“No defense is going to be effective against the option if you don’t put the QB on the ground every chance that you get.”

Welcome to Strategery Corner today, campers.   I’ve got three items worthy of your perusal.

The first one comes via the Chattanooga Times Free Press.  It’s a look at Demarcus Dobbs’ move from defensive end in a 4-3 scheme to defensive end in a 3-4.  The position name may not have changed, but the technique and responsibilities for the position sure have.

… As a Georgia defensive end last season in a 4-3 scheme, Dobbs played a 5-technique, which meant he lined up over the outside shoulder of an opposing offensive tackle. In the 3-4 scheme implemented by new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, the 6-foot-2, 285-pounder is playing a 3-technique, lining up outside the offensive guard.

“It is definitely different,” Dobbs said. “In the 4-3, you are dealing with everything outside the tackle, but in the 3-4, you are dealing with the center and the guard and everything. It’s hard to get used to…”

Which is why it’s best to remind ourselves that at least early on, this Georgia defense will be a work in progress.

But by season’s end, it’ll be Jacket time.  We all remember what two weeks’ prep time and a home game got Martinez’ defense in 2008:  a whole lot of nothing in the second half.  So here’s hoping that Grantham’s got his charges better prepared for the triple option.

Speaking of which, Shakin’ the Southland digs into whether grabbing some basic principles and concepts from Buddy Ryan’s 46 defense (and its heir, Arizona’s Desert Swarm) might prove effective against a Georgia Tech offense that doesn’t boast a competent passing game.

… Against most pro-style or spread-passing teams this is just a front for variety or in definite-run situations because its not so hot in pass coverage. However, this front takes away the Midline Option from Georgia Tech. In my copy of Paul Johnson‘s Ga Southern playbook, he specifically states (to the QB) to check out of the Midline play whenever the DTs are playing 2-techs; he still does it today. If you can stop the Dive as part of the OS/IS Veer option, and then take away the Midline, you force them to run the QB in the option around the perimeter. If the QB is unable to throw to take pressure off, you have forced them into their playcall of the veer. Then you tell the Ends/OLBs to knock his damn teeth in on every play.

Josh Nesbitt throws like my Junior High QB, and with Clemson’s DE talent, this should be doable, but the key is in the LB corps, one of our weaknesses…

The catch, of course, is one that every Dawg fan is painfully aware of.

… As with everything in life, there is give and take with this adjustment. You are declaring to the offense that you will not allow them the Dive, and in this case the Midline as well (since it works off the Dive primarily). The Bear front will, by design, place more pressure on your perimeter defensive players.  Because you are making it a point to take away play calls inside the formation, your linebackers and secondary players must be able to play good fundamental football, particularly on the edges of the formation.  You also must have a quick, agile DE who can provide some help for the secondary/linebackers who are filling gaps they would not fill with other defensive fronts.  Thus, the ability of an outside linebacker or safety to provide support on perimeter running becomes extremely important because offenses know how important, if trying to get outside, it is to get an effective seal on the outside free DL.

No shit.

And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

Part the third comes from – where else? – Chris Brown, who respectfully riffs off of Stewart Mandel/Andy Staples’ “whither college football?” post earlier this week by looking at how the spread evolved to counter Ryan’s eight-man defensive front principles (pretty nifty how this has all circled around, hunh?) to speculate where offenses and defenses might be headed in the next decade.  I found this bit about countering zone blitzes fascinating (and make sure you catch brophy’s observations in the comments that follow):

… The other narrative — one slightly more complicated in the back and forth between O and D, in that the give and take continues today — deals with the increased use of the zone blitz and the offense’s manifold responses. The spread run game evolved for many reasons. One was to deal with the problem the eight-man fronts present, i.e. the numerical issue presented by an extra guy in the box (solved by making the quarterback a legitimate run threat), but another reason it developed was to counteract defensive fronts with linemen dropping into coverage and linebackers trying to fill inside gaps immediately. The term “zone read” is useful because both halves are key to the its success: the “read” obviously gives the offense flexibility, but so does the zone part of the play, which allows linemen to area block and pick up obscure and unpredictable stunts and movement.

Whether or not being “spread” helps against zone blitzes is an ambiguous question due to the vagaries of six-man protection schemes, but the spread is undoubtedly the best offense ever devised if your goal is to run a lot of screens. A multiple spread offense gives a coach more options for constraint plays than any set previously designed: bubble screens, rocket screens, jailbreak screens, slow screens, middle screens, shovel screens, and so on. And remember, screens are the one thing almost every coach recommends against zone blitzes and they are also the one pass that any quarterback at any level can complete, no matter the protection, blitz scheme, or coverage — an important thing when your gameplan involves trying to get the ball to your playmakers.

Chris finishes up by saying he really doesn’t know where things are headed, other than to see what Nick Saban and Saban’s protegés do – for the next few weeks, anyway.  LOL.  At least we’ve got a front row seat in Athens to watch one of those guys.



Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

16 responses to ““No defense is going to be effective against the option if you don’t put the QB on the ground every chance that you get.”

  1. Pingback: Football Strategy « Designated Sitter

  2. Dante

    It amazes me how often a defender has a clear shot at a QB running the option and doesn’t take it. Who cares if the QB tosses the ball away to the RB as long as you knock the QB’s junk in the dirt on the play? Let the guy behind you tackle the RB. The 3-5 yards you’re giving up is worth it. If you EVER have a legal shot at the QB, take it.


    • AthensHomerDawg

      Exactly! Reggie Ball was hammered repeatedly one afternoon at Tech and finally sat out the game. Just watching that game unfold with his verbal jousts and pushing the trainer while out of bounds, you knew….sooner or later….he was gonna get lit up!


  3. NCT

    I miss Rennie. Love that play last year where he got to both the QB and the pitch guy in one move.


  4. 69Dawg

    OK I’m confused. If the 3-4 works so well against the spread why are NFL teams using it. NFL teams seldom run anything but the Pro sets. The thing about the 3-4 is that it can be changed just by a call to a 4-3, 5-2, 5-3 if you can do this with the same personnel group then the OC has no clue what he is going to see and the QB is screwed. I just hope we are disciplined enough to not show what we are going to do until it is too late for the QB. We should be especially effective against the Auburn’s that have the whole team do the Prairie Dog at the bench to see the play changes.


  5. DawgByte

    Willie Martinez never understood the importance of making the QB pay in the option. I played against option teams in HS and we were taught to pummel the QB every time he went down the line. As soon as the QB releases the ball to the TB they should be dropped to their backside. During the PJ regime at Tech I watched UGA DE after DE give their QB a free pass.

    I won’t miss Willie Martinez and his brainless use of our DE’s against the option.


    • Chuck

      That was the DE job was to hit the QB and make him pitch it. That is how we defended the Option in High School back in the 80s when the Option was first used. That was the the time of the strong safety era. One of the best Terry Houge (Spelling ???) God I wish we had someone like him.


  6. Scott

    I watched the game last season with mostly Tech fans and they were sick of me screaming for the DE to crush Nesbitt. They said “that’s playing dirty”. I said, “no….that’s the price you are supposed to pay for running the option”. They still didn’t understand.


    • Chuck

      That is what you call assignment football. And that is what the DE was suppose to do. Kill the QB. That will in return make him pitch the ball early before he even gets to the end to avoid getting hit. That make it a sweep play and not a option.


      • BMan

        Seems to me that the basics of defending the triple option is to reduce the number of options the offense has at their disposal.

        Option one is the fullback (or B back or whatever the hell Paul Johnson calls it). Tech is never all that big up front to start with, and in this offense, looks like PJ wants smaller OL guys, so the defense needs to blow up the first option by knocking the center and guards off the line and stuffing the dive (option one). That also serves a dual purpose as it gets into the QB’s running lane of moving down the line to deploy option two or three. That offense is built on timing, spacing and the faith that defensive players will be more instinctive than disciplined. Eliminate options for the QB, disrupt his timing and spacing, be disciplined, and get in his kitchen every chance you get, and it’s a really long day for the Tech offense (see: Orange Bowl).


    • No, this is playing dirty:


  7. dudetheplayer

    Why did that damn game have to be my last one as a student? What a miserable day (both the game and weather).

    I don’t remember too much after getting home from that one. 😀


  8. scdawg

    I can’t understand why the pitchman isn’t hit regardless. If the pitchman is gone, then the qb is forced to run everytime. Somebody tell me what Ara Parseghian did against Texas and the wishbone. Didn’t Notre Dame mirror it back at them?


    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Yeah, ND lined up on D with linebackers in a mirror image of the Texas offensive backfield and every play each player in the Texas backfield was knocked down whether he had the ball or not. Supposedly this “discovery” was what spelled the doom of the Wishbone.


  9. shane#1

    How to beat Tech. 1- Run the ball well. No offense can score from the bench. 2- Stop the dive play. The dive drives the TO.UGA did that well last season with Atkins and Owens, how will the new guys fare? 3- I want to see Rambo as Monster Man, or Headhunter, or whatever ya’ll call it. Rambo ran Paul Johnson’s offense in High School and for two weeks on the scout team. Nobody on UGA’s defense has watched as much Tech film as Rambo, including CTG. Let Rambo freelance, Johnson can’t scheme for Rambo if CTG himself isn’t sure where the man will line up. 4- Take away the pitch man on every play. Force Nesbit to run, then HIT HIM! Tire out the QB and bang him up and Tech’s offense doesn’t go.