Fresno State – New Year, New Looks

Game 1 of a new football season.  No better day of the year.  Your team hasn’t lost yet, you’ve spent all summer sipping on Kool-Aid while turning every player on your team into an All American, and your coaches can do no wrong.  Then game time hits, you get a punt blocked, drop a routine hand off on a jet sweep, mix in a few untimely penalties, and suddenly you’re in a first half battle with Fresno State.

Thankfully the Husker offense not only settled down in the second half, but made some timely adjustments to take advantage of Fresno State’s overly aggressive defensive fronts.  Let’s take a look at a few of the things the offense got done, as well as our first peek at Banker’s 2016 pressure package.

Continue reading “Fresno State – New Year, New Looks”

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”