Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Jim Harbaugh: Coaching Primer

I'll get into more things later, but wanted to at least give a brief primer on Michigan's new Head Coach, Jim Harbaugh.

Gregory Shamus, Getty Images
Jim Harbaugh, throughout his coaching tenure, has ran a predominately West Coast Offense based offense. He prefers to be a bit more run heavy than many of the WCO predecessors, but he's willing to mix it up. He favors FBs and H-Backs and loves to utilize a variety of man blocking schemes with them to make it more difficult to key on players as a defense. Pulls, short traps, long traps, whams, leads, kicks, seals, he'll use whatever he can to give a different look to the defense.

The Key Play

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Inside the Playbook: Ohio State's Split Zone Run Play

Ohio State essentially started their third different QB of the season a couple weeks ago. Most teams talking up this type of fact are on the wrong end of an unexpected season, however, in this instance it wasn’t following a disappointing season. In fact, this discussion happened before and after the Buckeyes were able to put up 31 first half points on offense against a previously stout Wisconsin Badgers defense. And this wasn’t just any regular season game, it was the conference championship game. But it wasn’t because Cardale Jones – the new starting QB for OSU – came in and played lights out with the full plethora of the playbook. Instead, the surrounding Buckeye cast stepped up their game, including the coaching staff. While receivers bailed out dubiously thrown balls, Head Coach Urban Meyer and Offensive Coordinators Tom Herman and Ed Warinner planned and called a simple, straight forward, and forgiving gameplan that allowed Jones to be productive while being protected, despite only a mediocre performance. In the next two posts, we’ll look at two plays that made up nearly half of the first half playcalls, how they work together, and how that benefitted Jones.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Film Review: Ohio State's OZ Pin and Pull BOB Read

Wisconsin utilized a one-gap 3-4 defense (and 2-4 Nickel package) this past season that forced a lot of teams to stagnate. This was done by having the three DL account for interior gaps, while keeping the inside LBs clean to crash down and scrape over the top. Meanwhile, the OLBs forced everything back inside to help. In theory this constricted the offenses the Badgers faced and forced them to play in a tighter area, which is an advantage for the defense. One of the proverbial ways teams adjust for this is by running what is known as pin and pull. The Buckeyes were well aware of that outside zone adjustment, and along with a change in the QB Read, saw them able to get to the edge of the defense for several big first half gains on the ground.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Football Fundamentals: Multiple Read Option Attack with Two Backs

We’ve talked about the basics of zone running; we’ve talked about adding an additional back into the backfield; we’ve talked about the various ways you can utilize outside zone and inside zone and multiple reads to make like more maddening for the defense; now let’s mash it all together and look at a zone read option based approach with multiple backs. Having multiple backs allows us to utilize all the advantages we talked about in the multiple back piece, but the threat of the read and the option allows for some other creative means of attacking a defense. In this post, we will explore those options.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Football Fundamentals: A Multiple Inside Zone Read Attack

Previously, we looked at how the Outside Zone Blocking scheme could be utilized with a variety of option reads to attack the defense. This time, we’ll move on to look at Inside Zone in the same manner. The options are a bit less up front, but note that it is typically a bit easier to cut back across the grain on inside zone (thus making it a bit more versatile in and of itself) and is typically easier to counter with man/gap schemes. So as pure zone variants go, there aren’t quite as many.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Football Fundamentals: A Multiple Outside Zone Read Option Attack

Previously, we looked at the basics of a zone scheme and the multiple ways a lead blocker can be incorporated into that scheme. This time, we’ll excommunicate the lead blocker if favor of some sort of option read. The option play – often referred to as a read play when the option is performed with a mesh point – is a way of essentially adding an additional blocker to the run game. The defender being optioned off must choose between two options, and either way he chooses, he is theoretically wrong (provided the correct read is made). Likewise, by adding the QB as a viable run threat, another defender is accounted for in the blocking scheme outside of standard play action. This post focuses strictly on outside zone blocking and doesn’t include inside zone (next piece), gap blocking (down the road), or other schemes.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Football Fundamentals: Zone Running Scheme Variety Utilizing Multiple Backs

Previously we looked at the basics of the zone blocking scheme. To do so, I drew up the plays in 12 personnel. While 12 and 11 personnel served as the catalyst for many of the early success of the zone blocking scheme, many teams began adding complexity and different looks to the scheme by implementing variety through the use of FBs and H-backs. Previously, in man/gap schemes, FBs used as lead/kick blockers or as deception for the backfield flow was deemed as a near necessity to run the football. Zone offenses saw this advantage, and as the scheme has developed, many of these advantages have been implemented into a zone based scheme as well. In this post, we will look at how tags can be used to modify the zone blocking scheme and attack defensive strengths and weaknesses and provide various looks for the opponent.

The player identified by the red box will be the player the back is attempting to block. I don’t show all the multiple options and formations (obviously) that you can run these plays from, but instead have tried to provide a variety of 12 (with an H-back) and 21 personnel from a variety of offset formations and looks to provide a feel for what you can do.

Football Fundamentals: Zone Blocking Schemes

Zone based blocking schemes have become the primary blocking scheme of many modern day football teams. As defenses have made their formations and run blitz packages more complex and confusing for offensive units to block, the zone blocking scheme provides simplification in some ways. While it may take more reps to get the feel for how to come off combination blocks, secure the first level, and attack the second level than a traditional man/gap blocked scheme does, it provides a relatively straight forward plan for how and who to block after the snap has been made. In this post, we are going to look at the basics of the zone blocked scheme before we get into some of the greater intricacies at another time.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Meta: Off-season Shenanigans

Alright, not quite off-season for all you folks out there, but I'm beginning prep on the things I plan to bring to the table for this upcoming off-season. With this brief piece, I want to lay out a bit where the path forward is for this off-season and this blog, plans for some different types of posts, etc.

Also, there is now a quite little Amazon link above. If you are doing some Christmas shopping, and want to click that link and then doing your Amazon shopping, that would be awesome and appreciated.

1. Continue to build the foundation of "Football Fundamentals"

This part is probably the most important thing for the off-season for me. The Football Fundamentals section should start: building on several position-by-position high level information; continue to break down specific concepts (coverage, route combinations, blocking combinations, etc). This will help for what I envision this blog going forward.

2. Go back and scout team specific aspects

In some aspects, this will help with part 1, and will also be a preview of what's to come. A few examples of what I'll be looking at are:

a) Every OSU TD from this season. I can do this because I have film on them. Initially, I will break down the concept of how they scored their TD, which then can be folded into game-by-game pieces with links. Unfortunately for me, OSU scored a lot of TDs, so this will be a pretty big project.

b) Look at the improvement of the Michigan offensive line. To do this, I will attempt to go back and watch the Michigan offense (yes, I know), preferably starting from some point last year, and grade out the offensive line specifically.

c) Do the same as above but with the Nebraska defensive line. I know Gregory is gone, but I was a huge fan of Collins and Valentine as well this season and, though I likely had very little impact, I like to believe I lead the charge on Collins getting 2nd team All-B1G honors this year. Also, it'll be nice with Gregory looking to make his NFL prospects known.

I was going to do a more in-depth Wisconsin blitz package, but that doesn't really seem all too relevant now. Wisconsin fans should be quite familiar with Paul Chryst, so there also isn't much preview content to be had there. Mike Riley will get his breakdowns as I watch Oregon St games that are available. I'll do the same for Michigan when they have a coach.

This is where I'd like suggestions. It doesn't need to be position breakdowns (and WR/DB breakdowns are really viable as I don't have the footage for it, so I can't go that route MSU fans). But I can do blitz packages, I can look at the run games, and do some different things in that way. Heck, if you want me to, let me know where there were blowouts and the backups got in and I can preview them if you want. I want this off-season to get into the ideas I want for this blog going forward, and what the readers want. But I want to be able to focus on all the B1G teams and start attracting readers from across the B1G. So teams that I haven't listed as having something for above, I really want your input (and I'd still like the input of teams I did list above).

Write a comment below here. Find me on twitter @SpaceCoyoteBDS, or e-mail me (e-mail at bottom of link).

3. I'll continue to try to breakdown some random things I see with "Film Review" posts when I watch games. I may created some very belated Coaching Points posts. If I begin seeing teams mesh together similar concepts, I'll try to bring that stuff together to formulate posts on it.

So again, suggestions are very much appreciated and wanted. Contact me however you want. I'll be starting some off-season stuff next week with what I hope is about 6 posts on zone running and being multiple within a zone blocked scheme, I'll be looking at Cover 4 fundamentals shortly as well. Going back and forth on bowl-game previews (previews tend to take more work because of the depth of film review I need to do). I'm already pretty familiar with Alabama, and to a little lesser degree, Baylor. I have some familiarity with UNC (Indiana's old OC), Tennessee (CMU's old coach), Auburn (lots of Auburn hot takes the past couple years), Stanford (power football), Boston College (Addazio, former Meyer OC/OL coach), and USC (Sarkisian, from his USC days and Washington time I have limited familiarity), but it's all limited to the point where anything I did would likely be high level, as I haven't viewed them a lot recently. But that's still up in the air.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

BDS 2014 All Big Ten Football Teams

I have compiled what I believe is the first and second team All-B1G team. This is admittedly highly subjective, as I combined stats with what I saw in the game action that I watched them in. I attempted to take the whole body of work into play, but gave more weight to how they played at the end of the season. Italics means that the player was the best of his position group.

First TeamOffenseSecond Team
J.T Barrett, OSUQuarterbackConnor Cook, MSU
Tevin Coleman, IndianaRunning BackAmeer Abdullah, Nebraska
Melvin Gordon, WisconsinRunning BackDavid Cobb, Minnesota
Tony Lippett, MSUReceiverKenny Bell, Nebraska
Stefon Diggs, MarylandReceiverLeontre Carroo, Rutgers
Tommy Olsen, MinnesotaCenterJack Allen, MSU
Kyle Costigan, WisconsinGuardPat Elflein, OSU
Zack Epping, MinnesotaGuardTravis Jackson, MSU
Jack Conklin, MSUTackleTaylor Decker, OSU
Brandon Sherff, IowaTackleRob Havenstein, Wisconsin
Maxx Williams, MinnesotaTight EndDan Vitale, Northwestern
Brad Craddock, MarylandKickerSam Ficken, PSU

First TeamDefenseSecond Team
Joey Bosa, OSUDEMarcus Rush, MSU
Randy Gregory, NebraskaDEShilique Calhoun, MSU
Michael Bennett, OSUDLMaliek Collins, Nebraska
Anthony Zettel, PSUDLAndre Monroe, Maryland
Mike Hull, PSULinebackerDarron Lee, OSU
Jake Ryan, MichiganLinebackerQuinton Alston, Iowa
Derek Landisch, WisconsinLinebackerDamien Wilson, Minnesota
William Likely, MarylandDefensive BackDoran Grant, OSU
Trae Waynes, MSUDefensive BackEric Murray, Minnesota
Michael Caputo, WisconsinDefensive BackKurtis Drummond, MSU
Briean Boddy-Calhoun, MinnDefensive BackAdrian Amos, PSU
Peter Mortell, MinnesotaPunterJustin DuVernois, Illinois

Click the jump to see honorable mention (there are players that I believe still deserve recognition but didn't make the first or second team and offensive and defensive MVP.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Film Review: Attacking Ohio State's Defense, 2014

The Ohio State offense is very good, as is the Wisconsin defense. In many ways, this could be the talk of Saturday's Big Ten Championship Game, similar to how the OSU offense against the Michigan State defense was the talk heading into last year's title game.

In my opinion, though, when two teams have very good opposing sides of the ball, they tend to cancel out in many ways, and where the game swings is on the other end. In this way, it is up to the Badger offense to step up and make the difference. In this post, we'll look at what the Ohio State defense brings to the table, areas in which it's struggled this year and how you can expect Wisconsin to attack.

Inside the Playbook: Ohio State's Speed Option Package

Originally poster at Land-Grant Holy Land on 12-5-14

Urban Meyer has developed the speed option into more than just a constraint play. Through the years, he has implemented multiple constraints that build off of the speed option threat. Against Wisconsin's 3-4 defense, the speed option can be a serious threat that isolates the OLBs away from the sealed defense. We'll look at the origins of the speed option, it's evolution, how OSU can work off of it, and why it will be so important in the 2014 B1G Championship Game against the Badgers.

The speed option is one of the simplest methods of attacking the edge with an option play. Smart Football describes it as "simple" and "inexpensive" in that both the concept and scheme are simple and it takes very little teaching and practice time to do well. This is why the speed option has crept into offenses that tend to shy away from option elements, because it's a simple enough way to attack the edge with speed.

However, the speed option is not merely a constraint play (though it can be used as such), and instead can be the basis of a group of plays. In this article we will look at the evolution of the play, the multiple methods of running the play, and the way teams -- including Urban Meyer's Ohio State -- package other concepts to set defenses up with speed option looks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

B1G Finalists for Post Season Awards

While the B1G as a whole continues to have a bit of a down perception, there is no denying that there is still a good deal of individual talent scattered throughout the league. As finalists lists for a variety of awards continue to trickle out, below, I post the B1G players up for the award, and some brief thoughts on the player.
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Football Fundamentals: Switch Route Combinations

If you've been reading me for a while, you've noted that I'm a big fan of switch concepts. I like them for quite a few reasons:

  • They force the defense to define their coverage
  • They force the defense to define their leverage
  • They help attack defenses from a variety of positions/places
  • They can naturally alter the timing of pass plays (thus effecting the coverage defenders reactions to routes) 
  • They can naturally alter the depth of route concepts (this maintains the route timing but moves it shorter)
  • They can change the coverage's technique by altering the reception area and providing a moving target laterally and vertically to hinder the defender's "position maintenance"
  • They naturally "rub" defenders in man coverage
  • They tend to force pre- and post-snap communication and consistent eye discipline
  • They force defenders to move within their zones to effectively play coverage in a zone scheme
  • They can make it more difficult to jam receivers at the LOS
  • Combined with non-switch-concepts, they make it extremely difficult to defend all the threats
  • They provide a natural transition into WR screens and double moves
  • Etc
And I seriously mean etc. There are tons of benefits from utilizing switch concepts as a part of your offense. That doesn't mean you should only run switch concepts, perhaps the greatest benefit of them is because they are paired with your standard releases, but the addition of them makes life so much more difficult for the defense. And they aren't only incorporated into twin sets (as seen below); they can be run with a flanker/TE combination, a Wing/TE combination, a stack set, or even bunch sets with three or more receivers. When you add up the benefits and the minimal amount of work it takes to add to your offense (choose how you'll teach the adjustments to the routes to incorporate the switch, either the timing or the depth, and maintain some consistency with your standard releases) it's no wonder that so many teams utilize this in modern football.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Film Review: Nebraska Attacking the Wisconsin Backside and the Badgers Adjustment

Throughout the first quarter, the primary coverage for Wisconsin was a Cover 4. This, in theory, is a very good run defense, as it puts quasi-9 in the box. However, it also forces safeties to be aggressive downhill players and tackle while firing down. Against a RB like Abdullah, and the way Nebraska was running the ball, this isn’t necessarily an easy proposition for a DB. In this article, we’re going to look at how Nebraska started off attacking with read option with an arch block and attacking with the zone stretch scheme. Then, we’ll look at how Wisconsin adjusted, both their coverage and how they played their front, and eventually stopped the Cornhuskers potent run offense.

Zone Stretch vs Cover 4
This may be Cover 3 or even Cover 1 (seeing the CB leverage makes me not believe it’s Cover 1) that Wisconsin is inverting late, but I believe this is a Cover 4 with the front side safety crashing down.

Here we are immediately after the snap, where it is immediately clear that Nebraska is running Outside Zone and the safety starts crashing down. This will lead to the safety toward the bottom of the screen to rotate off the screen as he looks to cover for the TE leaking past the crashing safety.

But a few things quickly become obvious as far as issues for the Wisconsin front. First, look above and try to identify the DT of the 2-4 front for Wisconsin. Then note the backside OLB and how much ground he is forced to cover. Also note how there are two Cornhusker OL releasing cleaning downfield without any impediment. You also see that backside DT win playside and get penetration and almost blow up this play, but not get home. You also see the safety get to LB level.

Now, here we are at the point of the attempted tackle from the safety. In theory here, you’re getting exactly what you want at the point of attack from the Cover 4: the safety is an extra man in the box that the offense can’t account for in their zone scheme. But it’s difficult to tackle a really good RB in space (especially when your head is down and you essentially leave your feet). And in case you can’t see it, I circled the backside ILB and where he is now.

This leads to a seven yard gain for Nebraska, but with what they are seeing, it will become clear why they made the adjustment to the run game they did.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Coaching Points: Nebraska vs Wisconsin, 2014

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Wisconsin O: 12 and 11 personnel; a little bit more 21 personnel in this game than usual
Nebraska D: 4-3 Under mostly

Wisconsin D: One-Gap 3-4, mostly Cover 1 with Cover 4 mixed in
Nebraska O: 11 and 12 personnel

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Film Review - 2014 Wisconsin Blitz Package Part I

In this post I just want to diagram every sack up to the Illinois game (post-Illinois will be covered in Part II). Unfortunately, I don't have Western Illinois film, so two sacks will be missing, so you'll have to live with 11 diagrams. I'm going to keep the descriptions of how these work mostly non-existent for the sake of brevity, outside of a brief primer. I embed video where I can and link to a clip where I can't.

PODCAST: Nebraska vs Wisconsin Preview

I went on Unsportsmanlike Conduct over at 1620 The Zone to discuss Nebraska vs Wisconsin. Also, they gave me a cool new "Interstellar" inspired opening, so I'll take it.



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Film Review: Northwestern and Switch 86, Drag and Follow, and Bunch Concepts

Even with an offense that has sputtered lately in Northwestern, there are still some really cool intricacies and chess matches that can be found from game-to-game. In my opinion, most casual fans get caught up with “is it working or not?” Obviously, in the end, that’s ultimately what’s important. But the issue that I believe catches fans is when they try to figure out “Why?” Often, they converge to mostly meaningless catch-phrases such as “predictable”, “not innovative”, “stupid” and the like. The idea being that they see, they actually see with their own two eyes, a team execute a certain thing with ease and they assume “it must be the play design.” That’s because you can see the play design, you can see it develop in front of you and you can kind of understand it and when it works, obviously it works. Compounding matters may be video games, where many casual fans can call their own plays and feel some sort of ability to do what this guy getting paid a bunch of money can do.

But this is all an aside, and something I could delve into with greater depth at another time. The big picture point is really: even with some of the most struggling teams in the country you can find creativity and interesting play designs that function well as a whole. In this piece, we’ll look at how Northwestern utilized “Switch 86” (Or a “Switch Crease” by concept name), the detached Drag and Follow, and Bunch Concepts with a Bench route from #3. On top of that, we’ll look at how the defenses that went up against them countered these moves.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

B1G Breakdown: Top 5 Teams at Each Defensive Position Unit - Week 11

In this post, I will go through the various position units and place the teams I believe are the top 5 in the conference. This will be based on the actual players that have played, so sorry Indiana, the QB position won't just be Sudfeld.

I went back-and-forth on how I wanted to do this. For some position groups (RB/DL) there are more than five groups that deserve recognition. At other position units, there kind of seems to be less than five. Nevertheless, I plan on doing another one of these post-season, as well as look specific players as I break down All-B1G teams after the season. Note that this is purely an eye test and not based on stats, but instead on games that I've watched these guys play.

Offense version here.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America

Monday, November 10, 2014

B1G Breakdown: Top 5 Teams at Each Offensive Position Unit - Week 11

In this post, I will go through the various position units and place the teams I believe are the top 5 in the conference. This will be based on the actual players that have played, so sorry Indiana, the QB position won't just be Sudfeld.

I went back-and-forth on how I wanted to do this. For some position groups (RB/DL) there are more than five groups that deserve recognition. At other position units, there kind of seems to be less than five. Nevertheless, I plan on doing another one of these post-season, as well as look specific players as I break down All-B1G teams after the season. Note that this is purely an eye test and not based on stats, but instead on games that I've watched these guys play.

Michael Hickey/Getty Images North Americ

Coaching Points: OSU vs MSU, 2014

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images
OSU O: Mostly 11 personnel; zone and man run schemes
MSU D: 4-3 Over Cover 4

OSU D: 4-3 Over Cover 4 on normal downs and distance
MSU O: Mostly 11 personnel; about 50-50 split of gun and under center

Friday, November 7, 2014

History and Evolution: The Veer and Belly Series

History has a tendency to repeat itself. In football, that means something gets invented, iterations are formed, it gets tucked away for a while, and then it reemerges in a new form but with the same constructs. In this way, we can also predict how defenses will attempt to adjust, and how offenses will likely adjust to their adjustment. And this piece we are going to look at the history and evolution of the veer and belly run plays.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

OT: Winter Movie Season, 2014 Part I

The winter movie season is heating up, so I thought I'd discuss briefly another one of my hobbies and discuss some movies I'm looking forward to seeing. Unfortunately, it's a lot of movies, so I probably won't get to see them all. Some of them have also been in theaters for a brief bit, but if you want to catch the tail end of their run, I suggest doing so based on things I've heard.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Coaching Points: Maryland vs PSU, 2014

Normal day for PSU defense. Maryland had 17 real drives, 12 went four plays or fewer, three went more than 5 plays. Only three drives longer than 17 yards. 11 Punts, three fumbles
A normal day for the PSU Offense. 16 real drives (really 17, because they tried to gain yards before getting sacked before halftime). 11 drives went five plays or fewer, six went more than five plays. Went longer than 50 yards once. 8 punts, three turnovers. Moderate success early, leading to consistent lack of success late. After first six drives, 7/8 went three plays or less, 9/11 went four plays or less.
Maryland O: Mostly 11 personnel from Gun
PSU D: 4-3 Over or Nickel Over; mix of coverage, lots of Cover 6

PSU O: Mostly gun, 12 personnel. Lots of man blocking schemes in 1st half, zone in 2nd
Maryland D: 3-4 Under

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Film Review: Over Gut 6

Two different B1G teams ran the exact same zone blitz scheme on Saturday, and both teams successfully got to the QB. The scheme: Over Gut 6. This is a scheme that Monte Kiffin loved to run dating back to his time with the Bucs, and more than a decade and a half later, it’s still working in major college football (it’s probably more accurate to say Tony Dungy loved to run it with the Vikings, but I don’t have proof of that). Let’s first go over how it is run and then show examples of both PSU and Michigan running it successfully.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Coaching Points: Wisconsin vs Rutgers, 2014

Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images
Wisconsin O: 11, 12, 21 personnel. IZ base run, heavy sell PA for most pass yards.
Rutgers D: One Gap 3-4 (mostly Under)

Rutgers O: 11 personnel
Wisconsin D: One Gap 3-4 (mostly Under), lots of Cover 1 Robber

Coaching Points: Indiana vs Michigan, 2014

Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
Indiana O: Shotgun, 11 and 10 personnel.
Michigan D: Stayed almost always in 4-3 Over Base, Check Eagle vs Wildcat

Michigan O: Mostly 11 or 12 personnel, mostly shotgun until later
Indiana D: I think mostly 2-high zone schemes, not quite sure.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Football Fundamentals: One-Gap 3-4 Defense

As teams begin to get faster, more spread out, and more pass heavy on offense, a way many defenses are counteracting this is by moving to a 3-4 defense. A 3-4 defense sacrifices some of the beef, at least in terms of numbers, at the LOS in favor of an extra LB (relative to a 4-3). However, not all 3-4 defenses are equal. From a high-level POV, there are two standard types of 3-4 defenses: One-Gap and Two-Gap. Both have different strengths and weaknesses and are generally played differently. In this article, we’re going to focus on the One-Gap 3-4 defense, it’s nomenclature, it’s strengths and weaknesses, the fundamentals of the front, and how it generally plays against a variety of offensive sets.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Film Review: Adjusting Routes to Coverage

Originally posted at Bucky's 5th Quarter on Oct 3, 2013

Because Wisconsin has such run game prowess, many of its passing concepts attack the sidelines, away from the box area. In this area, the Badgers will often run "route adjustments" depending on the coverage. These adjustments allow the Wisconsin offense to attack multiple coverages with limited receivers, as other eligible receivers tend to be used to sell the run fake or help out in pass protection. They rely on the quarterback and receiver seeing the same thing, and if they don't, it often leads to bad things. In this post, I'm going to try to piece together where these issues were made and talk about why you have these adjustments within your offense.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Film Review: Nebraska Schemed By Northwestern's Cover 4; Then Schemed Them Back

Northwestern threw a lot of cover 4 at Nebraska in an effort to get bodies down into the run game. One thing that Cover 4 allows is for the LBs to flow a bit more freely and quickly to the initial look, because the safety takes care of backside cutbacks. What we saw in the Nebraska vs Northwestern game was Northwestern initially having success bottling up Nebraska because of this. The safety crashing down from depth allows him to defend either the QB keep or the RB cutting back across the grain. Later on, however, we saw Nebraska adjust some of their play calls to take advantage of this scheme. In this post, we’ll look at just that.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

PODCAST: Nebraska vs Northwestern and a Look Ahead

I had the opportunity to go on Unsportsmanlike Conduct again today. Here's a link to the podcast.



Coaching Points: Nebraska vs Northwestern, 2014

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Northwestern D: 4-2 Nickel Over Cover 4
Nebraska O: 11 and 10 personnel.

Nebraska D: Mostly Cover 4 and Cover 1, 4-2 Nickel
Northwestern O: 11 and 10 personnel, mostly outside zone

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Coaching Points: Wisconsin D vs Northwestern and Illinois

Photo by David Banks/Getty Images
Wisconsin D: 3-4 One gap or 2-4 Nickel; Mostly Cover 1 or Cover 4
Also, check out the PODCAST on the same topic.

Monday, October 20, 2014

PODCAST: A Look at the Wisconsin Defense with Buck Around

I had the opportunity to do a Podcast with Rich over at BuckAround, and we chose to look at an update of Wisconsin's 3-4 One-Gap Defense. So go ahead and listen to Wisconsin and Michigan accent clash as we get in-depth with the Wisconsin defense.


In the meantime, I should have a coaching points post for the Wisconsin defense touching on much the same topics tomorrow, so be on the look out for that.

Friday, October 17, 2014

META: A Special Thanks to Noon Kick

There is this website that I love. It just so happens that my wife probably hates this website, despite the fact she doesn't know it exists. If you enjoy this blog, you will enjoy this website is well. All of that is because this website features hundreds of complete games throughout the past couple years, and instances where it goes back even further than that.

This website is NOONKICK

It has been a fantastic resource for me, especially as my own DVR fills up with some combination of football games and classic movies off of TMC (and whatever reality show from TLC is on there because my wife). Missed a great game? It'll likely be on Noon Kick within a week. Remember a play and wanted to watch it again? Noon Kick. Just want to watch college football because college football is the best? Noon Kick.

So seriously, check it out, follow him on twitter, watch more football, and in the meantime, don't forget your significant other at least for a few hours a week.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Film Review: Minnesota's Backside LB in Cover 4

Minnesota’s run defense played pretty well against Northwestern. Mostly utilizing Cover 4, they were able to maintain numbers advantage inside the box for most of the game. When they did get gashed though, it was mostly because the backside was slow in pursuit. In Cover 4, the LBs, particularly the backside LB, must flow fast. If he reads the play immediately, he can tend to read “cloudy/clear” and shoot off the butt of a pulling OL or beat a zone blocking OL across his face and blow up the play in the backfield. If he can’t do that, he must scrape over the top quickly to get to the playside.

Football Fundamentals: Flare Control

A great addition to any playbook is a concept known as flare control. Flare control is a RB route intended for the primary purpose of hold and/or manipulating the underneath coverage. It can act as a block on a LB, it can force defensive flow, and it can prevent the underneath coverage from sinking into downfield developing routes. Likewise, “bubble control” can be used in much the same way. Indiana, along with many other teams, use flare control and bubble control as a part of their screen action and double screenpackage.

Flare Control
The most common application of flare control is to hold underneath coverage to prevent them from sinking underneath deeper routes. It helps prevent that defender from bringing pressure, it forces them to respect the underneath threat, and it doesn't allow them to gain depth.

On this play, the RB is no more than third or fourth in the QB’s progression, depending on the QB’s read of the safeties. He is not intended to be a primary receiver, instead, he is supposed to draw the underneath coverage away from the mesh routes and hold the outside leverage defender (in this case, cloud leverage) from sinking underneath the corner route.
This flare route works to control and manipulate the defense in either situation.

This is a concept that is used for a lot of downfield passing attacks. Many teams that utilize outside zone run schemes or run inverted veers or sweeps will utilize flare control in the same way. Here, OSU uses it to run a Sail Concept. Here’s an example of Baylor utilizing flarecontrol in their play action attack off of inverted veer.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Monday, October 13, 2014

Coaching Points: PSU vs Michigan, 2014

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
PSU O: Mostly 12 and 11 personnel. Split TEs out a lot. Zone based run scheme.
Michigan D: 4-3 Over with some Under mixed in.

UM O: Mostly 11 personnel.
PSU D: 4-3 Over or Nickel with an Over Front

Coaching Points: Northwestern vs Minnesota, 2014

Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Minn O: Mostly 12/21 personnel, zone run, PA pass attack.
NU D: Losts of 4-3 Under

NU O: 11 personnel mostly zone run scheme with some gap/man counters.
Minn D: Mostly Cover 4 with some Cover 1 mixed in.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Let's Speak Technique - Defending a Trap or Kick Block

Defensive line is a complicated beast. From a high level view, it looks simply like a bunch of very large men mashing into each other, one group trying to encapsulate a player with a ball, the other trying to open a gap in that other team from which the player with the ball can escape. But as is the case with football, the truth is much more filled with detail and minutia. In this article we’re going to focus specifically on one aspect, that being, how to take on trap and kick blocks with two basic techniques: Wrong Arm technique and Squeeze technique.

Squeeze Technique

Inside the Playbook: Wisconsin's Rushing Attack Bread and Butter

Originally posted at Land-Grant Holy Land on 9/24/13

Over the past, oh, I dunno... Let's just leave it as in the past, Wisconsin has been known for their potent run game. While Alan Ameche, that old Iron Horse, isn't walking through to run his offense any time soon, the Badgers seem to be doing pretty well dating back to the Alvarez era, er, the Alvarez coaching era, er, that first time Alvarez was coaching Wisconsin on the sideline, and, well, this introduction is all over the place. But I *do* have a great Alan Ameche story for those willing to hear, for those who like old timey stories that may or may not be true about really old Wisconsin Heisman Trophy winners. For another time, I suppose.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Football Fundamentals: Twins Passing Concepts

In this post we will look at some of the standard route concepts run from a twins alignment. Obviously, these can be paired with other routes (some I'll show including a RB), but this is to get the fundamental understanding of the routes. I'll try to explain the concept briefly, as well as provide names for what you'll hear the concept called elsewhere at times (these things get lots of names, some people use the same names but have different meanings too, so it can get confusing). If a number is visible near the end of a route, that is the nominal yardage the route will be run to. For more information on specific routes, we took a look at the route tree earlier.

In this article I will not discuss routes that utilize rub concepts close to the LOS (such as a switch concept). I will have a later article dedicated to rub routes from a Twins set. Many of these are similar to the TE-Flanker Concepts discussed earlier.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Coaching Points: Nebraska vs MSU, 2014

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
MSU O: Mostly 11 and 12 personnel, mostly zone blocked runs, moved pocket a lot.
Nebraska D: Mix of Cover 1 and Cover 4

Nebraska O: Mostly 11 personnel with a lot of H-back looks.
MSU D: Standard Cover 4 from 4-3 Over with 3-3-5 on passing downs.

Inside the Playbook - 7-Ins Concept

The 7-Ins passing concept pairs two of the most primitive passing concepts and puts them on the same side of the field. The Double-Ins work much the same way as Double-Slants and provide a nice single-high safety beater. The Corner route (7) paired with the outside In route works similar to a Smash concept, and creates a High-Low on near the sideline that works against most 2-high safety defenses. By putting them on the same side, you’ve simplified the amount of field that the QB is forced to read. In this way, you’ve created a delta concept toward the sideline out of two of the most standard, and effective, route concepts in modern football.

Meta: A Lack of Respect

I've been a member of MGoBlog since 2009. I read MGoBlog before that, when it was a part of the blog-o-sphere that my current blog is attached to, because of the detail I saw in his Brian's UFRs. I was enthralled with the passion and dedication, and loved the fact that it broke down each play, nearly player-by-player. What a resource.

[This is full, long-winded drama after this, please don't read on if you don't care; most of you won't care]

Monday, October 6, 2014

Inside the Playbook - MSU Jet Sweep Package

Originally posted at The Only Colors on 12/6/13

The jet sweep has become increasingly popular over the past decade or so, really coming into form when Houston Nutt first introduced his wildcat formation at Arkansas. It's important to distinguish this from an end around and a reverse.

Reverses, End Arounds, and Jet Sweeps are 3 different plays designed to take advantage of different things from a defense. Reverse initially attacks 1 side before reversing fields and takes advantage of horizontal over-pursuit. End-Around has middle action attached & takes advantage of vertical over pursuit (by getting depth and around squeezing EMOL). A jet sweep has no misdirection in and of itself (though it will often be paired with a run call and used in its own right as misdirection) and is simply a sweep with jet motion attached. It is designed to get to the edge before the defense and is often utilized by teams with receivers that have more speed than their power backs.

So Michigan State uses the jet sweep as a way to get outside the defense. This is especially important for teams that specialize in inside runs, particularly plays like Power O which can be squeezed down to take away any run creases. But as DEs squeeze down or LBs attempt to read and react, the easier and more important it becomes for a WR to beat the defense to the corner.

Keys here for an effective jet sweep are that the snap should occur when the motion player is between the tackle and the guard. The QB does a reverse pivot from under center and hands the ball to the WR. As soon as the WR receives the ball, he'll take another bucket step back to gain enough depth to get around the edge and not get grabbed from inside. The WR will threaten hash, numbers, and then sideline to cut upfield. Once upfield, you want him to get outside and run up the alley down the outside of the field.

Coaching Points: OSU vs Maryland, 2014

Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images
OSU O: Mostly 11 personnel
Maryland D: Mostly Tight Cover 1 and really deep FS

Maryland O: Lots of 11 personnel
OSU D: Cover 4 on standard downs, 3-3-5 nickel on passing situations