The Miami Hurricane Efense. Coached by Mark OH-NO!-frio…I don’t know if I can do this article. Since Al Golden defended his best bud on the radio I’ve first went through denial about his return next year to just wanting to erase part of my memory – all non-offensive or special team plays from the past two seasons. All the memories are flooding back – especially from this year. Some of those memories are in the form of numbers. 117. 53. 13. 8. 88. To share what the numbers mean let’s see:
117 – That’s what we ranked in Total Defense this year.
53 – That’s the number of Tackles for Loss on the season, which put us at 103rd in the nation (for comparison sake we led the nation in 2010 with 115).
13 – That’s the record low amount of sacks we had this year.
8 – The number of times we gave up 30 this year including 41 to Virginia who averaged just under 23 on the season.
88 – Red Zone defense ranking – it’s supposed to be Bend but DON’T Break right?
And those are just the numbers that didn’t remain blocked out by my brain that wants to develop a short term memory loss issue after typing that out. But let’s just go piece by piece into the disaster of an Efense.
It’s MULTIPLE! That’s a good thing right? More versatile since using both 3-4 and 4-3 looks and ideally with the same players so you can switch things up on the offense and make it a tougher read for the opposing teams QB – good illustration would be found here http://sbn.to/fUw3uK. That’s about as multiple as you can get, some NFL stuff. No one expected multiplicity to that extent, but we found out our Multiple scheme was multiplying times zero. We couldn’t do good from a 4-3 look. We couldn’t do good from a 3-4 look. A big part of that is what we were asking our players to do within both alignments.
OLBs covering Slot WRs – and at times starting WRs.
This gets listed first cause it’s the number one immediate disadvantage given up by OH-NO!-frio’s defense each week. Any team with a half decent offensive coordinator will take easy first downs. Passes to the slot WR all year was that easy first down. Some teams took a while to take advantage of it and others, like Notre Dame, went after it almost immediately. Just was pitch and catch. College safeties are hardly ever asked to cover slot WRs. A number of college starting CBs don’t feel comfortable covering WRs out of the slot. It’s not an easy cover. Yet despite all of that we have OLBs way out by the hashmarks trying to cover opposing slot WRs. The thought process is that you keep the base efense out there and you should be tougher against the run. But if that LB is by the hashmarks he’s not going to be involved in the run efense. So he can’t help vs the run and he can’t help vs the pass since he’s THE mismatch on the field trying lined up over the slot.
No win situation if there ever was one. And I thought that was as bad as it could get. That’s when opposing offenses went twin WR sets and instead of putting our 2nd CB on that starting WR lined up on the inside we put our OLB over him. Devil’s advocate, or in this case an excuse maker, could say ‘well we’re going zone so he’ll just cover him underneath and the safety will be over the top’. And he’d have a point. Problem is if that OLB is covering the WR who’s lined up where the OLB normally would be? You got it…a CB. So when predictably the offense audibles to a run play in the direction of that CB, he’s stuck taking on a TE, O-lineman, or a FB. All are mismatches and again its easy first downs without even having to throw the ball. Just hand it off and run at the CB playing OLB against a base personnel offense.
I CAN’T TAKE ANOTHER YEAR OF THIS MAN AS OUR EFENSIVE COORDINATOR!!!
Sorry…Well again the devil’s advocate might say ‘well he can just bring a safety down to help against the run’. Well devil’s advocate then that starting WR who’s covered short by the LB and deep by the Safety runs a deep post against that Safety for a TD. Or if nothing else a deep crossing route and picks up 20 yards or so. Pick your poison.
The Forward Pass in Overall.
Any team that could throw the ball forward and the WRs didn’t experience a case of drops (looking at you North Carolina WRs) could put up points against us. Even Georgia Tech started scoring once they went into the Pistol formation and started throwing the ball. They only completed 3 passes the whole game yet after that first completion (a 57 yarder) our CBs had to actually pay attention to the WRs and not just immediately fly up to tackle the pitch man as part of the option. Once the defense had to be honest Georgia Tech put up 36 points in 3 Quarters (GT didn’t throw a pass in the first quarter). We made for career days when it came to opposing QBs (and offenses overall). Mike Rocco, a very mediocre QB, has one game in his career where he threw for over two TDs.
I bet you can guess who that came against. He had 4 against us with 300 yards passing, the only other team that gave up 300 yards passing to him this year was Richmond (which was the only other game UVA scored more than 40 in). Chase Rettig, of BC, had nearly 100 yards more against us than he had against anyone else this year (441 yards). Over 400 to Mike Glennon, but at least he went over 400 a couple other times. Then there was the 77% completion percentage on 22 passes to ND’s Everett Golson – he’s not a bad QB but his average was just under 59%. Duke’s Sean Renfree threw for 432 yards against us and his next highest total was 314 against Memphis (4 TDs against us tied his 4 against that same Memphis team).
There were QBs all around the country sad to see us self-impose a bowl ban because they weren’t going to have a chance to be matched up against our passing defense and therefore go out with a bang. People say ‘well we started A.J. Highsmith and Kacy Rodgers at safety, of course the pass defense sucked’. And they’re right in that those two aren’t very good. But we had a Safety sitting on the bench who started on a defense that featured the #1 passing efficiency unit in the country to years ago. And while I never have been a big fan cause his tackling wasn’t great, Vaughn Telemaque’s tackling was better than Rodgers’ tackling. His angles and coverage were better than Highsmith’s. And the main reason our former HC loved him was cause he was always where he was supposed to be – even if he didn’t make a big play he didn’t give them up either. He’s a Senior and had about 3 years of starting experience under his belt and when he did get in the game showed he was clearly better than Rodgers and Highsmith. Would he transform the pass efense into a top notch unit? No, not at all. But he’d help it be better than what it was.
Starting Ladarius Gunter earlier in the season would have helped somewhat as well – can’t say a ton because we still were bad against the pass after he took over but he clearly was the 2nd best CB on the team to Brandon McGee. Although, the who didn’t make as much as difference when it came to players because they were all playing in a scheme that even if they were doing their jobs still had a LB covering a slot WR and therefore the secondary would look bad when it was that OLB getting beat. Or because that mismatch was there and OH-NO-frio was trying to compensate for that mismatch by having guys play a soft zone so they could easily help if needed against that slot WR.
Basically, the whole coverage scheme was already compromised because of a simple scheme decision that never changed. Shoot, we even used the base 4-3 look against teams that had 4 WR sets out there. Yes, a pass rush would have been helpful. But coming into the season it was obvious we’d have to manufacture a pass rush. That’s where the multiple looks were supposed to help, but we normally were pretty obvious as to who was rushing and who was dropping into coverage. Also, the personnel groupings in our Nickel package along the line was usually head scratch worthy. Shayon Green generates zero pass rush using mostly a bull rush against OTs and he’s playing DT in obvious passing situations so he can try a bull rush against OGs? He hasn’t been explosive for two surgeries now so thinking he could use his quickness on the interior doesn’t even apply. We had him in and Luther Robinson, one of the only players on the line who ever generated a rush, on the sideline most of the time in Nickel situations. Oh I do remember one well-disguised coverage. It was Curtis Porter dropping into coverage to pick up Virginia’s Perry Jones (all 195 lbs of him) about 4 times in that game. Here we finally got back our only lineman who consistently could get penetration against the run or pass and demand a double team because of it, but we don’t advantage of that. Instead, OH-NO-frio decides to have him drop and cover a scat back. The game winning TD throw by Rocco…no Porter trying to disrupt the pocket because he was too busy dropping to cover the RB in the flat.
OH-NO!-frio IS A DAMN GENIUS!
Overall Overall the Efense sucked.
As bad as the efense was against the pass with much effort the rush efense was pretty lousy as well. Duke still had a good 40 yards more than there average rushing even with their QB being over 100 yards over his high passing. NC State had 664 total yards. Their QB threw for over 400 yards AND they ran for over 200 as well. Kansas State had their 2nd string QB in and still scored 2 more TDs. Overall they threw the ball twice in the 4th quarter and scored 21 points. But the scoring really wasn’t surprising. We had Deon Bush lined up 14 yards off the ball at the snap and after the snap he immediately dropped into deep center field coverage. This was in the 4th quarter while K-State had their 3rd string QB in and they hadn’t run thrown the ball since Colin Klein was still in the game. Their coach had clearly showed he was simply going to just run every play til the end of the game yet we still were dropping a safety into deep coverage? Even FSU only completed two passes in the 4th quarter yet scored 17 points – yes a turnover on downs factored in but 10 points with two passes isn’t great either. Could discuss the fact that we have our DEs lined up directly over the OTs most of the time.
Expectations are that they’ll stand them up and then shed their blocks to make the tackle. But then we look at their size and you have to ask if that’s a realistic expectation. Chick is 260 at the most. Shayon Green is listed as 260 but he’s 6’2 and lacks explosion. Neither Chick or Green lacks hustle or energy, but both just lack size and to compound things Chick had arm issues in the off season so was limited in the weight room. Asking smaller DEs to go head up on OTs would appear to be unwise and that was pretty much correct all year. FSU, ND and NC State went off tackle a ton with plenty of success. UNC did, too, but remember we not only had our smallish DEs head up on OTs we also had a CB lined up where an OLB should have been so we were even more trouble than normal there. Just think this should be pointed out. Most teams that feature smaller, heavy on the hustle DEs play to that by having them get upfield on the snap so if nothing else they turn run plays inside to where the help should be coming from their teammates. But as has been clear for two years OH-NO-frio is short bus special so we do things differently. It’s beating a dead horse, but this dead horse was supposed to be improved in Year 2 especially with having returning starters and reserves who played a bit returning as well.
Stay tuned for Part 2, the conlusion of Esteban’s gripping novel breaking down the 2012 defense.