When Bob Shoop came to Tennessee as the defensive coordinator, he came with the promise of a defense that would bring “never-ending pressure.”
Unfortunately for Shoop, because of a seemingly never-ending amount of injuries, Vol fans have yet to be able to see his defense at full strength. When you look at who Tennessee lost to injuries this year, it is amazing that Shoop has done as well as he has.
While Shoop may not have been able to blitz as much as he normally would due to all the missing pieces on defense, he still has plenty of well designed concepts in his back pocket.
One of those is a blitz most commonly known as “America’s Blitz.” It has been given such a moniker because “every team in America runs it.”
The Vols run this blitz from an under front, with a 1-technique (over the guard’s inside shoulder) defensive tackle to the strongside and a 3-technique (over the outside shoulder of the guard) tackle to the weakside.
The 1-technique with stunt across the center’s face and rush through the weak A gap. The 3-technique is responsible to containing the pocket to the weakside.
On the strongside, the defensive end will execute what is called a “long stick” stunt, meaning that he will stunt across 2 gaps. He will line up in the C gap, outside the tackle, but will cross the tackle and guard’s face before rushing through the A gap. This is designed to draw attention away from the two blitzing linebackers.
The middle linebacker will rush through the B gap, right off of the stunting defensive end. Finally, the strongside linebacker/nickel back, will rush off the edge.
The design of this pressure package is to overwhelm the offense to the strongside of the formation. With the end and two linebackers rushing to one side of the formation, the defense might be able to get a free man through. Worst case, the defense will likely end up with a favorable matchup with a tight end or back blocking one on one.
Typically, coaches will run a three deep zone coverage behind this blitz. Shoop is no different. The two corners and the free safety will each drop to defend a deep third. The weakside linebacker becomes the middle hole defender, while the strong safety and weakside end are responsible for the curl/flat areas.
In the third quarter of the Vols’ matchup with Tennessee Tech, Shoop dialed up this blitz on first-and-ten.
Tennessee Tech came out in a pro-style two tight end set. This was advantageous for the Vols, because it allowed nickel back Marquill Osborne to line up in very close to the ball with no detached slot receiver. Osborne brought the pressure off the right edge, while Dimarya Mixon executed the long stick stunt to the A gap, and Colton Jumper rushed up the middle.
Mixon drew the attention of the guard inside, leaving the right tackle and wing tight end matched up with Osborne and Jumper. The right tackle focused on Jumper, leaving Osborne to the tight end.
The tight end attempted to chip Osborne before releasing into the flat on a route, but was barely able to slow him down. Osborne was able to come almost completely clean off the edge and flush the quarterback from the pocket.
On the weakside, defensive end Darrell Taylor was responsible for the curl/flat zone. However, at the snap he recognized that the tight end to his side and the running back were both staying in to block. Rather than drop and cover no one, Taylor “found work” and became a contain player on the quarterback.
When Osborne flushed the pocket, the quarterback tried to scramble left, but Taylor was right there waiting for him. Unable to step up, the quarterback tried to stretch it out wide and was caught from behind by the speedy nickel corner for the sack.
America’s Blitz is one of Shoop’s favorite concepts and it’s easy to see why. With the overload to the one side , Shoop was able to create a very favorable matchup with Osborne rushing one-on-one versus a check-and-release tight end. That’s what good scheming is all about – putting players in position to succeed by creating positive matchups.
Editor’s Note: Seth Price writes Vols Film Study weekly for FOX Sports Knoxville. You can see more of his work at Football Concepts. He is also the author of Fast and Furious: Butch Jones and the Tennessee Volunteer’s Offense, which is available on Amazon.com.