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The Master Defense Game Analysis Series – Pt 3

The Master Defense Game Analysis Series – Pt 3

The Master Defense author, legendary California high school coach Bob Troppmann, and CompuSports writer and former University of Minnesota quarterback

Jim Reese viewed and taped the Vanderbilt at Michigan game last week. Here is their report.

Jim Reese: Bob, both Vanderbilt and Michigan used the basic 4-3, but with a considerable amount of lateral movement. The defensive front seven seemed to be responsible for various gaps. How does The Master Defense take care of the A-B-C gaps? (Click to go to the Electronic Flip Chart)

Bob Troppmann: The defensive tackle’s base alignment, which is a 2 technique, is head up on the guard and responsible for the A and B gaps; if the strength of the formation is to the tight end side, the strong side tackle will move to a 3 technique and be responsible for the B gap only. The middle linebacker, then, who has lined up in a 0 technique, head up on the center, off the ball, is responsible for the A gap to the strong side. The strong side end assumes a 5 technique, outside shoulder of the offensive tackle, and is responsible for the C gap. The strong side linebacker lines up in a 9 technique on the tight end and is responsible for forcing the play inside, watching for cutbacks. The weak side tackle is in a 2 technique and is responsible for the offside A gap. The offside end to the split end side is in a 5 technique and must contain the reverse. The weak side linebacker is in a 4 technique, off the ball, and is responsible for the offside B gap. The role of the middle linebacker will be to adjust the various line techniques to make sure they are in the right technique for the situation.

JR: During the first half, Michigan came with a corner blitz three times. One time the blitz worked, the corner sacking the quarterback. How does the Master Defense call for stunts such as the one described above?
BT: We add a word to the defense’s base call, designating the position which will be stunting. The designations are as follows: linebackers “Fire”, ends “Crash”, free safety “Blitz”, strong safety “Storm”, and corners “Thunder.”

JR: The other two times Michigan came with a corner blitz, Vanderbilt adjusted and completed passes, a 10-yard reception to a back out of the backfield to the blitzing corner’s side, and on the second occasion to a flanker who, after stepping back and taking a lateral, then threw a touchdown pass to a wide open receiver in the end zone. What happened from a defensive viewpoint on those plays?
BT: Vanderbilt was very adept in taking advantage of the Michigan corner blitzing from the basic 4-3. Anytime the quarterback reads the blitz and can quickly release the ball to the vacated area, that’s heads-up play. It is really athlete versus athlete. Had the quarterback been looking the other way, the corner might very well have sacked him. Blitzing always leaves an opening. It is both the strength and weakness of any defense. The second time Thunder (a cornerback blitz) was called, the secondary moved into a cover three on the snap and the right corner blitzed.

The quarterback had the perfect play called; he threw a lateral out to his (the quarterback’s) left. The Vanderbilt wide receiver, split left, took off down the field. Michigan, in the cover three when the ball was thrown to the wide side of the field laterally to the side of the split end, was prepared to cover correctly had the defensive backs read their keys properly. Michigan was in a Blue Cloud 22-Thunder on Flow Toward (see Electronic Flip Chart for alignment, technique, and keys) coverage but both the defensive halfback and the safety reacted by coming up to make the tackle instead of reading the key of the split end who was releasing downfield.

Defensive backs are taught, of course, to stay back in pass defense until the ball crosses the line of scrimmage. The blitzing corner, trying to recover to get to the lateral, was caught in no-man’s land, and the safeties misread the play as a run. A well designed play by Vanderbilt fooled Michigan and got the Commodores back into the game at 10-7 in the second quarter.
Jim and Bob will continue to discuss the Master Defense as the 2006 season progresses. 8/23/2006 The Master Defense Game Analysis Series
8/30/2006 The Master Defense Game Analysis – Pt 2
9/8/2006 The Master Defense Game Analysis – Pt 3
9/22/2006 The Master Defense Game Analysis – Pt 4
(click the title to view the article)

For more information about the Master Defense, and to view an online version of the Master Defense “flip chart” visit . Click here for a sample chapter and a complete table of contents from The Master Defense eBook .

This article was written by Jim Reese. Jim was a quarterback and assistant coach at the University of Minnesota and is now retired and lives in Tampa, Florida, where he reports on sports for a local newspaper.

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