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Clinic Talk: Hurricanes Scheme Mailbag/Twitter Q&A

We’re talking scheme vs personnel, fixing inside zone and outside zone schemes

Pittsburgh v Miami
Coach Richt’s scheme has been highly challenged by the fanbase
Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

A lot has been said and asked about Coach Mark Richt’s scheme with regards to the success and the failures it has shown. Many have asked about Brad Kaaya- is he the wrong QB or is the scheme wrong for him?

One question asked via e-mail by Aidan, a current UM student, was: What changes in scheme has Mark Richt made for Brad Kaaya?

One of the answers (this has been discussed in some of the comment sections on SOTU) is the decision to make an adjustment to the inside zone blocking scheme. While inside zone is normally designed to skip the back side defensive end, often resulting in inside zone read (reading the back side defensive end). If you watch the GIF below from my Pitt write-up, you can see the BSDE being blocked by the LT. This keeps the end from “squeezing” or turning his shoulders and chasing the running back, which is what was happening early on with Kaaya’s non-desire to pull and run. While this benefits the running game in the sense of picking up 3 yards, it hurts in breaking a larger gain because the safety/linebacker who makes the play would normally be blocked by the LT. This is allowing defenses to get an extra man to the play against the ‘Canes offense.

How “IZ” is normally blocked

How Miami is blocking “IZ”

I think it’s a mixture of both. It’s hard to win games with lesser talent. You can do it (see: Navy/ND) if you’re well coached, the scheme matches your personnel, and you’re disciplined. All of those attributes can be bestowed upon Navy. Navy had the least penalty yards per game in 2015, where as Miami had the most. Navy once again has the least while Miami is currently 121/128 in penalty yards. You won’t win close games or games against greater talent by being undisciplined.

Where does poor discipline show the worst? At the end of close games and the kicking game. Miami has looked extremely poor in the kicking game which is a mixture of discipline and a lack of talented depth. Two of the three freshman linebackers should be learning the ropes in the kicking game in 2016, instead of as starting linebackers.

So I think the scheme wasn’t designed early on to fit the personnel, but I see Coach Richt trying to adjust without going away from what he knows will benefit the program in the future. He was the head coach at UGA for the long haul and I believe the same with Miami. Then again, you can see where running IZ with Kaaya really hurt in the question at the top, because the need to block the BSDE creates one less blocker at the 2nd level, and a 2nd level player takes an 8 yard gain down to 3 yards. I’m a firm believe in split-zone with non-run threat QBs.

Split-zone, a play Richt used at UGA and some at Miami

I talked a bit about the outside zone play in the FAU preview way back when the season hadn’t hit full panic mode yet. Aidan and Moto have asked about “OZ.” OZ or Outside Zone was made famous by Terrell Davis in his days with the Broncos. You can watch former Miami interim Head Coach Larry Scott detail it here:

If you watched closely vs Pitt, Miami did incorporate some pin/pull which is a blocking scheme for the outside zone guys. They fan blocked the 3 tech (Defensive Tackle), and the 5 tech (Defensive End) to the playside, and pin/pull’ed the 1 tech (Nose Tackle) and the back side guard (BSG) pulled around him and up to the 2nd level. The BST gap-hinged and blocked the 5-tech (Defensive End) to the back side. You can see the diagram below as I don’t have time to find it in the game film. The video below will go into the three forms of outside zone for you.

Outside zone with a pin/pull scheme

So I did see some pin/pull, as far as the Colts stretch play, I think a back needs elite speed that can shift from 2nd gear to 4th in a step (see: Cook, Hood) and Miami lacks that explosion from its backs to become a staple play. However, it looked good as a change of pace.

Many of the split-field coverage coaches are using Cover 6 (Cover 4 to the field, 2 to the boundary). I can’t lock Miami down to a true defensive scheme besides saying “varying to opponent” as we’ve seen some 4-3, 3-4, and 4-2-5 from Coach Diaz. It’s hard to tell what guys are running without All-22 film (film where all 22 players are in the shot). However, when I check alignments when I re-watch parts of games or thumb through the one hour videos, that’s what I feel like I see and it looked apparent on the two blown coverages against Pitt.

Check out my video below to see cover 6 chalk-talk:

Any questions for me? Find me on Twitter @IMFB_Blog