Sunday, January 10, 2010

Attacking the Away Side : Boise State vs TCU

After looking a little more in depth at the game last week, I really noticed how good a job Boise State did attacking the TCU defense. Boise State runs a similar 4-2-5 Defense and understands the principals of split safety coverage. In addition to this, Boise was aware of the run support techniques of TCU's Front 6. Boise in different parts throughout the game, revealed a plan to attack the away side in the running game, and at the same time run away from All-American DE Jerry Hughes. I will look at one play in particular from the 1st quarter that illustrates this.

Initial Alignment

With the ball on the left (offensive) hash, Boise broke the huddle and aligned in a 11 personnel formation.

TCU front 6 and Secondary call the strength separate from one another. The front 6 (box) calls the strength to the TE (Y). The TE is set behind the LOS, still they treat him as a TE and align the strength to him. The DE #96 Wayne Daniels aligns in a 6 technique head up on the TE. The 3 technique aligns towards the TE along with the Sam linebacker. The nose aligns weak along with DE Jerry Hughes.

The secondary calls their strength opposite. The SS and FS align to the twin WR's while the WS plays to the TE side. The twin receivers are the passing strength and even more dangerous because they are also aligned to the field side.

Attacking the Box

TCU has a great ability to read and attack running plays quickly. Boise State used this ability against them. Prior to the snap the Slot receiver (H), went into motion and the ball was snapped right before he got to the quarterback. The motion and snap was so quick the TCU box did not have enough to time to account for him.

After the snap the OL blocked to the right and the RB ran right simulating a zone run. The Box did a great job of leveraging the Zone run and filled their gaps perfectly.

This play shows how well the TCU D-line is coached. Jerry Hughes sees the Tackle step towards him, and fights up field to avoid getting reached. On the other side Wayne Daniels sees his tackle block down. Daniels wastes no steps here and immediately steps inside and down to leverage his C-Gap and prepare to spill (wrong arm) any pulling play. As the play develops Daniels is down the line right next to the OT blocking down.

The TCU linebackers Daryl Washington and Tank Carder read the run blocks, see the back movement, and immediately leverage their respective A and B gaps. If the back gets the ball he will have nowhere to go.

Unfortunately, the play is not a zone run. The slot in motion gets the handoff from the quarterback and attacks outside. Since the box is tied up defending the zone run, the only players TCU has left to defend the run with, are the Corner and Weak-Safety.

Attacking the Away-Side Secondary

Boise cross blocks them. The WR releases inside to crack the WS and the TE releases outside to block out on the corner creating a running lane. Boise actually uses no one to block the play side defensive end (Daniels). He takes himself out of the play by leveraging down the line on the tackles down-block.

Here is the actual EZ view:

The picture above shows the positioning of the players as the Slot attacks the edge. The TCU box is out of position to defend it. And the cross blocks by the WR and TE create a good running lane for the receiver. The play ended up gaining 18 yards. It could have been more if the WR blocked the WS longer, the WS got off the block and forced the slot out of bounds.

The whole play looks like this.


TCU plays great defense because they read well, and pursue the ball fast. This is difficult for offenses to attack. Boise State put together some good plays to attack TCU. In creating these plays they had to account for the technique and reads of the TCU players. By understanding this, they were able to put together a play, that left a point of attack defender unblocked (without optioning off them). That takes intelligence and a respect for a defender's discipline to execute. Like all things in football, the team that stays a step ahead will find ways to execute.


  1. FS should be on his horse, with CoS motion, and getting to Trips coverage. In the last picture, the FS is pursuing, just looks a tad late...a simple check to any of their Trips coverage (Special or Robber) would put that R in a better position to make the play (or at least turn it back inside)...but i bet TCU hadn't seen that from Boise and kudos to the Boise staff for a great gameplan, offensively and defensively

  2. I'm more than a little late trying to pick up all the 4-2-5 TCU stuff. It seems like the SS or the secondary in general should adjust to motion since the passing strength is changing. I like the box guys to stay as box guys. How would TCU or how would you yourself ask your secondary or defense to adjust vs. this motion?

  3. Never mind, I just read the Split Safety post about change of strength. Great job explaining the 4-2-5, I look forward to studying your articles more in depth this off-season.

  4. I didn't watch the game. It would be great if there is place to look without getting into trouble. Because even SEC games are quite under TV agreements. It would make a different for online bookmaker