so much for that
Brian has talked about Va. Tech's base D briefly, but I'd like to talk about it more in-depth. The "G" defense, as it is known, was the base D for the high school team for which I was a varsity assistant for 9 years, including the last year as defensive coordinator. I say this not to try and impress you, but to let you know that I have a good knowledge of the defense.
The defense was built to stop 2-back, 1-TE formation offense (also known as "21 personnel"), especially in the run game. Refer again to the diagram of "G" against the Pro formation:
The corners are the only "pass first" players on the defense, so if the offense runs a regular run play (i.e., where the entire OL run blocks and the play is a run), the defense has 9 defenders in the box to defend the run.
The defensive alignment pre-snap looks like Cover 3 or Cover 1 (aka man-free). The base coverage of the "G" defense is "robber" coverage, in which the underneath and inside defenders play a "robber" technique. The corners start a 7 yards deep and the free starts 11 yards deep over the strong B gap. Late in the QB's cadence, the corners will slowly backpedal inside and 9 yards deep, while the free safety will creep toward the line of scrimmage from 11 to 9 yards.
The free safety will read the EMLOS (End Man on the Line Of Scrimmage) to passing strength (the side of the formation with more receivers) for run/pass. If it is a run, he is to front the ball (get in a direct vertical line with it), then play the ball inside-out, while staying inside the ILB (Backer or Mike) to which the ball is being run.
If it is a pass, he is to read the release of #2 strong. If #2 is vertical (any route where #2 hasn't broken off by 7 yards, inluding deep outs, digs, hooks, etc.) the free plays him man. If #2 goes to the flat, the free "robs" #1 to that side, mostly expecting a 12-15 yard curl route or deep in route. If #2 runs a shallow cross, the free "robs" #1 to that other side, mostly expecting a dig. In either robber situation, if #1 runs a post, the free has deep help from the corner.
The advantage of playing against a pro set is that the EMLOS and the #2 receiver are the same player: the TE.
The Rover and Whip key the EMLOS. Against the run they are primary force players. Against the pass they are to "buzz flat, run wheel," which means they sprint to take away a quick hitch, out, or slant. If the receiver in the flat turns it up on a wheel, the Rover/Whip will carry him man-to-man, allowing the corner to be an inside leverage, deep half player.
The Backer robs #3 strong and has the same rules as the free: #3 vertical = man, #3 flat = rob #1 strong, #3 shallow = rob #1 weak. If #3 stays in to pass black, the Backer will play any shallow cross or checkdown.
The Mike robs #2 weak, and his rules are similar: #2w vertical = man, #2w flat = rob #1 weak, #2w shallow = rob #1 strong. If #2 weak stays in to pass block, the Mike will drop to the weak curl zone.
I hope to write another diary discussing the weaknesses of the G defense with robber coverage.
There obviously has been a lot of talk about keeping Denard here. Coach Hoke stated in the press conference that he believes in doing what's best for the team, and that means putting your best players in a position to be successful. One could easily infer that means that he will put Denard at QB and run a spread offense. Coach Hoke followed that by saying that usually means doing what's best for the player.
What if, however, he believes that putting Denard in the best position to be successful means he could be most successful at WR or RB? What if Coach thinks what's best for Denard is to play a position other than QB b/c he won't play QB in the NFL?
We can only go by what we know. The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. Coach Hoke's teams have never run the spread, nor has OC Al Borges ever run it. As a former coach I can tell you that your best chance of success is to coach what you know. Since they a) don't like the spread and b) don't know it, I'm guessing that you won't see us running a spread offense.
The only way you'll see us running spread option is if the entire new offensive staff goes and visits with someone who runs it well. In my opinion, that leaves three options:
- Chip Kelly
- Urban Meyer
- Rich Rodriguez
First, we know that Coach Hoke despises an offense based on the outside zone (aka Stretch). (Boy, he must have hated watching his own offense during his time as DL coach at Michigan.) That would eliminate options 1 and 3. Besides, there's no way the new staff would go to the old staff and say, "Can you teach us your offense, please?" That would leave them with visiting Urban Meyer.
It would be a nice fit. First, he's unemployed, so he could actually come here and be a consultant, if you will. Second, he believes in inside zone and gap schemes like power, counter trey, and iso.
Inside zone is still zone blocking, but it's not about reaching the outside shoulder. It's basically the playside tackle base blocking the DE while the rest of the OL works combo blocks. The objective is to get vertical push on the DL, then come off to LBs working downhill--let them come to you. The RB is a downhill runner and he gets one cut into the hole. The hole isn't pre-determined, but the cut into that hole happens (in theory) at the LOS or on the defense's side of it. In outside zone, that decision (or cut) happens in the offensive backfield.
Regardless, I don't think you'll see Michigan in a spread option offense, and I believe it would be in Denard's best interests to transfer to Oregon.
The zone read "midline" is a great answer to 4-3 chalk teams, especially Iowa. Dantonio is a 4-3 guy, too, and I believe this would be a great series to run these next two weeks. I think it would be great against MSU if they play their safeties like they did last year. Their safeties keyed the slot receiver. If the slot ran a bubble screen route, the safety attacked it hard.
- Zone blocking to the playside
- Instead of reading the backside DE, the backside OT fan blocks him
- QB reads the backside B-gap defender. Sometimes this is a 3-technique, sometimes this is an ILB
- If B-gap defender chases RB, QB pulls and runs downhill in B gap.
- If B-gap defender stays home, QB gives ball to RB and the zone play has a numerical advantage.
Some 4-3 teams like to put their 3-technique away from the back. If they do this, then the Mike is the backside B-gap defender.
If the defense puts the 3-technique to the back, then the 3-tech is the backside B-gap defender.
If the offense wants to get advanced, the QB will first read the backside B-gap defender for give/pull. If he gets a pull read, he will then move on to key the Will backer. If the Will tries to come inside to the B-gap, the QB will throw. If not, the QB will run.
Back on August 8, I posted this in a thread (edited to bring up the word count):
I see clear-cut top teams in Ohio State and Wisconsin. After that it's a toss up for 3rd with Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, and Penn State.
- Iowa: home versus Penn State and Michigan State, at Michigan and Northwestern
- Michigan: home versus Iowa and Michigan State, at Penn State, Northwestern off
- Michigan State: at Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern and Penn State
- Northwestern: home versus Iowa and Michigan State, at Penn State, Michigan off (also OSU off)
- Penn State: home versus Michigan, Michigan State, and Northwestern, at Iowa
If we see these teams as evenly matched and hold serve at home in these matchups, and we assume that when any of these teams play Ohio State or Wisconsin they lose and Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Purdue as wins, we get:
1/2: Ohio State/Wisconsin (8-0/7-1)
3: Penn State (6-2)
4: Northwestern (6-2) (loses tie-breaker w/Penn State based on head-to-head Penn State win)
5: Michigan (5-3)
6: Iowa (4-4)
7: Michigan State (3-5)
8-11: I don't care
I'd like to start a rational discussion on what we think might happen in the Big Ten season this year.
Obviously, the above is according to Hoyle, but I think the surprises will even out for the most part. Prediction: one of the teams in the "Fight for 3rd" category will implode and one will catch fire.
So, let me hear you, MGoNation.