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Clinic Talk: Manny Diaz’s defensive philosophy is high risk/high reward

Coach Diaz loves to blitz but at times his high risk/high reward style doesn't pay off

NCAA Football: Sun Bowl-Miami vs Washington State
Expect much more pressure under Manny Diaz
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

When coaches talk aggressive attacking defense, I pause. What exactly are you trying to say? Shouldn’t every defense, except Coach D’Onofrio’s, do these such things? A lot of coaches use these terms to talk sacks, tackles for loss and turnovers. Except Manny Diaz’s MSU defense was 109th in turnovers and only in the top 40 in sacks. A lot of coaches, especially on defense, think they need to use specific ‘buzz words’ in order to make for good radio or TV. Defensive Coordinators love words like “aggressive” “pressure” and “attack,” as SBNation friend the Solid Verbal has pointed out on their fantasy draft episode.

What I see above are some fundamental alignment errors. To the Tight End side vs 21 personnel I formation, I don’t understand a Defensive End playing head up on the OT. He needs to be outside or head-up on the TE or he’s an easy down block for toss, power, and stretch. The safety also seems to be wasted there- he’s far from the box and giving up the seam to the #2, which is the TE.

Above, this adjustment to a 20 personnel queen set inside the 5 makes little to no sense. Power read, split zone, QB power are all open to the weak side. Especially with 1 ILB. Now I love the 3 over 2 alignment on the WR’s and the pressed coverage to the 1-receiver side. I just don’t like the box against this look in a ‘read option’ era.

When running a 4-2-5 one of the advantages is having an automatic flat player against a twins look. As TAMU motions to trips, you see little adjustment by MSU to the trips side leaving 2 over 3 which should be at least a 1st down if not 6 points. The pass-weak-side safety doesn’t roll or adjust and the deep safety starts pedaling back versus rolling over to help.

I hope Coach Diaz is ready for the world of RPOs, because if not, he’s in trouble with this alignment. This is an easy stalk/bubble, slant/bubble, or hitch/sit RPO to the top of the screen. On the bottom I think he has it covered well but the top I’m not feeling confident.

In the GIF above, you’re going to watch no contain and no spill (I’m not quite sure what they’re teaching: force or spill). But here, as Gus Edwards of all people, breaks the stretch play outside, there’s no one there to make a play.

Above, this is one of the blitzes Coach Diaz loves, he brings inside pressure with an outside pressure as well, while the non-blitzing OLB will drop into the flat. The issue here is the ILB left should hit the low hole, but he chases the RB on a flat route, while the TE sits down in front of a way too deep safety.

This is a diagram of what should have happened against that look in the 4-2-5 quarters coverage in my opinion.

Just look at the difference in ‘sound defense’ above. The first diagram, Diaz’s, I just don’t find it to be sound. An ILB chasing the bubble? The safety backed off for no reason? 1 ILB in the box if it’s stick/draw. The SS over the TE deep and pedaling.

In contrast, there’s my scheme which has the SAM covering the bubble, with the FS in the Apex. The SS is playing #2 tight to blow up the sit down, have eyes on a stick, out, or vert. The MLB is blitzing per Diaz’s specifications, but the WLB is playing the low hole- not chasing a bubble. Either way there’s 5-man pressure.

However, there were some positives. We see that Coach Kool pass rush we’re all excited about. And his drills, historical success and philosophy will be detailed in later posts.

Below, we also see the DB’s playing quicker and less hesitant. Look at the feel from the safety and an athletic break on the ball.

Check out the video below featuring blitz beaters for the offenses the #Canes will face! Find me on Twitter @IMFB_Blog.