Blackshirts Blitz Package – South Alabama

Against South Alabama, Nebraska fans got their first extended look at Mark Banker’s blitz package.  Perhaps feeling comfortable with the match up between the Blackshirt DBs and South Alabama’s receivers, Banker ran a lot of Cover 0 and 1 Pressures and also mixed in some fire zones as well.  Although the box score only showed 2 sacks for Nebraska, the Blackshirts were able to generate consistent pressure all game long from bringing extra men and asking their DBs to win on the outside.  Let’s take a look at a couple of Nebraska’s 6-man pressures from that game. Continue reading “Blackshirts Blitz Package – South Alabama”

Trap Coverages – A Quarters Check

As we discussed in the last post, one of the weaknesses of Quarters is the flats against a strong run game and especially out of 10 personnel.  Because they are run first players, the SAM and WILL have to respect the run game, making it difficult to cover the flats if #2 to their side is immediately out on some sort of bubble or quick out.  This is especially true of the weak side away from the back, as the OLB must respect the zone run to his side and thus cannot expand in time to cover his flat.  

When that happens, Quarters defenses answer with a trap coverage, designed to free up the CB to play the out-breaking route from #2 while passing verticals from #1 off to the S on that side.  This is a Quarters check that operates as the defensive equivalent of a constraint play.  Early in the season, we saw a couple of different trap looks from the Blackshirts. Continue reading “Trap Coverages – A Quarters Check”

Cover 4 Bankerball – Nebraska’s Base Defense

With Bo Pelini out and Mark Banker in, the Blackshirts were faced with a sizable conceptual shift.  Pelini liked to play a lot of bracket coverages, with his safeties 2 High and primarily as pass defenders with limited run support responsibility; he tried to overcome this by mostly two-gapping his defensive line (though he unsuccessfully attempted to move away from this late).  This scheme worked great in the Big 12, with offenses using 11 and 10 personnel packages, rarely committing to consistently running the ball and instead throwing it down the field into that bracket coverage.  In the Big 10, Pelini’s defense had substantially less success, as teams would often formation Nebraska into a light box and force Nebraska’s OLBs into playing the run from a man disadvantage (6 blockers versus 5 defenders, etc.) while also having to play RPOs like the bubble, Y stick, pop pass, etc.  That’s an unwinnable battle, and we saw the Blackshirts get drilled a number of times because of it.  Think 63-38 in 2012 and Ohio State running wild on the Blackshirts.

Enter Mark Banker and his Cover 4 (or “Quarters”) base defense.  There are a lot of things I like about this defense and how it fits the Big 10.  Let’s take a peek at its basic principles. Continue reading “Cover 4 Bankerball – Nebraska’s Base Defense”