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Drive Length and UB's Defense

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Okoye Houston had a monster game vs BGSU, but would UB be better served if he was used less in run defense and more in a traditional safety role preventing the deep pass?

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

As another deep pass found it's way into the hands of a ugly-orange helmeted man, I thought to myself: why don't we keep safeties deep. It seems UB prefers to pull one safety up to support the run game, and leave one safety back to support the pass game. The result, a lot of big plays for the defense, and a lot of big plays for the offense. Against Bowling Green, we saw the safety get there a little late three or four times, and it cost UB dearly.

In UB's previous losses, the quick score has been killer. I thought if we made teams nickel and dime us (by keeping 2 safeties back) we would be a better defense. The numbers however don't support this.

UB allowed 31 TDs and 55 scoring opportunities on 160 drives this year, but also forced 26 turnovers, 2 safeties and 11 turnovers on downs. The average opponent drive was 5 plays for 28 yards.

Drive_5

I looked at drives under the average, 5 plays and less, and although Ohio state (3 TDs), Baylor (6 TDs) and Toledo (4 TDs) killed UB with quick scoring drives, it was usually the defense winning quickly. 41 of 160 drives this year were 3 play drives. When their opponent's drive was only 3 plays, UB allowed only 2 Touchdowns, but forced 30 "3-and-outs" and 8 turnovers.

When the opponent drive was held to 5 or less plays, the opponent had the opportunity to score (TDs + FG Attempts) 19% of the time and scored TDs 17% of the time.

However when the opponent's drive went 6 plays* or longer the opportunity to score jumped to 44% and the TD% jumped to 24%.

*Bowling Green's scoring drives: Two were 6 plays long, and two were 7 plays long.

When the opponents drive went 8 plays or longer the opportunity to score jumped to 61% and the TD% jumped to 29%.

Finally, when the opponent's drive went 11 plays or longer the opportunity to score jumped to 75% and the TD% jumped to 38%.

The numbers would then support an aggressive 1 safety back approach because UB bends AND breaks.

Although I am a two safety back guy* I like the aggressive box stacking approach.

*My opinion is it only takes one mistake for the offense to ruin a drive, and it's much easier for them to make, so a 15 play drive is just increases the chance that the offense makes a mistake.

What I don't get is the 3-man rush. Football is about #1. physical strength, #2 mental acuity and most importantly #3. the ability to exploit or diminish the mismatches created by #1 & #2.

Khalil Mack is a walking mismatch, basically an extra player on the field. A 3-man rush gives UB 8 men in coverage and what feels like 4 men rushing the QB. It is also stupid when your secondary sometimes struggles against the deep ball. It is moronic to rush 4, 5, and 6 men on 1st and 2nd down, with great success, only to then peel back to a 3 man rush on 3rd down to no success. It is laughable to see the 3 man rush fail on 3rd, and continue to do it. It is a fireable offense to watch your secondary struggle in the BGSU game, and fail to adjust to protect them.