Thoughts On Tate’s Thoughts On Zook’s Quotes June 15, 2009
So Loren Tate had a pretty good article on Sunday with many quotes from Zook. Some thoughts:
“I knew Martez would be all right,” he said. “The thing people don’t realize about Martez is that he is such a powerful guy. If he doesn’t know exactly where he’s supposed to be, it may look like he’s not that fast. But he’s on track to have a great fall. Because of all the spread offenses, the tradition of middle linebacker is not like it used to be”.
I’m very happy to hear Zook say this. As the architect of our D, it’s very important he’s on top of the defensive trends. And the latest thing in coaching linebackers seems to be “throw out everything you’ve ever learned about coaching linebackers.” With PSU having moved to the “Spread HD” and tOSU getting more Pistol-y, and ESPECIALLY with two run-first Big Ten teams now off the schedule (Wisconsin and Iowa), I think it’s very important that 75% of our focus for Martez and Ian be A) blitzing, B) reading the delayed handoff, and C) finding the correct spot in our pass-coverage zone.
“Frierson may be the most natural linebacker of them all but he was far behind after missing summer camp (late clearinghouse records). During his (redshirt) season, all he did was run the opposing team’s defense for us to practice against. I think he’ll contribute.”
Interesting. The consensus “sleepers” of Zook’s recruiting classes have been fairly well identified by various Illini message boards the past few years. Before the 2006 season, the buzz centered around 2-stars Jon Asamoah and Dere Hicks. In 2007, Miami Thomas and Ian Thomas (Ian’s time comes this fall, hopefully). In 2008? Evan Frierson (“Butch Davis wanted him SO BAD”) and Corey Lewis. And for the record, the 2009 sleeper buzz seems to center around DT Akeem Spence and S Walt Aikens. Here’s hoping Frierson is the next big thing.
“There’ll be fewer freshmen playing this season. Hopefully we’ve reached the point where we won’t have as many. When Ohio State came here last year, I saw a team with 14 or 15 fifth-year guys, and we had 13 freshmen. That makes a big difference.”
Tate had to be giggling when he typed this. He catches heat for it, but I’ve always agreed. 22 year-olds are better at football than 19 year-olds, stars or no stars. And 22 year-olds with stars are even better. As Zook’s first real recruiting class (2006) reaches their senior and redshirt-junior years, I think we’ll finally begin to see some maturity on the field.