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
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
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
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.