Zone zone zone. Zone is the word right now. It's the hottest defensive topic since CJF confirmed (unknowingly?) Bud's hypothesis (part 1 ; part 2) that a lack of size in our defensive front 7 was killing our ability to control the point of attack, tackle, sack the QB, TFL, well...everything. Here is what our underneath coverage players are saying about the new system:
"By us just playing zone now, you can drop back and then pass them off to the next defender. It makes it much easier and takes a lot of pressure off our backs." - LB Kendall Smith
"Coach Stoops told us it's designed to make big hits; in a zone scheme you're freed up more. Instead of having to worry about your man all the time, you get to make more plays." - LB Nigel Bradham
Source: Corey Clark - Zone defense has FSU football smiling
Dionte Allen is up 11 lbs from 172 to 183. He's always been hampered by injuries and this gain is encouraging.
Gerald Demps is up 16 lbs! from 190 to 206. Extremely impressive for the redshirt freshman.
JaJuan Harley is up 20 lbs from 190 to 210 lbs.
Nick Moody is officially down 2 lbs from 228 to 226 but I'm told he was heavier than 228 last year.
Terrance Parks is up 18 lbs from 196 to 212. Wow.
Xavier Rhodes is up 14 lbs from 195 to 209! Damn.
Greg Reid is the same size (175 lbs)
That's an average of about 10.5 lbs. gain for the secondary; 12 lbs. if you remove Greg Reid; and 14.3 if you subtract Nick "The Tank" Moody. Our CBs (Xavier Rhodes, Greg Reid, Dionte Allen, Ochuko Jenije) averaged an 8 lbs. gain. That's a substantial mass gain, as Bud pointed out.
But is there a harbinger of DB technique to employed based on the mass increase for these players?
For an answer to this question, let's look first to an Oklahoma's 2002 defensive playbook. Under OU HC Bob Stoops, the 2002 Oklahoma Sooners went 12-2, their season culminating in a Rose Bowl win over Washington St., 34-14. The 2002 OU defense, DC'd by brother Mike, ranked (non-adjusted stats) 9th in Pass Efficiency Defense, 6th in Scoring Defense, and 10th in Total Defense nationally. (Imagine these numbers if Roy Williams hadn't declared early the prior offseason!) Brother Mike after the 2003 season would get his own BCS HC opportunity at Arizona, tapping brother Mark (current FSU DC) as his DC.
So what? Well, we look to Oklahoma's 2002 playbook. Specifically, page 18 of the PDF. Brother Bob outlines his defensive philosophies, with one of particular interest:
Force the offense to throw the ball, when they do we want to put pressure on the QB. We do this with a variety of base blitzes and by using bump and run techniques in all our man coverages. The QB should feel heat all day.
I read "in all our man coverages" as "whenever there's a man in front of you," as opposed to taking it to mean only man-to-man coverages. Here's some snippets from SB Nation brethren Shakin' the Southland [Clemson]'s article on Defensive Coverage Techniques:
Using a jam in man coverage is commonly referred to as bump and run coverage. This coverage is typically used with a larger and more physical defender. At the snap of the ball, the defender will jam (or bump) the receiver. This throws off the initial timing of the receiver and moves him off of his route. After the bump, the defender will not be allowed to touch the offensive player. Thus, the defensive player must be prepared to immediately turn and run with the receiver. This makes the defender’s fundamentals coupled with a good bump critical for this strategy to work. We will expand on bump & run in further articles.
Simply put, the need for bigger CBs is imperative to hope to jam any of the better big receivers in the ACC - Miami's Leonard Hankerson (6'3" 215 lbs), UNC's Greg Little (6'3" 220 lbs.), or NC State's Owen Spencer (6'4" 220 lbs). Even in Cover 3 (where CBs assume the outer thirds of the 3 Deep coverage) bump and run may be employed; in fact, you can argue you give your CB some leverage by letting him try to successfully jam the receiver. If he succeeds, he has potentially disintegrated an important timing/spacing route as well as given himself that much more space to play on his heels. If he misses, his first goal is to get deep at full speed immediately without having to worry about any type of lateral underneath movement by the WR; his responsibility is the deep third, and that is all. He has help Deep middle, and from the curl-flat defender.
A few Arizona fans told us to expect no bump and run techniques in man coverages under Mark Stoops, but couple the pedigree of Mark Stoops and the OU playbook philosophy with the recent secondary weight changes, and it's quite suggestive of the implementation of press coverage.