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App State Film Review: SunBelt Championship First Half

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NCAA Football: Louisville at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Next up in the film review series is the SunBelt Championship game. App State scored on one play after a long kick return to the two yard line but the offense was not very good at all outside of that. The defense was outstanding, however, so I got to look at some of the pressures that Bryan Brown uses in his defense.

Gifs should be fixed now but let me know if there are mobile issues or anything. Quality might just be due to the youtube video I capped them from, so I don’t know if there’s much I can do about that. Always open to suggestions though.

LA Ball, 1st and 10

This is the kind of play that I hope we see out of Louisville next season. It’s not a highlight play or a turnover, but it’s executed perfectly. Noel Cook (#20) sets the edge really well and doesn’t allow the tight end to get his shoulders around to turn him inside.

You can also see Anthony Flory (#44) fill from his middle linebacker spot. The runner elects to try to go outside because he’s right there to make the play. The defense couldn’t have played this more perfectly. I tend to think that C.J. Avery will end up in this spot for Louisville. He will be a key player that I think will end up being the best defender on the team.

LA Ball, 3rd and 7

I really love this “Amoeba” front that Bryan Brown uses from time to time. It’s always a good sign when you end up being shocked that an offensive line picks up a blitz and that’s definitely what happens here. The goal is still achieved because the quarterback is uncomfortable and makes a rushed throw. I also love the communication in the secondary after the running back shifts.

Watch the guy covering the slot at the bottom tap his chest. You can see that the guy that was going to blitz at the top of the screen then looks back to the other safety and they rotate everything to the new strong side of the play. The deep safety comes down to cover the blitzer becomes the deep safety. This team busted one coverage for a deep ball all year and it was because two guys ran into each other. This type of communication is how they avoided having more than that.

LA Ball, 3rd and 7

This was the third 3rd and long of the first quarter and this is the third different look Bryan Brown gave. Above he went with an all out blitz and on the next drive he played it conservative with a simple cover two with a three man rush. You can see that on this play that the defense shifts with the motion and then goes with a zone blitz after showing overload pressure.

Imagine having to plan for a defense that can throw different things at you like this. Another positive is that none of this is complex from a player standpoint. There’s not a lot of thinking and adjusting. As long as guys execute their assignment, the results should be much better than what we’ve seen the last two years.

LA Ball, 3rd and 10

This is the fourth different look that Bryan Brown threw out on 3rd and long. You can see that Tae Hayes (#17) shows his blitz too early but he still has the presence of mind to get into a position where he can loop around the linebacker blitzing next to him. The confusion works perfectly because the line actually shifts as they should. The linebacker blitz takes up two blockers and then Hayes gets a free run into the vacated area. He doesn’t get the sack here because the quarterback makes a nice move to get away, but the pressure blows up the play and forces a punt.

This play is one of the reasons that I think Russ Yeast and Telly Plummer will end up at safety with Khane Pass moving to outside linebacker. The safety that rolls up here to cover the outside receiver is on an island. Pass just can’t do what is being asked here. It’s not an abnormal thing for the safeties to cover receivers in this defense, so I think they’ll move guys around to make sure they have guys that can execute.

SECOND QUARTER

App State Ball, 3rd and 2

If you’ve been following through this series of posts, you’ve seen the other two variations of this play with a straight hand off as well as a reverse to the motion man. On this play they add a new wrinkle with the play action pass to the tight end crossing the formation. I absolutely love stuff like this because it’s simple yet effective. On the straight hand off, the tight end would block the end that crashes down. It’s just a subtle difference off of a play that they run multiple times a game. The defense is likely to read run here and you then have an open guy with space to run.

LA Ball, 2nd and 10

Bryan Brown’s defense is extremely aggressive but it has been really good at limiting big plays. I’ve watched plenty of games now and I can’t tell you how they play this way without getting beat deep. The safeties jump routes like this and trust that their read is correct and the single safety in the middle of the field will erase mistakes. It’s crazy to me, but it works.

Besides all of that, this is just an excellent play by Jason Thomas. He reads this pre-snap and starts to inch forward. Then he just sits on the route until he reads the inside break. After that it’s just a big time player making a big play.