3rd Down Study: Falcons Path
MQ looks at a best-practice path & it's different variations within the Saban system.
One of the most diverse defenses in college football hails from Athens, Georgia. Over the past five years, since Head Coach Kirby Smart’s arrival, the Georgia Bulldog defense has camped in the top 25 in defense efficiency. Though the Dawgs dipped out of the top 10 last year, according to Brian Fremeau’s DFEI, they still are one of the best defenses year in and year out in college football.
One of the Bulldogs’ unique qualities is how multiple they are with their pressure choices and the looks they provide the offense. One of the major differences between Georgia and their counterpart in Alabama is this multiplicity. Nick Saban doesn’t use as many different looks as Smart does in Georgia. The Bulldogs’ defensive scheme is based in the Saban tree, but it has branched out to include unique-looking fronts pressure designs.
One of the more famous trees within the Saban system is his NFL Simulated Pressures. Each pressure within the system has a particular way to set the front, whether from an Odd or Overload alignment. One path, in particular, has become a staple within any system that uses these Sim pressures. The Falcons path, or Stride, is an oft-used path that uses the offenses’ protection against it. Applying pressure from the field also inhibits the QB’s ability to use space to his advantage. Instead, the defense directs the pressure right in his viewpoint.
Most of the NFL Sims start with an Overload Front. The front leverages the “bigs” or D-line to one side of the box. In many cases, this can create the O-line to slide in that direction. In this case, adding an ILB, the Mike, to the box creates a five-on-five presentation triggering man blocking. Next, though the offense can still slide, each O-linemen is presented with a defender, where the particular movements within the NFL Sims come in. Each one is designed to attack an area or a particularly weak point in the box.
Falcons (below) attacks the field and sets the “bigs” that way as well. The DE, DT, and Nose are all located on one side of the Center. To add value, the DT is set in a 5 technique outside the Tackle, and the DE is in a 9 tech. Placing two defenders outside the OT applies pressure on the Guard, who has to kick out to the DT.