Hokies Use Dime Defense to Defend Bearcats Pass Attack in the Military Bowl

Virginia Tech used 6 DBs, zone coverage and leverage techniques to defense Cincinnati's air attack.

[Mark Umansky]

Back in the early glory days of Bud Foster's tenure as Hokies defensive coordinator, there was one nuance which drove me crazy: against spread passing formations, Foster wouldn't use extra defensive backs to replace linebackers or defensive linemen. Older Hokie fans probably vividly remember whip linebacker Ben Taylor and rover Nick Sorensen trying to cover Ron Dugans on FSU's game winning TD in the BCS Championship Game. Even beloved Hokie whip Cody Grimm struggled in man coverage to the point that it seemed opponents abandoned attacking Virginia Tech's corners.

Foster did slowly adapt as college football offenses featured more spread formations and passing. I first noticed the transition after Tech was decimated by Aaron Rodgers, Larry Fitzgerald, and a host of other passing attacks in the midst of a 2-5 finish in 2003. Foster started to use his rover linebacker in more of a traditional strong safety role. After injuries depleted the whip position in 2010, Foster started to use a nickel look with Kyle Fuller playing slot receivers against spread, and then moving into a traditional whip alignment against pro formations. Finally, over the last few seasons Foster has incorporated a 3-3 stack defense, where he pulls a defensive tackle from his nickel package and replaces him with a whip linebacker.

In all my years watching Virginia Tech football, I do not recall Bud Foster utilizing six defensive backs (known as a "dime" defense), even against 5 wide receiver sets. If Foster did utilize a dime look, it was in prevent situations and wasn't a core component of a game plan. When the Hokies played East Carolina earlier this season (with Brandon Facyson in the lineup), Foster used the nickel and a bear fronts against the Pirates in order to generate pressure on Shane Carden. With Gunner Kiel demonstrating inaccuracy against pressure, I fully expected Bud to use a similar game plan and bring heat on Kiel. Instead, Foster debuted and used a dime look heavily.

The Dime and the Importance of Leverage

It wouldn't be a Bud Foster defense without a unique twist, and Foster's version of the dime is no different. Instead of the NFL-style four-man defensive front with a middle linebacker spying on the quarterback, Foster used three down linemen (a nose tackle and two ends) and kept both of his middle linebackers on the field. The defensive ends most often rushed hard to the outside, while the nose tackle and both linebackers jammed up the gaps from guard to guard. While six defensive backs dropped into coverage, five players were rushing (or trying to contain) Gunner Kiel most of the time.

The other variation was the selection of the sixth defensive back. In some situations, Greg Stroman played a boundary corner or shadowed receivers who ran some form of jet sweep motion. When Stroman was not on the field, Foster replaced him with backup rover Anthony Shegog. Shegog played more of a traditional rover alignment, close to the line of scrimmage and covered the short flat to the boundary.

The dime look had mixed results. For most of the first half, Kiel faced very little pressure, and if you had told me before the game Kiel would have the kind of time he had on most throws, I would have expected the Bearcats to put up some serious numbers. The Hokies front only sacked Kiel one time in the first half, and Dadi Nicolas was able to force a scramble an incompletion on a key third down play. Otherwise, Kiel was comfortable in the pocket until Deon Clarke ended his day with a well-timed blitz in the third quarter. Let's take a look at how coverage threw Kiel out of his game.

The Bearcats hit a big play on the opening drive of the game, and then followed it up with a touchdown on the second drive. After the touchdown drive, Kiel made a couple of errant throws and had a bit of a frustrated look. When I watched the film, I noticed that the Hokies were showing man to man but playing a variety of coverages. Kiel appeared to expect receivers to be open in places where he was actually making the worst possible throw.

The most successful looks that Bud Foster threw at Kiel were leverage zones. Playing leverage is a coverage technique in which a defender overplays half of a wide receiver's pass route options. When playing inside leverage, the defender aligns inside his man, angling towards the sidelines, and while it looks like man-to-man, his real assignment is to prevent any receiver from running an inside breaking pass route (cross, slant or post). Outside leverage is essentially the opposite, and the defender takes away any outside breaking routes (corner, out, curl or post-corner).

In the dime package, the Hokies had three able pass defenders on both the boundary and the field side, and through alignment and correct leverage, the defense was able to take away most of the Bearcat route combinations. Here is a terrific example from the second quarter. The Hokies defense faces a third-down-and-goal situation from the six, and the Bearcats offense starting to play in sync. Focus on the top of the screen. Foster has three defenders (Kendall Fuller on the slot, Kyshoen Jarrett behind him and slightly outside, and Greg Stroman lined up near the sideline. Note each player's body position at the snap of the football. Fuller almost has his back to the quarterback and is inside of the slot. Jarrett is deeper, but also has his back to the quarterback. Stroman bails out from his alignment quickly, but he is angled inside, almost looking at the quarterback. Why?

To the quarterback, this looks like man coverage, but it is really a zone. Almost every route combination that could be run into the end zone is effectively covered as long as each defender plays their responsibility correctly. In this case, the slot receiver runs to the flat, and the outside receiver runs a deep crossing route. When the receiver cuts to the inside in front of Stroman (No. 3), he runs right into Jarrett (No. 34). Fuller (No. 11) has the receiver in the flat, but if the slot wheels deep, he runs right into Stroman who would be in perfect position to intercept the pass (similar to Donovan Riley's interception against Florida State in 2012). As result, Kiel has nowhere to go.

Let's suppose the Bearcats run a different route combination. If the slot receiver runs a corner route while the wide receiver runs a slant, cross, or post, Stroman would have the corner route, Jarrett would have any vertical route coming inside (post or slant) while Fuller would jump the crossing route. Again, the quarterback doesn't have a wide open option, and can only make a play by throwing into a tight space with three defenders and trusting that his receiver can out talent the coverage. It can happen (Exhibit A- Calvin "Megatron" Johnson), but with most college receivers and quarterbacks, the play will result in an incompletion, coverage sack or big mistake. Kiel threw the ball away in the vicinity of the crossing route and took the field goal.

Leverage coverage technique makes things easy on a defender because he only has to take away half of the opponent's route options, instead of needing to read and react. As I mentioned before, another benefit is it looks like man coverage to the quarterback, so all sight adjustments and hot routes are based on the mindset that the defense is playing man. Foster ups the ante because regardless of the position listed on the roster, any of his secondary players could play either leverage technique and play both short and deep zones. This play is a terrific example from the first quarter.

The Bearcats go to a five receiver set, with three receivers to the field and two to the boundary. To the boundary, the wide receiver runs a crossing route, while the slot receiver fakes a screen and turns up field on a wheel route. To the field, the two interior receivers run flag (out routes) at slightly different levels, while the widest receiver runs a go route.

On both sides, the six dime defensive backs form a triangle using leverage to cover all areas of a zone. On the bottom of the screen, both short Hokie defenders play inside leverage (because they don't have inside deep safety help) to force a throw to the sideline. Note, Detrick Bonner (No. 8) is playing a tighter coverage assignment on the slot receiver. Meanwhile, Riley (No. 2) backpedals into a cover 2 deep zone, but he is playing outside leverage. This allows Riley to play well off the receiver and eyeball the quarterback on quick deep fade routes.

On the boundary, the Hokies play similar coverage. Stroman (No. 3) is aligned on the slot receiver and is playing inside leverage. Kendall Fuller (No. 11) is aligned on the outside receiver and is also playing inside leverage. Nearly 20 yards deep, Kyshoen Jarrett (No. 34) is playing inside leverage from his safety spot. When the slot receiver turns up field, Jarrett has the deep half responsibility to protect Stroman deep (allowing Stroman to aggressively attack any screen) while trusting Fuller (the best coverage man) to stay with any receiver that crosses to the middle of the field.

Up front, the Hokies rush only three down linemen. Deon Clarke (No. 40) appears to be spying on Kiel, and Chase Williams (No. 36) seems to get lost dropping into an underneath zone. Still, Kiel has plenty of time. So, let's look at his options.

To the boundary, Stroman has taken away a quick throw to the flat, and any deep floating throw on the wheel route could be fodder for a Jarrett interception. To the field side, both flag routes are relatively open, but long throws to the field side on out routes are prime opportunities for pick sixes, especially when they are the quarterback's third or fourth progression. The go route to the field side may be the best option. Riley shouldn't let the receiver get behind him, and he was beaten by Moore on the game's first touchdown, but Kiel has Riley directly in his line of vision and Kiel knows pressure could be coming. So instead, Kiel throws the crossing route against one of the best cover corners in the country. In essence, Foster has forced Kiel to throw into a small window against his best cover man. Bud wins.

Deon Clarke and Coverage

While the dime defense forced Kiel to hesitate and often make bad decisions, Foster's bear nickel look (featuring Deon Clarke as a stand-up edge defender and Jarrett taking his place at linebacker) and traditional nickel look forced all three Cincinnati turnovers. Deon Clarke thrived in both alignments. A fake corner blitz from Fuller gave Clarke a lane to knock Kiel out of the game. Clarke also lead the Hokies with 11 total tackles, but perhaps his most impressive feat was his impersonation of a Torrian Gray defensive back in a leverage zone.

Michael Shroyer

Let's re-watch Kendall Fuller's interception. The Bearcats use a running formation with an H-Back staying in to protect. The boundary receiver runs a post-corner route, faking a post route and then turning back outside to the corner of the end zone. The two receivers to the field side run crossing routes. Now, let's examine the leverage the Hokie defenders use.

To the field side, Chuck Clark (No. 19) and Bonner are playing inside leverage against the Bearcats crossing routes. Donovan Riley is playing outside leverage deep. To the boundary, Foster sends Jarrett on a blitz, so Deon Clarke drops into an inside leverage zone on the lone Cincinnati receiver. This undercuts any quick slant or post route. Fuller plays outside leverage. If the quarterback throws the post, Fuller can see the throw and break on it, but no matter what he can't let anything beat him deep and to the outside. Kiel is also looking at the boundary receiver the entire way because he read man coverage at the line of scrimmage. In the NFL, the QB and receiver may have made a sight adjustment as the receiver flattens his route to attack the goal post, but the Bearcats receiver (No. 3) dutifully breaks back to the corner. Fuller is there waiting for the ball. He may not get an easier interception in his college career.

This happened because: 1) Kiel was rushed into throwing to his first progression because he knew the Hokies were bringing six. 2) Fuller trusted Clarke to bracket the slant and post route properly, leaving him to play his own responsibility. 3) Kiel's second receiver in the progression was bracketed by Clarke and Bonner after Clarke's initial responsibility broke back to the corner. 4) Kiel was not patient enough to look at Chuck Clark's man, who was the only player truly facing single coverage on the play. Again, Foster has baited Kiel into taking a chance against Foster's best cover corner rather than attacking a weaker pass defender. This is brilliant design by Foster and Gray and beautiful execution by Clarke and Fuller.

As you can see here, Clarke doesn't get many chances to play coverage, but he has the tools to help surprise quarterbacks in the passing game. On this play, the Bearcats release a running back to the flat and try to pick Clarke, who is aligned as a stand-up defensive end in the Bear front.

Clarke likely hears Fuller call out the pick, avoids the pick, and then runs stride for stride with the BearcatS running back down the sideline. I don't think Kiel thought Clarke had any chance of staying with the back on this play. After seeing Pitt torch Bruce Taylor on a similar play back in 2012, watching Clarke shut down these routes while excelling as a disruptive blitzer warms this old Hokies fan's heart.

What Does the Military Bowl mean for Bud Foster's Defense in 2015?

Long time readers know that I don't put much stock into bowl games, but the final impression of a season has a major impact on how the fanbase perceives the state of the program. For me it is difficult to determine how mentally prepared either team is to play after the long layoff, so winning or losing the game doesn't mean much. Instead, I like to try and evaluate how the coaching staff uses the extra game and practice time to prepare new players for the coming season.

Next season, Foster's defense loses three veteran players who have been critical in communication and leadership roles in 2014. Chase Williams had an excellent 2014, but while he was sidelined it was clear that Andrew Motuapuaka has tremendous upside when he slides into the mike linebacker role next year. However, Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett took almost every meaningful snap over the last three years from their safety spots. Foster has often discussed how important Jarrett and Bonner have been in leading a very young cornerback group the last two seasons. Minus a short stretch, Jarrett has been outstanding around the line of scrimmage, and despite his shortcomings in run support, Detrick Bonner has been one of the better Hokie cover safeties. They will be tough to replace.

Given the extra practice time, Greg Stroman and Anthony Shegog both made cases to get a chance to find a role in the secondary next season. Stroman got lost several times against some wonky motion, but he looked effortless tracking receivers in man coverage and may give Foster some flexibility to move Chuck Clark back to a safety spot. Shegog played more like an old-school Hokie rover, aligning near the line of scrimmage, but outside of the defensive end similar to the whip's normal alignment. Shegog was beaten once on an out route, but he was responsible in run support and didn't get picked on in coverage. Beyond Shegog and Stroman, C.J. Reavis (who I think can be a real weapon with his ability to both cover and provide run support at the free safety position) continued to be an ace on special teams, and Der'Woun Greene looked gentrified as the Hokies new kick-off returner. Holland Fisher was one of the top recruits in the country may factor in at the rover position, and Mook Reynolds is coming to Blacksburg with an opportunity to contribute immediately. With Kendall Fuller coming off a spectacular bowl game, Chuck Clark's improvement throughout 2014, and a returning Brandon Facyson, Bud Foster and Torrian Gray have built a secondary chalk full of talented players. Foster's defense is slowly transitioning to the point where almost every man on the field in the secondary could potentially be a deep safety, press corner or an edge blitzing dynamo. The quarterback never knows where the heat is coming from, and that usually spells disaster for Hokie opponents.

Despite recruiting laments by Hokie Nation, when you look at the 2015 roster and compare it to 2012, you really have to credit the defensive coaches and recruiting staff on how much depth has been built. 2012's depth was tenuous at best, in present day the talent of the reserve players is significantly better. Ricky Walker seems to have supplanted Woody Baron as the next man in the defensive tackle rotation. Andrew Motuapuaka performed well when Williams went down. Four-star caliber talents like Vinny Mihota and Raymon Minor will have four full years after spending a season redshirting. When you watched the Hokies punt and kick coverage teams (who were outstanding all year), the improvement can directly be attributed to the influx of young, fast, talented defensive players. Guys like Ronny Vandyke, Jamieon Moss, Melvin Keihn and C.J. Reavis all contributed well on special teams. With the lack of depth at defensive end the one major question mark, the rest of Bud Foster's defense looks primed to have a fantastic 2015.

Comments

Great stuff French, as usual.

So how hard is it to implement this sort of defensive strategy during the season from week to week depending on the type of offense we are facing? Is it like gearing up for Ga Tech, where extra practice time is often critical to ingraining the assignment responsibilities, or will it be easier than that for our defenders to switch to this sort of defense with just a normal week's practice?

They ran this kind of pass defense when Georgia Tech was in pass mode at the end of that game. The problem is far too often the inside leverage players were late in coming to support. The same thing happened on the long Tyler Boyd touchdown against Pitt (Kyshoen Jarrett was late coming up on inside leverage while Kendall Fuller was forced to play outside.) I think when Facyson got hurt, it put Foster in a tough spot with young defensive backs. In a leverage zone, the defender must play his responsibility. If a young DB starts guessing and doesn't play the correct leverage, it opens up huge holes. Hence all the man coverage versus East Carolina.

When you can mix these looks in with true man coverage, it is deadly. You heard the announcers all game long talking about how the Hokies were playing man. Well, Foster fooled them too. It looks like man coverage, but this is a zone look. Fuller's interception is such a good example. Kiel threw the ball right where Fuller was going to be because he read that Fuller was playing man. Fuller played his technique, and the ball ended up in his lap.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

"defender playing his responsibility" seemed to be a MAJOR issue on the 4th & 15 that gave up the tying TD, late in the GT game....

Great analysis as always.

I noticed the mention of Torrian Gray working a lot with Foster on these designs. I may have missed discussion on this in the past, but is he headed towards being a DC sometime down the line, either at VT or elsewhere?

A lot of voices here and TSL have called for him to become DC if Foster were to ever leave (assumption that Foster would be going somewhere as a HC, and taking Wiles as his DC). Although it sounds reasonable to me, I'm not aware of any chatter outside of internet boards. But hey, it's the internet, it must be true!

first off, your avatar image is great.

As for Torrian being DC I believe it is all just speculation. I would definitely give him the shot if I was Frank in this scenario. But I wonder if Bud left would Wiles actually follow him, or would Gray? It's an interesting discussion topic I think. I have heard before that if Bud was bumped to HC of VT then Wiles would become DC. Not sure how accurate that is. I have also heard that Gray is VT through and through and wants to coach there until he retires. Would he jump if someone threw a few hundred thousand at him to be a DC somewhere? don't know, maybe. But he certainly isn't going anywhere to coach DBs anywhere else.

Ultimately I think Gray and Moorehead are extremely important to future VT success. They are the young bloods in the program. My mind has strange euphoric imagery when I think of a Hokie team with Moorehead at OC and Gray at DC. So I really like seeing the pay bumps given to them this year. I would like to see more bonuses worked into their contracts for their performance though. For recruiting, for player performance, for unit performance (that's what she said), for winning conferences and bowls (which are there now I think).

And this flies in the face of all the people calling for heads and to buy the latest and greatest coaching trend, but I for one take pride in VT standing apart from most programs with it's stability and loyalty of coaches. I would love to see how a succession plan worked out whereby we are able to retain these coaches and not hire a new Head Coach that is going to fire staff just to bring in his own people.

Yeah, I can't remember who posted it, but it feels like one of those things that "some person posted somewhere" that echo-chambered and took on life without ever having a milligram of factual basis. That aside, it IS conceivable.

I don't know that I see Moorehead as an OC anytime soon. I mean, he was a GA two years ago, right? And while I love his recruiting and the technical development of his guys, those are two separate skills from the Xs and Os. (And neither requires nunchucks or computer hacking.) Not saying he can't do it, I just haven't seen it yet.

I do agree that I want both to stick around for quite a while. But I want to see every Hokie become Bud Foster (best in their field, fiercely loyal, etc). I'm unrealistic like that.

Moorehead would be a ways off for sure but I'm talking succession. So For example:
first stage:
Bud to HC
Wiles to DC
Hire DL coach

Second stage:
Wiles retires, Gray Moved to DC, hire DL coach
all other coaches remain same.

Third stage:
Bud retires with several national championships
Shane becomes HC (perhaps he has gone away to do stint at small D1 HC position for experience)
Gray remains DC.
And somewhere Lefty either moves on or retires and Moorehead moves up.

It's my stupid brain also being unrealistic, but man I would love something like that to happen. In a world of the coaching carousel where whole staffs are wiped clean for the next greatest thing, it would be amazing for VT to be the single university that bucks the trend and paves it's own way.

but all wishful thinking I know.

Actually wouldn't Wiles keep coaching the DL as DC and the hire would be inside linebackers coach (Bud's current responsibility)?

As for all the rest, it's doable. The loyalty level of the coaches is kind of off the charts. You don't see this in college ball these days.

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

That's a good point on Wiles and hiring LB coach. Thanks.

Now this has always confused me. Why would Wiles be chosen as DC over Gray and just what would make him a better or more competent DC than Gray? IMOP Gray has proven to be a superior coach than Wiles.

UVA is a great place to take a dump.

I'm not sure you could argue one has proven more competent than the other since both do a damn good job, but I personally would choose Gray. That is looking from the outside in though. Anyway, just fan speculation I have seen come up in the past.

Yeah it's definitely from the outside. Also my reasoning is most likely trivial (number of players in NFL, All-Americans, All-ACC, etc). Gray takes those categories hands down.

UVA is a great place to take a dump.

That has more to do with size and caliber of recruits. I would argue both are top 5-10 coaches at their position. That being said, I think the argument could certainly be made that Gray is the best pure DB coach in the country (not also a DC), along with Duane Akina.

Probably because Bud has always said that Wiles would be his choice for DC if he were to be named a head coach.

Assuming that Shane hasn't moved on to a HC gig somewhere else, he could easily slide over to the defensive side of the Ball. Before he was at VT, most of his coaching experience was with Defensive backs and Linebackers.

Also I think we would move Coach Brown to D-Line full time before we brought in a brand new coach for the unit, since he is already assisting Coach Wiles there.

There's a part of me that wants Chad Morris to succeed at SMU for two years, then take the VT HC job and convince Bud to stay on. Eventually Bud and Charlie retire, Torrian takes the DC role.

There's another part that wants Morris to struggle at SMU for two years, and take the VT OC job under Bud as his "rehab" stint. Then Bud decides to take retire with four or five NC trophies, Wiles goes about the same time, Morris takes over while Gray becomes DC. And they go on to win another dozen NCs.

Mostly, I'm saying I want VT to win big, a lot, and have Bud be rewarded for his loyalty. I'm not heavily tied to the specific details...

If you listen to Buds post game with Burnop, he says something like "Torrian and I" when speaking about the defensive game plan. I perked up when I heard that.

'Its easy to grin, when your ship comes in, and you've got the stock market beat,
but the man worthwhile, is the man who can smile, when his shorts are too tight in the seat'

Do you see this being used very situationally? I saw it during the game and the first thing I thought was oh great another thing other schools can use against us when recruiting DL.

This particular defense is more for air raid type attacks. The concepts (leverage, bracketing zones) are nothing new.
VT still plays more than enough run-based offenses for DL/LB's to get plenty of playing time.

As for recruiting, it's nothing that hasn't been said for the better part of a decade now. If you wanna play in the front 7 for Bud Foster, you're gonna have to bite the bullet, bang your head (occasionally take on blocks, play/maintain your gap), and play your assignment. Not everyone is willing to do that. However, it's part of what allows for such a good and unique defense.

No... 4 DL-1LB and 3DL-2 LB fronts are common place against Air-Raid teams.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Clarke was fantastic in this game. It's really difficult for LB's to play leverage correctly (Di Nardo really struggled the few times he was asked to do it this year- not his forte) but he did it consistently all game. He was dynamic as well. The only mistake I recall him making was misplaying a read option late in the 4th quarter and letting the QB get outside of him, which he was furious about.

He is, and has the potential to be, a really excellent collegiate linebacker when he plays smart and doesn't try to do too much. Honestly, that is true of the entire front 6-7 next year. I already think we'll have a top 5-10 DL. If they can improve some on the mental side of things and build some depth, we could be scary good.

I know we all talked about how many tight ends we had on the roster and predicted a full TE formation for 2015...buuuuuut I am thinking we should try out an 11 DB look

Hyping up Hokie Nation one video at a time.

We don't have enough QBs to convert...or do we????!!!!!

"Take care of the little things and the big things will come."

French, I said in another thread I thought Tim Settle would be ideal for the nose tackle in this dime look. If he can consistently eat two blockers of the snap do you think his presence will nudge Bud toward employing this look more against the pass-happy teams we face?

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

I certainly think it is possible. Few teams use two gap schemes any more because it is so hard to find a defensive tackle with great size and ability who also is willing to sacrifice himself to free up linebackers. The challenge with Settle or any great DL recruit is that they have grown up dominant and chasing the ball. Bud currently uses his one gap fit system, which is counter-intuitive often for great DL. A two gap system is even more counter-intuitive because it requires eating up two gaps and taking on double teams.

The dime look that Bud used against Cincy was a one gap approach. The nose, usually Nigel Williams, worked through one gap rather than trying to eat up the entire middle. As result, he made some plays BUT Chase Williams and Deon Clarke had to take on blocks (usually against the Bearcat guards). With more room to operate, those guards had a decent day creating room in the running game, and besides the Clarke forced fumble they generated very little linebacker pressure blitzing until Cincy was forced into using different personnel after Kiel's injury.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

So, 3-2-6? Works well for me in NCAA 14.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

I was about to say, I use that a lot more than the Nickle in NCAA '14. Works like a charm. Oregon and all the other hurry-up, spread teams are obliterated by VT using that defense.

VT '10, Born & Raised in the 804.
Rockin the Bakken.
โ€œWhen life deals you lemons, pick โ€˜em up and chuck โ€˜em at Gritty.โ€

Same here. Especially when I use Edwards and Vandyke as the LBs instead of Tyler.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

They were torching us early. French, you point out we only had one sack in the first half. Did anything change from a schematic or personnel standpoint by either team? Or did we just wear them out?

"That kid you're talking to right there, I think he played his nuts off! And you can quote me on that shit!" -Bud Foster

I wasn't really going to get into what was wrong during the first two drives, because most of it focused on a guy who isn't going to be here next season: Bonner. Foster opened the game with a bracket coverage with Chuck Clark as the outside leverage on Chris Moore in the slot. Bonner (who was aligned as a center field safety) had inside leverage. Clark jumped to the outside at the snap to prevent Moore from taking an outside release. Moore went down the seam to the inside, and Bonner was late getting there. For the next series, the Hokies played a little more man coverage, and Dononvan Riley got beaten deep on the touchdown. After that, we saw much more leverage coverage with man twinkled in.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Nick Sorensen the only QB to never play TE!

I think he played every other position though!

"Take care of the little things and the big things will come."

I imagine just like Bud, Torrain is happy in the Burgs. At your alma mater, in a great town, coaching future NFL DB's, and scheming hell for opposing qb's

No coach is more important on the staff- and I say this with a ton of respect for Bud Foster- than Torrian Gray. That profile (innovative coach, produces NFL players, NFL pedigree, great recruiter, Florida pipeline) is critical to the success of the program. In many ways, Aaron Moorehead has a similar profile for the offensive side of the ball with the exception of producing NFL talent. I expect Hodges, Ford, and Phillips can all bang on that door real soon.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

You can rack up as many yds and 1st downs as you want against this unit. But it don't mean shit if you don't rack up the most important stat-pts.

UVA is a great place to take a dump.

true but the more yards/1st downs they rack up the worse field position we have when our offense has already shown to be our weakest unit.

Foster's defense is slowly transitioning to the point where almost every man on the field in the secondary could potentially be a deep safety, press corner or an edge blitzing dynamo. The quarterback never knows where the heat is coming from, and that usually spells disaster for Hokie opponents.

This gave me the chills. Can you imagine such a thing? Bud Foster having a secondary that is completely interchangeable giving him the option to do basically anything. Couple that with Maddy, Marshall, Ekanem, Dadi, Clarke, Motupuaka all coming back up front and I think we are in store for a nice looking D in 2015.

"We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior" Stephen M.R. Covey

โ€œWhen life knocks you down plan to land on your back, because if you can look up, you can get up, if you fall flat on your face it can kill your spiritโ€ David Wilson

A 3 and out series where DBs are pressing at the line and you never know which one is blitzing. First Down, fuller for the sack. Second down, Clark. Third down, Faycson. That would have to be some kind of crazy record book stat if it happened, and make for the mother of all DBU gifs.

In Cinci33, (Fuller's INT) Jarrett starts out over top Clark & Bonner's side of the field (defense right). He watches Kiel and doesn't really committ to the middle & Fuller's side until Kiel winds up to throw the ball.

Had Kiel given Clark's man or Bonner's man a closer look early (don't think he even looks their way after reading man w/ safety help on that side of the field) he would've seen Jarrett lurking over the top while Clark and Bonner play tight coverage underneath. Later in the play Bonner & Clarke bracket the slot reciever while Jarrett reads the QB and bails out to the middle of the field. Clark only looks like he's in single coverage because Jarrett committs towards Fuller after reading the QB.

Still, an amazing coverage combo.

Reciever A - early/short routes locked up by tight coverage by Clark, with Jarrett over the top warding off any deep throws.

Reciever B - early/short routes locked up by Bonner, who has Jarrett over the top for any double moves. Then Bonner drifts to deep leverage late as Clarke comes over to bracket the reciever underneath.

Reciever C - early/short routes bracketed by Clarke underneath and Fuller deep and outside. Left one on one with Fuller late to the outside, Jarrett watching the QB and moving into the middle of the field provided deep inside help.

Basically everyone was double covered at some point and the only escape valve was to throw a jump ball against Fuller...

Wiley, Brown, Russell, Drakeford, Gray, Banks, Prioleau, Charleton, Midget, Bird, McCadam, Pile, Hall, Green, Fuller, Williams, Hamilton, Rouse, Flowers, Harris, Chancellor, Carmichael, Hosley, Fuller, Exum, Jarrett

There is also a measure of luck. If the Bearcats have a different play called, let's say a corner route from the slot and a quick crossing route by the outside receiver to the top of the screen, and then Moore runs a post instead of a post corner, Fuller is dead to rights. The deep safety has the corner route, while both Clark and Bonner are inside against the crossing route. Deon Clarke, as well as he played this, would have had a really tough time striding with the post route to the inside, and Fuller was out of position. Even the best game plans need the right coach with the knack for when to make the correct defensive call. Foster either saw the formation and knew the tendency, or he got lucky. Given his reputation, I will guess he knew this was coming or he wouldn't have put Clarke in such a tough spot.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

While he had freshman moments, I saw Ricky Walker improve as the season went on and he will only get better. Beast. Another linebacker I think might turn some heads is Sean Huelscamp (sp) who was great on st until he got hurt. I hope he comes back fully recovered and earns his scholarship. He would provide quality (Jack Tyler) depth. I like how he plays the game. 2015 excitement!

I am very very high on Ricky Walker.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Great write up. I was telling people all season that we should run a three man front because of the type guys and depth issues coupled with the abundance of talent in the secondary, and every one kept telling me Bud would never do that (man, it feels good being right every now and then). I never I invisioned 6 DBs though. If cincy had a running game, this defense would've been harder to implement though.

Tyrod did it, Mikey!

Older Hokie fans probably vividly remember whip linebacker Ben Taylor and rover Nick Sorensen trying to cover Ron Dugans on FSU's game winning TD in the BCS Championship Game.

Thanks for making me feel old.

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

"I want to punch people from UVA right in the neck." - Colin Cowherd

Play 2 sure looks like man free to me. I don't see the exaggerated alignment of the DBs and they all follow their man. If this was a leverage zone call, wouldn't Fuller jump the wheel route and Stroman take the crossing route?

yea I saw that as well but i believe Kendall made a minute error. I think his assignment was the zone underneath Kyshoen in this instance. just judged quickly that (possibly out of habit) he needed to cut off the reciever running the 1 or 3 route outside.

"This is really a lovely horse, I once rode her mother." - Ted Walsh

French60Wasp,
You are nothing short of awesome. Just so you know, I LOVE these reviews! I learn, appreciate and value.
Thank you!
Gary