Monday, September 01, 2008

Beating Nine in the Box

I was surprised when Washington came out in a 3-3-5 nickel defense with three safeties in the first quarter against Oregon. The Huskies reaction to fearing the deep ball is still to stay back rather than mount an attack on the QB from the line of scrimmage. Does that philosophy come from Willingham or is it the defense Donatell really wanted to run? I can't understand the philosophy of not putting pressure on Oregon's young QB's.

Oregon on the other hand came out and played a nine in the box defense. The nine in the box defense consists of four defensive linemen, four linebackers, and a safety that all line up near the line of scrimmage. What this defense does is sell out completely to stop the run. Oregon can run this defense with confidence because the defensive backfield still consisted of Chung, Thurmond, and Byrd who are among the nations best at their positions.

Washington's strength is the run even though that was hard to believe on Saturday night. Locker is a very mobile threat and I think Brandon Johnson, and Chris Polk are going to be very good running backs. Washington however is never going to move the ball on the ground if teams continue to stack the line of scrimmage.

How do you beat the nine in the box?

You beat nine in the box by calling a play action fake and throwing deep!

If your opponent respects your ability to throw deep it will pull them out of the alignments which will allow you to run the ball.

What Washington needs to do before next Saturday is to develop a deep passing game which will make opposing defenses pay for loading it up on the line of scrimmage.

This is easier said than done because you have a starting QB that simply isn't very accurate at long range yet. He also is out of sync with his WR's because he spent most of camp on the sidelines with an injured hamstring. Those WR's that he is out of sync with for the most part have exactly one game of experience. Don't forget that Jake's offensive line needs to give him enough time to drop back and set his feet to make a throw. They also need to give the WR's enough time to go deep and get open.

That is a lot to learn in only one week which brings up the question of why the Huskies weren't prepared for it on Saturday night. Was it matter of lack of preparation, surprise, or was it the simple matter of not being able to execute?

I think it was a little of all three and if this team is going to go anywhere in 2008 it better start anticipating and adjusting to their opponents better. Hitting a couple of long bombs while your at it wouldn't be a bad idea either.


hairofthedawg said...

The trouble John, and you're right, is that the coaches didn't adjust and adapt. I can't say's that simple. I don't know whether it's a head or assistant thing, but it's coaching.

Darin said...

Let's see if I've got this right: nine in the box, plus Chung, Thurmond, and Byrd, makes twelve. No wonder the Ducks won!

I agree that a passing attack would have been the way to beat that defense, but I'm not sure play-action would have had much effect. I think the corners played straight up man most of the night, so they weren't looking at the backfield much. Besides, we had our opportunities, but we missed the throw or the catch in each case.

I don't think the problem was play-calling nearly as much as execution -- although the play calling did seem a little unimaginative. I assume that's at least partly due to the large number of new players who are struggling just to run the basic plays.

Anonymous said...

From my view on looked like the middle was open more than not since 9 are looking at the run and Goodwin and Logan taking their coverage to the outside. Saw Middleton with one on one coverage most of the night so why not more quick slants to the middle and even sending out Polk around the edge to get him in space??

Also, even though it was 4th Qtr...Fouch looked accurate passing the ball and Oregon was starting to play back a bit. Why not use Fouch early in the game for a series againest BYU to soften the rush up a bit.

Maybe Gottlieb's return and hopefully a lesser defense from BYU will help but the offensive gameplan needs to get creative first game or not....freshman or not.

John Berkowitz said...

Darin...LOL...of course all three aren't back at the same time. That isn't exactly what I meant.

Anonymous said...

Hey John, I think you'd take a great amount of interest in Hugh Millen's KJR segment of "Hard Core Football" today (, especially where he specifically discussed beating the 8 and 9 man fronts. You and he were on the same page that the Dawgs were ridiculously poor at attacking Oregon; he brought up how right out of the gate in the second half, we threw deep down the middle to Kearse, who had 2 yards on his man...and then NEVER WENT BACK TO IT! It also didn't help, though, that as poor as the game-plan and play-calling were, the receivers were also just plain running sloppy, technically poor routes. Until the young skill position guys help out, man, it's just a total mess!

Check out the audio feed on this...interesting.

~ Adam

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that multiple receiver formations can also help keep the safeties away from the line of scrimmage and create mismatches when the defense wants to keep 3-4 linebackers on the field. I'm no football guru, but it's worth it to try something else when what you're doing isn't working...

John_S said...

Lappano had a very bad game he did not adjust to compensate for the O-line being dominated.

What is with the Shotgun formation with Locker in the shotgun, a RB to his left or right and another RB three or four yards behind Locker?

I cannot believe they stuck to that formation it did not work and when they would hand the ball to the RB who is four yards deeper than they usually are, they lose or gain zero yards because the oregon d-line was already in the backfield.

I am not a Lappano fan never have and never will. I see the same issues with Locker as last year and this time around he was forcing throws where he would normally have taken off an run.

The playcalling needs a shakeup. Last year was the predictable calls and this year it is the predictable calls with goofy formations!