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

Wisconsin Rushing Attack vs Rutgers Run D
Wisconsin's base run scheme is inside zone, and so you game plan for that. I thought the Rutgers DL played really, really well in this game. I thought the interior players, for the most part, won their assignments on the day. Kirksey was very disruptive from a NT position, often winning his hat in the playside gap and then using his hands to control the OL. What this means is that the OGs had to help out a bit longer, making it so the defense could form a bit better wall; it also meant that the OL couldn't wash them out of the play. Rutgers won playside but under control, meaning they prevented cutbacks for the most part (or at least quick cut backs) but also forced the play to the edge and to help consistently.

A few specific notes:
  • Love seeing a NT win his hat across blocker but under control. Wiscy goes zone stretch and 95 shoots into C's shoulder, gets helmet across, drives the C backward but never allows himself to get washed down. Under control, forcing play to continue to the sideline with no cutback options. One player essentially prevented any play from forming other than creasing the edge. On this drive, Rutgers has done great winning helmet across hat but then extending with their arms and controlling OL. That means Wisconsin can't wash them out or leverage them off the LOS, they form a wall  and provide no cut backs.
  • Clement TD is all about OL vs DL. Both interior Rutgers defenders at point of attack lost their job in various ways. Backside DT got combo'd right into the backside LB, preventing any flow and sealing the defense completely backside. NT failed to get hands on playside OG and that allowed Wiscy to get into ILB playside. Being a one gap 3-4, the center was able to utilize the NT's momentum to shove him down the line and over-flow. Clement saw huge cutback behind it and burst clean into the 3rd level.
  • Besides Clement's two long TD runs, Rutgers DL has actually been very good against the zone run controlling the LOS. But Wiscy has thrown a few non-obvious gap blocking schemes to force flow and have attacked off of that. But on gap runs, hard sell PA, and even on the power O, they were able to seal the defense inside a bit and bounce to the outside.
That last two notes pretty much tells the tale though. If Rutgers DL didn't essentially finish off the play, Wisconsin had success. Wisconsin went to a couple gap schemes that initially look like Inside Zone. The DL won gaps under control, but the LBs couldn't correctly identify where to fill and the secondary struggled with some of their angles coming down. On a long Gordon run, the DL did a great job stacking up the playside, forming a wall and pretty much bottling the play up; but Gordon was able to cut back completely against the grain (not vertical, but back all the way across the formation) and no one was there to clean it up, no LB, no DB.

On the first Clement TD, Wisconsin was finally able to handle the Rutgers DL pretty well at the first level, in that they formed a crease. But then the Rutgers LBs were far too slow crashing, which allowed Clement to crease through the 2nd level almost completely untouched. Then the 2nd level didn't prevent the play from going longer.

That was pretty much the story of the day. If the DL didn't dominate, Wisconsin's run game did. Wisconsin's RBs are too good to hold down if the entire defense isn't disciplined. Wisconsin's' OL is too good to always win on the DL. Sometimes the rest of the defense has to step up, and Rutgers couldn't at any position other than the initially point of attack.

I'll take a look later this week on one of the wrinkles in Wisconsin's run game where they utilize a gap scheme to attack the defense.

Wisconsin Passing Attack vs Rutgers D
Wisconsin tried to do some things early to get the QBs in a rhythm. They ran a lot of Y-snag concept, which is a fairly easy read (single movement key), with fairly short passes and quick passes, getting your QB confident with both accuracy and timing. They had moderate success with it, which is fine, it's not really designed to be a big play type play. They even attacked the double slants (another single-movement key read) on the backside of it.

After that, they ran quite a few double moves to get receivers wide open deep. Rutgers was jumping early routes all day, and Wisconsin had at least three plays that were set up for big gains. First two were missed long (one over the middle, the 2nd on a wheel route by the TE), and another had the TE screw up his route on the RB wheel (the TEs job is to hold the coverage inside with his post, not to work back to the ball).

Several of these plays were with McEvoy. McEvoy is mostly a run threat at this point, and he adds that dimension to the offense. But he struggles with his throwing mechanics. On wide open miss to Alex Anderson, he made his life a lot harder with a really odd arm slot. It's really a push from the side of the shoulder, almost from his chest (note even over the top of his shoulder). That forces him to really try to clear with his shoulders early and with the right timing; if you don't get them fully cleared you push the ball right and if you clear too early you kind of ground the ball to the left. Think of it like a golf swing and clearing your hips. If your hips are still completely closed on contact, you can't get the club to track straight through the ball, and you tend to either push it to the right (some ground it to the left if they have a looping motion, but now they're two degrees of separation from a decent swing). Likewise, if you clear your hips early, you come across the ball and ground it to the left, or more often, slice it like crazy. I have a lot of experience with this golf problem.

Wisconsin also had success with hard sell PA, not just in getting receivers open, but getting the QBs with open grass on the edge. On one hard sell Power O PA, the Wisconsin QB was wide open to take off and picked up 20+ yards.

Rutgers Rushing Attack vs Wisconsin Run D
I really thought Wisconsin's ILBs had a great game, particularly the MIKE (strongside ILB). Both Trotter and Landisch did well attacking the LOS, shooting gaps, and initiating contact when blockers tried to get on them. This made it so the Rutgers OL couldn't seal the ILBs or control them, and allowed the ILB to be disruptive at the LOS and then disengage and flow to the ball. This also allowed Obasih to flow clean for most of the game and get to the ball carrier.

Likewise, Wisconsin played a lot of Robber in this game, bringing Caputo down in run support. In that position he looked very comfortable in his run fits, especially for a safety. He filled fast but under control, remained square to the LOS, squatted, kept his feet moving in the hole, maintained leverage, and made the play in the hole or alley while not allowing additional yards.

I think the DL is still a little late with their hands, though I saw some improvement. Focus still seems to be on getting hat into the gap shoulder of the blocker in front of them, but hands still seem late to me. They are still initiating contact with the helmet rather than with the hands. The helmet is a leverage devise, you get your helmet in the gap and it's almost impossible to open that hole, but when your hands are late you don't control the OL, which means you can be washed out a bit and you don't always prevent releases to the 2nd level.

As far as the TEs and FBs, Rutgers is still a bit inconsistent. The FB clearly missed a kick block on a CB blitz on a 3rd and short play, allowing the CB to make a play in the backfield. The next drive, they went to a lead Counter H and the FB just destroyed the Wisconsin defender (#36), getting into his outside shoulder (which should be free as he was the leverage defender) and pancaking him. They need to get more consistent executing assignments to be consistent in the run game though.

Rutgers Pass Offense vs Wisconsin D
There really isn't a ton to say. Wisconsin ran its extensive blitz package and confused a OL that tends to get a bit confused. Rutgers rarely went to any PA boot plays. The boot was not open though, as Wisconsin was keeping a backside edge defender there. I thought Rutgers should have gone with more straight back drops off of the zone stretch (similar to what Manning does a lot of). That keeps the QB in the pocket, doesn't put him in the face of the backside defender, allows the QB to attack the whole field, and attack the fact that Wisconsin is bringing up a safety in run support.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about. With the SS coming up in run support, you can attack him a bit (or more so, attack the FS who is alone in the middle of the field). Here's a three verts concept, with the Y-TE running a crossing route. The straight drop allows the QB to hit any of these targets and it gives the QB an easy movement key with the FS. Slip the U-TE past the SS and if the FS is working over the top, throw to the post on the backside (the CB is likely expecting inside help here). The drag route in the flat is also likely open because of the PA pulling the LBs and the Jack staying on the backend to prevent the QB from breaking contain.

A four verts concept could be successful for similar reasons.

On the full boot, the ILBs even did a good job flowing with the Receivers though. Along with the roll out, which Beagle had covered on the back side, there wasn't a good threat here, which is why the focus needs to be to attack vertically (not easy against Wisconsin's pass defense, but still).

And just to touch on Laviano. You can tell Laviano is still a young guy. Looked decent with his feet set, but really struggled to get his hips back upfield when rolling and then forced to throw with his upper body only, which lead to turfing the ball. Just leads to a big problem. Got a young QB with an OL that isn't great with pass protection. You have a Wisconsin front that likes to throw a lot of blitz and pressure packages. You want to escape the pocket to give your QB time, but Laviano clearly isn't comfortable with it right now.


  • Rutgers DL was actually quite good in this game, used hands well, won playside. But Wisconsin OL and RBs too good to hold down entire game, and the rest of Rutgers defense couldn't execute well enough when the DL didn't win their assignments
  • Wisconsin set up some simple passes early with Y-stick type things, and then got receivers wide open with some double moves. Need to hit those passes against better teams
  • Wisconsin ILBs won the day. Very good attacking down hill and initiating contact, not allowing Rutgers OL into the 2nd level. Caputo was very good in additional run support from safety level.
  • Didn't think Rutgers adequately attacked the Wisconsin defensive set up, but they were limited in this game. Wisconsin is very good on the outside in coverage, and the OL clearly wasn't comfortable protecting the QBs.


Popular posts from this blog

Football Fundamentals: Twins Passing Concepts

Football Fundamentals: 2x2 and Mirrored Passing Concepts

Football Fundamentals: The Tite Front Defense