Wednesday, November 11, 2009

OSU v PSU-Ohio State Defensive Breakdown

That defensive performance was so outstanding that I wanted to go a little more in-depth into the OSU defense against Penn State.

1.  The defensive line was as dominating a second time through.  I don't know if I've ever seen such a one sided matchup betwen two big time programs as our defensive line versus their offensive line.  Penn State could not dropback pass, because the pocket would collapse.  Then they would try to bootleg or rollout Clark, but Gibson is so fast that he would recover and be in Clark's face before he could make a throw.  The two-man domination by Heyward and Gibson on the first series in the Second Half is pretty indicative of the whole night....

2.  Because of this, Ohio State did not do anything fancy.  They essentially played two deep safeties the entire game and dared Penn State to run the ball.  Penn State was able to gain yards rushing at time, but you could tell when push came to shove they had no confidence in their run game versus Ohio State.  Two examples are on the goalline, where they did not give Royster the ball once, and on the 3d and 1 play where they tried to fool OSU by doing the quick pitch to Royster outside that Gibson ran down.  In so doing Ohio State took away what has been Penn State's bread and butter this year, which is passing the ball.

OSU hardly blitzed, either.  I think I only saw four or five blitzes through three quarters, and two of those were boundary corner blitzes on run downs.

3.  Instead Ohio State basically played some type of zone on first and second down, and then a lot of cover-1 robber on third down.  While this is pretty standard for modern defenses, Ohio State did not need to do anything fancy.  Unlike with Pryor, though, when Clark would try to scramble he was not able to outrun Rolle or Homan playing the underneath robber. 

4.  The other thing that made this possible was Ohio State's secondary's ability to lockdown Penn State's wide receivers.  They tried to go deep several times early in the game to No. 2, and both times he could not get any separation from Chekwa.  They basically gave up after that trying to get the ball down the field.

5.  The one PSU touchdown was basically a mixture of luck and some playcalling wrinkles.  Penn State got the long bubble screen against OSU play man coverage where Spitler bit on a play action fake and thus didn't get out to cover.  Then, they throw in a few wrinkles, such as putting Royster as the fullback and running a counter to him.  They also caught OSU a few times in nickel when they should have been in base, and vice versa.  They were also helped by the pass interfence.  But they basically used up their 'wrinkles' on that drive and afterwords could not do anything on offense.   

6.  Ohio State did a really nice job (as they always do) of mixing between the 4-3 and 3-4.  Part of this is because they can easily change between a 4-3 under and a 3-4, as they are largely the same looks and responsibilites.  OSU plays their 3-4 as a one gap scheme, as you can see below:

A couple other interesting wrinkles that OSU does with the 3-4 that you can see in the video.  First, they will often go into a 'bear' or 'eagle' look, where they will play over the Center and both Guards, as you can see with Heyward sliding down.  A second is that they will flip Gibson and Spitler.  Spitler will normally play to the strength or TE side with Heyward as the '5 technique.'  But sometimes they will flip Gibson and put him to the strength next to Heyward.  I think these wrinkles are why they like the flexibility of the 3-4.

7.  They also showed several nickel looks up front that ranged from more run oriented to pass oriented.  Basically, the line shrinks.  First, they will bring in Wilson as the 3 technique and put Worthington down at the nose.  Then, in obvious pass situations Williams comes in and Heyward slides down inside as below.

8.  One thing that should not be ignored, however, was that the defense was put in positions to succeed by the offense and special teams.  Penn State's best starting field position was their own 40 yard line, and that did not happen until the 4th quarter. Here were Penn State's starting field positions:
  1. PSU 16
  2. PSU 24
  3. PSU 20
  4. PSU 29
  5. PSU 7
  6. PSU 33
  7. PSU 23
  8. PSU 13
  9. PSU 8
  10. PSU 26
  11. PSU 40
  12. PSU 20
  13. PSU 23
In addition,  Ohio State's offense controlled the ball for over 34 minutes.  These two factors make a significant difference and put a defense like this in a position to dominate. 

Below is the First Half Play-by-Play Breakdown:

1st-10:  PSU 10 personnel, trips right.  OSU in 4-3 over.  1 high.
Heyward beat LT, Gibson beat RT.
2d-16:  I right.  4-3 under.  2 high.  Press coverage.  Playaction,
looks like cover 2 man under.  Nice job by Chekwa playing stride for
stride on the deep pass.  We pressed them all day, couldn’t challenge.
3d-16:  PSU-Gun ace left.  OSU-3-4 nickel.  Hines head up over TE.
Gibson playing in space on backside.  Screen right.  OSU rushes three
drops into cover 3 with Homan spying.  Gibson, nice play in space,
blows it up immediately.

1st-10:  PSU Ace left.  OSU 3-4-under essentially to the 2 WR side
(playing 1 gap techniques).  1 high.  PSU zone right.  The POA is
stalemated by Worthington and Denlinger.  Small cutback lane where
Rolle didn’t quite fill quick enough.  4yd gain.
2d-6:  Weak I right.  OSU 3-4 over.  Zone left-great play by
Denlinger-came down the line with Guard zone blocking left, made the
tackle at the LOS.
3d-6:  Empty trips right.  OSU Nickel. 2 High.   QB draw.  Wilson and
Heyward had control of the Guards so were quickly able to disengage
and make the play.
1st-10:  PSU ace left-OSU-3-4 under right.  1 high.  Bootleg-Spitler
came and blew it up.
2d-10:  PSU 4 wide.  OSU Nickel under.  1 high.   Nickel linemen are
Gibson.  Dropback.  Cover 3.  Heyward beats
man inside, forces Clark throw a step early.  Incomplete
3d-10:  PSU Ace left.  Nickel 3-3.  2 high.   Dropback.  Cover 1
robber.  Good coverage-great sure tackle by Hines after the catch.
1st-10:  Trips left.  OSU 3-4 under to TE side.  1 high.  Stretch
right.  Great force play by Spitler.  Fill comes a little late though,
 5 yd gain.
2d-4:  I left. 3-4 under to field.  2 high.  ISO right.  Corner blitz.
 Gibson was in backfield, but missed tackle. 3 yd gain.
3d-1:  QB sneak
1st-10:  Ace right.  OSU 4-3 over to field.  Bubble screen.  Man
coverage, Spitler late getting to the bubble screen.  43 yd gain.
1st-10:  Motion to strong I left.  OSU-nickel over.  Fake sweep,
inside handoff to Royster.  Wilson got fooled and lost gap, 5 yd gain.
2d-4:  PSU Gun trey right.  OSU nickel over to field.  QB tackle trap.
 OSU slanted away from play and Rolle laid back too long, 5 yd gain.
1st-10:  PSU I right.  OSU 3-4 double eagle.  2 high.  PSU fullback dive.
2d-6:  Ace trey right.  OSU-nickel over.  1 high.  Dropback.  OSU
brings double OLB blitz.  PSU picks it up, but CB coverage is very
good, Torrenc e is right in WR’s face.  Call pass interference
1st-Goal.  PSU tight I wing left.  OSU Goalline 5-3 tight.  Playaction
initially fooled OSU but Gibson recovered and was in Clark’s face.
Forced a wild throw.
2d-goal:  PSU Weak wing right.  OSU.  5-3 tight.  FB dive.  Great
interior push by Larrimore and Worthington in the A gaps.   Bottled up
the play.
3d-goal:  QB sneak.  Clark again stoned by interior
penetration-Worthington and Wilson

1st-10:  PSU Trey left.  OSU-3-4 over to boundary.  Counter right,
great play by Rolle coming underneath the blocks, very quick.
2d-6:  I left.  OSU 3-4 under.  1 high.  Iso right,  OSU boundary
corner blitz.  Homan is there for the tackle.
3d-3.  PSU Ace trey left.  OSU 3-4 under.  PSU rollout.  OSU zone
blitz, Spitler blitz, Gibson drop, Cover 3.  Moye open on curl.
1st-10:  Ace left, TE motion to Ace right.  Nickel 3-4 over.
Playaction roll right. Cover 2, man under.  Rolle blitz and hit Clark.
 Chekwa all over No. 2.  Not open all day long.
2d-10:  Ace two tight.  Motion to Wing left.  OSU nickel over.
Stretch left.  Heyward just blows up Quarless to stuff the play.
Simon got penetration as well so no cutback lane.
3d-14:  PSU shotgun.  Trips left.  OSU nickel-Gibson/Williams in
together.  Dropback.  Cover 1 robber.  Russell slips and misses
1st-10:  Shotgun split backs.  OSU 4-3 over nickel.  Swing pass, Rolle
and Hines just run it down.  No gain.
2d-10:  Twins left-fly motion out of backfield.  OSU 3-4 over.  3 step
slant.  Worthington and Gibson collapse the pocket, preventing Clark
from stepping into throw.
3d-10:  Shotgun ace right.  OSU-Gibson/Williams nickel.  2 high.  Encroachment
3d-5:  Gun trips left.  Zip motion.  OSU nickel 2 high.  Cover 1
robber.  Huge push by Gibson and Heyward, forces an incomplete.


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