It does not take a genius or a rocket scientist to figure out that NCAA football is very different than the NFL game. Not only is there a difference in age, development and talent but there is also an abundance of different schemes and play concepts used between college and the pros.
Sometimes this can be a tough adjustment for players transitioning from the college game to the big leagues but the faster a player can notice the differences, understand them and adjust, the better their chances of being successful. Rookie linebacker Devin Bush has been with the Pittsburgh Steelers for a few months now and it sounds like he is already noticing the differences between the two levels.
Bush was recently a guest on Sirius’ Movin’ The Chains radio show and spoke about the biggest differences he has noticed between the NCAA and the pros.
“I think the play action is a lot better. I think the screen game is a lot better and the run plays, they hit a lot faster,” said Bush.
While every rookie linebacker, especially those thrown into first team reps will experience a period of adjustment, hosts Jim Miller and Paul Alexander brought up a very interesting point during their interview with Bush.
The hosts mentioned that Bush will be going up against the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens, teams that run a lot of zone reads and RPOs, concepts that the rookie linebacker would be very familiar with due to his days at Michigan. Bush then offered his own insight on how to defend the zone reads and RPOs.
“Well those are one of those plays where you kinda just gotta like, hey look, you guys play the run, you guys play the pass and make them make a big play on us consistently. You know, it’s hard (for the opposing offense) to do that. So, I think that that’s where like when you defend RPOs and zone reads where I think that it’s kind of easy once you understand what you’re trying to defend,” Bush said.
One of the biggest components to defending RPOs or play action is getting a good enough depth in coverage. This can sometimes be a challenge for rookie linebackers as they get caught peaking into the backfield for too long and do not get appropriate depth in coverage.
While this may be a problem for the average rookie linebacker, Bush has certainly not looked like an average rookie linebacker as his football IQ has been praised by various teammates throughout the offseason.
Bush’s football IQ was on full display again when he spoke of how he avoids falling into the trap of staring into the backfield, a trap that many rookie linebackers often fall prey to.
“Honesty, you got to trust what you see. You know, a lot of guys get caught up in the play action. They just get stuck staring in the backfield and I mean they know it’s pass but like kind of do a little smaller shuffle. So, you got to trust it. You know, as soon as you see play actions, you got to get up out of there and get to your landmark.”
Bush has been the gift that has kept on giving and his athleticism combined with his experience defending the RPO is just another reason to be excited for his debut this season. And with two upcoming battles scheduled between the Steelers and the Lamar Jackson led Ravens coming this season, you can bet that Bush is going to play a big role in the outcome of those games.