Defensively Speaking: Shorthanded Yet Still Impressive

Jim Knowles’ group officially made it ten straight impressive defensive performances on Saturday, despite missing multiple key players. Let’s take a deeper look at the game Knowles called and how the players executed.

Naturally, Knowles called for some Cover 1 Rat:

Note how everyone is in man coverage except for Will LB Steele Chambers who is the “rat” in the low hole and boundary safety Sonny Styles who is the deep safety.

However, presumably due to the fact that Ohio State is without both of their starting safeties, Knowles has not been calling for Cover 1 Rat as often. For example, Knowles called a fair amount of Cover 3 Buzz on Saturday:

Note how the boundary safety (in this case, Ja’Had Carter) sinks down to the “hook” zone to the boundary while the Will LB (in this case, CJ Hicks) extends out to the curl/flat zone to the boundary.

Knowles also used more Tampa-2 than he has in recent weeks. In the next clip, you can see an example of Tampa-2 with the Mike LB (Cody Simon) dropping into the high hole as the pole runner:

Lastly, Knowles called for a fair amount of Cover 4:

Saturday was the first time all season that we didn’t see any new pressure calls from  Knowles. However, with Sonny Styles now at boundary safety, Knowles seems to be increasing the frequency of which he calls for his boundary safety blitz. Below, he calls for it as a fire zone (5-man pressure with 3-deep / 3-underneath coverage):

Knowles especially still seems to like this call on run downs. For example, in the next clip, he calls for the boundary safety blitz against Zone Cab and it works to perfection:

Ohio State had a few issues in run defense on Saturday, but I believe they were strong against the run overall. Below, Michigan State runs Split Zone (a play Ohio State struggled with against Rutgers), but Ohio State called for a “pinch” stunt which spilled the ball outside to the nickel (Jordan Hancock) who was a free hitter:

In the next clip, Michigan State tries running Arc Zone Read. Jack Sawyer is the man the quarterback is reading and he presents a “give” read. The quarterback hands the ball off, but Ty Hamilton destroys the center at the point of attack and meets the running back in the A-gap for a TFL:

Although Michigan State isn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut (to say the least), I think the defense was still impressive when you consider all the injuries. I also give Jim Knowles credit for being able to adjust his gameplan based on the injury situation.

You might also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *