After reading the secondary preview today and being reminded of those WR screens that killed us in the MSU game, I'm wondering how we can stop those. Everything we've read about the defensive philosophy this year seems to indicate that we'll be doing a lot of zone blitzes, which will send 1 or 2 of the LBs in a pass rush and have the rest of the D sitting back in zone. I can just see us getting torched time after time for 8 yard pick-ups just like on this play. Someone talk me off the ledge and explain how we are going to be able to stop this stuff. I'm guessing the 'overhang' players (spur and bandit) will have some sort of responsibility in the flats there. As a sidenote - what exactly was this defensive call trying to accomplish?? Both DBs on the bottom half of the screen are 8-10 yards off the line and immediately start backpedaling.
(paging Sharik) how do we defend the WR screens that killed us last year?
JT Floyd, et al. should not line up "in the parking lot."
On a similar note, I'm also wondering if someone can explain, briefly, the difference between Spur and Bandit.
The way I understand it, our FS (Gordon) is really our deep safety (lined up deep and in the middle of the field), and the Spur and Bandit (the other 2 safeties) play close to the line. Is the only difference between them that 1 plays on the strong side, the other on the weakside? Is that pretty much it or is there something else I'm missing?
You pretty much have it. The spur is like what Stevie Brown did last year. The bandit is kind of like a traditional SS, but will usually be lining up on the line to take the flat zone and help stop the run. Sometimes, he will move back to a more traditional SS position while the CB will move closer to the line.
I've read the preview but it's pretty clear from other stuff I've read (i.e the 3-3-5 summary in Hail the Victors and Sharik's posts on what to expect from our D this year) and it's a consistent theme that our CBs will not be playing press coverage close to the line. So while they may not be lined up 8-10 yards off the line as they are in this clip, they're likely to have some sort of cushion.
The thing about zone is that we should always have guys in the general vicinity of the ball carrier, even if we blitz a guy or two.
The first thing that will help us is that we will have a guy (the spur) at the line to take on the blocker. The second thing is that the FS would shade to the strong side of the field on that play, which would then allow for the CB to play a bit closer to the line, but not quite as close as the spur. Third, the SLB (or MLB if the SLB is blitzing) will be moving that direction anyway to cover the curl zone.
Essentially, you are moving two guys closer to the line and your FS and a LB are moving closer to the play as well. Go watch the spring game and look to see how the defense lines up against unbalanced WR sets. That should answer a lot of your questions/concerns about the defense.
We need to visualize and attack
yesterday, Michigan, devastated by injury, experimented with their towel boy at
wide receiver corner.
They're trying not to get beat deep. Looking that alignment, it looks like they're playing man cover 1.
The Sam is coming in on a blitz. The Mike and Will are running themselves out of the play following the RB outside. Mike Williams is coming up to support against the run, which is puzzling because its a 2 step drop with no ball fake. Maybe he's coming in on an overload blitz.
Anyways, the corners have only 1 safety to help them, so they're just trying not to get burnt.
Without going into excessive detail:
- Be better in the secondary so you can line up in marginally aggressive coverages like 2 and 6, where your CB is 6-7 yards off the line with an outside shade
- Defeat a block once in a while at CB (the more easily achieved solution given we are most likely not better in the secondary) and force the play inside to pursuit
Recognize, as a fan, allowing those plays is the better of two evils. Last year it was being allowed by alignment and play call because it at least required consistent execution by the opponent.
[Ed. - That play is man-free. I've watched it about a dozen times furious at Floyd for not beating his block to the outside, but you know what...with this being man, he's actually doing the right thing. The play is a bubble behind the LOS and there's nothing to stop the slot from pulling up for a double pass. Yes, he has help from the rotating safety, but if it's man, you take your man wherever he goes. I don't remember the context, but if Michigan had been using this, you have to credit State for the adjustment. It's just a terrible, terrible call.]
I've watched it about a dozen times furious at Floyd for not beating his block to the outside, but you know what...with this being man, he's actually doing the right thing. The play is a bubble behind the LOS and there's nothing to stop the slot from pulling up for a double pass. Yes, he has help from the rotating safety, but if it's man, you take your man wherever he goes.
Saban would say that neither Warren (the corner to this side) nor Floyd (aligned over #2) played this correctly, and I agree. With MOF safety help, the corner should align using divider rules. The "divider" is 1 yard inside the top of the #s and since the #1 WR is inside this landmark, the corner should have aligned outside of #1. Even if it were Cover 0 or Cover 1 played incorrectly and the corner had inside leverage against the pass, Warren should've known that the throw is a run throw and defeat the block of #1 through his outside shoulder and turn the ball carrier in to his help, rather than allow the ball outside to the sideline. Floyd's angle to the ball here is good if Warren doesn't play it like a softie.
I apologize. I thought Floyd was on the bottom. So I was talking about Warren. Warren should work for outside leverage and do the things you mentioned, but he can't let his man go. I understand what you're saying about the undersplit #1, but whether he should line up outside #1 would be based on the system's rules.
This sort of thing is why I don't contribute much around here:
With MOF safety help, the corner should align using divider rules. The "divider" is 1 yard inside the top of the #s and since the #1 WR is inside this landmark, the corner should have aligned outside of #1.
I don't know if this is you or Saban, but it doesn't matter. I understand very well that it's an effective way of accomplishing this task. Is this a rule? I don't know if you're trying to say that or not, but it's not. You sound like you're appealing to authority to make your knowledge sound like an absolute.
Saban is an amazing defensive mind. Congratulations on studying him so hard. When the next mastermind comes along I'm sure you'll study him, too. I'm not posting to maintain a pseudo-rep and I'm sure as hell not getting into your argumentative, grandstanding BS again this fall.
Clearly, Nick Saban's way is the only way. Didn't you know?
I'm not trying to maintain any sort of rep, nor be argumentative, and certainly not grandstand. You said Warren did it right, I said he did it wrong. Can we not disagree without being disagreeable?
All I'm doing here at mgoblog is trying to share what I've learned. That's how I learned what I know--other coaches took the time to share what they know with me. If disagreements and discussions arise, I'm going to continue to talk from the perspective I've learned. I am also open to learning other ways of doing things.
Didn't mean to offend you, or anyone.
Steve, you should know by now. Magnus knows all.
I was actually apologizing to AAL. Magnus can go fuck himself.
"The foolish and wicked act of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it."
- George Washington
Yeah...'cause sharik isn't stubborn at all, is he?
As a sidenote - what exactly was this defensive call trying to accomplish?? Both DBs on the bottom half of the screen are 8-10 yards off the line and immediately start backpedaling.
We didn't want to give up the deep ball.
that is the job of the Spur or Bandit. The Spur and the Bandit will line up outside of the LBS, but closer to the line than the CBs or LBs. Thus, the Spur and the Bandit should have the underneath coverages on the flanks and the CBs will be dropping to medium deep on the outside. In the play the OP embedded, either the Spur or the Bandit would have responsibility for the man who caught the ball, and the CB would have the other reciever who went deeper. This, of course, assumes that Spur/Bandit doesn't bite hard on the run fake and run himself out of position. Am I right about this?
I don't know what happens when a team lines up trips to one side or we blitz. I guess that the deep safety becomes invovled in coverage (and we all pray that no one gets toasted.)
Just so you know, that play is already trey to the strong side. TE-WR-WR.
Yep, you're right - didn't look at the formation enough. In that case, I don't know who has the slot. Maybe the OLB has to read the TE and cover him if he goes out for a pass? I am officially over my head here. Anyone able to help?
Depending on what was actually being run, there were a lot things going on in this play, mostly bad for Michigan
1. Scheme exploitation: MSU lines up in Ace Twins right, but covers up the TE. This makes the Strongside TE ineligible for a pass, probably lulling the Defense into thinking its a run. I mean... they're willingly giving up an eligible receiver
2. The lineman action is all to the boundry side of the field. Obi and (Mouton?) instinctively step the right way if it were a run. They realize their mistake, and step back, but they never had a shot at the play anyways.
3. Mike Williams is a little slower to react than either of the LBs. I can't figure out why he's lined up where he is, over the TE, especially since that guy is inlligible. With the Spur blitzing, he should be further outside to funnel the play outside in. Where he's positioned had the RB bounced out from the Spur's blitz, he would have been chasing him outside, a bad place to be.
Had Mike Williams been further outside... well he probably still doesn't make the play, but he makes it harder to accomplish, and would have provided support if...
4. Donovan Warren didn't get blocked 10 yards down field by Gritty McGritstein and give up the outside. I'm going to agree with Steve here, he continues to back up even after he sees the ball in the air towards Cunningham. He helpfully points it out to JT Floyd, then tries to go outside where he's blocked.
However, I think even if everybody was playing perfectly, this is still at least a 5 yard gain. The corners are playing so far off that a quick pass will net them lots of yards. Watch JT Floyd closely. He reacts as soon as he see's the ball thrown, and at that point there are 15 yards between him and Cunningham. Death by a thousand pinpricks.
Edit: and if I had read a bit further down, Steve had already responded. Awesome.
Getting killed on the screen pass last year against Sparty isn't as fresh in memory as getting killed on wide open passes against Iowa the following week. Iowa converted nearly every one of their 3rd and long plays. And there were many. 3rd and 15, 3rd and 20, 3rd and 25, they got them all with shocking ease; 20 yards, 30 yards, even a 40 yard TD on one. In a game that ended 30-28, if we make at least one or two stops on 3rd down, that game ends differently.
Those kinds of plays hurt. But when the opponent makes it look they could do it blindfolded, you feel like pulling your hair out.
I'm wondering how we can stop those [WR screens].
The best way to take away either a bubble screen (what the video showed) or a rocket screen (which is thrown to the outside WR and the slot blocks) is to play 3 over 2. Basically this would mean having an overhang player, a half/quarter safety, and a corner to the side of the 2 WR set. However, this would likely take a defender out of the box.
Saban has all his DBs key QB first for quick throws like these screens and basic 3-step routes like hitch, slant, quick out, and fade. He also has the DBs shuffle step for 3 steps (which it looks like our guys were doing) so they can drive on the throw more quickly.
I believe the best coverage against a bubble or rocket screen is Cover 2 Read. While similar to Cover 2 in that the corner has the flat, in Cover 2 Read the deep safety would be quicker to react to the bubble route of #2. (This is why Texas liked the rocket screen, b/c the slot receiver attacks vertically at the snap.)
As a sidenote - what exactly was this defensive call trying to accomplish??
We were playing what Saban calls "the best defense in football:" Cover 1 (aka man-free). In cover 1 you're strong against the run, have all routes covered (assuming your DBs lock down the receivers), and are strong up the middle against the pass with LB help in the low hole (crossing routes, hooks, checkdowns) and FS help in the deep middle.
The down and distance was 2nd and 10 they were on our 29 yard line. I'm sure the coaches were expecting run and loaded the box in doing so.
This year, if we are playing Cover 3 concepts, I would hope we play them like Saban. This would mean the corner would have aligned outside the #1 WR (since the #1 WR is aligned inside the numbers) at a depth of 7 yards and quickly attacked downhill upon reading the step-and-throw of the QB. Also, instead of meekly avoiding the block of the WR (as Warren pitifully did in the clip), the corner will attack the block of #1 with his outside leverage, thus making the slot cut inside to the rest of the defense. The overhang player (Spur or Bandit) and free safety in the middle of the field will also quickly read the step-and-throw and get in proper pursuit angles. The remaining defenders should see ball thrown and run to the ball in proper pursuit angles (which were very poor in the clip).
The bottom line is this: if we're in some sort of Cover 3 concept or man coverage with off man (as opposed to press), a properly exectued bubble or rocket screen is an easy 4-yard gain, minimum.
If we're zone blitzing, we don't have to play 3 deep or man behind it. At Milford in 2008, in the 2nd half of the season we played a lot of 2-deep, 4-under behind our 5-man pressures. I greatly prefer this b/c QBs are taught to go to hot routes against blitz, which usually means a quick throw underneath, and 2-deep is much better suited to take this away than 3-deep.
It's too great having access to this type of info.
Going to take me some time to walk with you big brains, but keeping it simple: why can't we jump that gd route every now and then? Disguise it. Practice it. Jump that fucker
If you burn an offense once (intercept or even close), they'll think about it. And so will opposing teams watching the film. Maybe we do this and I've never seen it. Ever.
Not every down, not nearly. Once or twice, then disguise it the other way.
...many defensive coaches who believe that if you take a particular play away early, most OC's will cross it off their play sheet.
The difficulty is guessing correctly; i.e., you'd better have a serious tendency--at least 85%. Usually things like this are best achieved via alignment tips. For example, "when #82 switches his stance from inside foot forward to outside foot forward, it's always bubble screen," is how these guesses arise. Playing a certain defensive call is usually based on down/distance/etc. tendencies.
mike debord anyone?
What's the matter with you? Is this what you've become, a Hollywood finocchio who cries like a woman? "Oh, what do I do? What do I do?" What is that nonsense? Ridiculous!
I'm gonna make him an offer he won't refuse. Okay? I want you to leave it all to me. Go on, go back to the party.
This is a safe call. I mentioned it earlier, but I don't think the coaches trusted the cornerbacks - and they probably didn't trust the safeties, either. They wanted to keep everything in front of them and essentially be a "bend but don't break" defense.
One way to defend this would be to roll into a Cover 2 defense. Woolfolk could take a deep half and Warren could take a deep half, with Floyd sitting down in the flat.
Another way to defend it would be to play press man coverage, although like I said, the coaches didn't trust the defensive backs in man coverage.
As someone else said, this was a good call by MSU. They took advantage of the defense's weakness.
while i completely agree that the coaches didn't have a lot of faith in the DBs last year (and probably this year), what i fail to understand is why we don't do a better job of disguising coverages. i've said this for many many many years. UM has never done this. why not lineup and show a coverage (like press coverage), then when the other team audibles, move to our original intended coverage (like cover 2).
no need to do it every play, but do it on a consistent basis.
I don't have a clue why they haven't been doing that. I've wondered that as well.
MSU scored fewer points than all of our Big Ten opponents. While frustrating on a play by play basis, this strategy is fine with me. Much better than what happened in many other games.
We picked our poison in that game. They moved the chains a fair amount but did not have many big plays - I think their longest was that 40-yard scramble. Our defense played well when needed, giving up only two TDs in five redzone trips in regulation. It's not really the game I'd focus on when looking at our defensive problems last year. If our redzone D had performed as well the rest of the year, we'd have gone bowling.
The majority of our games last year, even in victory, involved the opposition making the big play, then another which set the tone for the rest of the game. The MSU game didn't involve that so much. Lowly Indiana played us much tougher in Ann Arbor than MSU did in East Lansing.
Pretty much every game after the MSU game set some new tone of futility on defense.
I don't think this was much of a problem as the deep pass last year. Now that Kovacs isn't going to be playing deep and is moving back to his more natural position and if Cameron Gordon can live up to the hype that should be better this year.We are still really young so we will give up a couple mind boggling third and longs but hopefully not as much as last year.
the safety play should be better; not saying much. but can you really be as confident with the CBs. i doubt it. i definitely believe in the "bend don't break D" this year. hopefully the LBs can make some plays in the middle of the field tho.