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Clinic Talk: Coach Manny Diaz and his attacking even front defense

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Coach Diaz likes to bring pressure from an even front. In this article I will detail his pre-snap adjustments, run fits and coverages. Players like Chad Thomas, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Corn Elder, and Shaq Quarterman should thrive under Coach Diaz's 4-3 and 4-2-5 looks.

Even Sebastian is crossed up on the blitzes
Even Sebastian is crossed up on the blitzes
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

From watching Mississippi State games from 2015 and the #Canes spring game in 2016, Coach Diaz prefers an even front (a four man line). At times he will have 3-man down front, but the up end is playing a 5-technique and will always come across the line of scrimmage. Coach Kool also prefers a 4-man front and having the defensive line play like the Miami teams of old, with aggression and being an up-field force.

In 2015, Coach Diaz's MSU team finished 36th in scoring defense, 45th in sacks and 9th overall in tackles for loss. What this shows is that while his aggressive play may give up some big plays, it doesn't give up the score but does lead to the offense being stopped behind the line of scrimmage far more than the rest of the nation could. This should only improve with Coach Kool coming in to coach defensive line. At Missouri, his D-Line pushed the defense to finish 43rd in sacks but 2nd in tackles for loss.

4-3 vs 21p

4-3 vs 21 personnel I formation

In the screenshot above, you can see Coach Diaz align in a 4-3 against 21 personnel I-formation look that Coach Richt installs as his base offense. In 2016, you don't see a ton of true I. However, one take away I got from a spring interview with Coach Diaz (I can't remember where, it was a video clip) was that his SAM (Strong) linebacker will be a fluid player. What I mean by fluid is a player that can play in the box when needed, but also play an up-safety role playing pressed on a slot WR and covering the flat.

alley and force GIF

In the GIF above, you can see what an aggressive defense will do to a slow developing toss play. The D-Line gets up field, the linebackers scream to the play and the safety, who crept into the box, runs to the ball. Does this remind anyone of those classic #Canes defenses? I hope so. Guys like Casey Greer blowing up Marvin Graves in the backfield to help Miami to another undefeated regular season in 1992.

20 personnel 4-2-5

4-2-5 vs 20 personnel

Above, you can see a 4-2-5 defense against 20 personnel with a king set in the backfield. You can see what Manny is calling his SAM playing over #2 to the bottom of the screen, he like a 3over2 look with 3 defenders over 2 players. This kills the read to that side regarding RPOs and even a lot of your 5-step and 3-step passing game. With a single WR to the boundary the FS has rolled to the middle of the formation, considering the king set does give you three threats to that side. You can see 2 ILB's and a 1-tech to the FB.

4-2-5 vs trips open

4-2-5 vs 10 personnel Trips Open (Far)

Above, you can see how Coach Diaz adjusted to the Air Raid style of Texas A&M. With 4 possible threats aligned to the top of the screen, Coach Diaz bumps one of his ILB's out to a 50 to get him closer to the hook/curl/flat.

4-2-5 cover 4

Above, you can see a diagram of a 4-2-5 quarters coverage defense, adjusting the SAM to the #2 and playing the flat. The FS is playing the APEX which is an alignment split between the EMOL (End Man on Line) which is the OT, and the #2 WR at 6 yards. This keeps him in the "alley" against the run, and he can still get deep to defend 4-verts.

corn elder INT

What do OC's try to do against the 4-2-5 and quarters coverage? Attack the sideline with the vertical game. Here Coach Richt tries to do so but the athletic CB Corn Elder intercepts a pass that's thrown over the inside shoulder instead of the outside shoulder- away from the CB.

Check out the video below as I explain Coach Diaz's adjustments to formations and how the run fits and coverages look against certain offenses. Find me on Twitter: @IMFB_Blog