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No layups: Coaching defense with North Carolina's Jay Bateman

It was fitting that Jay Bateman spoke at the Angelo Football Clinic days after the NBA Finals completed. He runs his defense like every snap is the NBA playoffs: No layups.

"If it’s 2nd-and-5, I’m not calling defense to get in 3rd-and-2," he said. "I’m calling defense to get in 3rd-and-7."

Bateman, newly hired to North Carolina after five years at Army, was supposed to be accompanied to West Texas by Mack Brown, which would have been a bit like a new horror author having Stephen King introduce him at a convention of the genre's editors. But recovery from knee surgery kept Brown in Chapel Hill, leaving Bateman to fend for himself, and fend he did.

Here's are some snippets from Bateman's presentation to an audience of Texas high school coaches:

--"When I first became a defensive coordinator you’d say, ‘Let them throw the hitch, they won’t throw the hitch all the way down the field.’ Nowadays, they’ll throw the hitch all the way down the field." Because of this, Bateman loves to play pressure coverage. He played zero coverage on a 3rd-and-10 against Colgate last season.

-- Bateman showed a slide with the following statistics:

  • Drives with a sack: 16 percent result in points
  • Drives with an offensive penalty: 25 percent result in points
  • Drives with a TFL: 26 percent result in points
  • No negative plays: 52 percent result in points

"If we don't force a negative play, there's a 50/50 chance they're scoring," Bateman said." You can’t worry about yards, you can’t worry about downs. You have to create negative plays to get in advantageous situations as a play-caller."

-- Growing up as a player and a coach, Bateman was taught that defensive linemen shouldn't be responsible for any calls or shifts. Now, he's changed. "I try to spread the stress down the hallway," he said. "If you spread the stress down the hallway, you have a chance to do more stuff."

-- Bateman is a big believer in delayed pressure. If the quarterback fires an immediate pass, the rusher hasn't committed himself to the blitz and, thus, taken himself out of the play. If it's not an immediate pass, the protection has already committed itself to blocking, say, four declared rushers, allowing the fifth to pick an open lane.

Bateman says he'll often call a scheme where both outside linebackers are tasked to rush, but drop whichever backer the running back has committed to block.

-- Similarly, Bateman loves to play cat-and-mouse games on the line of scrimmage. If he's bringing four, he wants to make the quarterback believe five or six are coming. If he's dropping eight, he'll put six players on the line of scrimmage, not three.