North Carolina Defensive Coordinator, Jay Bateman, made a name for himself at Army with his use of delayed pressures. Most notably the one that hit home versus Oklahoma in 2018 (below). A delayed pressure is a great way to give the presentation of drop-eight (rush three) only to have the ILB away from the RB insert on the guard. The goal is to get a static guard to block a more athletic LB.
The design of a modern 3-4 is to get LBs that can pressure yet drop out into coverage. This use of 240 lbs LBs as rushers is nothing new. The main transition has been to put them in the middle of the formation instead of always on the edge. This has fundamentally changed defenses. The 4-3 Under was created to get an athletic 3 technique in a one-on-one on a run-blocking guard. The natural evolution as the Spread has grown in popularity is to have LBs become major players in rushing the passer. James Light had a great tweet from a college coach explaining the idea behind using LBs, something Belichick has been using to kill the NFL for years.
Had a college coach reach out to me through DM about my post, explains the philosophy of Patricia/Belichick in terms of creating rush vs drafting/paying for it. https://t.co/MBMB5vPJou pic.twitter.com/Q22YIAtF76
— James Light (@JamesALight) April 21, 2020
The main way to achieve this is to create “problem” fronts on 3rd Down or find ways to insert them off traditional looks. The main difference between the two types of pressures is the presentation. Both insert a non-traditional player into the pressure. This can be sent from anywhere, but usually from an overhang or backed up position. Creepers stem from a traditional alignment like a Tite Front with an attached EDGE, where Sim. Pressures are packaged from 3rd Down looks and use five-man fronts to play with the pass-pro. Bateman has a great repertoire of Simulated Pressures and Creepers and rarely uses more than six in his pressures.
The Clemson offense under Trevor Lawerence has been one of the best in the country. Lawerence has been an absolute machine in terms of efficiency. The match-up with UNC and Clemson was a classic, coming down to a goal-line stand by the Tigers. The Tar Heel defense was able to keep tabs on Clemson’s offense. Lawerence would end the game with a QBR of 67.2 and only 206 yards through the air. Without WR Tee Higgins, Clemson might have stumbled. Let’s take a look at three pressures used by Bateman to pressure the Tigers offense.
This is a clever way to get to a Cross-Dog and put pressure right in the face of the QB. Outside of overload pressures to the QB’s blindside, sending pressure right in the face of the QB can be an effective way of getting the QBs eyes “down.” UNC set its four-down alignment to the boundary (3 tech.) for most of the game. When in a four-down front, Bateman likes to keep a Quarters structure, and this is no different.
The 2i to the field will “pin” the “B” gap attempting to bring the guard with him and occupy the tackle. Basically a two-for-one, eventually working to contain. To the boundary, the 3 tech. will “stab” and rock to contain. “Stab” refers to the jab step to guard. The intent is to get the guard’s eyes on him and bring him with the DT to the outside. Eventually, the 3 tech. will work to occupy the tackle with is being brought to him by the Boundary DE (“B”) who is stabbing and then working to the opposite “A” gap. The Mike inserts off the center’s backside and takes the far shoulder of the RB.
This four-man pressure puts stress on Clemson’s pass-pro. The Tigers are running a “Combo” pass-pro were the side to the 3 tech. will slide and the Nose side will play Big-on-Big. Usually, the center will work to the Nose, but Clemson must have had a bead on what the Tar Heels were trying to do. The RB takes the natural hole in the middle. The pressure is designed to put two on the RB. Great change-up to an age-old staple.
One way to kill slide protection is to overload the side away from the slide. The Tar Heels align in the Mint Front (404-9) and will attack the “B” gap. Again, this puts two on the RB, The Mint Front naturally creates a one-on-one with the tackle because of the 4i. The Nose will “stair-step” to contain to the field and the field DE (“F”) will stab and work to the middle hook. The boundary 4i will work off the center, who slides to the field.
As the Tigers slide their pass-pro, the left tackle engages the Jack. The RB steps up to take the “B” gap created by the movement. The RB is fitting off the tackle, yet he rocks back to pick up the Will who is inserting off the edge. This puts two blockers in the “B” gap and no one to take the Jack off the edge. The Mike inserts off the guard and works to the near shoulder of the RB. That puts four defenders on one side and only three blockers.
Coverage wise, the Tar Heels are in a Cover 3 concept. This is standard for Bateman who favors a Rip/Liz scheme when in a three-down. The boundary Safety (BS) gives the illusion of a two-shell, only to sink into the seam at the snap. An easy way to get a boundary reduction off Mint with a three-under/three deep zone behind.
The last clip is your standard Cross-Dog except the Tar Heels drop out both DEs. Again, UNC is in a four-down with the 3 tech. set to the boundary. Coverage wise, the Tar Heels will be in a form of Quarters. The “F” will stab and drop to the middle-hole with the “B” and Ni holding the seams. By only sending four, the Tar Heels keep a traditional coverage structure yet force the pass-pro to work.
The Tar Heels want to give the illusion of a Fire Zone or post-snap rotation to single-high by aligning both ILBs in the box. Versus a 2×2 set, you’d have to figure the BS will sink (he did in the previous clip). Mike works to a Mug on the center creating a five-man front (man-blocking). The RB tracks the Will. This is simple science. The RB is stepping up into a gap with not much force. The Will is coming into this space from depth and speed. The velocity of the Will is going to knock back the RB into the QB’s lap. Again, pressure in the QB’s face and the Will knocks the arm of the QB.
This is a nice change-up to the six-man Fire Zone, and can even be run from a Jet Front (5s and 3s) or with the Mike mugged to start (Bear). The Tar Heels forced the RB to stay in and made him work by putting multiple guys on him. This is a “cheap” Sim Pressure that most defenses already have in the books. You don’t have to be exotic on 3rd Down, but you do need a plan.
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