Pat Narduzzi, Quarters Coverage And The Evidently Extant MSU Defense: A Rope Of Sand

Submitted by colin on October 18th, 2012 at 11:46 AM

[ED: BUMP.]

WTFL;DR: Narduzzi coaches an aggressive take on the now en vogue Quarters defense that's still formidable even if State isn't quite what it was last year. 

 
Pat Narduzzi's defense for the last season and a half has been a bitch to deal with. Yeah, maybe it's not as good as last year what with Jerel Worthy being a legitimately/literally huge absence to compensate for. Still, the remaining football players are talented and they play Narduzzi's 4-3 Over Cover 4 scheme with the kind of savvy you wouldn't expect from a squad diligently adhering to a strict regimen of crass goonery, per Mark Dantonio's demands.  They diagnose ably, are patient and pair that with surprising athleticism.  The first two are perhaps unsurprising as State has drawn much of their talent from Ohio, presumably from the bigger schools where the coaching and competition are first rate. The athleticism I have no quip for. It sure is annoying.
 
SCHEME
 
Cover 4 or Quarters coverage is en vogue at the moment in both the pros and college for a variety of reasons. Smart Football has run 2 articles over the last few years that are absolutely worth reading on the subject.  Some of this will end up rehashing that, with the end game being how State will use their Quarters D to attack our base run game, particularly inverted veer.
 
In the college game, its use stems largely from the ability to solve the numbers disadvantages more traditional 1-Gap Cover 2 or Cover 3 base defenses have to deal with thanks to the rise of the spread. As SF mentions, it's really difficult to stop 4 Verts when your defense has fewer than 4 deep defenders.  There's very often an easy throw depending on whether you went with 2 or 3 deep defenders.  Here's how Nick Saban put it: 
 
We got to the point where, this is the reason that we do this, when everybody started going spread we couldn’t play 3 deep zone. This started with the Cleveland Browns, I was the defensive coordinator in the early 90s and Pittsburgh would run 'Seattle' on us , four streaks. Then they would run two streaks and two out routes, what I call ‘pole’ route from 2x2. So we got to where could NOT play 3-deep zone because we rerouted the seams and played zone, and what I call “Country Cover 3” [drop to your spot reroute the seams, break on the ball]. Well , when Marino is throwing it, that old break on the ball shit don’t work.
 
So because we could not defend this, we could not play 3 deep, so when you can’t play zone, what do you do next? You play Man [cover 1], but if their mens are better than your mens, you can’t play cover 1 .
 
We got to where we couldn’t run cover 1 - So now we can’t play an 8 man front. The 1994 Browns went 13-5 , we lost to Steelers 3 times, lost 5 games total [twice in the regular season, once in the playoffs]. We gave up the 5th fewest points in the history of the NFL, and lost to Steelers because we could not play 8-man fronts to stop the run because they would wear us out throwing it
 
Saban solved this at first by revamping his C3 rules.  Eventually though he and many others found that Quarters and similar such coverages could solve the same problem as well or better.  Why?  In part, the running quarterback means that 8 man fronts may still not be enough.  Coaches generally play run defense thinking about the free hitter.  That is, the best an offense can do is line up 10 blockers and 1 ball carrier.  The defense has 11 would-be tacklers.  11 tacklers minus 10 blockers is 1 free hitter, the ball carrier's counterpart.  
 
In modern football, often enough your free hitter is playing deep coverage because the passing game is a huge threat and isn't near the line of scrimmage. In standard Cover 3, this can mean leaving the free safety standing in the middle of the field doing jack while the QB takes a direct snap and shoots past the line and backers busy getting swallowed by blockers.  Quarters makes sure there's never a safety doing jack.
 
Here's Chris from SF
 
For example, if the offense splits out two wide receivers to the same side of the field, and both run straight up the field on deep routes, the safety plays man on the inside guy and the cornerback plays man on the outside guy. If, however, the inside receiver were to run immediately to the flat -- say, on a bubble screen -- while the outside receiver ran upfield, the corner and the safety would actually double team the deep man, defending him from both the inside and the outside. This type of read-and-react is great against the spread's multiplicity, as it can allow some very short completions but lead to lots of interceptions and few downfield passing windows.
 
And what if that inside receiver ducked inside to run block?  The safety responds by adding himself to the run fit.  If the inside receiver is a TE, it's the same thing.  If there is no inside receiver near the line of scrimmage and he's in the backfield or some such, he reads run first and then looks for something else to do.  Both safeties are responding to the keys they receive and are adjusting the numbers back in favor of the defense.
 
But that's a pretty standard Quarters set up.  State does a few things differently.  Let's check out some pretty pictures.
 
[ED: after the jump.]
 
PICTURE PAGIN'
 
 
It's 2nd and 16, so MSU is probably thinking pass at least a bit.  That and QB draw.  
 
First thing, watch the safeties' eyes.  They line up over the TE and Slot respectively, with their attention split between the receiver and what's happening in the backfield.  They're using both their receivers and the QB as keys.  Part of this is the fact that Braxton Miller is Braxton Miller and he runs waaaay better than he throws.  But this is still a matter of design.  Zone defense these days is played with a relatively complex set of reads.  The more information that can be usefully received, the better the response of the given defender.
 
The other point of interest here is the cornerback.  In more usual C4 set ups, the corners play at about the same depth as the safeties and are making similar reads.  In Narduzzi's version, they're playing straight up man defense from the start and are rarely given safety help.  They're always on an island.
 
 
Both TE and Slot break to the flat.  Based on their rules, the LBs are responsible for these routes.  The safeties wait for more information.  Free of their pass support responsibilities given the route distribution, they're looking for further clues.  As it happens, this isn't a pass.  
 
 
The center releases to take care of the MLB.  The TE and Slot have already dealt with the OLBs.  In more usual Quarters set ups, the safeties would have been helping on the outside receivers.  But Narduzzi has designed this defense with the running QB in mind and this is Braxton Miller.  Dude can run.
 
 
 
Schematically, this is a win for Narduzzi.  With a made tackle, that sets up 3rd and very long.  But that's Braxton Miller, so instead it's 3rd and fairly short.  In fact, this was the overwhelming theme of the game.  State often dueled to a stalemate or better on scheme.  But Braxton Miller couldn't be stopped on the run and passed just enough to win.  OSU got lots of yards but couldn't really string together drives because they were very reliant on improvisation and sheer athleticism.  That kind of variability leads to long gains, but only eventually.  If the long gains don't end up in the endzone, you might have to wait a while for the next one.
 
 
NOTES ON PERSONNEL AND SUCH
 
Let's go back to that first cap and make a few more notes.
 
 
Even though this is on 2nd and 16, this is pretty much a base alignment.  Obviously Miller isn't getting a ton of respect for his passing ability.  On the other hand, State also has a ton of faith in their ability to play pass man to man.  I'm not sure how actually common this response to this down and distance is, but I can say that they love to stay in their base and adjust as little as possible to formation.  Narduzzi clearly wants as simple a scheme as possible.
 
In any case, they align everybody on the basis of field/boundary designations.  Gholston is the boundary end, Marcus Rush is the field end.  Denico Allen is the boundary LB, Chris Norman plays to the field.  Johnny Adams plays corner to the boundary, Darqueze Dennard to the field.
 
Another point: they don't play much if any Under front w/ the Sam dropping down onto the line of scrimmage. There will pretty much always be 4 down linemen.  Those DL will, however, shift around a lot.  The base, I think, is two 5 techs, a 3 and a 1.  In this screencap, there are two 3-techs and two 7-techs.  So, the center has a free release and theoretically they should have a tough time defending something like Inside Zone, just as a matter of alignment.  On 2nd and 16, they're of course willing to give up 5 yards up the gut.  Maybe it's just me paying way too much attention, but it seemed to me they move their DL around a lot relative to Michigan.
 
Another point of interest is the TE in the formation.  As a matter of alignment for MSU, 3 receivers split off from the lineman seems to give them a lot more options to blitz than 4-wide formations.  Why?  Two reasons: it keeps the boundary backer in the box and State plays such formations as though they only offer 3 rather than 4 vertical threats.
 
Which means State has every opportunity as far as they're concerned to run their two favorite blitzes.  We're well acquainted with that damn ass double A gap blitz at this point.  They also love the corner blitz.  Perhaps if they respected that TE's ability to get downfield more, they'd be less inclined to blitz that corner.  But Narduzzi loves to bet against WRs ability to get open and even more against a QB's ability to find them.  He figures he'll get to the passer and/or that Braxton Miller/Everett Golson can't throw.  From what I saw, he bet right often enough.
 
A lot of that pressure rests on their team speed, which he took right out of Jimmy Johnson's old 4-3 Over playbook. Quoteses: 
 
What did Johnson change at Miami? Some of this you already know. To stop the wishbone option on the edge, you need fast OLBs and Ends. Johnson decided to recruit Safety-types, 6'-6'2 190-210lb, which are fairly easy to find, and put them at OLB. If you bulk them up without losing their speed, you have more speed on the field, but it doesnt matter how tall they are, they just have to be fast and tackle well. He took the guys who played LB in HS and moved them to DE, again you put more speed on the field...
 
...In the 4-3, in general (meaning either Under or Over), you put the Ends down off the shoulder of the OT and angle them to the RB so they can make the Block-Down-Step-Down rule work easier...The BDSD rule says that when the OL across from you blocks down (towards the center), you must follow him and step down (towards the center) the LOS. Once you think about how the option works, with linemen constantly veering inside to option off the End, you see how this worked against the wishbone teams of the time. This stops the Dive of the option, which is the basis of the system(s) and makes it go. If the Dive went inside or the QB tried to keep, the End would be right in his face.The faster OLBs could just run around the OL who went to the 2nd level.
 
That whole Shakin' The Southland article gives some nice background to what Narduzzi is trying to get from his front 7.  The basic point: if option football is making a resurgence, go back to the principles that stopped it the first place.  Which finally brings us to the actual specifics of Michigan v. Michigan State.  State employs a defense more or less designed to stop Veer football.  Michigan's best running play is the Inverted Veer.  Who shall emerge from Thunderdome victorious?
 
INVERTED VEERFRESHER
 
It's a downblocking power O scheme combined with an RB/QB read option.  If the end stays wide, the QB jets up the middle.  If the end crashes the mesh point, the QB gives. 
 
See Here. And here:
 
 
 
 
As we've seen, letting Denard keep has often been disastrous for Michigan opponents.  So the question is: why the hell do teams keep letting Denard keep?
 
A lot of it is habit or a lack thereof.  Unless you've been drilled again and again to let the DE crash and have the LB loop around to attack the give read, getting a whole lot out of a scrape exchange is tough. Think the defensive version of Rich Rod when he was just installing his offense.  He had a counter, but no counter to the counter.  As Smart Football mentions in his IV article, a crashing DE and a scraping LB can be countered with runs up the middle and assorted trickery.  Turning that tactic into scheme takes committment.
 
Unfortunately for us, however, Michigan State has been busy sleazing their way to the top of Crash and Scrape Mountain, 80's style.  Their DEs crash by default and their OLBs are often aligned outside the box, providing poor angles for either Tackle or Slot to block down. They don't even have to scrape.  They just read, shed easily if necessary and attack.  Likewise, their safeties are reading run, ready and able to chase.  Which is why if you watch the MSU-OSU game, you'll see (if I counted good) just one instance of the Inverted Veer.  Wherein a crashing Vernon Gholston obliterated Jordan Hall after an uncertain give read. Braxton Miller was clearly not used to having a 6'7'' 280lb truckasaurus gunning right for him with hate in its mesozoic 12 chambered heart.  Also evident in the play was State's LB entirely ready to wrap Hall up if necessary.  It was not.
 
This is not just a lesson in not letting Gholston do what he does best.  Narduzzi's defense didn't have to do anything special to obtain this result.  They have fast DEs and OLBs in a scheme and alignment that let's them sprint after the ball.  That's the whole point of the defense.
 
OMG SO WHAT DO WE DO
 
Obviously getting crushed by dinobots sucks.  Fortunately, there are caveats.  For one, IV still has a lot going for it.  Michigan State plays Quarters to make sure it doesn't get outmanned at the point of attack.  But consider why down-block-and-pull plays were designed in the first place.  It subtracts a guy from the line of scrimmage where the play is not going and inserts him at the point of attack.  
 
If the downblocking is good enough, you seal off the guys from the other side and boom you've got a numbers advantage again.  State has been coached to deal with this via crashing DEs.  But Al Borges' Momma didn't raise no fools.  He knows that they do this and instructs M to execute in such cases.
 
Boringly, precise and adaptive execution is often enough to beat good scheme.  Likewise, so does sheer talent advantage.  If Braxton Miller can do it, I'm willing to bet a consistent application of dilithium to the troubled region will do some good.
 
Okay, so there's that.  But schematically, we can also take advantage of Narduzzi's teachings and use it against him.  OSU did exactly that on their first play from scrimmage.
 
 
OSU RB is aligned for Inside Zone and MSU's DL is lined up to take away outside runs, leaving the center uncovered.  As you might guess, the LBs are looking for plays that hit at the weak point of the line.
 
 
Indeed it is IZ action, with the OSU H-Back (ugh, it's Zach Boren) crossing back to the weakside of the formation.  Often this kind of HB movement indicates some attempt to hit the backside.  The IZ action acts as a down block on the DL, the HB clears out the LB and the back hits it up through the weakside hole.  Suspecting as much, the DE and OLB work down to restrict the gaps while keeping an eye on the mesh point.
 
 
Boren, however, is not aiming to clear the DE out of the backside hole.  Not that DE Marcus Rush has guessed.  As he's been schooled lo these many years, he crashes inside of the block and tries to wrong arm Boren, looking to spill the RB to his OLB. Boren just runs on by both DE and OLB after a convincing head fake.  Admiral Ackbar has words for these fellows.
 
 
He's in fact headed for the safety as the Slot blocks down on the OLB. The safety is now definitely thinking run, but it's already too late.  OSU has everyone accounted for and MSU's coaching has lead them right into it.  Miller pulls, takes off, and gets pushed out of bounds many yards later.
 
 
 
Whatever you want to technically call this, I think it's reasonable to think of it as Uninverted Veer.  There's the middle threat, the pulling blocker, the read...it's all there.  The QB and RB just swapped roles. But Ohio has given it a different look that totally mixed up State's keys and took advantage of their coaching.  The DE crashed down when they needed to stand pat.
 
It certainly also helps that the DE being read was not Gholston.  He may be as easily confused as Rush, but his fervor for attacking something/anything often leads him to success on read plays because of his relatively atypical approach and impressive athleticism.  Rush is more measured and not the same kind of athlete.  He's the one to take advantage of.  The conventional wisdom for the option is "if you can't block him, read him".  We already know we can block Gholston.
 
Schematically, the lesson here is that you can get what you want with other relatively simple play designs. Given the considerable downtime between significant opponents, I think it's likely Borges has drawn up enough variants on "Denard keeps, tries to run far".  If he can pick a few we can execute comfortably, simply showing new wrinkles will help open up the base offense.
 
Lastly, it wouldn't be a Smart Football ripoff post without some reference to constraints.  As Brian has mentioned, now is the time to finally bust out the play action off IV action.  With either safety potentially in the run fit, the WRs will have a chance to fake some blocks, convince their would-be pass defenders to join the melee and slip by undetected.  We haven't done much of this in the Borges era and getting to that point will have huge payoff against any team that wants to get aggressive with their safeties in the run fit.  Not to mention the worst waldo touchdown fun times.
 
As for other runs that use IV action, that's a bit tougher.  OSU didn't really show anything, opting to play off their IZ look instead.  With the pulling guard, the action is fairly obvious.  While that helps with the play action, it makes different runs more difficult.  They could always pull an H-Back or the backside tackle along with the guard and turn it into Inverted Veer Counter, but I don't think M has installed Counter blocking.  More likely is that Borges will emphasize kicking out any crashing DEs rather than having the pulling G hit up an LB.  The OLB will end up waiting for a give read that doesn't come and that hopefully will spring Denard into the secondary. 
 
STRICTURES OF MGO HALF-JOKING ADHERENCE TO STRICTURES COMPEL, ETC.
 
It's tempting to try to blow the lid off a Cover 4 defense and hit long passes against their man-match coverage.  And if we can get Denard to do that, great, we're going to absolutely dominate from here on out.  But that would be an incredible turn around.  We're all pretty sure it's not happening at this point.
 
So how well can Borges design a spread-and-shread running game against a defense that was built with stopping exactly that in mind?   A few subtle changes in our base runs can go a long way...but successfully getting your guys to do slightly different things week to week is harder than it sounds.  Air Raid guys like Holgorsen are always talking about simplification and you can just tell in those press conferences that Borges bristles at the concept.  He seems to like the idea of football as a complex game and moreover likes the idea of teaching the complex and making it work.
 
To some extent, this means he gets in his own way.  He acts like but in fact doesn't have unlimited time to teach and scheme.  But it also means when he gets that balance right, it goes spectacularly right.  He'll have thought of everything and figured out how to teach it.  Until he gets players that are more his style, though, it's hard to bet on that happening.   I think it'll be a bit of a slog that will tell us a lot about Borges as a coordinator.  Executing the right counter at the right time will be the difference between not breaking 20 and finally getting off this State schnide.  It's time to find out just how well Borges can spread to run.
 
 

Comments

Go Blue6240

October 18th, 2012 at 9:06 AM ^

Great post. My one question, with respect to the a gap blitz, what is the counter for that? We seem to have so much trouble with it and Borges, to my recollection, has not found effective plays to keep denard from attempting high risk, low reward throws.

Blue in Seattle

October 18th, 2012 at 12:28 PM ^

Last year the Roundtree slant pass was that play that went for a touchdown.  In Borges's frudtration and "all in" texas hold'em mentality, he called that play again on 4th and inches, and had another touchdown if the TE had picked up the CB long enough for Denard to throw a slant.

Everyone was inflamed and grabbing pitchforks, cause like Denard rarely has a negative run, and like they just needed inches.  But inches only get you a first down, and I don't know how many times Hoke has stated that he hates it when any offensive possesion fails to result in a TD. Maybe like every presser?

Both Mattison and Borges have had their moments when they've called a play that ended up beyond the team's ability to execute.  But I like that gambler style, and despite Manball seeming to be like Lloydball, it is not.  Lloyd played for position, and holding on to your position.

Hoke is about movement and progress toward the goal.  Just like Patton.  Patton's strategy was to always move, never hold onto a position.  It's not Lloyd ball and it's not Bo Ball.  

 

 

Smash Lampjaw

October 18th, 2012 at 1:17 PM ^

It seems like they worked on it some, but not enough last year. That was the interception that seemed like the turning point. Throw it away and maybe UM wins that game. It seems like the change Kelly made this year is to stop being cute on offense and wait for the defense to win for ND. It won't take much offense to win this game if UM avoids the mistakes.

colin

October 18th, 2012 at 11:46 AM ^

I actually was going to do a whole thing on their blitzes, but the post is already overstuffed and I was having a tough time coming up with a good, tangible answer.

Screens are the usual approach, but I didn't see too many in watching ND and OSU. I'm guessing the safety measured involvement in the run game shuts down a lot of the usual RB screen stuff.

One answer I like is 3 step stuff like Y Stick. Line up Funchess and have him run a quick hitch and work to find the soft spot. When he aligns to the boundary, they'll feel like they have either the double A gap or corner and LB blitz in their pocket. But the read should also be simple enough that Denard can throw it (or scramble) if they play base D.

LSAClassOf2000

October 18th, 2012 at 9:33 AM ^

Excellent diary and very informative.

At least within the conference, the #1 and #2 teams in total defense (MSU is 7th nationally, and we are 10th) will be going at it on Saturday, so it will be interesting to see what Borges does here indeed. One thing that I find interesting is that you can see in the numbers where State's own tendencies (covered wonderfully in this diary) get used to burn them on runs - they have only given up an average of 91 yards rushing after 7 games, but their three losses (ND, OHIO, Iowa) are instances where they gave up more rushing yards than their average.

Everyone Murders

October 18th, 2012 at 10:04 AM ^

This is a great post, and you hope/suspect that Borges has figured out how to attack the scheme with play action, screens, or whatever else he has up his sleeve.  As much as I like to scream at the TV, I suspect that Borges has something figured out that's within our player's abilities.

But I'm mostly just commenting to say thank you.  This is really good content, and an upvote seems insufficient thanks.

Ron Utah

October 18th, 2012 at 10:08 AM ^

Amazing post.  I think you are right on a number of levels; and I think this is a close game that tells us a lot about who we are as a team.  If we win, I think our chances of running the table are very good.  If we lose, I think we'll probably lose another game as well.  We need the confidence of executing our offense against a defense that's designed to stop it.

While all of this scheming is awesome to read about and very important, I think the most important factor in this game is a simple concept: DENARD CANNOT TURN THE BALL OVER.  If we play our game and don't get too cute, adding just a few wrinkles and constraint plays, I think we win a close game.  If we get too cute and try to make big changes and rely on Denard's arm too much, I think we'll find ourselves passing to players wearing green and losing a close game.

I wish we were at the point where our talent could control this game.  We're not there yet.  But 2014 isn't far away...

readyourguard

October 18th, 2012 at 10:58 AM ^

Good stuff, thanks for posting.

I have to believe you are a coach.  No casual fan puts that much time into learning this much stuff as a hobby. 

Your theory about Borges is spot on, imo.  It's the same criticism I had for Mike Martz.  He was convinced that he was the smartest offensive coordinator on the planet and that he could outscheme any defense he ever faced.  If his team failed, it wasn't because his scheme was bad, but because his players just weren't good enough and smart enough to execute the plan.  Very frustrating.

It's actually what makes Narduzzi and Mike Tressel good coaches.  They simplify it with some very basic rules, alignments, and responsibilities.  "Do this when you see this.  Do that when you see that.  Other than that, go as fast as you can."  I believe Mattison is similar in philosophy but a little more complicated by design.

colin

October 18th, 2012 at 11:35 AM ^

Nah I don't coach. I'm just weirdly obsessive. To be fairer to me, I also write long overthought stuff for SBN's White Sox blog. I take the same approach to baseball as football. After we took a dump in September I needed something less depressing to spend time thinking about.

Also there are a ton of absolutely great blogs written by lower level football coaches. With all that material, figuring out a few things isn't so hard.

colin

October 18th, 2012 at 3:31 PM ^

I mentioned Smart Football (of course) and Shakin' The Southland in the post and those are both great. SF in writing for Grantland has simplified a lot of his stuff for a more general audience but his blog and especially his old blogspot domain are chock full of coach jargon.

The Saban link is from here:

http://brophyfootball.blogspot.com/?m=1

Brophy is perhaps best described as doing for defense what SF does for offense. His best known posts are a series of breakdowns of Saban's 1-high and then split safety defenses with primary focus spent on defending the pass.

My other big go-to is Duece at Football Is Life:

http://footballislifeblog.blogspot.com/?m=1

His best known posts are for his dissection of the TCU 4-2-5, but he's also got a great series that talks about the Two Gap/One Gap DL technique he's implemented.

There are a few more that are considerably less prolific, but they can be found in the blogrolls of the aforementioned. The other point worth noting is that either all or just most of these guys started out at the Coach Huey message board and then branched out to blogging to accommodate big posts. I've gone there for pointers too.

eamus_caeruli (not verified)

October 18th, 2012 at 3:07 PM ^

Great post, and this is going to be a great college football game. Old school, power vs. power, strength vs. Strength.  I like the analysis of taking advantage of their overpursuit and agressive to action, and hitting edges and PA.  

Very interest comparsion with Martz and Borges.  I have quietly opined this to some friends, and they are not buying it so far, but I see some parallels.  Having said that, next couple years will be interesting to see how Borges transitions us.  I see really genius and unstoppabilitiy in what he wants to do, and I hope we continue with the multiple offensive looks, with some run spread elements.  

dragonchild

October 18th, 2012 at 12:55 PM ^

Nice article, but the title is rather misleading.  Quarters is a pass coverage scheme adapted to support the run D; most of the article focused on the front 7's reads.  The safeties' keys were insightful but it was almost a segue.

Reading it, though, I understand Borges' desire to revert to a power-based game.  Defending the spread has forced even B1G teams to utilize smaller, faster players at outside LB to protect the edge.  Personnel-wise, a DC frozen in 1985 and thawed in 2012 would wonder why today's defenses are using dime packages on running downs.  There's a reason why Wisconsin has been running over the B1G these past few years despite not being all that good.  A TE against a glorified FS playing OLB should be a mismatch you can exploit in both the run and the pass.

MGoBlog has stated that Fitz is in a funk and sure he's missed some pretty huge running lanes, but I wonder if the adjustments Borges made to the read option game heavily favored Denard by accident.  The delayed handoff, for one, basically turns the read option into a game of chicken.  It was scouted early on that Denard didn't read the DE so much as the edge, so the DE just got outside the tackle and the free hitter converged on Fitz.  Borges' answer (finally!) was to delay the handoff so Denard could actually read the DE, but the rest of the lines don't exactly take a break.  Fitz has less time to read the blocking (instead of crashing down the DE can basically "cheat" a couple yards while Denard makes up his mind); this could explain why he's been making some inexplicably weird decisions lately.  OTOH, the DE not committing to Denard as early as possible allows the offense to spot the free hitter.  By the time the D knows Denard's gonna keep, the free hitter is accounted for and at least one OL is blocking the second level.  The result?  Fitz has to fight for yards while Denard gets 10ypc even if the defense is keyed on stopping Denard.  Kinda goes against what Borges said he wanted, but I think he saw what he hath wrought and decided, "Eh, I'll take it."  As a bonus, Denard is now running out of bounds once he gets past the sticks.

colin

October 18th, 2012 at 2:14 PM ^

I came up with the title at like 3 in the morning after pounding keys for a while. The post was going to be even longer--I really wanted to talk in depth about their blitz packages and possible counters--but its unwieldy as it is. "Quarters" is an easy layman catch all for 4-3 Over Cover 4. But to your point, you google "4-3 Over Cover 4" you'll actually get to a two YouTube promo clips of Narduzzi's instructional DVDs. Which Im giving some thought to buying. If you google "quarters" you'll find out a lot about a particular fraction and coinage logistics.

Zok

October 18th, 2012 at 2:00 PM ^

unfortunately, it makes me very nervous for the game. We basically see that MSU is designed to stop the run and by having there corners play man and thier LBs and Safeties read and react they are easily able to get a lot of hats to the ball.

The scheme is incredibiliy simple when geared towards running teams, which UM is. DE crash, everyone else clean up.

This makes me less confident in the run game. Braxton is a juke his way out of a phone book runner while Denard is a hard step and accelerate N/S runner. Given the numbers they will have at the LOS this does not bode well for UM as Denard won't be able to get N/S freely.

Really hope Borges has come up with some safe pass play counters to this scheme. Running will be a tough go in the game. We will have many 3rd and longs IMO. UM will need to pund away (Rawls) and make them pay with timely, well executed passes that counter the MSU scheme. I feel like good TE's could do a lot of damage.

rockydude

October 18th, 2012 at 2:56 PM ^

This really helps give the reader a great idea what to look for this weekend. I'll have my eyes peeled.

Also, if Lewan wants to return any favors and break Tom Gholston's arm or remove his head, that would be fine with me . . . .