Tackling Technique: UConn, ND, MSU, Iowa

Tackling Technique: UConn, ND, MSU, Iowa

Submitted by maizedandconfused on November 10th, 2010 at 4:02 PM


This season has had moments of extremely heated debate, regarding the performance of the defense. The schism in views is based on two views:

1. GERG is a bad coach 

2. Our talent level is severely depleted

I decided to look at tackling technique of our defense, more specifically on the bad technique aspect of it. This particular point of emphasis is almost consistently attributed to coaching, as good technique usually only transfers to the game field when it is instilled upon repeated coaching and re-coaching in situations where poor technique is used. 

This season, time and again, we have the ball player wrapped up, and then 3 yards later they have picked up the 1st down on 3rd and forever. I thought it was about time to look at tackling, both who is making/missing them and why.

About the analysis:

1. I regarded made tackles as anytime a player made contact with the ballcarrier and that ballcarrier ended up down by contact using solid tackling technique. I did not look at technique of made tackles, as after 1/2 of tape review most of the tackles that were made were of good technique. Any tackle that forced the ball-carrier out of bounds was counted as a made tackle.

2. I designated missed tackles as failing to make a tackle in space, taking an extremely bad angle on a tackle that should have been made, or simply just getting the hit but not bringing down the ballcarrier.

4. Bad Form takes into account any missed tackle that used any of the following:

  •        Head on the upfield side
  •        Arm/Jersey tackling
  •        Any hit at or above the numbers
  •        Getting "shook" in open field due to not breaking down or overpursuit.

The difference here is missed tackles in my mind sometimes come from being literally overpowered or stiff-armed, not a technique avenue. If the UM defender made the hit with the head on the right side and attempted to wrap up but the ballcarrier just slipped through, I counted this as a missed tackle only. If, however, the same play happened with the UM defender coming in high and behind, this was counted as both a missed and bad form tackle.

To derive the "Tackling Efficiency" I used the following formulas as necessary (feel free to critique or ask me to add things, as I am not a math whiz)

  •  Player Tackling Technique: (Made Tackles - Missed Tackles)/(Bad Form Missed Tackles+1)
  • Team Tackling Technique: (Made tackles - (Missed Tackles+ TDs))/(Bad Form Missed Tackles)


Individual Players Tackling Efficiency:

  UConn    Notre Dame MSU    IOWA    Season Ave
Roh 0.66 1 0.5 0.5 0.66
Banks 1 -1.5 -0.33 3.5 0.66
Sageese 2 0 -0.5 0 0.375
Martin 0.25 2 2.5 N 1.58
Van Bergen 2.5 -0.66 1 3 1.45
Demens N N 1 6 3.5
Mouton 6.5 0.5 2.25 0.13 2.35
Gordon #4 0.25 6 -0.1 0.33 1.62
Gordon #15 0 2.5 1.75 1.5 1.91
Rogers 0 2.5 -0.33 0 0.54
Kovacs 1.25 4 3.5 6 3.70
Ezeh 0.84 -0.5 0.5 -0.25 0.15
Floyd 3 0 2.33 0.63 1.49
Talbot N 1 -0.17 1 0.61
Black N N -0.5 -1 -0.75
Johnson 3.5 N N 1 2.25
Patterson N N N -0.5 -0.5
Herron 0 1 N N 0.5
Christian N 1 N N 1

* N denotes games where player did not participate or had no made or missed tackles

A few notes from the individual analysis:

  • Kovacs is by far our best tackler, with Mouton, Johnson and surprisingly Gordon #15 as the 2,3,4 respectively. 
  • Of the guys on this list, the biggest suprise was Martin, however I think it is important to remeber that this tackling eff. calculation puts weight on total tackles made, and Martin gets doubled. A lot. (in review of my stats, Martin only missed 3 tackles total, with 2 by bad form)
  • In the two games Demens played, he was an absolute tackling machine.
  • Ezeh really cannot tackle.

Team Tackling Technique:

  UConn Notre Dame MSU     Iowa Season Ave.
UM 2.78 1.28 1.14 1.83 1.75
Opp. 3.21 2.17 7.4 5.7 4.62

We were much better at tackling UConn in space than anyone else, not suprisingly this was the team with the least athletic roster.Notes from the team portion:

  • MSU was an absolutely terrible day, with almost a missed tackle per made tackle, and lots of bad form tackles all over
  • We are consistently worse at tackling with good technique than all 4 of the opponents analyzed, two B10 "good" defenses and 2 middle of the pack to bad defenses
  • On the season for these 4 games we are averaging about 2 missed tackles with 1 missed tackle by bad form every 3 tackles made


These statistics correlate with what I have been seeing every week. Mouton is great at times and inconsistent at times, and Kovacs is a stud at bringing down the ball carrier. Ezeh was a sub-par MLB and Martin gets doubled. I have high hopes for Demens, Johnson and Gordon (both of them).

Surprises for me came with the discovery of Gordon (not Cam), that dude was all over the place when he was in/not getting blown off the ball by a OT. Secondly, I think Floyd has the potential (if he develops his man coverage) to be an absolute terror on the corner. He can and will tackle in space. 

As a team, I think the debate as to what this attributes to is still open for debate. Does this attribute to talent? Possibly. Is this more attributable to the coaching/GERG? Yes. However, with the limited bodies he has on his side of the ball, it might be due to the fact that live tackling is just not an option with this lineup. 
Regardless of the cause, the tackling is terrible, and is apparently getting worse through the season. This attributes in my mind to the coaching, specifically the D-Coordinator. 

I can only hope the tackling technique is going to get better, because as it stands through these 4 games it cannot get much worse. I will do my best to analyze Indiana, PSU and Illinois when I get some more time, to give a more all encompassing picture of our D (takes a significantly longer time because I have to watch the whole game). 

Scouting the Notre Dame Offense

Scouting the Notre Dame Offense

Submitted by AAL on September 9th, 2010 at 3:07 PM

This may or may not be a running series based on time constraints and feedback.

Legitimate scouting of an offense should have 2-4 of the most recent games, but only one has been played. Online video sources efficient for scouting purposes are hard to come by, as well. The bitTorrents take 8-10 hours to receive with my computer and NBC.com (which I used) made me want to kill myself. The need to constantly rewind for 5-10 seconds with poor tools is beyond tedious (Tom Hammond didn’t help). TV is also notorious for cutting important information out of the shot and, where this occurred, I didn’t record data.

  • If you enjoy this and know a way to get full game video quickly please let me know.

A Few Disclaimers

  • The focus was on data and not particular players’ ability. I didn’t watch anything trying to figure out how good a particular player or position group is. Regardless, I picked up some things that I note at the bottom.
  • I recorded 56 total plays, stopping when they were up 23-12 and bleeding clock
  • I link to my own site to explain some terms utilized.
  • Nominal analytical errors certainly exist, but don’t effect points made in a meaningful way.

The Irish never make analytical errors

The Irish never make analytical errors

2010 Notre Dame Offense vs. Purdue

By Down and Distance

  • On 1st and 10, the Irish were 68% run, 32% pass. On all other downs they were 21% run, 79% pass
  • On 3rd and 2+, they were 90% 5 Step
  • Overall 45% Run, 55% Pass, but you can see where the runs come from

By Field Zone

  • Unsurprisingly, the Irish are more conservative inside their own 20. In 5 plays they relied on Power, Play Action, and a Jailbreak screen
  • No other meaningful tendencies solely by field position

By Personnel, Backfield, and Formation

(A quick note on Personnel: Rudolph moves around a lot between TE and receiver. I used whichever position he actually lined up in, rather than identifying him as a TE every play.)

  • ND most popular backfield is Empty, using 00 Personnel. In 13 plays they used a version of the Trips Open formation (3 x 2) 12 times and Quads Open (4 x 1) once. All plays were 5 Step except one, where they faked a sweep to a player in motion and ran Crist unsuccessfully on a Power.
  • In 10 Personnel ND uses a formation I call Detroit. Because the play concepts are similar regardless of backfield, I combined instances of the Gun Near and Gun Far backfields for 14 total plays. 9 were 5 Step, followed by Draws (2), Play Action, Trap, and Inside Zone (1 each).
  • From here, things get more interesting. Again in 10 Personnel, ND used Gun Near Trips Open 9 times, 8 of which were runs (6 different zone plays, a Power, and a Draw). When the #3 receiver lines up as a true slot (1 x 1 off the OT, always Rudolph) ND called 4 runs to the weakside and nothing else. Those plays netted 16, 13, 15, and 13 yards, respectively. This could have been solely to exploit a defender or the scheme, but a major tendency nonetheless.
  • When the Irish go to 11 Personnel they lined up in Trey Open (Gun Near and Gun Far) for 11 of 12 plays. 9 runs, 3 passes. Runs were balanced between strong/weak.

By Play

  • The obvious: they throw a lot of 5 step (27 of 56 plays)
  • Most popular runs: Power (8), Inside Zone (5), Draw (3), Read Zone (3)

By Passing Zone and vs. Blitz

  • Crist threw to the strong or weak curl zone 13 times.
  • Of the 7 passes he threw over 15 yards, 2 were complete (+21, +19) and one was called for defensive PI.
  • Purdue only blitzed 3 times before the score was 20-3. The Irish handled it at that time (+5, +12, +7). After, Purdue blitzed 8 times netting 2 sacks, 3 incompletions, 1 scramble (for 0 yards), and a safety on a run play. Against the late blitzes, the Irish succeeded once on an Inside Zone run (+18).

Other Anecdotes

  • Crist is not a great run threat, but like any QB he can scramble for yards in a pinch
  • Floyd will be moved around as necessary to create favorable matchups
  • Rudolph, though utilized often, is not a great receiver in terms of measurables. His routes are about as round as a circle and he’s not fast. I didn't see what the hype is about. In the Empty set, ND put him in the weak slot a couple times, had the 3 strong receivers clearout that side and dragged him across for easy yardage. They also hit him 3 times in the weak curl zone for +8, +9, +9.
  • Crist audibled into a counter weak for ND’s first TD (+22).
  • ND pulls their center or backside tackle often to lead through the hole rather than the backside guard. (Those are some of the plays I labeled Power. Some may disagree with that name, but the concept is the same.)
  • Purdue plays a 4-3 and was happy to sit in Cover 2 for almost 50% of all plays. Often a nickel back was in the game replacing the Sam, but serving the same function. The safeties sat at 10-12 pre-snap and weren’t going to let anything over their heads.
  • It’s impossible to know how much of ND’s offense is “what they want to do offensively” vs. “what Purdue was allowing.” Michigan played a lot of Cover 3 last week. Based on the the ND scheme and what happened vs. Purdue I’d guess M plays much more Cover 2, Cover 4, Cover 6, and rolls to Cover 3 more often, if employed, to give Crist a different look. I’d also expect M to pressure or show pressure more often than Purdue did, based on how Crist performed against it.
  • I didn’t pay too much attention to the RBs because I focused on data, but they are legit. I’m sure Brian will have plenty on them.
  • If someone wants my chart, I can try to find a way to put it up.