Open Post | Tuesday, January 14th

TFB Gabriel’s Horn With Guest | Compressed Formations
– Gabriel

Allow me to introduce a guest, Desmond Johnson, he’s a former coach who’s been a college graduate assistant and high school coach and a guy I lean one to understand the game better. He’s also the guy that’s sold me on compressed formations going three seasons, in case you couldn’t glean that from my writing here and or tweets. You can follow him on Twitter, @BunchAttack. I wanted to include his perspective on compressed formations prior to going over some of the scheme from the Fiesta Bowl. Below are Desmond’s thoughts regarding compressed formations.

Desmond Johnson

Compressed formations such as Bunch or the formation Texas utilized in the Fiesta Bowl  consist of having multiple receivers placed within 5 yards of each other very close to the offensive tackles to either side. This allows the offense to force the defense into limited defensive formations that the offense can then attack. In addition, the multiple run gaps that compressed formations creates also seeks to overwhelm areas in the defensive secondary by causing the defense to overextend itself and ease pre-snap reads for Quarterbacks.

We touched on the extra gaps created by the compressed formations, well each of those gaps have to have at least one defender per gap. Defenses prefer to have multiple defenders available for each of those gaps which in turn leaves the defense vulnerable to the pass. In general, it forces multiple defenders to align within the box creating vulnerability for the third level of the defense. This ranges from 3 to 5 gaps to either side of the formation without the defense knowing how they’ll block, if they’ll block, or if they’ll release into the pattern and other combinations.

Defenses can attempt to reduce some of these issues by relying upon two-gap techniques, but again, this is reliant upon the talent of the defenders. Compressed formations will limit the effectiveness of man coverage due to the space that defenders must give each other to avoid collisions. Defenses will predictably check to BOX coverages to attempt to limit the open areas for receivers to run to.

Gabriel’s Scheme Discussion

Now that the table is set, I’ll note some of how Utah aligns to the compressed formation Texas deployed and hopefully you’ll begin to understand how indispensable ideas like this are, why they’re belated in use, and why the new offensive coordinator at Texas should build on these ideas.

Texas opened with this beauty. Receivers to both sides are in ‘reduced splits’, meaning the space between them and the offensive line is very narrow, as opposed to ‘split wide’. Utah opens with a seven-man box and two safeties high. While Texas would typically run against this look (more on that later), the call is much more aggressive.

Sam briefly fakes the ‘mesh’ (handoff) while his eyes are downfield, likely keying the safeties. Note the free releases afforded to each receiver, no contact at all. The corners are playing to contain any out-breaking routes but this play has ‘explosive’ written all over it.

You can’t see the safeties, but they remain in ‘split-field’ coverage, meaning they are each covering a deep half. Where this play becomes particularly deadly is in the protection (extremely important) and that two receivers will challenge the safeties and their alignments deep, Duvernay on the Corner route and Johnson on the Post route between the split safeties. This route wins big and sets the tone for the game. Texas is dictating.

Now in the scoring zone, Texas utilizes the same formation and Utah is now in one-high safety shell. An extremely important point here and I cannot stress this enough. Sets like this discourage man-coverage because of the reduced splits and close staggered alignments of the receivers (similar to Stack). Adding to that, the offense gets extra blockers inside the box and outnumbers the defense. Even with eight in the box, Texas has ten potential blockers if you count the running back or the quarterback, TEN!!!

This is where Texas reveals an ‘Inverted Zone’ concept. Rather than having Sam read the defensive end away from the play side, he’s reading a defender to the play side while he and the running back intend to run to the same side. If you read my preview, you may have remembered focusing blocks on the two defensive tackles and running ‘off tackle’ where the blocking match-ups are better. That’s what Texas is doing here and they’re including a read element as well. Well done, Tom.

As you can see, it’s much easier to block the defensive structure to a side when you have deadly receiving threats inside that can double as blockers, as well has a battering ram at quarterback.

Texas failed to score a touchdown on the first drive, but it didn’t take long for them to get into the red zone again and deploy the same set. This time you see what looks like run blocking up front, only the receivers are releasing into the pattern.

Without the reduced splits, Collin Johnson cannot go from the left to the right that quickly and without the run action, Brewer cannot block his end man inside then pivot out. They both end up open on this play and Sam makes an easy hi-low read and throw to Johnson for the touchdown. Note the second level defenders in this frame, still stuck on the play-action fake.

Lastly, they show the same set and this time Utah’s wiser to the idea, placing ten defenders inside the box, TEN! Now, study this carefully and ask yourself, where’s the space? Have you found something, say, where the defense is already out-leveraged?

If you guessed the left Flat, you’d be right. Note the receiver blocks taking shape and because they’re also receiving threats, check out the safety on the upper hash, he’s still inside and over both receivers to his side.

The linebacker to Ingram’s side has to get through the chaos and he’s extremely out-leveraged. This was a big play and one that really made my night. Now, here’s the kicker. Texas is running Mesh, note Collin and Brewer crossing each other underneath. If that linebacker were better positioned and running with Ingram, Sam is set to deliver a death blow to the underneath crosser headed in the same direction with zero defenders in front of him, yikes!

The main thrust of this post is to use this aspect of the bowl game to imagine a far greater future. This could be a building block of the Texas offense going forward. None of the concepts are new, yet it’s amazing how much they’re augmented by a simple change. That said, Mike Yurcich will now be in charge of the offense. Texas fans will have to hope he sees this and other developments in the college game (AHEM, LSU!!!) and harnesses its power. While Texas is losing Johnson and Duvernay, they will still have options in Eagles, Epps, Moore, Smith, Washington, Woodard, and the incoming freshmen. Add to that, Texas will be deep at tight end. That hasn’t been the case at Texas in more than a decade. Sets like this one can unleash the fury that is Sam and incinerate defenses. Here’s to hoping for a brighter, nastier future.

Frank Okam Interviewing This Week
– Super K

***Was told by a source close to Baylor defensive line coach, Frank Okam, that Okam will interview with Texas this Wednesday.

***I asked said source if Okam would take the job and was told it will likely depend on the terms offered by Texas and the terms offered by Baylor in response. In other words, money talks.

Jalen Milroe: Building Great Relationship With Yurcich
– CJ Vogel

The change at offensive coordinator has finally concluded, and while position coaches are still being finalized, the man leading the QB room, Mike Yurcich, is locked up. For 2021 QB commit Jalen Milroe, there is great reason for optimism regarding the change at OC and it all starts with building a solid relationship.

“I communicate with Coach Yurich now and we’re building a great relationship,” Milroe said following the All American Bowl Combine. “I’m trying to get back on campus to meet him. We’ve communicated over the phone and I like him a lot.”

Milroe said he first heard from Yurich last week when he reached out to him over the phone. The next step will be to visit campus sometime later this month to make the first in person meeting.

It’s no secret Milroe is a weapon for the Longhorns on the recruiting trail and with the change, he’s going the extra mile to make sure his fellow commits are solid as well.

“With all the (2021) commits right now, I communicate to see where their heads are at,” Milroe said. “With some of the guys we’re trying to recruit right now, as far as guys we’re trying to get to come to Texas, we’re just trying to build a (relationship).”

As we’ve previously mentioned on the board, Yurcich is a stout quarterback developer, and Milroe is well aware of his past work with quarterbacks.

“First thing is I’m excited. I’m always looking to learn and grow as a quarterback on and off the field. That’s the cool thing about it that I want to grow at the University of Texas with having him as the OC, build a relationship with him and learning new skills.”

Milroe said he always has his recruiting hat on to find “the best of the best” to bring with him to the 40 Acres and uses camps and combines like this past one to build relationships with players in his class.

I asked Milroe about the Alamo Bowl to which his face lit up immediately to.

“It was awesome! Offensively and defensively, that’s the way to play all four quarters. Texas played more physical and faster than Utah and that factored into the W.”

Final 2019-20 AP Poll
– CJ Vogel

The final AP Poll of the season has been released following LSU’s victory in the National Championship.

For the second consecutive season, the Texas Longhorns finish the season ranked for the first time since 2009.

Here is how the final rankings went:

1. LSU

2. Clemson

3. Ohio State

4. Georgia

5. Oregon

6. Florida

7. Oklahoma

8. Alabama

9. Penn State

10. Minnesota

11. Wisconsin

12. Notre Dame

13. Auburn

14. Baylor

15. Iowa

16. Utah

17. Memphis

18. Michigan

19. Appalachian State

20. Navy

21. Cincinnati

22. Air Force

23. Boise State

24. UCF

25. Texas