players in today’s defenses have to be mentally and physically quick to be able to play multiple positions. The reason for this is offenses seldom huddle and the offense determines the speed of the game.
If an offense is playing an up tempo game, then opponents don’t have time to exchange defensive players and must play with the players on the field. On the other side of the ball, it also helps if the offensive backs are can play both receiver and running back.
This tires traditional defensive players out, and is why teams basically have to have 2 first teamers at each position.
With the faster pace of the game, offenses are now running a spread formation and there is a lot more passing. Defenses now require more players who can stop both the pass and the run, and put pressure on the QB.
Today, in larger universities such as those that belong to the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, PAC 12, and SEC, they prefer to have true freshmen sit out the first year to learn their positions and to prepare their bodies to play at this level.
When you play in these conferences the teams are faster and the players hit much harder. It takes a special true freshman to be able to come in and start immediately. This is how teams end-up with 5th year seniors. And the belief is, the more 5th year seniors a team has, the more talented the team is.
Conditioning is key to these young players, and colleges spend millions to have the greatest training facilities. The Mountaineers now have the 3rd largest fitness facility in the nation, and with this year’s players it shows.
Todays strength and conditioning regimen helps players build strength, speed and stamina that can go a long way in helping a player stay healthy the entire season.
For most freshmen, their bodies will change. They will lose body fat and replace it with muscle. Thier cardiopulmonary fitness levels must rival those of a distance runner.
They will get bigger, faster and stronger. You can not have a fragile body and play this game. Football is exactly as Coach Vince Lombardi described it: It is a collision sport and not a contact sport.
One thing is certain, we can not compare today’s players to those of yesteryear, for the game has changed that much.