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App State Film Review: ASU Second Quarter

NCAA Football: Louisville at Kentucky
Nov 25, 2017; Lexington, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick (87) catches a touchdown pass against Kentucky Wildcats cornerback Lonnie Johnson (6) in the first half at Commonwealth Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

App State seems to be a team that starts slow but it’s hard to know if that’s a true part of how this staff coaches or if it was just coincidental. Lots of good defensive scheme stuff in the second quarter of this game. I’ve actually been able to track a few specific plays and my hope is that I can start to understand the situations when they are called.

One thing I can say is that Louisville's defense can improve a lot with this scheme. The biggest question will be if the staff can get guys to react and play as freely as this defense does.

ASU Ball, 1st and 10

This is another look at the slanting 3-4 that makes the defense so different. The right defensive end crashes down into the center of the offensive line and you can see the left tackle have to chase him down the line. Then you see the middle linebackers immediately fill that vacated area. The slant blows up the blocking scheme and there’s no one there take on the second level players.

ASU Ball, 3rd and 9

Bryan Brown changed things up here on third and long. The dummy blitz looks up front confuse the offensive line enough that a couple of guys get a step on their blocker. They end up pressuring the quarterback and he never even gets to make a read.

Another thing that stood out to me is that guys are passing off receivers in the secondary. You can see it at the bottom of the screen right after the receivers cross each other. I’ve seen that a few times while watching these games and it’s really impressive to see. That takes good communication as well as trust in your teammates. UofL didn’t have either of those things this year, so it will be something to keep an eye on next season.

App State Ball, 3rd and 1

This is a play that is blocked perfectly but ends up being a tough run because of how the defense played it. The back has to avoid the blitzing linebacker in the backfield as he’s being blocked and then he has a safety right in his face. The speed it takes to just run around the safety here is so impressive.

App State didn’t get four star talent but they really found a way to get a handful of guys who can just run. Evans is the fastest of them, but he’s not the only guy on this roster that could make this type of play.

(FYI: I was going to post the very next play where Jalin Moore made an even better play, but he broke his ankle on the play and it’s gross.)

ASU Ball, 2nd and 8

Arkansas State runs a RPO here and I can’t totally tell what goes wrong for App State. They’re in their normal 3-4 and you can see an outside linebacker splitting the difference to the top of the field. That’s how they normally defend slot guys. However, a safety walks down on the slot guy which is odd. They end up with double coverage on that guy and no one accounts for the tight end.

It might be the middle linebacker to that side who blew this, though. He angles towards the tight end before reading run and then it’s too late. It’s a play that UofL will see plenty of, especially against Wake Forest. I wouldn’t be surprised if Boston College brings their offense into this century and uses some RPO stuff this year, also. It’s a little bit of a concern for me that this system leads to a lot of aggressive play and these types of plays feed off of that.

ASU Ball, 2nd and 10

ASU comes back with another RPO later in the drive. You can see the safety completely sell out on the run and vacate his area. The quarterback puts the ball right where the safety should be.

App State Ball, 2nd and 2

I really like how simple things are with this offense. Running the ball and running it well opens up a lot of easy throws in the passing game. On this play you can see that the two safeties are both lined up inside the hashes and both are within about 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. The formation is one that they run out of and they use play action to set up a “max protect” blocking scheme with 7 blockers. That leaves tons of time to deliver a nice throw against single coverage.

App State Ball, 2nd and 10

Keep an eye on the safety in the middle of the field right behind the ref. You can see how the running game freezes guys when they go with play action. You can literally see him hesitate and now he can’t get over top the play to the outside. He wouldn’t get to this anyway because the throw is just about perfect but if needed to be closer to the numbers there would still be space. All because the safety has to worry so much about the run.

I could see Dez Fitzpatrick or Seth Dawkins winning one-on-one battles like this.

ASU Ball, 3rd and 1

I actually said “Oh my god” out loud the first time I watched this play. Tae Hayes just decides to be the receiver on this play and he beats the receiver to the spot so badly that the receiver tries to become the defender right out of his break. He even makes a nice catch to pick this off.

This is just an absurd level of confidence and aggression from Bryan Brown with the defensive call. It’s third and short, so he gambles on the fact that a team like ASU who hadn’t pushed the ball down the field once in this game would look to throw short. So he goes with zero coverage and puts those safeties in coverage. Then his corners sit at the snap and read the route. Hayes keeps his eyes on the receiver until he sees slant and he breaks on it before he looks at the quarterback. He knows what’s coming and trusts in himself that he’s right. It’s insane, but it’s right and he gets a huge turnover.

ASU Ball, 1st and 10

I’ve been impressed with Bryan Brown’s willingness to mix things up on defense. This is a very aggressive scheme without being a reckless scheme. It will force a lot of turnovers just like Todd Grantham’s defenses while not giving up big plays. This is a simple cover two but there is absolutely nowhere to throw the ball because every defender is where they’re supposed to be. There’s even a linebacker spying the quarterback in the middle of the field.

I also like the way that the App State defensive backs catch the football. It’s natural to the point that it seems like they spend real time practicing catching the football as opposed to the silly drills that everybody does that guys just go through the motions with.