In-Depth Analysis of the Hokies' Bear Defense

Bud Foster used the Bear defense to suffocate the Buckeyes' run game in 2014. Learn how to identity the Bear and understand how it accomplishes its goal.

[Mark Umansky]

Bud Foster received national recognition for the way his Bear defense surprised and shut down Urban Meyer's vaunted spread rushing attack in 2014. The Virginia Tech–Ohio State rematch is around the corner, and it's the perfect time to dive deep into the X's and O's behind the Bear package. If you read TKP's film breakdowns from last year, you have a good idea of what the Bear package is all about... but at TKP we don't settle for good. My goal is to enable every reader to be an expert on the Bear defense by the time we kick off against the defending national champions.

What Is The Bear Defense?

By the end of this article, you should be able to recognize the Bear package as soon as the defense gets aligned. It's an easy defense to spot because of the unique alignment of the five-man defensive line.

The three interior defensive linemen are the key to spotting the Bear defense. Those three players are bunched together because they are aligned overtop the center and both offensive guards. If that unique look doesn't catch your eye, the two defensive ends who are standing up on the very end of the line of scrimmage should. When Foster first displayed this defense against Ohio State, the analyst recognized the unique defensive front immediately. It only took him one snap to bring the audience's attention to the defensive set up. By focusing on the interior of the defensive line, you should be able to spot Foster's Bear package just as quickly.

If there are five defenders on the line of scrimmage, and three of them are covering up the center and both guards, more than likely it's the Bear.

Move away from the line of scrimmage, and next you'll notice the mike linebacker is always in the box and aligned over the center. This allows the mike to move sideline to sideline in run support. With five defenders on the line and the mike in the box, the final five defender's alignment are determined by their pass coverage responsibilities. For every wide receiver that the offense flexes away from the line of scrimmage, the defense has to take a defender out of the box to matchup with that receiver. If an offense has three wide receivers in the game, Foster will normally bring his nickelback on to cover the slot receiver and keep his rover in the box to cover the tight end.

The alignment of the free safety depends on how aggressively Foster wants to attack the run game. If Foster is concerned with a mobile quarterback rushing the football he can drop the free safety into the box. The free safety will allow Foster to quickly outnumber any run blocking scheme. This is the tactic we saw him take against Ohio State, and it explains why OSU could only run the ball when a young defense made mental mistakes.

If Foster is less concerned about the quarterback run-read game than he is the pass game, he will leave the free safety out of the box and ask him to protect the deep middle of the field. The mike and defensive ends will share responsibility for the running back in man coverage. Foster experimented with the depth of that safety, often leaving him 20 or more yards away from the line of scrimmage. This gave the safety time to provide support on lazy deep balls down the sideline, a tactic which lead to several interceptions over the course of the season.

Defensive Line Personnel

The most essential component of the Bear defense are the three defenders which bunch together in the middle of the field to cover offensive line's three interior blockers. Bud Foster's base defense operates with only two defensive tackles on the field, so in order to get into a Bear alignment he has to do some rearranging. Foster will shift one of his defensive tackles into a "zero-technique" (meaning the defender is aligned directly in front of the center) and the other tackle aligns in a three-technique (aligned on the outside shoulder of the guard). To cover the other guard, Foster moves a defensive end into a three technique. The last defensive end will stay wide on the end of the line of scrimmage and typically stood up. For the fifth defensive linemen, Bud Foster drops his backer (Deon Clarke) onto the line.

Once you know what you are looking for, it's quite easy to spot the Bear package. Here is a perfect example of the defense shifting from a more traditional four linemen look into the Bear.

Tech's personnel is four linemen and two linebackers. Before the snap, the defensive line shifts over to place a tackle on the center and the defensive end on the guard. Deon Clarke steps up as the fifth lineman and the field defensive end widens out to get the necessary leverage to turn anything back inside. Western Michigan is forced to settle for a low percentage throw down the field, one that even if completed still was unlikely to lead to an immediate touchdown. If Foster's gamble doesn't pay off, he can set up shop on his 40-yard-line and see if the offense will get lucky again.

I spent a lot of time this offseason researching the Bear defense, reading every article I could find and watched lots and lots of film. I re-watched every snap Tech's defense took this past season, and if the defense was in the Bear, I probably saw that snap 3-4 times. I've learned a lot and have formed a lot of opinions about the defense and I plan on sharing that knowledge with all of you. Now that we all know what the Bear is, my focus will turn to more interesting topics. What is the Bear's strengths? What are it's weaknesses? How did Ohio State try to combat it later in the season and will those adjustments work if Foster trots out the Bear against them again? How did Foster adjust his scheme to fit different offensive schemes and personnel?

The primary reason Foster employed the Bear defense against spread rushing teams was because of its ability to shut down the interior rushing game by formation. Foster's Bear forced offenses to shy away from running inside by eliminating the different tactics offenses use to gain blocking advantages inside. This baited offenses into predictable play calls and allowed Foster to funnel plays towards his most talented players.

Success Against Interior Blocking Schemes

The ability of the Bear to shut down most modern interior rushing schemes comes from it's trademark five-man defensive line. The five-man front makes it very difficult for offensive lines to create double teams at the point of attack. Without the advantage of getting even a momentary double team, offensive lines struggle to create seams in the defensive front for a running back to squeeze through.

The lack of double teams is an opportunity for the defensive line to defeat their blockers and blow up plays in the backfield. The way that Bud Foster aligns his personnel in the Bear leads to personnel mismatches. Most guards and centers aren't used to blocking Tech's quick defensive tackles. Keep in mind that one defensive tackle is going to be a defensive end that is shifted towards the middle of the line. This means that you often get Ken Ekanem or Dadi Nicolas matched up with a guard. The explosion these two get off the ball often overwhelms the guards and leads to great penetration up front. On the rare occasion when an offensive guard manages to hold his own against Ekanem or Nicolas, the other center and guard have to deal with Luther Maddy and Corey Marshall (two of the most explosive tackles in the ACC) in one-on-one blocking situations as well. It's a recipe for defensive chaos that yields offensive disaster.

The other benefit of the Bear is the inability for the offense to account for all second level defenders.

The Bear is particularly effective against teams which use the inside zone blocking rules because of the wall of defenders up front. For a refresher course on inside zone blocking rules, check out either French's William & Mary offensive film review last season, or Joe's zone read refresher. In a basic inside zone run, there will be zero double teams and the middle linebacker will be untouched. Here we see two examples of Duke attempt to run an inside zone against the Bear, and in both cases Andrew Motuapuaka is completely unblocked as he meets the running back in the hole.

Battling Zone Read

Spread rushing offenses like Urban Meyer's use the inside zone read as the staple of their offense. This play is able to create a double team against the Bear by leaving a defensive end unblocked, but Bud Foster is a genius and has developed a way to use that double team to his advantage. Foster will have his defensive ends always force the quarterback to hand the ball off while also building a wall of defenders where the running back wants to rush. Foster is able to form this wall by stunting his nose guard through one A-gap and run blitzing his mike through another. This will force the running back to cut back into the arms of the defensive end the offense was originally trying to read.


Battling Man Blocking Schemes

Most coaches (including Urban Meyer) resort to man blocking when facing a Bear front, relying on down blocks and pulling linemen to create gaps for their running backs. This tactic had more success than the inside zone, but only barely. Most of the success came from offenses with rushing quarterbacks who simply outnumbered the defense at the point of attack.

The five defensive linemen again cause the main problems for the offensive line using a man blocking scheme. In order to pull a guard, the rest of the offensive line has to make very difficult down blocks against very quick defensive linemen intent on getting upfield. On Ohio State's very first snap against the Bear, they tried a quarterback draw with an offensive guard pulling to lead the way. The other three playside linemen (the center, guard, and tackle) aren't able to secure their blocks and Corey Marshall gets the penetration to help blow up the play.

Later on in the red zone, we again see Ohio State attempt to use a pulling lineman as a lead blocker. This time the offensive tackle isn't able to secure his down block against Dadi Nicolas and the pulling guard can't even make it into the hole. Dadi eats up the tackle and the pulling guard, allowing Chase Williams to remain unblocked and make the play.

Two Man vs Three Man Surfaces

If the defensive line isn't able to blow up the play in the backfield, the defense is still in a good position to shut down the run because of the Mike linebacker's ability to read the play. Foster, like all great defensive coaches, has found a way to keep things simple for his linebackers to enable them to react decisively. When a lineman pulls towards a two man surface, the Mike attacks the outside shoulder of the puller in order to funnel the runner back to the middle of the field. If a lineman pulls towards a three man surface, the Mike attacks the inside shoulder of the puller to funnel the runner towards a free hitter on the perimeter.

This simple rule on how to handle pulling linemen in man blocking schemes is the key to Bud Foster's Bear package. If the Mike linebacker makes the correct read, he will always either make the tackle for a minimal gain or spill the ball carrier towards a teammate who can do the same. However, if he makes a mistake as simple as attacking the wrong shoulder of a blocker he runs the risk of allowing a big play.

On the previous play we see the ramifications of a bad run fit. It's a quarterback draw with a man blocking scheme, the running back is the lead blocker here. Andrew Motuapuaka has to attack the outside shoulder of the back in an attempt to push the quarterback inside towards Kyshoen Jarrett. Instead, Andrew attacks the block head on and cuts off Jarrett's angle on the quarterback. A back-breaking long touchdown run is the result.

Cover 0

When facing a particularly potent rushing attack like Ohio State's, Bud Foster wouldn't hesitate to walk his free safety into the box to provide an additional body for run support. Foster's Bear defense, which already has an inherent advantage against interior rushing schemes, becomes almost impossible to run against inside when he decides to overwhelm the blockers with an extra safety.

This willingness to load the box and rely on single coverage across the field is what separates Bud Foster's Bear defense from everyone else's. This willingness also gives me confidence that Ohio State will once again struggle to run in between the tackles this year. Pundits and fans alike are quick to point out that Ohio State had success against other teams which ran the Bear against them, and to a certain extent they are correct.

Eleven Warriors posted a fantastic article on some of the "Bear beaters" that Urban Meyer instituted after the Tech game, and these plays allowed Meyer to run the ball against the Bear.

The success that Meyer had against the Bear on the ground came against defenses that didn't drop an extra safety into the box though. These schemes all fall apart once the defense has the offense outnumbered at the point of attack. Simply put, if Bud Foster wants to take away the interior rushing game of Ohio State he can do that. Once he does, Urban Meyer will have to rely on his quarterback and wide receivers to beat the best man coverage secondary in the country at its own game.

Comments

Ohio State's coaches:

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

I hope they are, cause I doubt Bud runs it again this year.

This is my school
This is home

Some members of the fanbase have already tricked themselves into thinking they have Bud figured out, if the coaches have too then we're going to be pretty happy on Monday night.

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

IDK..I think we'll see plenty of the bear alignment again, just with some wrinkles. I don't think it's beyond Bud to bend the rules and change some of the assignments. Give the Buckeyes the same look that they have on film and have prepared for but hit them with a surprise left when they're expecting a jab from the right.

Onward and upward

I agree. I bet we line up in the bear at some point but drop into something else. That's what makes buds defenses so good. It's almost impossible to tell what we are going to be running before the snap.

"These people are loosing their minds."

Eh, I want to semi-agree with you. Look at how Bud gives GT fits every year. I think he'll run the bear, but with a wrinkle that he has been thinking up since last fall. I think that this will be a great battle between Meyer & Foster. We all know that neither of these guys are one trick ponies.

Go Hokies

I'll be pretty surprised if Bud doesn't run it at all. He showed a lot of bear looks during the open scrimmages and it was the most effective formation Tech used against the run all year. When Ohio State has a two tight ends or fullbacks on the field, I would expect Foster to use the bear.

But, I won't be shocked by anything Foster does. He's the best schemer in the business.

I'm sure he'll show the bear a lot, but he'll throw in enough wrinkles that, when we look back on it after the fact, we'll realize we weren't actually running it for the majority of the game.

As you said, he's a master schemer. He's one of the best at the defensive bait and switch, and if Ohio St gets wrapped up in trying to figure out how to stop his bear attack, it'll play right into our hands.

This is my school
This is home

I expect Bud treats these matchups like he does Paul Johnson. He's not going to do the same thing year after year, but the fundamentals are the same. And Meyer on the other side is as skilled as Johnson with his scheme, he will react to the Bear as well. It may come down to the halftime adjustments from both.

Last year, it felt like Urban went to more slants and true pitch option in the 2nd half, which got them back to a tie game.

Good gosh this is a fantastic article. Mason and French are doing the Lord's work with these X's and O's articles.

β€œI hope that they’re not going to have big eyes and pee down their legs so to speak,” -- Bud Foster

Great stuff!

What interests me is what defensive alignment will we see Bud bring out against OSU this year? Bear with some twists? Or something different altogether?

That leads to the preparation comment that Urban Meyer made. Assuming Bud brings something different than the Bear, which I've got to believe will be the case, how can Urban prepare his team for something they haven't seen?

Hokie in West Africa...sadly, I can't jump up and down hard enough for it to be felt in Lane

my football IQ just gets better and better with these X's and O's articles...keep up the great work

Great write up, I continue to feel better about VT's chances to win this game! I believe in the BEAR!

Stop it with the Negative Waves!

Great article bud; I really appreciate the break down. I've played ball since I was 8, and now as an adult follow it closely...but you've taught me something today, the article was very enlightening. Let's hope Andrew makes his reads and plays heady ball on Sept 7!

If it ain't orange, it better be maroon...and if it ain't maroon, it better be soon!

Excellent article. Looking forward to everything else that this week has to offer!

2022 Season Challenge: Wrasslin'
Previous Challenges: Star Wars (2019), Marvel (2020), Batman (2021)

Great article. As you showed the videos, I couldn't help but observe the difference between Williams and Moto. Personally, the way I see it is that Williams attacks the opponent with full confidence, tackling low, right about in the middle of the runner's thigh, and puts his body through them. Moto hits the hole where the runner is headed, but seems like he's afraid to over-commit. So he gets back on his heels, hits them up high and gets pulled with them to where he can only grab an ankle and trips them up after they get 2 yards from contact. I hope it's just a technique and confidence issue because I think those are fixable. No doubt the coaches have recognized this tendency.

Bud called it a confidence thing after the Miami game last year.

Let's just hope there has been some progress.

Case and point, the Duke clip. Moto meets the RB 1 yard in the backfield and the guy drops his shoulder and gets a 2 yard gain. If Moto comes in and tackles him instead of catching him standing straight up, it is a loss on the play.

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

You are right to an extent but he also can't afford to tear in there and miss. In order to make sure he makes the tackle he makes sure he has his head up and can make a play even if the running back decides to make a move. Its just his lack of experience that kept him from finding the balance between controlled and aggressive.

It's Time to go to Work

1) The defender should always have his head up and see what he is hitting, therefor his eyes are always on the ball carrier.
2) Part of tackling in space is maintaining your leverage so that even if the runner makes a move, he is still in a position to be tackled.
3) Moto would be filling a hole so the space is limited. He definitely needs to be controlled but aggressive does not mean wreckless. When he fills the hole, don't stop in it, meet the runner in the backfield instead of waiting for him. Experience will help him trust his instincts so his head doesn't tie up his feet.

Moto is a big fella back there, lay that lumber into the RB and don't let the RB be the lower player.

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

The play of AM will be huge in determining Hokie success on defense. HUGE.

Leonard. Duh.

The article from 11W left out a key part to their man route bear beaters. It says that the slants work well against soft man coverage against corners who are afraid of being beat deep. Our CBs played press coverage a lot of the night if I am not mistaken?

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

Indeed, Foster can reduce the risk that combo routes present to man coverage by taking away the space with press coverage. He'll do that frequently, baiting the offense into a throw down field. Often whether or not he is using press coverage will be determined by down and distance.

3rd and short? Don't want to concede an easy short throws, play press coverage and invite a low percentage deep throw to get your defense off the field.
2nd and long? Play off coverage to prevent a long completion.

Yet Facyson still got beat by a slant for a TD.

Hopefully having two healthy legs will help him avoid that this year. It was pretty easy to see his trademark closing speed just wasn't there when he played last year.

Being healthy should make it easier for him to prevent the receiver from getting inside when he plays inside leverage.

It's Time to go to Work

He did. And many choose to recall that play as the overall impression of his performance. However, to play devil's advocate, Facyson made some incredible plays on balls in that game as well. In fact, what seems to be called luck by several folks (and yes, there were some lucky drops - on both teams), I saw Kendall and Brandon make several game-changing defends against catchable balls where they just outhustled the OSU players.

"I play real sports, not trying to be the best at exercising..." - KP

Fantastic analysis and examples for THE BEAR!
Thanks for the link to the "bear beaters" article as well. I had no idea OSU faced so much bear last season. The pulling tackle seemed the most effective re-counter to jump-start their running game against the bear. No doubt Foster knows this and has a counter for the pulling-tackle recounter.

Seems like a long way for a tackle to run to seal the double-team; Perhaps Foster blitzes his MLB through the hole and blows up the play in the backfield?

"When you're green, you're growing. When you're ripe, you rot." -Ray Kroc

Foster can go to Cover 0 against that counter, doesn't matter what happens then that extra safety isn't going to get blocked.

But even if he doesn't go Cover 0, he can make it very hard for that tackle to get a hat on the Mike by playing games with his Nose Tackle. If the Nose Tackle attacks the A-gap to the running back's side of the formation, the tackle will have to commit to sealing him inside (leaving the mike free). Otherwise, the nose tackle will have an arm available in the gap to make the play.

My face just melted from all this knowledge

@VTimHokie85

Luckily being a robot, all you have to do is grab a new faceplate

"The Big Ten is always using excuses to cancel games with us. First Wisconsin. Then Wisconsin. After that, Wisconsin. The subsequent cancellation with Wisconsin comes to mind too. Now Penn State. What's next? Wisconsin?" -HorseOnATreadmill

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@VTimHokie85

Outspoken team cake advocate. Hates terrapins. Resident Macho Man Gif Poster. Distant cousin to Dork Magic. Frequently misspells words.

I don't think I've read an X's and O's article that was so easy to understand. Now if I could just understand what I'm seeing on the fly without replaying it 2 or 3 times.

Great article. Here are a few thoughts after reading it:

1) We'll need to establish our TE's as viable threats in the middle to prevent you from dropping your safety into the box. That will take away your advantage against the run

2) A hurry up offense, designed to snap as you shift, could be a real challenge for you by throwing off your timing and preventing you from making the blocks you need to execute your D.

3)I'd look for sweeps and pitches past your DE when he bites on the QB. The QB can then cut in past the DE to block downfield. That will take speed but we have some in the backfield.

4) If we count on mistakes in technique by you guys it will be a long game.

Should be an interesting matchup. While I think Barret is better at attacking you passing, especially to the TE, 12 Gauge may be better suited for the run blocking game.

Knowledge is Good - Emil Faber

4) If we count on mistakes in technique by you guys it will be a long game.

We saw that often on Ohio State's first touchdown drive last year. Ken Ekanem got caught looking inside instead of securing the outside gap and Barrett squeezed past him for at least two first downs.

2) A hurry up offense, designed to snap as you shift, could be a real challenge for you by throwing off your timing and preventing you from making the blocks you need to execute your D.

The one problem I see with this is that your line can't set up your blocking assignments if you expect the opponent to move because it presents issues if they don't. You could end up leaving a man unblocked due to assignment confusion. Something like this sounds a lot simpler than it is in application.

Good point. I would guess you setup assignments pre and post shift and go with what the D presents. I agree it can quickly go south if not executed perfectly. Still, it may be worth the risk to cause confusion and take away assignments on your end.

Knowledge is Good - Emil Faber

3)I'd look for sweeps and pitches past your DE when he bites on the QB. The QB can then cut in past the DE to block downfield. That will take speed but we have some in the backfield.

in Bud's scheme the DE almost always goes to the qb... and hits him regardless if he pitches, look back at how many time JTB got hit after the mesh zone/pitch.. so blocking downfield wont happen much. If OSU can somehow out man/block 1 of the 2 pitch man then we could be in trouble.

Umm....we also play GT.....which tends to pitch it a lot and PJ has only beaten bud like three times or something

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

The OSU TEs are going to be important.

1) Quick throws to your TEs releasing off the line without blocking/chipping the DE/Backer for 5 yards will beat the Bear front, but that's why the Rover comes into the box, neutralize that threat, and provide another hitter. Maybe you meant mid-distance middle? That's where the Free is waiting...please go after Clark again...please. Speedy receivers getting off press-man coverage on the outside and pushing it down-field before our DL penetrates is the only way to schematically beat the Bear. Else-wise, you're counting on beating it by winning the 1-on-1 battles.
2) Yeah it could, but the timing has to be perfect, what if we don't hide the alignment? Serious risk of schematically bad blocking design then.
3) Now we go where I think the real danger is, combining this sweep with short TE routes. Doing so could dictate bringing the FS down to cover the TE, and leaving the rover to account for the outside sweeps and pitches, now you have a true cover0, man blocking outside run...your RB only has one man to beat. It should be noted, this exactly the kind of thing GT does, the difference being the inside threat would be the TE instead of the FB. Bud has destroyed this in the past by having the DE penetrate hard, and the rover cover the TE outside, to maintain leverage on the sweep/pitch.
4) Absolutely, just ask GT.

I still think the deciding matchup on the OSU offense-VT defense side, is Moto vs the RB. It's not that your QBs and WRs are bad, it's just that we have learned to have faith in a TG secondary in man coverage, the same way we have faith in Foster.

β€œI remember Lee Corso's car didn't get out of the parking lot.” -cFB
TKPC #666 ...man that was long wait...

#1 was what Jim Harbaugh and the Trees did to the Hokies in the Orange Bowl. Of course they had Andrew Luck.

Leonard. Duh.

and 3 legit TEs...

β€œI remember Lee Corso's car didn't get out of the parking lot.” -cFB
TKPC #666 ...man that was long wait...

Yeah, couple of NFL starters in that group...

And our Mike got injured. So many big losses we've had have come down to the Mike getting injured and allowing big runs because of it.

This is a great comprehensive look at the formation. Sometimes I feel a little lost on the other X&O articles, but this one was really clear cut. Keep up the great work!

Thanks, I try to really boil each scheme down to make as simple as possible. Good to know it's working!

Great stuff. Avatar game is on point as well.

Man i cant imagine how long it takes to put together an article like this. Thanks for the explanation.

I like the part with the moving pictures of our defense being awesome.

These schemes all fall apart once the defense has the offense outnumbered at the point of attack. Simply put, if Bud Foster wants to take away the interior rushing game of Ohio State he can do that. Once he does, Urban Meyer will have to rely on his quarterback and wide receivers to beat the best man coverage secondary in the country at its own game.

When this happens, I look for UM's strategy to be to pick on Facyson, since he's returning from injury. And if Facyson is truly 100%, I look for us to have a very good night.

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

I actually expect them to go 3WR, and pick on Stroman, the least experienced guy, in the nickel, covering Thomas in the slot...hopefully Stroman's up for the challenge.

β€œI remember Lee Corso's car didn't get out of the parking lot.” -cFB
TKPC #666 ...man that was long wait...

I have a hard time seeing us line Stroman against Thomas. I think you'll see some movement to put either Brandon or Kendall on Thomas in those situations.

That's what I expect, but no need to go into that, regardless, the target will be whoever stroman is on.

β€œI remember Lee Corso's car didn't get out of the parking lot.” -cFB
TKPC #666 ...man that was long wait...

French expects Riley to play one of the corner spots and Fuller to slide over into the slot when we go to our nickle package.

Riley would terrify them after last year...that would be great...

β€œI remember Lee Corso's car didn't get out of the parking lot.” -cFB
TKPC #666 ...man that was long wait...

Excellent analysis. As a FB fan that never played organized FB, I appreciate the in depth look into the bear. You made this so easy to understand.

Energy derives from both the plus and negative

I initially read this comment

as a Frank Beamer fan that never played organized Frank Beamer

well, I guess I'm a Frank Beamer fan and I never did play organized Frank Beamer. Organized Jim Beam yes.

Energy derives from both the plus and negative

Great write up. Many people keep mentioning a wrinkle, and I think one we may see is a shift into bear to draw an audible, only to have Deon back out and play a short zone. It would disrupt timing for the OL, because by the time the tackle realizes he's not blocking anyone it's too late. Also, given that OSU uses H-backs, I'd think a natural attempt to counter a bear would be to audible to a short flat route to one of those guys, thinking they'll have free space. We've seen Deon in coverage, and this sort of thing may work a time or two, potentially for a turnover.

I agree. If OSU has specific "Bear Beater" plays they are planning on audibling to when they see the bear front, Foster can bait them into bad looks by showing one formation and making a late switch.

I love the idea of their offense trying to audible in Lane next week.

"When you're green, you're growing. When you're ripe, you rot." -Ray Kroc

They'll probably have a few worked out with hand signals. They know noise will be a factor.

Maybe have Deon show Bear and then match up on the TE, while the Rover blitzes.

Another great wrinkle, assuming it's a passing down.

Dig it. Well Done.

I wonder with our depth at tackle have we practiced running the bear with three tackles and 2 ends.

I believe one of the advantages of the Bear is shifting into it from other looks. The Bear also seems to benefit from quickness from the 3 down lineman.

I'm sure it's something Foster has looked into, but being able to run it with base personnel is a crucial. It allows Foster to disguise his intentions. Running out three defensive tackles would allow the offense to know exactly what's coming.

Plus, the speed of a defensive end matched up with an offensive guard in pass rush situations was a big advantage for Tech last year.

I have just heard so much about our DT's being so quick etc. It would really screw with OSU for three DT's to rush and Dadi to drop into coverage.

As quick as our DTs are, OSU's right guard learned the hard way just how explosive Dadi is. That said, either Dadi or Ekanem dropping into a zone to take away a quick slant could really throw a wrench into a QB's reads.

I was going to point out that since Ekanem would more often be a tackle in the bear front, that it would be Dadi or Clarke dropping off in zone. But actually, sending one of the tackles back to play a short robber would be brilliant.

We will see that too.
I think Maddy got an INT against Marshall by dropping into coverage.

"When you're green, you're growing. When you're ripe, you rot." -Ray Kroc

Marshall against Pitt last year too. I think the first time we saw that was against FSU in 2012. Penn State successfully did something similar against OSU last year, although I believe it was a DE.

I'm sure there'll be plenty of various zone blitz and robber looks. It's just what Bud does and does better than anyone.

I hear ya, but even factoring in the element of surprise I would rather not drop Dadi into coverage when he could be rushing the quarterback. I'd prefer to just line him up and let him do his thing.

As much as that makes sense to just let him do his pass rushing thing, I don't see anyone catching him if he picks off a pass and gets into open space. That bum hand will likely keep that from becoming reality though. Mucho sadface.

I figured it was worth the question. Thanks for the quick replies.

It's been said a few times that VT's scheme against the run is different from most teams in how aggressively we attack gaps vs reading and reacting. The film on 11warriors 'bear-beaters' seems to be against pretty passive defenses that are aligned in Bear but are trying to figure out which way the ball is going before attacking.

Will this impact how effective OSU bear-beaters will be against us? Seems like they'll be playing more BC-style running game that puts some extra responsibility on our front 7/8/9 to attack with the correct leverage when the gaps are re-arranged by pulling linemen.

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

Awesome write up, really love the pictures for those of us who are visual learners!

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
β€œI served in the United States Navy"

Watching those Motu examples only highlights the problems that have been pointed out before. It both cases he identifies the hole properly and meets the HB right at the line of scrimmage, but then falls backward to still allow a gain of a yard or two.

Particularly in the second example he seems to jump-stop in the hole, and gets driven over while making the tackle.

Though it's been talked about before, I sure hope he starts making those tackles a lot angrier.

This a million times. Motu looks FAST - in fact, considerably faster/quicker than Chase. That said, please show me a clip where he makes contact and the back either goes no further or goes negative. EVERY clip I've seen shows him getting quasi run over - that seems like a purely technique issue, cause the guy has the strength and aggression. He just doesn't quite have that skill set. I say it all the time, but Vince Hall, the master of the drop/takedown. Tyler had a dammn good wrap up too.
There lies my worry in the run game. Not the huge gains, but the plays that go for 3 or 4 yards instead of 0 or negative 1. There is a momentum change, a swing in attitude when the RB gets additional yards. We saw it from Zeke the last several games. Churning/engine type stuff. GANG tackling will be ESSSENTIAL - not only for field position and stops, but for MORALE.
I'm freaking out a bit so I'll chill.

"I play real sports, not trying to be the best at exercising..." - KP

What a fantastic article.

In that first OSU example on the QB draw, doesn't pulling a lineman kind of defeat the purpose of a draw play?
Though Urban Meyer is probably a little better a coaching than me, draw plays fake the pass and then run it, but pulling a lineman is either to run the ball, or play-action.
Just seems like an odd combo to me - misdirection with the draw, but signaling run with the pulling lineman. Haven't seen that before.

The point is to get the play-side linemen to think it's a pass and get upfield, essentially taking themselves out of the play. The pulling guard then cleans up the hole for the QB.

Awesome write up. I will be looking for the bear front, with a few new wrinkles....I think I got it

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The Dude Abides

My pappy always says "son, some days you get the bear, and some days the bear gets you."

A lot of our breakdowns recently make the bear look seem Bullet Proof when executed with sound technique. Foster is a genius, but so is Urban Meyer.
A guy like that doesn't win a ton of games at 3 different programs without having great schemes and counters. I keep wondering what Urban Meyer is brewing up for this game. I mean he got his pants pulled down by the Bear last year. He has to have been cooking something up in his lab for this revenge game besides inside slants and vertical routes.

FOSTERS: Australian for defense

In the 11W "Bear Beaters" article that Mason linked to, Meyer started pulling the uncovered tackle and leaving the guard to block down against bear fronts. Seems like an easy adjustment for the OLine to make as well; same play but with different lineman pulling. I was wondering why it works because the tackle has a longer route when pulling, but most tackles are more mobile than guards so the timing is probably OK.

What I wonder about is how Bud is going to counter this?
Maybe he sends both the MLB and the safety through the hole so the tackle can only pick up one of them? I expect to see the tackle pulling on lots of run plays if the defense is in the bear (or quickly switches to the bear).

"When you're green, you're growing. When you're ripe, you rot." -Ray Kroc

That is interesting insight. Thank you for the cliff notes! Bravo.

"I play real sports, not trying to be the best at exercising..." - KP

The tackle pulls inside to the same side A gap so it is a short pull. The DE would likely need to be on his heels as he pulls to meet the RB before he can get to the hole

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

Right, except it's also a zone read and that DE is the optioned defender. If he chases the OT to the RB the QB is keeping the ball and going around the unprotected end.

In the Cinci video clip they show, the LB comes free off the edge and takes the QB, but #90 the DE lined up in 3 technique lets the LG push him way way outside almost like he's playing contain against the QB keeper, opening a huge hole for the RB.

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

I answered this above a couple minutes ago, but it's an interesting topic and I'm not sure you'll scroll through and read it but here's my solution.

1.) Cinci has a deep safety in that clip. That blocking scheme doesn't account for Foster's "Cover 0" version of the bear where that Safety is in the box. The numbers will never add up, there will never be someone to block him on the inside. The only hope is to flank him on the perimeter.

2) If Foster wants to go with a deep safety, he can still put up a succesful defense against this counter. If Foster has the nose tackle aggressive attack the gap to the center's left, the nose tackle will have a great angle on the back. The pulling tackle will have to double team the Nose tackle to seal him inside, and in doing so will leave the Mike unblocked. Otherwise, the nose tackle will have at least an outside arm available to tackle the back.

Rewatch the play now with an eye on the nose tackle. Cinci's nose didn't attack any gap, waiting to see what happened before he reacted.... and he still had the time to get a hand on the back. Zeke had to break that tackle to get to the second level. If that Tackle had tried to get penetration from the get go, he would have blown the play up.

By focusing on the interior of the defensive line, you should be able to spot Foster's Bear package just as quickly.

INSERT BUD FOSTER/BEAR DICK JOKES HERE!!!

"You know when the Hokies say 'We are Virginia Tech' they're going to mean it."- Lee Corso

Who says Bud's bear package can't cover tight ends?

"What are you going to do, stab me? - Quote from Man Stabbed

Tremendous article. TKP is amazing. I have lurked here long enough and soaked up plent of knowledge. The technical writeups by French and Mason are the reason I choose to give money to this site above all others. I should and will give more, as the education is well worth it. Bravo TKP

Loved it and I am proud to say that I cannot get enough of Bud. Screaming like a prom queen.

Even when you get skunked; fishing never lets you down. 🎣

Great job Mason!

This is strong work.

Bud has run the double eagle front as long as he has been DC. However, the difference with this look versus those old looks involve the backer. In the old look, the backer would move up to the line and the DE would sink to the three technique on the boundary side. Against tOSU, the backer went to the field side. Also, the rover played to the field side (although moved around if the passing strength was on the boundary) and the mike played to the boundary.

The other difference is standing up the 7/9 technique defensive end. When you see the Bear in old footage, the DE opposite the backer is down.

We have heard many commentators discuss compare Bud's Bear front to Buddy Ryan's 46. That isn't entirely accurate. Buddy Ryan used the double eagle look for one DE and the two DT's, however his 46 moved two linebackers almost on the line of scrimmage to the strong (tight end) side. Here is a look at Ryan's 46 and you can compare it to VT's.

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

you read my mind i was actually gonna bring up the old chicago bears defense

Taylor, looking desperately throws it deep..HAS A MAN OPEN DANNY COALE WITH A CATCH ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE FIVE!!!!....hes still open

saw some chick on espn the other day say how VT beat OSU with the double-eagle. I was like "Its the BEAR!! Jeez."

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

We must be very close. The cross posting, point-counterpoint, forum topics referencing forum topics between TKP and 11W is reaching fully dipped proportions.

___

-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

I am continually frustrated at seeing OSU coach's and players' comments that try to cheapen our victory over them last year. I'm talking about the "we weren't prepared" stuff. "It wasn't a talent issue, it was about preparation." Just man up and admit you got whooped on your home field! By two touchdowns!

It's reminiscent of Patriots' opponents complaining about Belichick taking advantage of little known parts of the rulebook.

I still believe we can win this game. If we do, I hope that Urban Meyer and company will give credit where credit is due and won't be saying, "Well, if it weren't for those suspensions and Noah's broken leg, we could have beaten them."

Hokie in West Africa...sadly, I can't jump up and down hard enough for it to be felt in Lane

We all wish for that, but lets be honest and call a spade a spade. Urban's an a**hole, always has been...he has temper-tantrums like a 12 year-old girl, people are just willing to overlook it because he's a great coach. IF we win, you can bet your ass you'll hear excuses from him and the majority of the fan base. Some OSU fans are nice, but my experience says they're the minority. I didn't get paid last year on my bets on the game, and I don't expect I will this year either (I am more intelligent than to bet with the same schlub). If anyone knows some nice OSU fans, and want to introduce me, feel free...until then, I have to use my experience.

β€œI remember Lee Corso's car didn't get out of the parking lot.” -cFB
TKPC #666 ...man that was long wait...

there is no need for this vitriol towards Urban Meyer or OSU fans in general. No place for it.

Onward and upward

Sure man. I said multiple times I was basing my opinion on personal experience with regards to the fans. I even asked for anyone who felt like it to introduce me to quality OSU fans. Instead, you called me out for expressing an opinion. Good job.

β€œI remember Lee Corso's car didn't get out of the parking lot.” -cFB
TKPC #666 ...man that was long wait...

Urban's an a**hole, always has been...he has temper-tantrums like a 12 year-old girl,

expressing an opinion is one thing. I have no problem with that. Resorting to name calling and demeaning and degrading insults is an entirely different issue. I don't care if you don't like Urban or OSU fans in general. That's fine. Just don't go around saying stuff like this. It's immature and it makes the rest of us look bad. This is the type of comment that someone from 11W can quote and paint a picture of "look what all of those TKP posters think of our coach and our fans"

There have been plenty of VT fans on TKP posting outlandish things that have been posted on 11W by OSU fans and trying to use those quotes as a broad-stroke brush to paint a negative image of OSU fans and 11W in general. I don't care for it but it is what it is. I would prefer it if our own fans didn't go around providing the same type of fodder to 11W posters.

You are more than welcome to have an opinion. If you had simply said that you don't like Urban for personal reasons and in your experience you have not yet met agreeable fans from OSU I would have absolutely no issue with your post. Blatantly calling out a specific person and using profane and humiliating language to cut them down is what irks me. I'd rather not be associated with such behavior.

Onward and upward

http://www.blackshoediaries.com/2013/2/8/3964848/urban-meyer-ohio-state-...
http://www.dawgsports.com/2006/12/9/19284/3356
http://www.10tv.com/content/stories/2015/06/16/columbus-ohio-photo-why-y...
Just the examples and articles I could gather in a 30 second google search. I stand by my statement. Even if they try to use it against the team, deep down, I'm willing to bet they know its true too.

β€œI remember Lee Corso's car didn't get out of the parking lot.” -cFB
TKPC #666 ...man that was long wait...

So, 2 posts from Rival websites and one practical joke?

Geez the SJW "force" is strong here. Fine, I'll be quiet. Enjoy your very well controlled day.

β€œI remember Lee Corso's car didn't get out of the parking lot.” -cFB
TKPC #666 ...man that was long wait...

Asking you not to call someone an asshole isn't being a SWJ.

The Orange and Maroon you see, that's fighting on to victory.

We just downvoted a guy to oblivion when he came on here and called Bud Foster a bum and you're getting upset because people told you not to call the opponent's coach an a**hole? Does it not make sense why that would be frowned upon?

Here and I thought you downvoted him for being a douche, not for insulting the opponents coach. Downvote me too if you want. I feel like I commented on a youtube video with all these comments about wrong I am and no proof. Its cool tho, I'll implement the same solution, silence and no more responses.

β€œI remember Lee Corso's car didn't get out of the parking lot.” -cFB
TKPC #666 ...man that was long wait...

I never said you were wrong. I never tried to convince you that OSU fans are all rainbows and gumdrops. I simply made a show of distaste in your choice to call someone an a$$hole. That's classless and immature. I don't care if you love OSU or hate them. I won't try to sway you one way or the other. You're not wrong to love them or hate them. Just don't be immature about it.

Onward and upward

I especially can't stand the talent argument. You don't play football to determine who has more talent, it's a competition to win a football game, the idea of talent is just a way of predicting who will win. Saying you have more talent just makes your loss look worse.

The nice thing about other teams trying to implement the Bear against OSU during the year is seeing how OSU combated that defense and succeeded. So plenty of film on what Meyer may do in trying to combat the bear. However, I'm sure he has something new as does Bud.

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

Great piece. A good point is that, outside of Minnesota (who didn't run a bear front), no other team consistently trusted their secondary to hold up in man-coverage and drop a safety into the box. Indiana probably did it the most.

I know that this article focuses on the run, but one thing that OSU did to combat the bear was to throw the ball to Elliot in the flat to get him one-on-one with a linebacker in space. That strategy killed Kent State and Maryland, but teams later in the year adjusted better.

Also, something that OSU did to deal with the free safety coming down into the box was to have the receiver on that side crack down on the linebacker and have the pulling guard lead up on the safety instead of that linebacker. Again, the aggressiveness of our 3-techs makes this more difficult, but it's something the back 7 has to be aware of...

Finally, because of the aggressiveness of that 3-tech, I would expect to see some midline option.

an important question, what will the Bear w/ wrinkles be called? Grizzly Bear? Angry Bear?

Hokie in West Africa...sadly, I can't jump up and down hard enough for it to be felt in Lane

cuddly bear? teddy bear?

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

Urban's licking his chops when he sees all this film of Motu getting absolutely pummeled in his tackle attempts. That is, when he fills the correct gap to even be in a position to attempt a tackle

Yep, Urban's gonna try like crazy to get Motu isolated in a hole. He's great scraping sideline-to-sideline, but he really has struggled identifying a hole and getting downhill to meet a ballcarrier with bad intentions.