Article: "Scheme" vs. "Philosophy" - what's really broken?

Article: "Scheme" vs. "Philosophy" - what's really broken?

ghost2
There's been a lot of vitriol on this and many boards regarding the ineffectiveness of the defense which I won't rehash in this post - we all know the defense is broken. What I'd like to explore here is the difference between a busted scheme and a defunct philosophy.


The Scheme

In a post I made a while ago - still tacked above I think - I got into the "on-paper" aspects of the 4-3 Under/Flex and how it could be utilized here. This is the scheme we "run" (run being used loosely right now...) If you picked up the Miami defensive playbook and thumbed through it, I'd expect you'd see a lot of plays that look eerily similar to what's being run at Alabama or even better, Michigan State.

Just to review, the 4-3 under scheme itself requires a wide-body NT, versatile DEs who can get to the passer but also set an edge, and heady, athletic LBs who can play in space and downhill. There's also a hybrid DE/LB (the "Jack" or "Elephant" position - think McCord) who's primarily used as a pass-rusher. The DBs by-and-large play mainly cover-3 or cover-0 depending on the situation.

For me, the scheme in and of itself is not the problem. When run with purpose and aggression, pressure can come from anywhere on the field and wreak havoc on traditional and spread offenses alike. (Again, see Narduzzi at MSU.) I'd go so far as to argue that the recent shift to the Flex for a lot of teams is a direct result of the dramatic rise in spread offenses over the last 10 years. That said, no defensive scheme is a problem on paper. The issues arise when coaches have to teach, implement, and gameplan the scheme both mid-week and on Saturdays. This leads me to -

The Philosophy

To me, this is where there is a massive disconnect between what this defense is, and what it could/should be. We've seen this defense be aggressive at times (Duke, even this past week at Cincy occasionally) - that's what's so frustrating. The problem seems to be that D'Nofrio is trying to defend EVERYTHING simultaneously, and ends up defending nothing well. And when we are attacking and the opposing offense gains a chunk of yards, it seems we go into defensive panic mode far too soon. Were we really that afraid of Georgia Tech's deep ball that we gave up on stopping the dive? Did we really need to drop 8 into coverage on the 10-yard line? These are the differences to me between an "attacking" philosophy and a "reactive" philosophy. Note here that the issue is still the playcalling/gameplan, not the plays themselves.


Can we fix it?

This is where the rubber hits the proverbial road. In my post from last year, I wondered if the scheme was too complex for the college game. I don't wonder that anymore - it's not. I now believe that it's D'Nofrio's PHILOSOPHY that asks our players to do too much, not the scheme itself. Example: Tyriq McCord should be playing downhill 70-80% of the time. Period. That's his primary skillset. I'm not saying don't drop him into coverage occasionally - just enough to keep offenses guessing as to where the pressure is - but any more that a couple times per game and you're nullifying your player's natural ability. Perryman and Kirby should be blitzing the hell out of the A gap so that when one or both drop into zone, there's still pressure (say from Bush or Howard) and deception. Or if you don't trust the rush from the back 7, that's fine - use a LB as a spy on a running QB or shifty RB and just say "go where he goes." (Incidentally, that's exactly what Narduzzi did to help take away Abdullah in the MSU-Nebraska game...)

Basically, it all comes down to trust. Right now, I don't believe D'Nofrio trusts our personnel to execute his plays, and so when the plays inevitably go awry mid-game, he reverts back to the dreaded "bend-don't-break" philosophy that simply ends up breaking over the course of a game. Some would argue that even if we change DCs that this is GOLDEN'S scheme (which it is) so it won't matter. I'm not so sure yet. It is definitely Golden's intent to have our defense play 4-3 Under, but I'm not convinced that our DC is running it the way our Head Coach wants it run anymore. If there is a change in the defensive coaching staff after the season and Golden remains the head coach, 2015 becomes very intriguing and I'll be very interested in re-visiting the "scheme" v. "philosophy" discussion again.

Just my .02
 

Comments (92)

T
Its not about scheme or philosophy, its about coaching<----and I am using this very very lightly given the persons we have trying to "coach"
 
I'll make it simple for you. The kids, especially the SF Kids, play much more aggressive in high school than Golden's scheme allows them to play.

In other words:

The defensive scheme is better suited for over-achievers...like the Temple, Akron, Buffalo, Miami (of Ohio) and Ball State quality players
 
One of the best posts on this board in a long time.

I personally believe that if Golden is so intent on running an attacking D then he is more than capable of telling Mark to fucking fix it or GTFO -- that is the perk of being the boss. Whether he is too afraid or just unwilling to do it, it still boils down to dereliction of duty.

I think that Al sets the tone and the tone in the program is "paralysis by analysis". I don't think firing Mark fixes that. BUT I want to believe...
 
One of the best posts on this board in a long time.

I personally believe that if Golden is so intent on running an attacking D then he is more than capable of telling Mark to ****ing fix it or GTFO -- that is the perk of being the boss. Whether he is too afraid or just unwilling to do it, it still boils down to dereliction of duty.

I think that Al sets the tone and the tone in the program is "paralysis by analysis". I don't think firing Mark fixes that. BUT I want to believe...

This.

Gross negligence on the part of Folden at this point.
 
It is easy to be aggressive against Duke and Cincy. They are F*cking Duke and Cincy.


Here is another example:

It's easy for Smokey to talk Sh*t to Craig.....................but what happens when Debo comes around on the Beach Cruiser? Tucking Chains.

Let's just say that Golden Tucks that Chain when it gets too tough FOR HIM.
 
Good post. I also agree with the point that Coach NoD tries to defend every possible situation and that he ends up not defending anything well at all.

What I've heard is that this is very much an "assignment" defense, particularly at defensive line where they are asked to engage the lineman to free up our linebackers or a blitzing safety/corner. You often hear the mantra "everyone needs to do their job." The plays are designed for a specific player to make a play, which has led to many 1-on-1 tackling situations. When that blitz is picked up, we get picked apart.

D-line is not effective at disengaging blockers --when have you ever see our d-line use a swim move, a club, a spin? All we ever witness is a head up bullrush. Over the past 4 years, we've seen little pressure from just a 3 or 4 man rush.

Defenses start and end with defensive line pressure. Until we stop "engaging" and playing with "violent hands," and rather play a more aggressive defensive line pressure schemes, we'll continue to play this passive style.
 
I think its the psychology also, the mindset and overall messaging heading into games..


Im gonna go more layman here, but I feel these guys try to be too NFL, and in college, where you have better talent than 80% of your opponents, you almost need to be more high school or somewhere in the middle, college, lol... they dont sellout to the opponents weakness, because to OP's point they want to cover everything.. I can see that in NFL where you will get exposed if you leave something for the taking, but in college not so much
 
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This is all very true, OP. I haven't seen us bluff the blitz a lot, show pressure pre-snap, haven't done a ton of A-gap blitzing. One thing that was nice was the automatic check when the single, off-receiver went in motion away giving a jet read look the back-side corner (Artie Burns) blitzed. This type of automatic check against no receiving threat is great because it scared the OC out of doing much more of that in the game. You've effectively "taken away" a certain look or package.

That's what our D needs more of. We need to force the issue more and make teams do what we allow them to do versus reacting to what they want to do.
 
Good post. I also agree with the point that Coach NoD tries to defend every possible situation and that he ends up not defending anything well at all.

What I've heard is that this is very much an "assignment" defense, particularly at defensive line where they are asked to engage the lineman to free up our linebackers or a blitzing safety/corner. You often hear the mantra "everyone needs to do their job." The plays are designed for a specific player to make a play, which has led to many 1-on-1 tackling situations. When that blitz is picked up, we get picked apart.

D-line is not effective at disengaging blockers --when have you ever see our d-line use a swim move, a club, a spin? All we ever witness is a head up bullrush. Over the past 4 years, we've seen little pressure from just a 3 or 4 man rush.

Defenses start and end with defensive line pressure. Until we stop "engaging" and playing with "violent hands," and rather play a more aggressive defensive line pressure schemes, we'll continue to play this passive style.

I agree to an extent. In the 4-3 Under scheme, think of the front 7 as one big unit (tee hee.) So you will indeed see the NT "occupying space" so that there's a gap for the blitzing LB. Gap-control is a fundamental tenant of this defense. That said, there CAN be agressive DL play, particularly from the DEs, and that to me is still a personnel problem to a good degree. Chick just isn't a pass rusher. AQM is out. Thomas, a true freshman, is probably our best pass-rushing DE right now. When Thomas, Harris, Jenkins, and Moten grow into their frames just a bit more (and hopefully when AQM comes back,) I think you'll see more aggressive DL play across the board.
 
This is all very true, OP. I haven't seen us bluff the blitz a lot, show pressure pre-snap, haven't done a ton of A-gap blitzing. One thing that was nice was the automatic check when the single, off-receiver went in motion away giving a jet read look the back-side corner (Artie Burns) blitzed. This type of automatic check against no receiving threat is great because it scared the OC out of doing much more of that in the game. You've effectively "taken away" a certain look or package.

That's what our D needs more of. We need to force the issue more and make teams do what we allow them to do versus reacting to what they want to do.

Awesome point. That's playcalling that DICTATES TERMS to an OC and forces them to adjust to you, rather than calling a base defense again and again and praying the offense has a miscue somewhere along the way.
 
According to Folden Donut is one of the best in the business and thats why he retained him. These guys have been together a long time. I think the philosophy and scheme are what Golden wants. Donut is the foot soilder doing what his General asks.
 
That may be true ssj, but I'm interested to see if that loyalty extends to being fired alongside his DC. Loyalties can change in a hurry when jobs are on the line...
 
You know where I stand, Ghost. This is a core philosophy issue that permeates every aspect of how we run this program. From how kids buy in to how it trickles into our in-game decisions/approach (generally) to the most noticeable symptom: the scheme. The root cause is the philosophy and I haven't seen any evidence that it will be adjusted.
 
Golden's entire mentality is to let the other team screw up instead of making his team dictate the action. We could have Buddy Ryan's defensive playbook and it would be the same ****.
 
didnt read.

there is no point in making this some kind of academic exercise.

the single most undeniable fact is: Gorlden is an awful coach and we are gonna suck until hes gone.

time to accept that and move on to look for a solution (which is to lose as many games as possible right now to get him fired ASAP)
 
Yup Lu - the impetus behind my post was some of the things you've been saying really even since last year regarding philosophy on both sides of the ball. I like how you put it - the scheme is a symptom of the philosophy. Until the philosophy changes, it really doesn't matter what scheme we run.
 
I'm not a coach just a fan of football, and this has been my problem and the reason I will not support this staff until a change is made!!!!! this scheme is run at multiple places with different, yet better results. We are on Defense they should not have to do a ton of thinking, let them dogs eat!!!


The Philosophy

To me, this is where there is a massive disconnect between what this defense is, and what it could/should be. We've seen this defense be aggressive at times (Duke, even this past week at Cincy occasionally) - that's what's so frustrating. The problem seems to be that D'Nofrio is trying to defend EVERYTHING simultaneously, and ends up defending nothing well. And when we are attacking and the opposing offense gains a chunk of yards, it seems we go into defensive panic mode far too soon. Were we really that afraid of Georgia Tech's deep ball that we gave up on stopping the dive? Did we really need to drop 8 into coverage on the 10-yard line? These are the differences to me between an "attacking" philosophy and a "reactive" philosophy. Note here that the issue is still the playcalling/gameplan, not the plays themselves.
 
Also, why is the discussion when it comes to Golden always about defense?

The offense, under Golden, has put together maybe ONE solid game against a very good. That's it. Otherwise, they end up sucking against real teams just like the defense. That's why all this assistant coach talk is nonsense.
 
Also, why is the discussion when it comes to Golden always about defense?

The offense, under Golden, has put together maybe ONE solid game against a very good. That's it. Otherwise, they end up sucking against real teams just like the defense. That's why all this assistant coach talk is nonsense.

The big problem is defense and it trickles over to the offense. Against Louisville the offense was handcuffed majorly by the playcalling and had no chance of having success. Against Nebraska the offense was fine, scored 31 and was the only reason the game looked close as the defense was just an absolute disaster. And against GT the offense didn't have a chance to do much as the defense never got off the field. Sure they turned it over a couple of times, but the defense was on the field 40+ minutes not because of the offense, but because they couldn't get a stop. The offense still averaged around 7 yards per play I believe. The fact of the matter is the offense has not been a cause for any of the losses outside of Louisville. The defense is always the main reason we lose.
 

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