July '22 - Blitz of the Month: Troy Sim Study
MQ details how Troy uses Sims to create natural cross-dogs to attack offenses.
According to PFF, Troy had the highest blitz rate of any team in the FBS. It wasn’t even close. The Trojans blitzed on 87% of their snaps. Conference rival Coastal Carolina came in second with 59%, and West Virginia came in third at 56%. However, the stat can be misleading. PFF determines a play as a “blitz” when anyone off-ball attacks the line of scrimmage (LOS).
In reality, the Trojans used simulated pressures on 73% of their snaps to attack offenses and not true blitzes (6+ defenders). Only West Virginia had a higher Sim pressure rate at 77%. Simulated pressures have been a hot topic for the past several years because they allow the defense to pressure an offense while not sacrificing coverage integrity.
Several years ago, most coaches were captivated by 3rd Down sim pressures, especially the Saban “NFL” Sims with a robust structure and nomenclature. These Sims were relegated to 3rd Downs and used overload (BOSS) presentations to manipulate the offenses pass pro. In reality, defenses can use simulated pressures on every down. One of my favorites from the system is the BEARS path, a best-practice path, especially versus Big-on-Big (BOB) or Combo (slide/man) protection.
Early down sims look like base alignments pre-snap and function as run-stopping tools. Sims use the box ‘backers to attack the middle (A-gaps) of the box while dropping a DE into coverage. It is an illusion of pressure post-snap that makes it a Sim. Some coaches call replacement pressures (Creepers) and Sims the same thing since an off-ball defender is replacing an on-ball defender, but you can separate the two schematically. PFF determines them the same thing for analytical and data purposes.
An overhang or third-level (secondary) defender will blitz off the edge or attack the B-gap in a Creeper. Opposite the blitz, the DE will drop into coverage. This see-saw action is why it is called a replacement pressure. The term Creeper stems from the defender creeping towards the LOS, timing the pressure since he is off-ball. One of the most common Creepers is Aranda’s FAVRE path, also known as SUPER in the Saban vernacular (below).
Baylor Head Coach Dave Aranda has one of the deepest playbooks regarding Creepers and Sims. His influence on the way teams attack early downs with these types of pressures cannot be understated. Georgia’s Kirby Smart, along with Saban, has hired several coaches that have roots within his system. The godfather of the entire lineage is current Baylor DC Ron Roberts, whose 2013 SE Lousiana staff of Pete Golding (DC Alabama), Karl Scott (PGC/Secondary Seattle), and Patrick Toney (DC Florida) was loaded. What was created during that time gave birth to many of the norms we see in modern college defenses.
Related Content: Building a Creeper Toolbox