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BONUS Lions’ Defensive Pregame Preview: Gimmick offense doesn’t faze TCNJ coordinator

October 31, 2009

Prior to this weekend road trip to Cortland State University, the Lions’ past two opponents hadn’t thrown anything fancy by way of TCNJ defensive coordinator Matt Hamilton.

While William Paterson University and Montclair State enjoyed disparity with regard to their success (WPU’s McKinney-42 rush, 224 yds; MSU’s Bliss-29 rush, 32 yds) the traditional I-formation set that each team showed before the snap wasn’t anything the second-year man hadn’t seen in his days as coorinator.

Simplicity doesn’t characterize his bigger-picture expectations this week, as he’s fully anticipating a montage of pre-snap alignments from this much-maligned Red Dragon offense.

“They’re going to try and out-formation us,” he said, picking his opponents’ brains by dissecting their film during the week. “A lot of motion, a lot more different looks than Montclair [used].”

Different, not flashy, he expects the 4-2-5 front implemented during last week’s blanketing success that limited the Red Hawk offense to fewer than 200 yards to perpetuate this Saturday.

“Having the extra safety gives us the versatility to play coverage,” he said, should coach-becoming-player Alex Smith drop back to pass. “They’re not going to want to attack the box,” if coordinators signal in rushing plays–not necessarily via a hand-off, the most conventional form of exchange

“… They’re going to try and spread us out, especially after watching film from Saturday. … This week we’re going to see a lot of the same type of runs from different formations.”

Complete with an exotic array of plays in the Red Dragon repertoire–one the Lions haven’t encountered yet in 2009–one such set isn’t quite as pedestrian, nor is its celebrated success among all levels of competitive football. Unveiled as early as its season opener, Cortland State’s offensive diversity includes, but isn’t limited to, it’s version of the reveled Wildcat offense, which sources close to the program have appropriately dubbed its “Red Dragon.”

Operating out of a pseudo-shotgun set, running back Anthony Guiliano has thrived in the scheme, accumulating all 139 his season’s rushing yards on runs beginning with a direct snap he receives. In spite of the issues the formation poses against even NFL-caliber defenses, Hamilton’s confidence in his intricate alignment isn’t budging.

“It’s not going to pose an issue because what they’re running out of it is stuff we’ve seen before,” he said, citing his unit’s familiarity based on early-season competition. “FDU ran a lot of the same plays, centered around their quarterback [Bill Winters],” who led his devils to one, lonely score in the first half of that game–before it dissolved into meaninglessness.

“It’s nothing that we haven’t already seen on film and in games. I’m not worried about it.”

Largely a product of the group’s acclaimed preparedness and dominance in recent weeks, Hamilton’s faith stems from what he’s seen around his facility—in spite the charm it’s worked for these Red Dragons.

Battling instability at quarterback, the team’s passing game propelled it to its two-point victory a week ago over William Paterson University (W, 12-10). But the 54-yard strike that gave the team last six of its afternoon’s points wasn’t the thrown by a conventional passer.

Instead, Anthony Guiliano—listed as a wide receiver in its program—connected with one of his own, fellow wideout Eric Hanjos for the score, and the win. The younger sibling to the conference’s third-leading rusher from a year ago, Andrew Guiliano, baby bro’s 2009 campaign hasn’t by any means tainted his elder’s legacy.

Privy to the talented group he’s scheduled to face, Hamilton knows he’s entering Cortland State’s state-of-the-art facilities—the same site that hosted the New York Jets’ preseason training camp.

He just doesn’t think trickery is the greatest of his worries.

“The kid they bring in to do it, he’s a good athlete, but by no stretch is he nearly as good as that FDU quarterback [Bill Winters].

“[Those plays] aren’t anything we haven’t seen before. We’ll be fine.”

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