Quincy Roche is a Miami Hurricane. The Temple Owls graduate transfer defensive end is an “edge” player that brings intensity to a defense that lacked just that at times in 2019. Fans might be saying, “...but he was in the Group of 5, the American Athletic Conference isn’t the ACC,” well it’s a few steps above Conference USA and so ‘Canes should be happy Quincy Roche is on campus in Coral Gables.
Roche comes to Miami from Temple where he won 2019 AAC Defensive Player of the Year after posting 19 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, five passes defensed, and was all over the field for Temple. In just three seasons Roche has logged 39.5 tackles for loss, 26 sacks, six passes defensed, five fumble recoveries and six forced fumbles at Temple.
The six-foot-four, 235 pound Roche was courted by former coach Geoff Collins who is now at Georgia Tech as well as Mack Brown at UNC. Both of those guys know defense as Collins has been a well-known coordinator and Brown had the wherewithal to fire Manny Diaz (that was a joke, relax). With Gregory Rousseau at defensive end on one side of the formation and Roche on the other- Miami has some options. John Ford, Nesta Silvera, and Jordan Miller can man the interior.
What exactly are those options? They’re to get a playmaker like Roche out in space on “and long” situations. When other teams are going to throw the football, why not have guys like Rousseau, Roche, and Jalean Phillips used for speed and the defensive tackles inside to eat up space and eliminate swing and stick draw pass-run options.
Many defenses have added the Tite front to their nickel package, and the Mint front is another way to create havoc while being gap sound against the spread teams who love to throw the rock. They’re fairly similar ideas and both are from the Joe Lee Dunn world of throwing the most talented 11 guys on the field and finding a scheme that fits those guys. If only Miami had done that with Willie Williams, Devin Hester or Arthur Brown... am I right?
Mint, Roche, and the “Jack” position
I’ve drawn this upside down for defensive guys because I don’t want to go into the defense’s Hudl and screw around like I will the offense’s. Sorry dudes. Below is the standard Tite front. Iowa State, Texas, and others have used this of late to lock down the B-gaps where many teams like to run zone schemes, and the A is 2-gapped by the nose tackle to eliminate or at least mess with Tite counters like 1-back power and duo.
The beauty of the Tite front is that you can bring pressure from anywhere, or drop guys anywhere and you don’t need a ton of “large” humans to do it (large is used relatively speaking for college football). In the Tite front, however, I see Roche being wasted as he would be a 4i (defensive tackle) and that’s not his fit, and he can’t play out in space as the Jack there.
However, when you give an OC one issue they’ll just find another “bubble” or tube of the defense to attack. That bubble is clearly involving gap schemes and stretch plays. Below- I’m showing how a gap scheme can beat down on a Tite front when the defense uses a 4i to the H side and the Jack is split out.
It’s a simple down and pull on the play side with your center cutting the 0 technique nose tackle, and the back side guard running outside and wrapping up to the Jack. The RPO is a post-snap read on the nickel for the double slant.
So how do these Tite front defenses adjust? They started running the mint front. With the Mint front the back end coverage is pretty similar, the biggest difference is getting the Jack back in the box, and up on the line. Especially when a team like Miami has a dynamic tight end slash h-back like Brevin Jordan. Getting hands on him early is a good thing.
This front might require a slightly larger Jack than the Tite, but it allows Roche to be on the field while Rousseau plays the opposite side, players then can rotate off of the nose and tackle to the Jack side. This keeps the striker position off the field and lets Miami roll with three corners, two safeties, two inside linebackers in addition to Roche at the Jack and three other linemen from a long list of high potential players and Rousseau who has put up numbers.
So, what’s so special about Mint?
Unlike Tite, Mint gets the Jack back in the box (odd accidental pun). This allows him to cut down on the gap created by the h-back, and get hands on the h-back on passing plays. Defensive coordinators can still drop the Jack into coverage and he’ll be at the line of scrimmage, where he’s often more comfortable anyway.
Wide sweep vs Mint
Wide sweep was our play against Tite, and boy it was wide open. Against Mint? It’s a little less open and is really going to hinge on the H being able to dominate the Jack. Jordan versus Roche in practice would be a really fun battle, but I’m not looking forward to blocking a guy like Roche if I’m Jordan in a game situation. Save that for Michael Irvin II, who is less of a pass catching threat and thus the defense has one less big play target to worry about.
Mixing up pressure in Mint
Like Tite, Mint allows the D.C. to mix up pressure. Above, you can see how many coaches who deploy this front bring six man pressure against this same 2x2 look with a winged h-back.
Want to only bring three and drop 8? That’s doable in Mint, too. The Jack can drop into the flat while the cornerback takes deep 1⁄4 or 1⁄3 here. The Will can scrape exchange with the 4i tackle to the two wide receiver side and against the run it’s very gap sound.
What about 5 man pressure? Sure, that’s easy in Mint, too. Roche can come from the edge while Rousseau uses and outside move to beat the offensive tackle and the interior is secured. Blake Baker can blitz one of his inside linebackers whether it’s Zach McCloud and Sam Brooks or someone from the pool of Avery Huff, Patrick Joyner, Corey Flagg or Tirek Austin-Cave can step up and unseat the expected duo.
Miami fans are reasonably skittish when it comes to odd fronts after the Al Golden era. But Manny Diaz won’t let Baker stop bringing pressure as Manny has done the live by the blitz, die by the blitz approach dating back to his time in Austin with the Longhorns. The 3-4 had never been so bland until Al Golden and most odd fronts love pressure, zone blitzes, man pressure packages and taking risks.
With a guy like Roche on the edge, I think Miami should use the Mint front to let him stand up and run. He’s not a huge defensive end at 235 pounds and giving him some space and letting him work versus h-backs instead of offensive tackles is the better bet to keep him healthy, fast, and productive.