Nickel and Dime #2: Defending Power

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Nickel and Dime #2: Defending Power

Postby Grizfan-24 » Tue Oct 28, 2014 7:03 pm

A response to what happened on Saturday defensively.

What happened and why the responses might be a bit more difficult to execute than others...

enjoy.

http://monidasports.blogspot.com/2014/1 ... power.html
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Re: Nickel and Dime #2: Defending Power

Postby ALPHAGRIZ1 » Wed Oct 29, 2014 11:33 am

:thumbsup:
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Re: Nickel and Dime #2: Defending Power

Postby ALPHAGRIZ1 » Wed Oct 29, 2014 11:38 am

Why play nickle and dime when they ran 66 out of 85 plays?
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Re: Nickel and Dime #2: Defending Power

Postby Grizfan-24 » Wed Oct 29, 2014 12:23 pm

To give you a non-thesis response...

1. A lot of coaches, including myself, like the flexibility a nickel look brings. Despite the illusion of poly being a power team, their success on the perimeter would have led me to go to a nickel look if I were in a 4-3. If I were to gauge Gregorak's logic, it might have been with Kose plus his down lineman plus perimeter help from Van Ackeren or Gamboa, he liked his chances against Dive.

The other part of it, and this is more my feeling than anything, is that Poly was so good in earlier games in getting matchups in the pass game that allowing a high safety to be more of a run player with one less linebacker would make sense to avoid being formationed.

2. I don't like how rigid the 4-3 can be and that honestly with Poly's alignment creates a boat load of issues that probably fly over the head of most fans. Suffice to say, many of those issues emerged on Saturday. With a double wing with two spread WR's or doubles on occasion, Poly can formation the crap out of a 4-3. Especially if you devote three LB's to run defense. Most of Poly's formations make it difficult for a 4-3 to get a second linebacker inside the tackles. Again this is a difference in taste, but this is largely why I love the 4-2 so much. Gregorak has been a full field coverage guy for most of his tenure (blanket 2 or combo) and presence of Harris and company early suggest he wanted corners to aid in the run game. The problem though by running two shell, is that it leaves a lot of seams inside the hashes to run the football. You need your OLB's to be solid in pinching down lanes and regardless if that was a nickel back or OLB, that is a difficult proposition for anyone to fill.

3. I think honestly Gregorak might have overthought things a bit, because when I watch the gist of the game plan early, he had a good sense of what poly had to do, but also what he thought the counter would be. He was wrong on the counter. QB follow and weakside veer/option was the counter and not play action. The nickel back makes sense if you want to commit the two LB's to run support and lock everyone else at the second level into a pass first mentality. Maybe the loss of Van Ackeren, who is much more stout than Gamboa, altered his line of thinking as well.

Because the film wasn't the greatest to look at, it was quite difficult to see whether there was blended coverage or not. I would guess there was, because how much I saw safeties in the screen of what appeared (but not certain) as the nickel run guy.

To me it makes sense what he tried to do and maybe he didn't trust Strahm or the Malta kid all the much to replace Van Ackeren. I just don't know, but up until this point Gregorak had shown reasonable flexibility and the ability to make adjustments. But the second half he had no answers structurally or personnel wise to answer what Poly was doing.
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Re: Nickel and Dime #2: Defending Power

Postby LongTimeCatFan » Wed Oct 29, 2014 8:02 pm

So why go to a 4-2 nickel rather than a 5-2? Seems like you'd want to get a numbers advantage at the point of attack rather than in the back end.

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Re: Nickel and Dime #2: Defending Power

Postby Grizfan-24 » Thu Oct 30, 2014 9:35 am

I think it is taste really. 50 fronts (true or blended (3 DL w/ LB types on edge) can be completely effective against power offenses. I think the 5-2 really limits the flexibility on the edge against many of the spread power teams like Poly and Nevada.

Because Poly doesn't run a lot of straight at you power, but rather using your own technique and alignment against you, I am not entirely sure five down linemen specifically is a wise choice. Most of the comes from facing bucksweep (double pull with one or two lead backs) teams on a weakly basis. You just loose pursuit and create gaping run holes on the edge. Again it is taste really.

The 3-5-3 which can become a 5-2 actually is a nice look with two standup LB's on the edge. I like that concept because your edge guys can play horizontal to the line of scrimmage and either box/squeeze natural gaps because their eyes are up, but also string to allow pursuit.

I have come to realize over the past few years that unless you have studs on the DL or LB's that can play on the L.O.S. more lineman against a power offense isn't always better. I believe this to especially true against teams like Poly or generic veer/option teams who clog so much up at the L.O.S. than you can't get people to the football. I would much rather have two or three LB's inside who can see and diagnose plays than DL who rarely other than bubbling runs have a difficult time against these types of offenses.

The 4-2 for all intents and purposes is a much more flexible 4-4. The rules are a lot different, but you stay balanced within the tackles and it becomes much more difficult for offenses to out flank you. Mostly because you can go from a 3 LB look to 4 fairly easy and not alter your pass requirements. I happen to like it because you can blend your coverages (man/zone) to give your run first players fewer responsibilities. Gary Patterson has done a wonderful job with this at TCU.

Defenses that allow you to alter alignment but not change rules, makes players quicker at the point of contact, which is the greatest enemy to offenses like poly. I like to target mesh points against offenses like Poly's, with games in the B gap and the edge. Again that is taste, because I do know a lot of guys who would make the opposite argument.
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Nickel and Dime #2: Defending Power

Postby LongTimeCatFan » Thu Oct 30, 2014 10:56 am

I think you're right, if you're going to run a 5-2, the ends have to have incredible speed (more like a linebacker)otherwise the QB will kill them on the edge. But if you put your hole pluggers in the B gaps and a guy that plays the strong end in the 4-3 at nose, I would think it would be effective at driving the play to the pitch which would mean your 2 true backers better have amazing speed too.

I really hate trying to get the secondary involved in stopping the option because it only takes one wrong read and the QB dumps it off to the TE streaking down the seam.

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Re: Nickel and Dime #2: Defending Power

Postby Grizfan-24 » Thu Oct 30, 2014 11:29 am

Long,

Great points.

Certain defenses are not well suited to getting the secondary into the run game.

I learned a lot of my 4-3 concepts via Sonny at CSU, not him directly but through intermediaries. Their run concept with the secondary was pretty nice. The strong safety played at depth (7-9 yards) and was difficult to account for in the blocking scheme. The corners mixed coverages between sky and cloud cover 2, and their field (wide side) guy typically was a really good tackling corner.

The strong in their scheme had alley run fits (inside from the tackle out to the flat area) and typically alternated between true cover 2 (cloud) and flat responsibility. This was especially effective against one TE and one WR sets.

You had a guy, much like Hauck type safety back in the day, that was just a glorified line backer. The problem, as Gregorak and others have found, that when option teams go without a TE and go completely neutral, that free player in the box is much more difficult to achieve. That is unless you alter completely your coverage concepts and that just allows to run free like you noted.

Teams who use mixed coverage concepts like TCU does, can manipulate their scheme from 3 front to a 5 look without altering much of what goes on behind it. The great thing about TCU is that you against balanced offensive formations really have a hard time figuring out what is the man and zone side of the field. So they can effectively get their safeties and corners involved in the run game without being accounted for.
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Re: Nickel and Dime #2: Defending Power

Postby MissoulaMarinerFan » Fri Oct 31, 2014 9:38 am

Great thread guys - often, we as fans, forget that fixing something isn't as simple as "do this instead."

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Re: Nickel and Dime #2: Defending Power

Postby Grizfan-24 » Fri Oct 31, 2014 10:55 am

MMF,

I think there are a lot of fans out there that share that sentiment, that it isn't that easy. I think that places like egriz and certain personalities obscure certainties about the game of football. The reality does get lost in the hyperbole at times.

At root is that as much as I love Mick and have a tremendous amount of respect for the man and what he has done in his life, we as a fan base are used to seeing the types of adjustments that his regime hasn't been able to execute for one reason or another.

We were all spoiled for nearly 30 years where just about everything our coaches did turned to gold. Snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Jumped building in single bounds. Just seemed a lot easier than it probably was.

Great observation.
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Nickel and Dime #2: Defending Power

Postby LongTimeCatFan » Sun Nov 02, 2014 11:25 am

Welp, MSU did exactly as I suggested and still lost with the 5-2 mixed in. I think they only stopped CP 3 times. Not gonna get it done that way

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Re: Nickel and Dime #2: Defending Power

Postby Grizfan-24 » Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:04 am

The advantage Cal Poly has is they have a quarterback that is a smart operator of the offense. I remember a few years ago when Navy had Enhada at QB in the system. Honestly I think someone like Prukop would be lights out running it. Though Prukop is far more efficient as a QB throwing the football.

It is so hard getting Poly off the field. You have exactly the opposite problem but the same solution. I really believe to beat Eastern and Poly you have to extract as much as you can from their defense. That is obviously easier said than done. Poly's defense is much, much better than eastern's.

My prevailing theory has always been, even if your drives are four or five plays you are taking every second off of the play clock you can early. That you and you absolutely have to cycle defensive line and backers in every other drive.

Poly will eventually catch you in a over pursuit or a missed assignment, but the preference is to make them run the length of the field. Sacrifice field position and hopefully you can put them in a down and distance situation that makes them more predictable.

I prefer that methodology than compressing everyone at the line of scrimmage, we had a guy here in southern Idaho who put pressure on every play. We called it the 9-1-1 defense. Lets say it was a dubious choice. To the tune of 80 yard runs every other possession.

I think you have to take calculated risks to get into the backfield and you have to vary your looks. As I noted before the 4-3 isn't terribly flexible unless your linebackers are capable of playing multiple positions.

Poly is peaking. I think they are the conference champ. Sounds weird but this scheduling nightmare really hurts the conference.
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