Thursday, December 5, 2013

Inside the Playbook - OSU Passing Concepts to Take Advantage of MSU's Cover 4

PREVIEW [I'm going to start putting this on top of posts that are simply previews and links to posts I've put elsewhere, just to make that clear from the jump]

So it comes to this: one of the best defenses in the land against one of the top offenses in college football. Michigan State is well known for their cover 4 defense. This is a defense that allows the Spartans to match up on the edges and play with a quasi-9-man-box against any offense. Meanwhile, Meyer has brought his version of the spread offense to Columbus, and the Buckeyes are clicking on all cylinders. In my opinion, we know OSU's run game and what it pretty much consists of, and we understand MSU's run defense and how it plays. So the interesting matchup is what happens on the back end. It is these plays - set-up by the run threat - that can allow the Buckeye offense to get working up to their standard. We will look at some of the pass concepts within this offense that will force Michigan State's defense to respect the pass and allow Hyde and Company to do their work on the ground.

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Flood Concept
This has been Ohio States go to play for much of the year, and for good reason. It works to stretch the field vertically while attacking different levels of the defense when in zone. More importantly against MSU, it allows the Buckeyes to utilize play action and then get receivers in positions against safeties that are favorable.
What actually makes this so difficult is that OSU will run it from so many different looks, which force safeties and LBs to defend the entire field. On the play above, for instance, the safety lined up over the TE has to be prepared to cover a simple post or a seam, but by turning it into a deep cross, the defender's positioning on the TE must change as the receiver crosses the field. This is difficult in many regards and can cause confusion on passing off players or not (this is why this play is so effective against cover 3 as well).
And as you see, based on how the defense is aligned and the personnel, the Buckeyes can hit the different spots in their flood play with a lot of different players and from many different looks. For instance:
This puts those players in a precarious position to get good position in pass coverage, especially when they also must respect the run threat. This also gives Miller fairly easy reads for who to throw open. With speed at a lot of positions, this is a concept that could get players behind the coverage or open in space in the intermediate range.

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To learn more about OSU passing concepts, including the Sail route package, smash concepts with a backside post, and post-wheel and post-corner plays, click the link to Land-Grant Holy Land

Also, to read on about the flood concept, I wrote about one formation that utilizes it and how it works in more depth HERE.

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