Ellis Johnson: 'A lot of players from 30 years ago couldn't play today'
Posted by: Chris Vannini on February 21, 2013
Ellis Johnson hears a lot of the talk.
The football old-timers think kids these days can't tackle. It's an "issue" brought up a lot these days in college football.
But Auburn's defensive coordinator knows tackling in today's game isn't as easy as it used to be, for various reasons. But there still are legitimate problems.
"I think it's an 'issue' all in college football," he said. "I hear all the old-timers talk about 'People can't tackle today. Don't you teach tackling anymore? I've been coaching 32 years. The game's gotten more spread out, the game's gotten faster in those 32 years. There were a lot of players we coached 25-30 years ago that couldn't even play today.
"They couldn't run fast enough to get anything done, and probably some of them were tough when you line up this far apart (close), but when you start coming from 10 yards and knocking the helmet off, they might not be so tough. A lot of the missed tackling in college football today is because the game has changed. It's faster, it's more spread out and there are better-skilled athletes playing than when I started out coaching. There's still a lot of physical toughness in it, but there's a lot more finesse and speed in it.
"That's just common sense. You're going to have more missed tackles. The biggest thing that gets kids in trouble is angles to the ball. Because the more you spread out, you've got to get proper angles to the ball with great effort. Usually when they get in the right place, they make tackles. They overrun or take a lazy angle, that's when they get in trouble, and you see all this reaching and ducking and diving when you see broken tackles. I saw a lot of broken tackles on film. That comes from physical strength and want-to."
Chris Vannini is the lead writer for CoachingSearch.com and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and MLive.com. He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to email@example.com