I wanted to provide a supplement to the Game Week preview. This ‘Short’ will focus on a couple aspects of Snyder-Ball and defending it. In the preview, I mention a couple things that stand out to me, creating play side gaps and the quarterback Lead Draw. You accomplish the former by pulling offensive linemen and leading with the tight end and or fullback. The latter, is more a bear to handle than one might think. Let’s start with gap heaven, or hell, depending on your point of view. For a defense, breaking up the convoy is paramount, or else. Let’s take a look at ‘or else’.
This one reminds you of the old days you don’t remember, ’22’ personnel (2 RB, 2 TE). Also, that is a 10-man box you see, you gotta love it! The strength of this formation is set to the left and Vandy is honoring that with 6 defenders from the center to the right of the defensive front. Loaded box, no problem…
KSU pins the end inside with the tight end, the fullback leads to the safety playing the edge, and the right guard is pulling around all of it, and the running back leads in front of the quarterback, pure Midwestern corn-fed terror, help! Do you see the problem?
That last defender along along the front, the force player has the guard, yes, really, the little dude. By now, it’s over, Vandy’s been corn-walled and Ertz floats into the end zone. Note the tight end continuing to drive his man upfield, glorious!
Just like that KSU adds 3 gaps to the playside by pulling the guard and leading with the running back. Now, they can do this out of multiple sets, including spread sets. That is the reason I mentioned accounting for both the back and quarterback every down! Even Vandy failed in this instance, with a 10-man box, what!?
Next, you have a 3rd & long, KSU is in an ’11’ personnel (1 RB, 0 TE), trips to the field, ‘nub’ (TE last man in-line) to the boundary. Vandy presents a 6-man box.
Vandy chooses to rush 6 and somehow this is still problematic, as KSU loves to run a slow-developing Lead Draw on 3rd and long. Again, account for both the back and the quarterback, even in pass protection! What happens?
The 6th rusher is led up on by the back , leaving Ertz a path upfield. The defense does all that work to win a 3rd & long. Now, they’re forced to start all over again!
A couple notes, I suspect this is a pass-run option, a PRO, if you will. The tight end routes upfield to the sticks, effectively clearing out another potential underneath defender. If that doesn’t come open, Ertz looks to his lead block upfield and tries for the 1st down. Now, how on earth do you defend that!?
The last example is a 3rd & long pass, but I want you to note how the Rush plays it different. It’s ’10’ personnel, trips to the field, nub to the boundary again. This time Vandy’s a little more balanced with a corner over the tight end and a safety outside the boundary hash.
The complexion of this concept and rush is different. You see 4 rushing and two hanging back underneath. It accounts for the possibility of the Lead Draw. Also, it keeps a low-hole defender in place against the pass as well. This is why I suggested coverage that keeps 6 under on 3rd & long. You must account for the back AND quarterback!
There are differences between the two 3rd & long plays. Namely, the last example, the tight end stays in on pass protection. If he were to route, play him man too and keep a defender underneath. The tight end staying doesn’t make the threat of the Lead Draw any less dangerous either. The approach I favor more is to force the ball out of Ertz’ hand in these situations, to dissuade the call. When you do that, you also need tight coverage outside. That means man-coverage and protect the ‘sticks’. It’s aggressive and challenging. Do you think the defensive backs are up to it? Beyond that, Orlando can mix and match who rushes and who drops to keep tabs on Draw and scramble.
All that said, the task this weekend is not easy for Texas. You can be certain Orlando will have the defense ready, but when the game starts and ‘punches’ start flying, things can change. Up to this point the Texas defensive line has held up well. You expect that to continue. One thing that cures much of this is beating blocks, especially inside. If the defensive tackles have big days, it’s much easier for the defense to play ‘lights out’. Until then, how excited are you about this game. It may be Purple Merlin’s last trip to Austin and you can be certain, Texas fans want to send him away with an ‘L’. As always, let me know what you think in the comments!