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September 5, 2012This is the part where the football junkies need to pay close attention. We will take a closer look at the Mike ID calls from the quarterback.
If you were at the South Dakota State game hopefully you noticed Dayne Crist walking to the line of scrimmage and pointing at an opposing player. That is called the MIKE ID.
In a short answer Crist is telling his team how they are going to run the next play.
Now, in football the MIKE usually means the middle linebacker. So it would be really easy for the casual football person to walk to the line and pick out the middle linebacker, right? Not that easy.
"Some people think 'Well how tough is it to pick out the mike linebacker'. It's not who plays the position," said head coach Charlie Weis. "It could be a safety. It could be the WILL linebacker or the SAM linebacker. It is who is coordinated as the middle guy designation by the front they are aligned in. Everyone thinks you just pick out the middle linebacker and that's it. That's not the way it works. It's spots, it's not people. Who based off of this place is in the spots that would be designated as the MIKE."
On Tuesday Weis said Rice will play a lot of nickel and dime packages. That usually means three or four players up front and extra defensive backs. The dime gives the defense an extra defensive back more than the nickel. Just because Rice will show different formations doesn't mean it will change the way Crist makes his calls.
"Anyone can go out and say if number 44 is the middle linebacker then we say 44," Weis said. "That's not the way it works. It is who is in the spot designated by the front that they are in on, on this play, designated as the MIKE linebacker. It affects the running game, it effects protection, it effects hots (calls) and sight adjust."
Crist said learning how to identify the MIKE linebacker under Weis at Notre Dame has made it easier. The challenge can increase with different looks from the defense. The quarterback has to be able to make the call once he is heading to the line of scrimmage.
"It takes a lot of time to figure out," Crist said of the process. "It changes frequently based on run game leverage, pass protections and a lot that goes into. It's not just going up there and picking up the MIKE by personnel as the middle linebacker. We can make him whoever we want on any given play. The rest of the offense has to fit and adapt to what that call is. It is pretty complex and takes a lot of time to learn."
When Jake Heaps played at BYU he was in a pro-style offense. One big difference with the system Weis runs is the quarterback has to make the identification. And sometimes it isn't that easy. He didn't make those calls at BYU.
"The biggest thing is not just making the MIKE identification," Heaps said. "You have to do it a certain way when you get to the line. You have to have a certain confidence in it. You have to make your teammates believe you know who it is. It's been great for me to build my confidence. It's been fun and I have grown a lot in these last few months. A big part in my development has been learning to the make MIKE ID calls."