[Ed-S: Festivus Bump!]
In modern football, there are 2 popular base defensive sets. Most teams run either a 3-4 Base or a 4-3 Base.
The quick explanation of these defenses is that the first number (“3” in a 3-4) is your number of Down Linemen (literally people who line up with their hand on the ground in a 3 or 4 point stance on the line of scrimmage) and the second number (“4” in a 3-4) is your number of linebackers (people who line up in a 2 point stance, behind the down linemen).
This diary will discuss the 4-3 Under, its similarities to a 3-4 set, and make sense of our defensive line recruiting. For the purposes of this diary I’m ignoring the secondary. You need corners and safeties. They’re all similarly sized players, get fast ones. The front 7 is where you need guys over a 100lb range and some more major differences show up.
Here’s a base 4-3:
Here's a base 3-4:
Both of these defensive base sets have advantages and disadvantages, and both lend themselves to different styles of players. When it comes to what Michigan is running as a base defense, the 4-3 Under, recruiting starts to make sense if you look at it as a 3-4 defense.
The 4-3 Under:
First, look at the D Line from the middle out. In a 4-3 Under you have a defensive tackle on the Nose, in a 0 or 1 Technique (NT) (Technique definitions:
You then have 2 players lining up at the 3 tech (DT) and 5 tech (SDE). Then you have 2 players further out on the line, at a 7 tech (WDE) and 9 Tech (SAM). Finally, you have 2 linebackers off the line of scrimmage (MIKE and WILL).
Now, compare these positions to the 3-4 Base. You still have a huge space-eating Nose Tackle (NT) who lines up at the 0 or 1 tech, 2 Defensive Ends over the guards, tackles, or in between (4 tech... hmmm, just a slight shift from the 3 or 5 tech...) and 2 people outside of them near the line of Scrimmage (OLBs). Finally you have 2 linebackers off the line of scrimmage (MIKE and WILL).
If you look at these two defenses, the only main difference is one of your 3-4 OLBs has his hand on the ground. That’s it! There are minor shifts on the line and other intricacies, but big picture the 4-3 under has personnel requirements very similar to a 3-4.
For the 4-3 Under OR the 3-4 in your front 7 personnel you need:
- 3-Tech DT and SDE (5-Tech)
- WDE and SAM
Michigan is recruiting the right numbers for the scheme they run. These are 17-year-old guys we’re discussing with recruits. Some will get bigger, some are maxed out. Some of the WDE/SAM types will be better at coverage and will play SAM. We saw Frank Clark and Beyer make this switch this year, one was a LB, one a DE in High School, and they switched at Michigan. Some will be better pass rushers and will drop into coverage less at the WDE.
The “Glut” at SDE doesn’t exist since the 3-Tech DT is a very similar position in the 4-3 Under, so some of these guys will play there. The coaches know what they need to run the 4-3 under, and hopefully this diary provided some insight into the personnel requirements so we can somewhat understand the method to the madness.
A very observant MGoUser (I can’t remember who it was though) mentioned in a thread about the Sugar Bowl Jerseys that ALL of Michigan’s athletics jerseys now sport a Block M, across all sports. This wasn’t always the case. The Block M just found its way onto the “normal” home and away football jerseys this year (on the neck)
Not just with Football Jerseys, we’ve seen Block Ms appearing all over campus like never before. No longer is the “split M”
Acceptable, at this point, it’s Block M or Bust.
Old Scoreboard front:
Old Yost Scoreboard:
Now this isn’t a rant, and I’m not trying to criticize Michigan for the proliferation of the Block M. In fact, Michigan is just following current marketing and branding trends. All over the corporate world the trend is towards the simple. Get rid of words, use symbols, and use them everywhere. Simplicity is king.
A few examples of the corporate world:
Michigan is just following industry trends at this point with the Block M. One simple symbol. Everywhere. Get used to seeing this, it’s not going anywhere.
The “46” or “Bear” Defense
So we’ve seen a lot of different defensive fronts, and quite a few people have talked about how to play the 4-3 Under that is Michigan’s base set. With our D getting gashed recently by MSU the question has been asked “Why not play more 46?” In this diary I hope to go over the strengths, weaknesses and a little history of the Bear Defense.
First it’s a Forty-Six (46) not a Four-Six. Most Defenses talk about personnel from the line back. A 4-3 has 4 down linemen, 3 linebackers. Same with 3-4, 3-3-5, etc. The 46 doesn’t talk about personnel on the field, it refers to one man. Doug Plank wore 46 and was the starting safety for the Chicago Bears when Buddy Ryan (yep, this guy’s dad)
designed it. The 1985 Chicago Bears were (agruably, but you’d be wrong if you disagreed) the best NFL defense ever. They gave up 10 points in their 3 playoff games. 198 in their 16 regular season games, or under 11 a game, under 4 in playoff games against the other elite teams! They were 15-1 on the year, their only loss to Marino’s Dolphins. Their playoff scores were 21-0, 24-0, and 46-10. Not too shabby against the NFL’s best. They also made the Superbowl Shuffle which might be the most 80's thing ever.
So, how does it work? How do you beat it? The 46 uses the same 4-3 base personnel that Michigan does. 2 Defensive ends, 2 tackles, 3 linebackers, 2 safeties and 2 corners. The first thing we’ll look at is the line
D-Tackle right on the nose (For Michigan this is Mike Martin, for the 85 Bears it was William “Refrigerator” Perry). You cover up the center to make him block every play. 3-4 Defenses use similar players here.
D-Tackle right on the guard (For Michigan this is BWC/Heininger in the picture, for the 85 Bears it was Steve “Mongo” McMichael). Same as the nose, you cover the guard and make him block. You don’t want a covered defender to pull, as it allows instant penetration into the backfield. The inside Tackle (and End) have to make sure that they don’t get pinched inside.
D-End right on the other guard (For Michigan this is RVB, for the 85 Bears it was the “Danimal” Dan Hampton). Just like above. This would be your larger end (called “strongside or 5-Tech in other defenses, but he’s not playing a 5 tech here).
D-End outside the weak OT (for Michigan this is Roh/Black in the picture, for the 85 Bears it was Richard Dent). Main job is keep contain and pass rush. This position is very similar to the 7-Tech or Weakside end, or Rush End in a base 4-3.
SAM - Line up on the outside shoulder of the Tight End (9-Tech). (For Michigan Jake Ryan, for the 85 Bears Otis Wilson). Very similar to a Sam in a 4-3 Under but in a 46 he’s typically in a 3 point stance (Ryan's ina 2). Make sure nothing gets outside on the edge. Often referred to as JACK in a 46
QUICK BREAK - Only differences so far from a 4-3 Under:
|46 Defense||4-3 Under|
|Martin||Nose (0 Tech)||Shaded (1-Tech)|
|BWC||Face up on Guard||3 Tech|
|RVB||Face up on Guard||5 Tech Strong|
|Roh||7 Tech Weak||7 Tech Weak|
|Ryan||9 Tech Strong, 3 point stance||9 Tech Strong, 2 point stance|
Not so different thus far. Pretty much only where your interior linemen line up.
WILL - Inside shoulder of Tight End (7-Tech). (For Michigan Fitzgerald, 85 Bears Wilber Marshall). 2 point stance. This is also a similar alignment to a SAM in a 4-3 under at times. Not responsible for contain however, that falls on the JACK. This linebacker (CHARLEY) covers up the tight end in pass plays or can blitz.
MIKE - 4-5 yards off the line of scrimmage, shaded to the strong side. (for Michigan Demens, 85 Bears Singletary)Near identical responsibilities as in a 4-3 under. Make tackles. Have Crazy Eyes
SS - 4-5 yards off the line, shaded weak side (for Michigan Hawthorne, 85 Bears Dave Duerson, RIP). Near identical responsibilities to the WILL in the 4-3 under. Make Tackles. (IMO Kovacs would fit well here)
FS - Play 12 yards off the line, play center field. (for Michigan Gordon/Kovacs in this picture, for the 85 Bears Gary Fencik)
Corners - Either bump an run or just basic man coverage. You’re on an island, don’t get beat. (For Michigan Woolfolk/Floyd, for the 85 Bears Mike Richardson and Leslie Frazier).
So that’s the main alignments and responsibilities for the defenders.
Why it’s good for Michigan on rushing downs:
Neutralizes the interior O Line. When there’s a D lineman face up over you, you can’t pull, trap, get to the 2nd level, or do many of the things interior O linemen do. For Michigan, this prevents Martin from getting double teamed, and lets BWC bull rush a guard 1 on 1.
Gets the Beef on the field. Michigan runs this with BWC and RVB and Roh in the game. With Martin and Ryan down that’s a 1450lb D line.
So why don’t we see this Defense often anymore? Well offenses adapt. 3 step drops and the horizontal West-Coast attack eat this defense alive. The 46 is based on pressuring the QB (you almost always rush at least 5) and if the QB is throwing within a second of the snap, you can’t pressure him. Offenses rarely ran 5 wide, but now they do it often. 5 wide would mess this up as well. The other main reason? Personnel. The 85 Bears had 3 future NFL coaches on the defense alone (Rivera, Signletary and Frazier). You need 2 shutdown corners who can survive on an island (which is why we see the Jets run this D every so often). In the modern NFL a QB would audible to a slant and the WR would be gone without a good corner. Also, you need a SS who can live in the box, still make plays in the passing game, dominate, and be so good there is a defense named after you. This is what Wikipedia says happens against 3 wide:
“When three or more receivers are used by the offense, the defense makes what is called a jayhawk adjustment. The charlie linebacker will step back to where the middle linebacker was in the normal alignment, the middle linebacker will move to where the strong safety was aligned and the strong safety will move out to cover the third receiver. If the offense uses a fourth receiver, the middle linebacker lines up in front of the center and the charlie linebacker would cover the fourth receiver.”
Sounds like the 4-3 Under at this point no? The problem is do you know many Strong Safeties who would do very well in man coverage in the slot? Or how about corners that can play on an island every play? or a FS who is good enough you just play cover 1 all day.
Anyway, hopefully this diary helps you understand a little about the Bear front and responsibilities when Michigan uses it. Go Blue.
Let me start off by saying, I’m not that old. I’m 24 (it feels really old compared to 2 years ago when I was graduating). Some of you might read the title and think “Get Off My Lawn” but that’s not what I’m going for. The more and more I’ve thought about the Notre Dame game this year, the more upset I get. I’ve got tickets, I’m going, I’ll love it… but it won’t feel like Michigan Football. I don’t care at all if we have a Fullback, or play a 4-3, that’s not what I mean. What I mean is the Game-day Experience. Yes, this will be the first night game, yes everyone else has night games, and yes, Prime Time exposure, etc. etc. this really seems like a net positive. But part of me thinks that with the whole thing we’ve sold out. I’m a 3rd Generation Michigan Grad, and I love that when I went to games from 2005-2009, it started just like when my mom and dad when to games in the late 70s, and when my grandparents went in the late 40s/early 50s. The Marching Band formed their block M,
the Fanfare M, they played the Victors, the team came out the Tunnel, and they looked like this:
- is that Henne? Devin? Leach?
- is that Arthur Walker, Paul Seymour, Jon Jansen, Jake Long, or Lewan?
Their seats looked like this:
Now, I can’t help but feel that we’re all of a sudden every other team in college football. We’ve got skyboxes (granted, the construction ended up looking great, and I’ve taken the tour, and they’re amazing). We’ve got Lights. We’ve got Special K and we’ve got (allegedly) Maize alternate/throwbacky/cash-grab Jerseys.
So, all the things that I (we?) have claimed to hate throughout the past few seasons we now embody.
Michigan will Take the Field and it will be OMG MAIZE JERZEYS! I CAN BUY JERZEYS?
After Michigan takes the field “I Got a Feelin’“ I know what Special K will play (I feel like every time they went to commercial in this game the damn Black Eyed Peas song played, I know that the movie has AC/DC) - Dunno if embedding is working, but Iowa 2009, when Iowa took the field: (link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsHF31w8-sU&feature=related)
The Fatcats in their Skyboxes will see the numbers, the ratings, the jersey sales and think that this was successful. And what’s next? Our old scoreboards looked like this
Will our new ones look like this?
Again, I’m excited for the night game, I’m going, I’ll love it, and I hope Denard gets 503 yards and we beat ND 77-0 (with at least 1 Mike Martin Pick 6). But part of me really likes that we’re (we were?) different. I hope to really enjoy the Night Game, but come November, on a Gray Saturday afternoon I’ll bundle up, trudge through snow and slush to my seat which looks like this
to see Michigan play in The Game, hoping the sun peeks through the clouds, and our team will look like this:
And the band will play the Victors and it’ll just feel… right
OK, after reading for the 1,234,123rd time that someone feels "queasy" about Gardner's application for a Medical Redshirt and comparing it to what Saban does at Alabama I thought we could do a brief overview of the two things and get them out there in the open. If this debate comes up again, point the person to this post. (Mods, if this should be board rather than Diary throw it there)
First, the terms themselves:
Redshirt: An extra year of eligibility to play collegiate athletics. Most linemen redshirt in order to spend a year in a college weight program without playing any games. Student athletes are allowed 1 RS year. You cannot play in any games and get a normal RS. This scholarship counts against a team's total (85 for football)
M Example: Taylor Lewan RS'd his Freshman year to build his hatred for donkeys
Medical Redshirt: An extra year of eligibility to play collegiate athletics - determined by a governing body. A player receives an injury that is not career ending, but they will miss a long chunk of the season. The player can apply for a medical redshirt and gain another year of eligibility, the thought being "let's not punish kids for getting hurt and have the whole year on the field be a loss." The injury has to happen early in the season and the player cannot participate after the 1st (3 or 4?) few games of the football season. I'm not sure the rules for other sports. Occasionally across the college football landscape this practice will be used to get someone young some playing time in their first year without losing a RS year/whole year of eligibility. Many people are skeptical of Gardner's back injury - and this is why there is the application/vetting process. This scholarship counts against a team's total (85 for football)
M Example: Devin Gardner tweaked his back this year and could not play after the injury. He is applying for a Med Redshirt.
Medical Exemption: A Medical Exemption is a failsafe for athletes who have career-ending injuries and can no longer participate at all in collegiate athletics. A Medical Exemption allows the AD to continue to pay for a (now former) Injured Athlete's scholarship. This is a protection for athletes such that if you can no longer play, your scholarship does not disappear. The Athletic Department continues to pay for the scholarship but the scholarship does not count against team scholarship numbers (85 for football) or Title IX Numbers, or anything like that.
M Example: Antonio Bass destroyed his knee in like 300 ways. His playing career was done. His playing career was paying for his education (I don't know if he could have afforded Michigan one way or not without it). Rather than lose his scholarship he received a Medical Exemption and the AD paid for the Scholarship without the football team being punished.
Those are the terms and their definitions. The issue with the SEC and Saban and Oversigning is they are forcing kids who with injuries but NOT career ending injuries to take medical EXEMPTIONS (not RS). Saban is ending these kids' college careers, but still paying their tuition. Essentially he is kicking kids off the team, but sending them on their way with a scholarship... they just are off the football team and can't play NCAA sports ever again. If you look at the graph below, either Bama had 12x the career ending injuries of every other SEC team, or he's abusing the system.
I hope this provides some clarification as to the different terms and the issues and how they are different. When the Med Redshirt system is "abused" it benefits the student athlete by giving them another year of eligibility (Devin gets out from behind Denard for an extra year. Yay!) When the Med Exemption system is "abused" it benefits the program/team at the cost of the student athlete. The athlete is off the team and the team has another scholarship to hand out the next recruiting cycle.
Hope this helps the debate. See here also for more details: http://mgoblog.com/content/axeman-publicized
Also see the comments, some great points brought up as always.
This is a call for calm. I’m not a writer, and a one-time-only-before-now diarist. I’m writing today to call for calm and patience. Sure, Hoke may not be what we all wanted, but we won’t know for a while. It’s been well documented that Rich never got the support he needed, and whether that’s his fault or the alumni/boosters/NFLer’s fault is up for debate, it could be 50-50% for all I know on everyone’s part. What’s important is not to make the same mistake. Just because Rich didn’t get a fair shake doesn’t mean we should set Hoke up for failure as well.
I was (am?) a Rich supporter. I thought we had the chance to be Oregon within a year or two. Since that train has sailed (thanks Austin), it’s time to get behind our coach and our program, and my reason for doing so is people who are a lot smarter than myself (and probably you). First off, Dave Brandon seems to have botched this royally. But just 6 months ago we were all celebrating the “Pimp Hand” and watching Dave dominate the B1G discussions, seal up the game at Jerryworld, the Big Chill, setting up the ND Night Game… Dave has done some good things. He also was tapped to run Domino’s – a giant corporation, and then hired by the University to be AD. Brady Hoke has been coaching football for years, and just might know what he’s doing. Mary Sue is a smart lady, and she’s done some pretty good things for the University too – including the largest fundraising campaign ever, netting (IIRC) > $2 Billion. With a B.
My point in mentioning this is I’m an alumnus, 2009 Mechanical Engineering. I consider myself decently smart, and as we’ve seen from MGoBlog, this is a place for smart people who know sports (especially football) to discuss sports (especially football.) We often say that this is the best place on the internet for a myriad of reasons. The analysis and discussion found here is ridiculous. When my Dad (who played high school football) asked me to explain the Zone Read and how to defend it, I showed him some MGoBlog diaries. We get amazing analysis of recruits, breaking Michigan news, etc. all right here. But we are not more qualified than Brandon, or Mary Sue, or Hoke when it comes to Michigan football. We are fans. Some of us live and die with the Maize and Blue. Some of us even coach football – and I often defer to you when I have football questions. But none of us are Athletic Directors at a D-I university, much less one as great as Michigan. None of us are college football head coaches. A few of us (Mainly Brian) make their living discussing and analyzing college football, but for the rest of us, this is a hobby. If we were such great decision makers, coaches, etc. we’d be doing it for a living.
This may blow up and be awful. This may work. I’m not saying we should blindly follow the leaders – we can question them and be supportive at the same time. But for the time being, until we hear from Hoke, hear from the current players, see the spring game, let’s not cry DOOM for Michigan Football. Make no mistake, I’m not thrilled with the hire either, but let’s support The Team and see what all of these people can do. Brandon was hired for many reasons. Hoke was too. They're better at running and coaching college football than I am (and probably you are too). Let’s give them our support and see what they can do.