Tampa Bay Tech’s C.C. Culpepper is the only coach to have played against both Plant and Countryside this season — TBT lost its season opener 10-0 to Plant, and last week was eliminated by Countryside 34-21 — so we picked his brain for some keys to Friday’s game:
1. Bring the house, stop Wilder.
“If you don’t get help, Wilder will have a field day. …When Armwood tackled this kid, when Hillsborough tackled him, when Tech tackled him, all 11 hats were in the screen and on the tackle. If you stop the film, you see 11 guys in there every time.”
2. Defensive backs must be aggressive.
“If I was getting ready for this, doing a Friday morning TV show or something, I would say the biggest thing is will Countryside’s defensive backs help the linebackers and …come up to tackle Wilder. There’s not one person that’s going to bring him down. He’s a man. He’s a defensive end playing running back.”
3. Slow down the passing game and quarterback Phillip Ely.
“He seems to be hitting his stride.”
4. Follow the big fellas.
“I think, for Countryside, it can definitely be won if their front five can continue to open up holes, and then contain Wilder when he’s on the defensive side. No. 58 (Tyler Moore) is a tremendous offensive tackle. I don’t care who you put back there to run the ball, you’re going to have a 1,000-yard running back. That’s a small college offensive line.”
5. Beware Plant’s quickness on defense.
“I don’t think anybody matches up well against Countryside’s offensive line on paper, but where Plant can match up is their linebackers can move and fill gaps. The defensive line is going to do a lot of moving around. Plant is very physical, and they are good at clogging gaps and taking care of every gap, and that can be a problem if you’re not blocking them out of there.”
“When we played Countryside, it was a very physical game. That’s what they are going to get with Plant. They may not be the biggest, but they are a very physical defense.”