No caption needed (Patrick Barron/MGoBlog)
A blur of maize and blue (Patrick Barron/MGoBlog)
The Train (Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog)
You're not getting out of this one (Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog)
Holding was not called (Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog)
Darboh TD (Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog)
Last week we introduced the defensive terminology for Don Brown's base defense and his 4-lineman sub packages. Quick clicky-popup diagrams of the 4-3 and 4-2-5 forms we covered:
This week I'd like to get into the 3-4 and 3-3-5 and 3-2-6 looks, or in Brown's terminology, the "50" formations.
SO WHAT DOES THE 3-4 LOOK LOOK LIKE?
The BC defense Brown brought over is a base 4-3 and 4-2-5 nickel, and they'll run a relatively small suite of plays from that base on most downs. But a lot of the fancy stuff—truly, most of the playbook—are out of what are usually called "30" and Brown refers to as the "50" fronts*, i.e. formations with three defensive linemen.
Here's the basic version, as taken directly from the 2013 Boston College playbook that James Light posted.
Technically, the "Tackle" (Hurst's position) has been replaced with a "Backer" (B). When you hear about a guy you thought was playing defensive end being called a "linebacker" (e.g. Kemp) it's possible he's playing the Backer position. If a dude's getting mentions as an "OLB" that's also a sign they're using him in that Backer/Sam role, where "Sam" means "Jake Ryan-esque."
That isn't anybody yet—I've been using Winovich as a placeholder—but the ideal here is clearly LaMarr Woodley: a 6'2/260-ish, athletic, stand-up, high-burst, space-tackling, strong-enough-to-stand-up-to-blocks attacker who can play rush end or cover some. That last is notable because it gives the 50 formations a suite of tactics that are generally absent from Brown's 70 formations: zone blitzes.
* [It's 50 and not 30 because look at the pic above and count the guys on the line. Now think back to that ol' Schembechler 5-2 "angle" defense. The more things change…
[After THE JUMP: bandits, canidae, diagrams that look like they're saying "Mike Gedeon" and "Will McCray", and blitzes. Oh lawdy do we got blitzes.]
[Huge thanks to Steve Sharik for getting a lot of this for me]
He's got nickel down. Also Sam, Rover, Money, Jaguar, Tractor, Dog, Pup, Cat, Bandit, Greyhound, and Aardvark. Read on to find out which two of those are not actually Don Brown positions that Peppers will play. [Bryan Fuller]
We had some bona fide MGoDudes attend the coaching clinic and the open practice in Florida, and they've reported back with a wealth of information about the new Michigan defense.
Coach Steve Sharik is writing up a full feature on it for HTTV, and in the course of editing that we went through all of the standard (and some of the non-standard) positions and terminology. I thought that would be extremely valuable to those of us trying to parse the coachspeak all spring, and figure out exactly what position various Guys and Dudes and whatnot are playing.
This week I thought I'd tackle the 4-man fronts that Michigan will run as their base defense. Brown also has myriad 3-man fronts (whence Winovich) that I'll get into next week.
Here are the two basic 4-man, or as Brown calls 'em, "70" fronts: 71 and 72.
These two alignments we'll see most of the time on standard downs, with personnel changing based on what the offense has in there. If you didn't spot the difference between 71 and 72, it's how the nose and end are aligned. In the first the nose is over the center (a 1-technique) and the end is in a 5-technique off the weakside OT. In 72 those guys have shifted over some, putting the nose over the guard (2-technique) so the end can split out wider. The first is stronger against inside runs, the second gives the end an easier path to pass rush or play a zone read.
And here are the base positions:
Let's meet them.
[After the jump: What's an "A", what's the difference between a Sam, a Jaguar, and a Money, and what the hell is Peppers?]
The administration of D.J. Durkin really showed what can be accomplished when you let a safety play free. Unburdened from the strictures of run-stopping, Michigan's free safety in its Cover 1 system had the luxury of reacting to anything that could happen downfield. If you wanted to go deep, you had to test the corners on the sidelines. The defense put up some of the best raw passing numbers in the country, and but for an odd number of dropped interceptions and the weirdness against Minnesota the advanced stats would have matched. Then we met Ohio State, and the bubble burst.
The things we're hearing about Brown's defense is he's a bit more of a socialist when it comes to distribution of run responsibility. While he's happy to let the freedom ring against passing teams, against running teams he will keeps his safeties down where they can help. That doesn't mean he runs quarters like Virginia Tech or Michigan State or Ohio State, but it has led to optimism around these parts because we take it to mean Brown's going to have the same strengths against spread to run offenses that those defenses have.
I figured it might be good to show the two approaches. Let's start this week with Durkin's. Here's how not to defend a speed option:
That was bad. Letting the offense flank you is bad. Letting a running quarterback in a mostly running offense walk to your edge for 8 yards on 3rd and short and not even need his pitch man against your absolute base defense is bad.
If there was such a thing as program RPS this is where Urban Meyer dropped a +3 on D.J. Durkin. This blog's best X's and O's advisor Steve Sharik lost his excrement at this, and explained why at the time. I'll go over it again simply because it matters in what we're looking for from Brown.
[Why? What can be done? Well for starters you can hit the JUMP]
So today I complete the series on Don Brown's defense. After two the gist of that defense is plainly gotten: he runs the same defense Michigan does. I was really hoping to find BC doing something schematic to bottle up Clemson's spread offense; instead it seems their successes came from just fundamentally executing things that Michigan didn't against Ohio State from the same Cover 1 that we both ran.
But I did find something pretty cool on the next drive: Clemson trying to mess with that, and how it responded. The first play's a good example:
Play 1: Jet Motion Triple Option vs. Cover 1—After a three-and-out and an interception that led to BC taking a 7-0 lead, Clemson is ready to bring out the fancy stuff. This looks fancy:
That's a lot of lines in the backfield—and a formation trick that Michigan saw against Ohio State several times—so let me unpack it.
[After we hit THE JUMP]
If you’ve been reading the site for a long time you’ll remember Seth’s “Decimated Defense” series, an excellent set of posts that painstakingly detailed why Michigan’s defense was so awful circa 2009. If you’ve been watching hockey the past few seasons, something similar may have crossed your mind.
David Nasternak is our jack-of-all-trades behind the scenes, and he’s also a huge hockey fan. He asked if I’d be interested in some data he was pulling together on power play goals against, odd-man rushes, and turnovers that led directly to goals. Naturally I was; Michigan’s defense isn’t quite Decimated Defense-level bad, but I could probably write a series of posts about the past four years and no one would bat an eye if I titled them “Disappointing Defense.”
The eye test, beloved by scouts for generations, tells us that Michigan’s defense has again been lacking in 2015-16. Thanks to the data David has compiled and some additional team-level stats from College Hockey Inc. we can try and see where the breakdowns are coming from on an otherwise solid team.
[After THE JUMP: it wouldn’t be MGoBlog without charts]