Jordan Sugar Bowl Thoughts #3 – Using our Speed

I was chatting with a friend of mine last night who is a defensive coordinator that wishes to remain unnamed. I asked him how he’d attack Alabama’s run game assuming they show us a lot of balanced two TE ace sets.

He said that with Oklahoma’s smaller faster front he’d try to move them a lot. Obviously there are different ways to do this but we talked about one. As most of you probably know by now Oklahoma’s front alignment is a 4i DE, 0 NG, and a 4i DE. That simple means that our DEs are aligned on the inside shoulder of their respective offensive tackle. They are generally responsible for the B gap – the gap between the guard and the tackle. The NG is aligned “head up” on the center and he’s responsible for both the back-side and play-side A gaps, the gaps between the guards and the center.

Alabama is a zone running team. My DC buddy suggested Oklahoma try to take advantage of the speed of our front and try to cover up some of our weaknesses by slanting and attempting to trap the zone. Obviously you don’t necessarily know which way Alabama is going to go but for the most part Alabama is going to run away from the numbers so the first thing Oklahoma might want to do is shift their LB/safety alignment and then shift again in order to force Alabama to keep checking. Its similar to what JY said about disguising the coverage pre-snap. Alabama loves to take what you give them so you’ve got to try to disguise what you’re giving them.

For most of the year Oklahoma hasn’t done a lot in terms of movement up front so I don’t reckon they necessarily will but I thought it’d be fun to look at a possible slant Oklahoma might use to accentuate our positives. If you’ve got friends who are coaches, especially at the higher levels, you know they’re always drawing up plays – on napkins, scratch paper, anything. My buddy does the same. He sent me this text last night and I’ll try to explain what it all means:

Stick

 

As you can see we were having this discussion assuming that Alabama would be in double tight end (one back) sets (balanced). I’m sure y’all are already know, but for anyone who doesn’t, B = linebacker, S = safety, N = noseguard, and E = end (sorry if I over-explain anything here – not trying to insult anyone’s intelligence or understanding but I know we’ve got readers with different levels of experience with football).

As you can see we’ve got the play drawn up as a zone run to the offenses right which we will call the play side. There are two arrows at the hand-off/mesh point. The arrow going to Bama’s right indicates the actual design of the play – that’s where Yeldon is supposed to look to run. If he doesn’t find any space there he can cut it back and follow the path of the arrow pointing backside (to the offenses left). Normally the way we’d play this with our front is Jordan would try to hold his position against the double team and keep the OLineman from getting up to the 2nd level and the two DEs would crash the B gaps (gap between the guard and center). But what my buddy is suggesting is that instead of trying to do that and mostly likely having Jordan get washed down and taken out of the play and then letting their OL get up to the LBs easily, we instead stick the backside (our right) DEnd. What I mean is we are going to slant towards the playside and try to use our speed to blow the play up. So we’ll ask that backside DEnd (the E on our right) to come across the guards face and get into the A gap (the gap between the center and the guard). Normally he’d be doing the same thing as the other DEnd, crashing the B gap in front of him.

But by coming across that guards face into the A gap he allows us to cover up whatever weakness we have at NG and at our weakside ILB position. Why? Because Jordan can just slant/crash the A gap and use his quickness. And at the same time that weakside ILB (that’s the B on our right – not the furthest B but the one next to him) will then be covered up, in other words the guard doesn’t have a free shot at him. There are different things you could do with that covered LB. Technically he’ll be responsible for that B gap (on the backside) for the cut back so you could just hold him there but if there. But if there is a cut back you’ve got a couple players over there so you could actually run blitz him as well. Basically he’s a bit of a free roaming head hunter.

Obviously the concern is whether or not the distance that backside DE has to cover is too much. And it might be. But if he was quick enough to get across that guards face enough times and not get cut off then we’ve got a lot of help in the run game and the play side safety (on our left) would also be a free roaming head hunter against the run or deep help against the pass.

Normally we play Tapper to the boundary – he’s going to deal with the double teams. But just having fun with it in my head I wonder if it would be better to move Tap over and let him make that stick and hope that Chuka or Geneo could handle the double team on the boundary side (Bama’s right) block. This is where having a bigger quick DT type player – like a Torrea Peterson or Charles Walker would really come in handy.

I know it feels like we’re going to get run over – and maybe we will – but we held up amazingly well against KSU, a decent running team. If we can find ways to outnumber them on early downs and avoid those 1st down deep shots we can force them into down and distances they don’t like. A lot of this is going to come down to the will to win. Auburn doesn’t have an all-world defensive front but they played hard and fast the whole game. Alabama will certainly have size on us and they can tighten their splits and make it feel like a steam roller coming at you. But the fact is, it’s not a steam roller. It’s individual human beings having to block other human beings in space. Eric Striker, for example, may be small and if Bama locks on to him he’s probably not going to be able to do too much. But getting your hands on him is a task. Oklahoma is outmatched in the trenches but as my old boxing coach used to say, a bowling ball will break your ribs but a bullet will go right through you. We’ve been a scrappy bunch all year and we’ve got to use our speed and play hard. If we can do that we might be able to hold up on the defensive side.

UPDATE (9:17 am) – I just saw this tweet and it related to my post above so I figured I’d update:

 

  • Gary Jackson

    Dang it, now you are starting to make me have hope we can really beat them! :)

    • Super K

      lol I’m just hoping the defense shows up :)

  • Josh

    Never been a fan of defenders covering two gaps. Auburn held up because of their depth. Big JWade can’t play 50 snaps against the Tide that’s for sure. Rotate, Rotate, Rotate!!

    • Super K

      In theory I love the hybrid front because one man makes everyone’s job easier and keeps you gap sound with room to do other things in both the front and the coverage. But ever since Phillips went down the practical result of that good theory just hasn’t been as pretty. I wonder if Quincy will back up Jordan. It seems Torrea is out.

      • Gary Jackson

        I thought I read somewhere Quincy was going to redshirt.

        • Super K

          Thanks for the info Gary!

        • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

          Guerin Emig @GuerinEmig Follow

          Bob Stoops says DT Quincy Russell having some “back troubles.” Redshirt possible. (I hadn’t realized Russell was even elig for one)

          6:37 PM – 13 Nov 2013

          • JD

            Russell was in the 11 class (same as Phillips). They’ll both be rs juniors next year it looks like

      • Daryl

        the thing that scares me the most in this game is injuries. This game is gong to go south fast if Wade gets hurt. After him who do we have left that is healthy? Also LB is very thin. If either of those positions get hurt we are more than screwed.

        I like the concepts in this piece a lot. Thanks for sharing this stuff. I really love learning more about the game.

  • Justin Johnston

    Excellent post especially for the above average fan who love the x’s and o’s. I’m curious about your thoughts on a 50front. Do we have the depth? Or maybe use Lindley as a hybrid DE just to help with fatigue? I was thinking, tap-geno-wade-peterson(if healthy)-phillips-Dimon…..and Lindley replacing a DE from time to time to make it a 4-3? I might be way off but just curious.

    • Super K

      We will run a 50 front (depending on how you define it, old school folks still say 50 front) with (from left to right) Lindley, Tapper, Wade, Geneo, and Striker. I understand why folks want the even front but I just feel like when you’re used to an alignment it takes to time to readjust to the opposing OLs angles/speed from a different technique. In the offseason they definitely need to get comfortable with new alignments but Jerry and co. seem to be doing what Coach Mattison does which is making sure they’re comfortable with certain technique and then adding to it so I suspect we will be able to play different fronts in the future but for now I suspect we will see our standard, 30/50 front with Lindley and Striker OLBs.

      • Sonny Schovanec

        You are correct here K. The 3/4 is an old 50 adjustment vs. spread teams. The way 3/4 guys personnel it is obviously different 4i’s being DE’s in a 3/4 versus tackles in a 50 and OLBs in a 3/4 being drop ends in a 50 You see 3/4 adjustments becoming what a 50 defense would be versus big sets. The main difference Ive seen is adjustments versus a “Pro Set”. 50 guys would Eagle the open side and run a shade, 5 and 9 to the TE side. Most 3/4 guys adjustment to a Pro Set is to walk the OLBr up on the TE side.

        • Sonny Schovanec

          Coach Mike said against Kansas their run “fits were not right and when the adjusted at half time the played the Iso better. Ya Think? Dom looked confused probably because he’s never seen Weakside Iso. He was taking the Iso block on with the wrong shoulder.

    • Sonny Schovanec

      The 3/4 essentially becomes a straight d&*(%^ 50 versus the Ace set, A seen on the board. That’s funny you say that about napkins Super K. You been sitting on the bar stools talking ball with coaches eh?

  • Sonny Schovanec

    The ACE set is tough. What you have drawn on the board is a three deep zone defense. The Ace set gives the offense the ability to run four vertical. A lot of stress on the free in three deep zone. “The man with the expo marker last always wins”.

    • Super K

      Yep. Very tough coach!

  • Sonny Schovanec

    Also since Bama does a lot of checking at the LOS the Sooners can “give them something” and slant too it. Give Bama a pre snap weakness assuming that Bama will check to it and stunt too that area. That would help with trying to guess right where you are going to stunt. slant too based on Bama’s past tendencies.

    • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

      Solid

    • Jordan Esco

      Love the idea in theory, obviously it’d be about OU being able to execute it

  • L’carpetron Dookmarriot

    LSU has been able to play Bama pretty well. They have a fast defense behind the D line (and size, see Beckwith and Barrow). We don’t have a Mingo, Montgomery, or Brockers, but we have our version of them. I think Phillips will be a better version of Brockers. LSU played strong on the D line and used their speed behind it. I recall that LSU ‘s LBs and DBs made a lot of tackles vs. Bama. Perhaps that will have to OU’s strategy and tactics. I hope Mike Stoops was given Sun Tzu’s Art of War for Christmas.

    • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

      Appear at places where he must rush to defend, and rush to places where he least expects.
      To be certain to take what you attack, attack where the enemy cannot defend.

      • L’carpetron Dookmarriot

        That reasonably encapsulates OU’s defense in 2000 (ok, technically 2001) against FSU. I remember Robert Bowden being increasingly staggered by his team’s inability to produce offense, erm, OU’s defensive performance.

  • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

    Got an inkling feeling that Mike is gonna come up with some mad scientist stuff…

    • Jordan Esco

      Probably gonna have to. Personally, I’m much more worried about Yeldon than I am anyone else. Not to discredit Bama’s other guys, but his ability to run on our undersized D (even when M.Stoops goes “big” we’re still not big, IMO) is what I’m most concerned about.

      • L’carpetron Dookmarriot

        That’s if OU’s DBs will need to make a lot of tackles. I hope that OU is not going to rely on the DBs to make a lot of run tackles. Yeldon has good size and speed. However, I don’t find him to be a “power back.” Rather, he can run someone over if he needs to (because he has been coached to do that); he’d rather run around you (base instincts).

        • Super K

          He is surprisingly agile and slippery for a back that big.

  • ToatsMcGoats

    Seriously…you guys are the best! I love this type of stuff! I love the detailed breakdowns as opposed to some other sites, who use generalities to discuss this stuff. I love it. Great job!

    • Super K

      Appreciate it bud!

  • JD

    Nice break down Super (and your anonymous coach buddy)….is Peterson for sure out? I never heard what his injury was. Seen him up front in the party pics last night…I assume we’ll see some Chuka inside as well…maybe next to Wade like during the goal line stand in bedlam

    • Super K

      Thanks JD! I thought he was out but I’m not certain. Would be great if he can go.

  • JD

    “@Eddie_Rado: Mike Stoops: “We’ve had to adjust personnel for this game, try & get bigger ppl in there to defend Alabama” #Sooners”

    Looks like we’ll see more PL and Chaz than Julian (I fig Julian will be in on passing downs)

  • Bryan Scott

    SK,
    Do you really believe OU has more team speed on defense than other teams Alabama has faced this year? …not being critical, just curious.

    • JD

      I think they’re talking about better team speed in the front 7. There won’t be many guys as fast as fast as Tapper at DE. Geneo is pretty fast too. Since they are lighter then they will have that quickness as well. Striker will also be hard to block with his quickness getting around the blocker

    • Super K

      Yeah I agree with JD. Generally a defensive front is quicker than the OL. How much quicker is what determines what we can and cant do. But if we have any advantage it would be quickness in my mind.

      • Bryan Scott

        SK, your observations were spot on!