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Defensive Philosophy Chage: QB pressure and Picks ???

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fourthandshort
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Fri Oct 05, 2018 7:48 am

So I dont know this, but have to believe this has never happened before. But we are just 4 games into season, so could be an abberation. But this relates toa couple things Spack defenses (now under DC Niekamp) have been known for lot of QB pressure and not a lot of Picks. More recently it seems like Spack's front 7 philosophy is more one of absolutely stifling containment, and not as much sacks and TFLs. Our defensive rush yards per carry remains very low, but amazingly we are getting less sacks and TFL yards lost than prior strong Spack defenses. Meaning, less huge defensive plays (yards lost etc) but even better containment within the front.

So here is the stat that reaffirms this for me .. we've only got 7 sacks this year, despite having played a fairly average SOS. And yet, our overal defense on every meaningful team stat is near top 10 in FCS.

And here is the more amazing stat line ... we have more Picks (8) than Sacks (7) at the 4 game mark. Normally we finish around 25 to 40 sacks (reg season) and between 5 and 12 picks. I'll pull some actual stats later looking at Sacks + QBHs compared to Picks and Pass Break-ups going back a few years.

My point being ... it seems like Spack's defensive philsophy is evolving ... and I like the results so far. This might be why he officially announced change in base defense from 4-3 to 3-4.

But an ISU defense with more picks than sacks .. hard to phathom !!!
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TIMMY
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Fri Oct 05, 2018 1:54 pm

Interesting comparison from last year. It may just be they're not as good rushing the passer and more talented on the back end.
And you can call a goose a duck but when I see a 1 tech and a 3 tech the vast vast vast majority of the time(and it's the first thing I look at every time they come to the line).... I know what I call it.
Any way you shake it I'll take a turnover over a sack any time I can get it. Let's keep pickin it!
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fourthandshort
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Sat Oct 06, 2018 6:04 am

TIMMY wrote:
Fri Oct 05, 2018 1:54 pm
Interesting comparison from last year. It may just be they're not as good rushing the passer and more talented on the back end.
And you can call a goose a duck but when I see a 1 tech and a 3 tech the vast vast vast majority of the time(and it's the first thing I look at every time they come to the line).... I know what I call it.
Any way you shake it I'll take a turnover over a sack any time I can get it. Let's keep pickin it!
i get your point about whole 3-4 vs 4-3 .. duck duck goose thing ... been discussed here before. But I'm talking about the schemes and applied presure, what our defense will give if anything ... meaning, how/where the pressure comes from. I've admitted before, I'm more of a physical skills and stats guy, I don't know schemes and alignments. Our defensive schemes seem to have shifted over the Spack era from trying to make the huge defensive plays for loss, with downside being guys not always staying home (containment) and going for big play that might not turn out .. sort of over-pursuing a big play can lead to a near sack or big TFL, but it tuns into 15 yard run because someone didn't stay home.

And I think about our recent success against the best dual threat guys. The true dual threat QBs rarely run much on us or beat us deep with throws .. everything is contained and/or underneath .. and again, from what I see, it works out better much more often than not.

I realize every year is different with personnel and even opponents which impact how we scheme them. But I think the the raw stats I happen to focus on seem to support this over recent years. But maybe I'll find otherwise when I actually pull some stats together. If I get a chance, I'll pull somthing together this weekend.

But I posted this because I was thinking it the last couple years already and then I saw this stat line ... 8 picks, 7 sacks .. granted after just 4 games against so so competition. But how can our defense be top 10 in almost every meaningful team stat and still have just 7 sacks in 4 games against a very modest SOS.

Maybe it is just an aberration and/or I'm seeing what I want to see.
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TIMMY
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Sat Oct 06, 2018 8:28 am

I think you're on to something I'm going to watch today. How many we sending. Seems like 4 a high percentage of the time. And when they send 4 how often do they drop the Jack and send someone else.

One thing I have seen is they're disguising overages very well. Our safeties move late. It's a good group. That could be part of the INT increase.

I'll take a TO over a sack but hurries lead to turnovers. So hurries and hits would be useful. Enjoy the game.
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fourthandshort
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Sat Oct 06, 2018 10:54 am

TIMMY wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 8:28 am
I think you're on to something I'm going to watch today. How many we sending. Seems like 4 a high percentage of the time. And when they send 4 how often do they drop the Jack and send someone else.

One thing I have seen is they're disguising overages very well. Our safeties move late. It's a good group. That could be part of the INT increase.

I'll take a TO over a sack but hurries lead to turnovers. So hurries and hits would be useful. Enjoy the game.
I'm going to include QBH along side sacks, and pass breakups along side picks. then take that against pass attempts. I would love your take on this once I post stats ... and anyone else who knows this stuff. I am pretty sure Spack is evolving with his defensive pressure philosophy .. just based on results. And I really like the approach .. especially because we're still getting results. Basically, he's telling his front 7, stopping swinging for home runs as much .. unless you get your pitch, then swing for fences.

Side but related note, and this I feel much less certain about ... I don't notice nearly as many completions where I'm screaming at DB for not looking for ball ... not every play, but in certain situations. But sample size iw way too small .. 4 games and we haven't played a QB who can put it on dime yet ... today, we might find out. So I'll be watching for it more closely.
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fourthandshort
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Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:00 am

If Straub plays today ... this will put my theory further to the test. But it held up well in the WIU game against a true pocket QB, who also runs well for his size. Our pass defense was very good again and against a more traditional pocket QB. Straub is similar .. big pocket passer, but doesn't move as well as McGuire. I love this new defense so far ... less overt QB pressure, much more containment pressure everywhere else .. IMO.

But Straub (#4) is more sackable than McGuire. However, Straub may be out due to concussion .. so if backup QB Desomer (#7) plays, he can run really well, but not really a passing threat .. so we will need 2 game plans depending on who starts at QB. They may even platoon given Straub health risks.

But I am really liking our defense and it should keep getting better.
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ISUBU
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Fri Oct 12, 2018 11:39 am

Podkulski has been practicing again. He may or may not be ready for some game action, but I think he was likely the first team DL before he was injured. In any even, I expect him in the DL rotation very soon.

I noticed Romeo McKnight started against WIU and is listed first team this week ahead of Matt Swaine. McKnight has been playing so well he has sort of forced himself onto the field more often. He's been more effective at making plays behind the line of scrimmage. We've been seeing him on 3rd down already, but now we'll see more of him on 1st and 2nd downs too.

fourthandshort
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Fri Oct 12, 2018 1:38 pm

Can you imagine a healthy Podulski alongside Ridgeway in short yardage situations ?? With all our 240 lb LBers behind them ?? We are at big as most NFL teams.

Want to see where we are at against the best teams before getting too giddy... but this defense is a month ahead of schedule IMO.
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Phantom
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Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:49 pm

Defensive philosophy change: Just kill everybody.

fourthandshort
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Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:44 pm

Phantom wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:49 pm
Defensive philosophy change: Just kill everybody.
So the defense apparently read Phantom's post ... and just killed everybody out there today. Maybe Straub is hurting stilll, but we completely shut their pass attack down. Just completely stifling performance by our defense today. Spack is onto something with this group and it is stacked deep with lot of underclassmen.

We''ll get 3 much harder tests the next 3 weeks with NDSU (away), SDSU (home), and UNI (away) ... but another very good day for our defense.

Let's see how we do against Bison run game ... and how they do against ours ??
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fourthandshort
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Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:27 am

So we'll see where our defense is ranking after SIU dismantling, particularly our pass defense. But here is more perspective .. NDSU was on road at WIU, and needed 5 to 0 turnover advantage to pull away from WIU. 3 NDSU drives came on drives of 21, 21, and 15 yards .. plus a fumble recovery returned for TD. NDSU only had 2 drives over 25 yards all game. All 4 of the picks came in Q4 when WIU was playing from behind.

Game Stats NDSU WIU
First Downs 18 15 ... we went 22 to 9 here
Total Offensive Yards 276 296
Passing Yards 123 287
Rushing Yards 153 9
Penalty Yards 3-36 6-55
3rd Downs 6-15 5-15
4th Downs 0-0 0-2
Time Of Possession 31:39 28:21

So our struggles against WIU (and MoST) are looking less bad each passing week .. granted we were at home and NDSU was on road. And we were down 16-12 going into Q4 against WIU and needed picks 6 followed by stop on 4th down inside their 25 to score 14 late points, winning 33 to 16.

But still, NDSU couldn't dominate the run game like they usually do .. and needed 4 Q4 picks to pull away.
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fourthandshort
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Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:23 am

ISUBU wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 11:39 am
Podkulski has been practicing again. He may or may not be ready for some game action, but I think he was likely the first team DL before he was injured. In any even, I expect him in the DL rotation very soon.

I noticed Romeo McKnight started against WIU and is listed first team this week ahead of Matt Swaine. McKnight has been playing so well he has sort of forced himself onto the field more often. He's been more effective at making plays behind the line of scrimmage. We've been seeing him on 3rd down already, but now we'll see more of him on 1st and 2nd downs too.
So DT Podkulski did play yesterday .. he had one Assisted Tackle. Hope he is closer to full speed and ready to go against NDSU next week. Adding him to mix ... oh my !!! At 6'4" 295 lbs, the idea of Pudkulski (SO)alongside NG Ridgeway (RS FR) at 6'6" 325 lbs .. this will make a very formiddable interior. As I recall, Podkulski was slated as possible starter before his injury .. which surprised given who and how we rotate at DE .. especially with DEs Lewan (6'6", 270, RS FR), McNight (6'5", 250, SO), Swaine (6'7", 245 lbs, our only DL SR), and hybrid OLB/DE Jason Harris (6'5" 245 lbs, JR) rotating on the outside.

Then you tuck all of our 230-250 lb LBers in between those guys .. yeesh.

So for perspective on our LBers since we rotate some .. our 3 leading tacklers on defense are all LBers: Clark, Deforest, and Matthews ... Matthews is 240 lb SR, Deforest is 250 lb JR, and Clark is 250 lb JR.

And when they need a break or were is 3rd and long and need some speed, we bring in any of these guys at LB .. Demarco Washington is 235 lb JR, Kelly-Martin at 225 lb JR, Vandenburg at 235 lb RS FR, or Draka at 240 lb SO. Touted transfers Barajas and Engram haven't even recorded a tackle yet.

Oh and our pass defense QBR is #1 in MVFC and top 5 in FCS, while our run defense is #2 in MVFC and top 15 in FCS.

By the way, our entire 2 deep in the secondary is underclassmen except Safety Brees ... and now we are grooming SO Broadnax to replace him

Sure can't help but think about next years defense .... shaping up to be Spack's best defense ever. And our offense is in very similar position with lot of underclassmen filling our 2 deep. Offense was supposed to be way ahead of defense early on ... not so.

Man, next year is looking promising ... but oh wait, need to focus on next week ... some team called Bison .. supposed to be pretty good. :roll:
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fourthandshort
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Fri Nov 16, 2018 6:06 pm

So our defense has done its job for most part this year. But the stat ratio that continues to blow my mind is Sacks to Picks ratio ... 13 to 13 ... were 2nd in MVFC in picks, and we are dead last in sacks, while our defense is #2 in most of the key categories ... run defense (ypp ypg), pass defense (QBR), total defense (ypp ypg).

So the question remains an open one .... can we get more pressure on QB without compromising our defense elsewhere. Spack teams have always been known for lot of QB pressure and not lot of picks ... and I was frustrated with the latter. Last couple years, especially this year .. that has changed completely. It seems to be working, but it would sure be nice to see someone getting to QB more often.

To be clear, most seasons we have 20-30 sacks, and 5 -10 picks .. something has changed in our schemes and assignments .. and it seems to work very well for most part ... I think.

Anyone else have thoughts ???
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Chi-bird
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Fri Nov 16, 2018 7:30 pm

fourthandshort wrote:
Fri Nov 16, 2018 6:06 pm
So our defense has done its job for most part this year. But the stat ratio that continues to blow my mind is Sacks to Picks ratio ... 13 to 13 ... were 2nd in MVFC in picks, and we are dead last in sacks, while our defense is #2 in most of the key categories ... run defense (ypp ypg), pass defense (QBR), total defense (ypp ypg).

So the question remains an open one .... can we get more pressure on QB without compromising our defense elsewhere. Spack teams have always been known for lot of QB pressure and not lot of picks ... and I was frustrated with the latter. Last couple years, especially this year .. that has changed completely. It seems to be working, but it would sure be nice to see someone getting to QB more often.

To be clear, most seasons we have 20-30 sacks, and 5 -10 picks .. something has changed in our schemes and assignments .. and it seems to work very well for most part ... I think.

Anyone else have thoughts ???
Seems to me that our d line is not nearly as athletic as in years past.

fourthandshort
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Sat Nov 17, 2018 1:12 pm

hey 2 sacks, 1 near sack today ... but also had 2 near picks dropped.
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Total Red
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Sun Nov 18, 2018 3:36 pm

fourthandshort wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 6:04 am
Our defensive schemes seem to have shifted over the Spack era from trying to make the huge defensive plays for loss, with downside being guys not always staying home (containment) and going for big play that might not turn out .. sort of over-pursuing a big play can lead to a near sack or big TFL, but it tuns into 15 yard run because someone didn't stay home.


Yes, this is what I saw this season - more staying home and more containment but fewer sacks. You could particularly see it on passing situations when Swaine was inserted at nose tacke - Yes NT. The outside pass rushers would try to pinch but Swaine wouldn't really attempt to penetrate the middle. He just tried to stay in front of the QB. The only way he would get a sack or TFL is if the QB stepped up in the pocket or tried to tuck and run. YSU got some QB rushing yards on us on plays that were designed as passes but this strategy worked farily well against dual-threat QB's this season.

fourthandshort
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Sun Nov 18, 2018 4:39 pm

So we finished season 10th in FCS in Pass Defense QBR .. and if you look at all 9 of teams ahead of us, they all play in patsy conferences. Colgate and JSU have legit defenses, but they pad their stats against weaker Patriot and OVC schedules. Not that MVFC is pass happy league, but teams like SDSU, USD, SIU, WIU like to throw it. Plus we played FBS CSU and EIU, both like to throw it.

ANK TEAM G OPP PASS OPP CPL OPP INT OPP PASS
YDS OPP PASS
TDS PASS EFF
RANK TEAM G OPP PASS OPP CPL OPP INT OPP PASS
YDS OPP PASS
TDS PASS EFF
1 Colgate 10 271 131 10 1246 2 82.02
2 Georgetown 11 374 197 20 2143 8 97.17
3 N.C. A&T 11 362 181 11 1998 8 97.58
4 Prairie View 10 340 180 9 1749 10 100.56
5 Drake 10 362 187 16 2032 12 100.91
6 Campbell 11 246 116 9 1347 13 103.27
7 Jacksonville St. 11 347 174 14 1951 16 104.52
8 Dartmouth 10 374 235 16 2007 6 104.65
9 Alcorn 11 364 187 12 2092 13 104.84
10 Illinois St. 11 338 177 15 2013 12 105.23
11 North Dakota St. 11 307 163 18 2047 9 107.05
12 Northern Ariz. 10 296 148 17 1797 17 108.46
13 Kennesaw St. 11 291 158 11 1667 12 108.46
14 Maine 11 373 183 12 2260 17 108.56
15 Alabama A&M 11 338 189 11 1948 12 109.54
16 Villanova 11 332 189 17 2075 13 112.11
17 Princeton 10 323 187 15 2012 11 112.17
18 Sacred Heart 11 283 155 7 1637 12 112.41
19 James Madison 11 326 178 12 2100 11 112.48

By the way, while this was certainly our best pass defense possible ever under Spack, we've had other pretty good years, despite perceptions to the contrary. Some fans seem to operate under assumption other teams aren't allowed to complete passes without the usual ... our secondary is garbage !!!
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