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Garrard will look Holt's way

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Stephen from Neptune Beach, FL:
Who do you think will win the U.S. Open? Who do you want to win?

Vic: I have no rooting interest. I like to watch. Tiger seems to be everyone's pick because he drove the ball so well at the Memorial, but Muirfield Village is generous off the tee, as Augusta National is. Bethpage is a U.S. Open course, so you're talking about fairways that are 20 yards wide and I don't see that playing to Tiger's strength, even though he won there in 2002. He was a different golfer then. This Tiger goes through fits of wildness off the tee and that's not what you want on a course as long and as heavy as Bethpage. I don't understand what Angel Cabrera has to do to get respect. He should be the pick.

Miles from Jacksonville:
So, Holt was most impressed by Thomas, Koetter was quoted as saying he was most impressed by Dillard, and you have said numerous times that Underwood has caught your eye. Three different assessments from valid actors make me feel pretty excited about this new class.

Vic: This is a perfect example of why underwear practices shouldn't be trusted for evaluating talent. The field is full of men who are paid to evaluate talent and their evaluations of the same players differ. When the pads go on, however, the evaluations tend to agree. That's when the you know what stops. You can't fool the scouts and coaches when the hitting starts. It's easy to see who can play in pads and who can't. At this stage, it's just a guess.

Max from Tucson, AZ:
Thank you for sharing your knowledge of the game with us. Can you tell me what makes the "46 Defense" so tough against the run? What are the specific risks most teams face when choosing to use this defense?

Vic: The "46 Defense" is an eight-man front that's the next thing to "Cover Zero" in risk against the deep pass. The "46" is all about penetrating the line of scrimmage and blowing up the run or sacking the quarterback. It's man-to-man coverage on the receivers with a single safety in the middle of the field. "Cover Zero" has no safety. The "46" is good against the run because it overloads the line of scrimmage. Its vulnerability is to the deep pass. That's how you attack it. You run a receiver straight up each boundary and challenge the safety to range sideline to sideline and get there before the ball does.

John from Jacksonville:
How does a defense decide what formation they will use for a play? Do they strictly react to the offense's personnel in the huddle or is it based on the situation?

Vic: In the second half of the 2003 season, the Jaguars were suddenly strong against the run and, frankly, I didn't think their personnel was all that good. I remember coming down the elevator in Baltimore with Mike Smith, then the defensive coordinator, at the end of that game. The Ravens had a great running game and the Jaguars shut it down that day. I said to Mike, "I know how you're doin' it now." He smiled and said, "How?" "You're guessin'," I said. Mike laughed because he knew I was half right. What the Jaguars were doing was playing teams' tendencies. Mike was very good at that. He studied teams intently and was very good at predicting what they would do according to down and distance and personnel groupings. So, to answer your question, defenses decide what alignments to use based on the offense's personnel groupings and the down and distance. There comes a point, however, that a defense can become so skilled, so powerful and so intimidating that it can cause offenses to have to react to the defense's personnel groupings, instead of vice versa. That can happen when you have a pass-rush that's feared. The Giants with Lawrence Taylor were the perfect example. L.T. was so feared and respected that he forced offenses to react to him and the threat he posed. When that happens, you know you have a great defense.

Mark from Austin, TX:
I know one of the purposes of the OTAs is for the QB and WRs to start to develop some kind of sync in the passing game. From what you have observed, is that happening? Are Garrard and the rookies getting on the same page?

Vic: I saw Mike Thomas, Jarett Dillard, Tiquan Underwood, Todd Peterson and Zach Miller catch a lot of passes this spring. I can't remember seeing so many rookies catch so many passes in OTAs. If you're looking for a guy for whom David Garrard seems to have an eye, however, I would submit that Torry Holt is that guy. Holt didn't take a lot of reps in scrimmage drills this spring, but when he was in the play, I clearly detected that Garrard looked his way. If Holt has something left in the tank, and if he can stay healthy and keep his legs through the second half of the season, he could catch a lot of passes this season because I have no doubt Garrard will look his way. He's exactly what Garrard needs, which is to say a trusted, veteran receiver of esteem. It's all about what Holt has left in his legs. I liked what I saw on Thursday.

Ryan from Charlotte, NC:
Didn't care for the frat guys at Kent State, Vic? I understand that certain forms of hazing go too far and degrade, but if it is done for fun and as fun it binds a group of young men together, something like a late-night scavenger hunt or a hair growing/shaving, something prankish and friendly that has no ill effect, it can, in fact, make them feel more like part of the team. There are reasons rituals like this exist. Lighten up a bit.

Vic: Oh, neato, keeno; that really sounds like fun. Can I sign your pledge beanie? By the way, Greg Jones didn't let them shave his head when he was a rookie. Why don't you tell him to lighten up?

Brandon from Jacksonville:
I know you are probably tired of the spread questions, but after reading your response to DaMillion from Compton, I gotta ask what I'm sure is and has been on people's minds regarding this subject. Do you think the spread would work in the NFL if you had Tim Tebow, Michael Vick and Pat White? The scenario is so ridiculous I had to ask.

Vic: Yeah, it might, but I'd rather just have one Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger. They were both available. All you had to do was pick one of them.

Josh from Jacksonville:
Have you seen any signs that would indicate Derrick Harvey is primed for a big year?

Vic: You can't make that kind of an evaluation of a defensive lineman based on OTAs. I saw nothing that would indicate he isn't primed for a big year. That's the best I can tell you.

Darrick from Jacksonville:
When a player is cut from a team, is he allowed to take copies of game and/or practice tape with him for the purpose of shopping his services to other teams?

Vic: I can't imagine a coach allowing tapes of his practices to fall into the hands of his competitors. As far as game tapes are concerned, there's no need for a player to take them with him because every team in the league has access to tape of every game every team has played for as long as any player has been in the league, and long before that, too. The league's video network and its capability for instantly accessing the most insignificant plays from any game is stunning. If a player who's been cut has played in any game, even if it was just a few plays in a preseason game, the video department can have a highlight tape of that player's game action in the scouting department's hands very quickly. The same goes for any college game in which he might've played. If it's a young player who had participated in the scouting combine, the video guy might include the player's combine highlights in the tape.

Scott from Orlando, FL:
About hazing, I understand that you hate it and probably have your entire life. I know you've hated it ever since I started reading this column. I tend to disagree with you. I feel that mild hazing can be a rite of passage. I'd prefer it not be shaving of the head, but rather something practice-related. An example: Every rookie has to participate in the Oklahoma in training camp.

Vic: That's a rite of passage and I'm all for it. Shaving someone's head against their will and doing so in a way that subjects them to ridicule is abuse and I'm against it. Be a tough guy on the field, not off it.

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