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Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
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How To Beat Plant: Pressure QB

TAMPA - Considering Gaither football coach Mark Kantor's suggestion of getting the Bucs secondary and linebacking corps to defend them isn't feasible, how do you beat Plant? Armwood did earlier this season. But that was quarterback Aaron Murray's first start. Since then, he has set a state record with 51 touchdown passes and led the Panthers to an 11-1 record. "You have to get pressure on the quarterback, and you've really got to try to do it rushing four," Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia said. "That's what Armwood did real well in the first game, they put pressure on Murray. If they can put pressure on Murray with just four linemen, that's what they'll do all night. If they've got to push one or two linebackers up there to get the pressure, then they're going to be in trouble." Taking away Murray's targets is another key. Receiver Derek Winter leads the state with 1,582 yards and 18 touchdowns. When Leto played Plant earlier in the season, Coach Hugh Dehnert's plan was to rush three linemen and double cover Winter with his best athlete, cornerback Jeremy Deering, and a safety over the top. Deering, unfortunately was injured early in the game and Plant ended up posting 54 points in the victory.
"If you blitz them, they're good enough that you've got to get there quick because Murray gets rid of the football," Dehnert said. "If you're gifted athletically, I would blitz three and drop eight and occasionally bring some other people in and mix up the coverages." Coach Billy Turner, whose Chamberlain team lost to Plant 29-22, said the best option is playing man-to-man because in a zone defense, "Murray's going to pick you apart." Turner also said defenses have to play near-perfect football to contain Plant's offense. And a little keep away doesn't hurt either. "What you better hope to do is score four or five touchdowns and then keep the ball," Turner said. Of course, Plant could ultimately beat itself with turnovers and costly penalties, but it's been one of the best teams at protecting the ball this year. "There's always a day that anybody can stop another team," Plant coach Robert Weiner said. "We don't walk around thinking that we can't be stopped. We know that there's work to be done every time we've got to go take the field."

Reporter Katherine Smith can be reached at (813) 259-7860 or ksmith@tampatrib.com.

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