Prevent defense often goes long way toward losing

By Travis Brown
STAR Staff

   For this week's installment of Extra Points let us discuss the finer facets of the prevent defense, and how it is utterly useless.
   There are many good arguments both for and against this style of fourth-quarter containment, but most of these justifications simply do not hold water.
   For instance, many advocates of Prevent D point out that giving a team 15 yards is OK as long as they don't take it the length of the field.
   For the most part I agree, if there is less than 20 seconds left in a game, and there is no way the other team can stop the clock. However, as the Georgia Bulldogs demonstrated on the first Saturday of this month, if the defense will give you 20 yards a play, it only takes 30 seconds or so to go the length of the field.
   Most teams, when in the prevent mode, run six defensive backs with only three down linemen and two linebackers, and that setup is fine while trying to defend the pass.
   In fact a lot of clubs will run those same personnel in third-and-long situations during the game. However, the trouble comes from two directions when trying to run the prevent.
   I feel very strongly that if a defense has kept a team in the ballgame, and is trying to prevent a go-ahead score, they should be allowed to continue what kept them in the game.
   If they were blitzing left and right, continue to blitz. If they have played an effective zone throughout the game, keep it up.
   Why change what has worked during the rest of the game in the waning moments. It simply does not make sense to adjust defensively. Doing so plays directly into the offense's hands.
   Defenses too often take a passive approach, and allow opponents to march down the field relatively unopposed. Why not continue to blitz and mix up coverages?
   As far as offenses are concerned, the talent level of quarterbacks and receivers is awesome in today's collegiate and professional ranks. If a QB is given more than three seconds to find a target, he will find one. If given time, even an average quarterback will pick apart a prevent secondary, and if they can manage the clock effectively, they will get a shot at the end zone.
   Defenses must continue to run at least four down linemen on every play, or they must blitz at least one linebacker. Without good pressure on the signal caller, the secondary's job of covering the receivers is nearly impossible.
   Now let's take Tennessee for example. The Volunteer defense has traditionally implemented the prevent defense and it has cost them, especially against Georgia.
   From now on, perhaps instead of playing back and playing passive, the Vols should use those good linemen and try some stunts. Stop playing dead and start being aggressive.