OGDEN — Some football coaches are lucky enough to have a legacy, that one enduring thing for which they become universally known.
San Diego State head coach Rocky Long is one of those coaches.
Long’s legacy is his defense. Not just that he typically has good defenses, but his very unique scheme and method. In football parlance, it’s simply known as the 3-3-5.
That number represents three down linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs. It’s unique, to say the least, but between his days at New Mexico and SDSU, it’s proven.
That’s what awaits Weber State as the two schools face off in Saturday’s season opener.
“We have a good game plan coming in. They’re going to be a hard defense to figure out but I feel like we’ll be confident and ready to go,” WSU receiver Rashid Shaheed said. “I can’t say I’ve played against anything like it. They’re very sound, very disciplined. We’re just excited to go compete with them.”
Weber State offensive coordinator Dave Schramm is no stranger to the chaos of facing Long’s 3-3-5. Schramm coached for San Diego State and Utah when Long was head coach at New Mexico, and later called plays against Long’s defense at SDSU when coaching for Utah.
“It’s not so much the structure of the 3-3-5, it’s what he does with it that makes it so difficult,” Schramm said.
What Long does is use a defensive ace to play anywhere on the field, a safety/linebacker hybrid that moves around disrupting plays, attacking on the blitz, or roaming for interceptions. Think Brian Urlacher at New Mexico or Kyle Van Noy at BYU, just as two examples.
“It’s kind of like when a defense has to suddenly prepare for playing the wishbone option,” Schramm said. “It’s so different than anything you usually see. On top of that, he’s done it for so long that he’s really developed it.”
It’s not just the hybrid playmaker, either. Long’s linebackers usually attack in unorthodox ways.
“We’ve got to be able to understand the issues of blocking and keep your quarterback protected. It’s a difficult proposition in that regard,” Schramm said. “Rocky’s guys are everywhere ... the linebackers are everywhere. There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it when you’re trying to watch film, it’s nauseating, difficult to prepare for.”
Schramm said the key to succeeding against a Rocky Long defense is being strong at what you’re good at.
“We’ve got to try to take the attack mode out of them … and create some one-on-one matchups, use formations to help us do that, and find a way to run the football,” he said.
The game kicks off at 7 p.m. MDT Saturday and will be streamed lived
on Facebook, with a
radio call on 1430 AM KLO.