Friday, October 2, 2015

Inside the Playbook: Michigan's Use of Multiple FBs and Additional Gaps

Previously, I talked about gap discipline, and focused a portion of the article on pulling OL and inserting a FB into the mix. These things present a difficulty for the defense, as they need to adjust on the fly to ever-shifting gap responsibilities. Pulling OL add gaps to the point of attack and FBs can be inserted to add gaps at any location along the LOS; and the defense must adjust post-snap to these new gaps. Jim Harbaugh loves to use this to his advantage. Adding gaps to the POA forces the defense to think and hesitate, and when they do that, his Power-based offense can start churning out yards. Furthermore, with more and more teams going to spread formations and a zone based rushing attack (though this is starting to revert again to tighter formations and man/gap schemes again, as all things are cyclical in football), defenders are less comfortable with how to execute soundly (as Spielman has said multiple times the last few weeks).

The downside of doing this is that it gives the defense "keys", particularly for the LBs, who are often taught to read through the OG to the FB. A pulling OL typically leads you to the play, a FB often leads you to the play as well. Of course, utilizing both Power O and split zone helps Michigan break one of those reads, but if you want more blockers at the point of attack and don't want to tip your hand by pulling OL, what can you do? More backs is the answer. Let's take a look.

Football Fundamentals: Defensive Gap Discipline vs Formations, Pulling OL, and FBs

For a defense to be successful, they need to have "gap discipline". Being "gap sound" means having a defender in place to stop the offense on both sides of every blocker. By having a defender responsible for stuffing the play in each gap, the defense forms a wall at the LOS, and the offense has no way to be successful. It's the offense's goal to force the defense to lose gap discipline or be unable to cover the gap (by creating space). Each gap is an option for the ball carrier, and each open gap is potential for the offense to spring a play. In this post, we'll look at how gaps form against a few formations, and how lead blockers and pulling blockers change the numbers at the point of attack.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Coaching Points: Oregon vs MSU, 2015

Raj Mehta USA TODAY Sports
Offense: Lots of personnel groups, but mostly between 11 personnel, 12 personnel, and 21 personnel. More zone blocking than against WMU which worked really well.
Defense: Same old same. More MEG in this game compared to the MOD to the field they did against WMU.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

PODCAST: Breakdown Nebraska/BYU on 1620 the Zone

I got a chance to join Unsportsmanlike Conduct over at 1620 The Zone. Segment 14 on the day, take a listen if you get a chance.


B5Q - Wisconsin football: Evaluating the Badgers' defense vs. Alabama

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
I participated in a Q & A over at Bucky's 5th Quarter recently about what went wrong, and a bit about what went right against Alabama.

Wisconsin's defense has been a top-five squad in terms of total defense since the arrival of defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, but the Badgers ran into a very talented Alabama offense on Saturday led by junior running back Derrick Henry in a 35-17 loss at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Following the loss of redshirt senior safety Michael Caputo, a captain and pronounced leader of the Badgers' defense, Wisconsin gave up 502 yards -- including 274 on the ground.

The Badgers mostly applied a base 3-4 scheme, along with 2-4-5 "peso" nickel package of two defensive linemen as pseudo-defensive tackles, four linebackers and five defensive backs in certain situations to counter Alabama's 11 personnel and other looks the Tide used to throw off Wisconsin.

To help us break down the effort and what went right/wrong for the Badgers, I asked the help of B5Q friend and colleague, SpaceCoyoteBDS -- as he is far smarter than I. You can also read his breakdown of the game seen here.

Follow the link to

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Coaching Points: BYU vs Nebraska, 2015

FRANCIS GARDLER/Lincoln Journal Star
Offense: Mostly 11 personnel, mostly gun, but mixed in a bit more under center stuff than last year
Defense: Started heavy with Cover 4 (looked like MOD), switched to more single-high in 2nd half

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Coaching Points: Wisconsin vs Alabama, 2015

Offense: Inside Zone base with Power O mixed in. Lots of 21 and 12 personnel, mix of under center and gun
Defense: One-gap 3-4, mostly Cover 1