Backed up near their end zone after a 4th down stop, with Brandon Peters under center, the white team is looking to catch the defense with some play-action. What they catch is a pretty simple blitz, an iffy matchup in pass pro that goes badly, and a true freshman running for his life in the endzone. Let's dig into it.
THE PLAY: A pretty normal Mike blitz that gets interesting in the details.
The MLB came up trying to time his blitz, then blitzed the frontside A gap. The SAM has the tight end (Y) in man to man, as do the CBs with their respective wide receivers, and the free safety is playing the deep cover. The WLB has a run gap, and the short middle zone (which ends up being the RB). On the other side the Rover (strong safety) is responsible for the fullback.
So this is a variant on the base cover 1 ("City" in Brown's 2013 Boston College playbook).
I think "TILT" means the SAM has the edge if the TE stays in to block, and the TE if he goes out in a pattern. But there was some weirdness here, because the T and A are going to end up in the same lane.
[After the JUMP: freshman going off script, two-gapping, or a DE option?]
WHAT IS JONES UP TO?
Watch #4 Reuben Jones, playing Anchor (strongside end) on this play. He lined up over the tight end:
This is no different than what Wormley was doing during the tight end massacre of 2015. If the TE was blocking he'd be getting a face full of Jones. Instead the TE (Gentry) has to take a big outside step before releasing.
Then Jones hits the RT (Ulizio) on the outside shoulder. He's still got that "C" gap we suppose. But then..
he rips IN-side.
So what's he doing? Likely possibilities:
This is a redshirt freshman who was moonlighting at MLB for much of 2016, and who went off script when he realized the OT was pass-blocking, and was thinking he would just take the fastest route to the QB.
This is vamping within the framework of the defense—the Anchor does have the C gap on a run but once the FB stays in to pass block, the DE knows there's help outside and doesn't have to worry about it. B gap/C gap, whatever—MUST GET TO KORTORBAAK!
I am going with #2 but could be convinced otherwise. In any event against the run, he seems to be playing the 'C' gap, and all this business about going into B happens after he's diagnosed it's a pass.
WHY DID THE OFFENSE BREAK DOWN?
The offense has a six-man slide protection scheme:
When you are going play-action you nearly always end up in a slide protection, and when your play-action isn't fooling anyone, you've got the bad matchup problem and none of the good.
Slide protection is the zone version of protection (The man version is "BOB" for "Big on Big", which means you're blocking linemen with linemen and backers with backs). The tradeoff gave the defense a big-on-back matchup, which they won: the fullback, Khalid Hill, drew B gap responsibility, and Godin came in there hot, reading the token play-action for what it was, setting up Khalid Hill for the whiff, then running by him to get instant pressure.
Godin's not perfect; I thought Peters did a cool thing in WHOOP-ing that. But pressure up the middle is the worst pressure and Peters is forced to make his escape, barely outrunning edge pressure by Kemp to throw it away.
So I don't think this is blitz pressure, since if the MLB backed out the blocking would have been the same, i.e. the guard wouldn't have had the chance to do much to help Hill.
By the way it's possible Peters was supposed to pivot to the left on his drop-back (since Isaac is running that way) since the FB is lined up too far outside for this to be a dive. Also they had a false start—not the one the free safety was pointing at (I didn't see whatever that was) but right before the snap Pliska took an ass scratch. Also Ulizio had a tiny facemask or hand to the face that you'd expect to go uncalled.
This is organic 5-man pressure, not a particularly interesting blitz like I'd hoped. The Anchor going into the same gap as the tackle made it look cool initially, and since we've seen the DL doing some of these interesting non-gap-sound things before it's a thing I'll keep my eye on. Still, the biggest thing we learned is Khalid Hill isn't great at pass pro yet, or at least that was the main thing generating this pressure.
Don't let that get you down—cool blitzes are forthcoming rest assured. But here we got to see another way they use their base defense, which is the same defense that was their base last year, but with a tweak here and an option there.
Last thing: the SS was the guy coming across the field to pressure the throw. I will not get unreasonably excited about walk-ons just because their names are Glasgow. I will not get…
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