Sunday, September 13, 2009

Vol Film Review: UCLA Bruins

After Tennessee losses this year I will be going back to review the game and see what exactly when wrong and what areas need improvement. I am hoping that this doesn't become a regular feature of course. I am going to make my observations somewhat in the form of stream of consciousness so I hope you are able to follow along.


On offense we really don't have an identity although we should have one. What is apparent to me is that we can run the ball on anybody. We have a stable of running backs and an offensive line that is more suited to run blocking than pass blocking. I mean seriously, our offensive guards couldn't block UCLA's number 92 yesterday one on one at all. And yet at crucial points in the game we are throwing the ball on first down instead of just getting some positive yards with our running game.

Not only that, our passing game itself is horrible. Again I know everyone will be out for Johnathan Crompton's head this week but after watching film not all of it was his fault. Several times when he threw interceptions or almost threw one he had two receivers in the same window bunched up. The spacing in our passing game is piss poor right now and guys do not seem to be on the same page about the routes the are supposed to be running. We are also not taking what the defense gives us enough. The times when Crompton threw the quick 8-10 yard stop routes we got good yardage out of it because UCLA is not really a man to man bump and run kind of team. For most of the day their corners were 10 yards off or more pre snap. But we really didn't take advantage of that.

I also didn't see many crossing routes. Well to be honest I didn't see ANY crossing routes but because I was watching the TV copy I will try to be fair and say there might have been a couple but I just didn't see them. Now this makes absolutely no sense to me. Every good offense has to incorporate crossing routes because they tend to work whether the opposing defense is in zone or man to man. But to my trained eye there were no where to be found.

In the first half Hardesty was a horse for us and pretty much the lone bright spot on offense. In the second half however he just didn't get the same number of opportunities. Well at least not until the coaching staff tried to use him to get a first down on 4th and 3 with the game on the line which was ridiculous. At the very least if they were going to run for the first down they could have spread the offense out to make the blocks easier for the offensive line. Instead they packed everything in like a goalline offense meant to get a yard and the result was we came up about a yard short.

Now don't get me wrong, Crompton did in fact suck the big one yesterday. Just understand that he didn't get much help from the coaching staff.


The defense played reasonably well but there are some things that have to get cleaned up going forward. First and foremost among these are the 6 technique that our defensive ends are on on base defense to the strong side. A 6 technique is whe the defensive lineman lines head up on the strong side tight end. We didn't invent the 6 technique here in Tampa but we were the first ones to use it on a consistent basis in a base 4-3 defense and it caught on. Before we used a 6 technique, we and most other pro teams used what is called a 7 technique where we lined up on an inside shade of the strong side tight end. We had C gap responsibility on the run and this was supposed to help us secure it. But most offenses would just use a combo block where the offensive tackle came off and helped the tight end block us and we would get rooted out of the C gap. Worse if it was a stretch play, the inside shade made it all too easy for TEs to block us down inside and make us give up a short corner on sweeps to the strong side.

So we instead went to a head up aligment. This kept us far enough away from the offensive tackle so that it was harder for them to help out. And in general we felt like we could kick any tight end's ass and knock them back into the backfield which would stop the offense from reaching the corner on sweeps while also allowing us to still secure the C gap. The problem for the Vols is that our defensive ends are NOT whupping the opposing teams' TEs. Our linebackers are also not doing a good job of second containment after the other teams' running backs get around our defensive ends. This is especially troubling as we head into Florida week because they like to run those sweeps out of the shotgun formation.

My personal opinion is that Monte needs to put the defensive ends back into a 9 technique (outside shade of the strong side tight end) which is the normal alignment for college defensive ends in base defense. It will put more pressure on the strong side defensive tackle not to get hooked by the guard but so be it. There is a lot more help inside the defensive end than outside of him, thats for sure.

Speaking of defensive ends, whoever is coaching them is doing a shitty job. Especially coaching them up on their responsibilities when it comes to blitzes. Now Monte is going to blitz and I for one fully support that. But in order to be a good blitzing team players have to go where they hell they are supposed to go. The remarkable thing is that even though that hasn't been happening most of the time, we still have gotten some good mileage out of blitzing in the first two games. But it also bit us in the ass a couple of times yesterday so it has to be addressed.

Several times I saw where a defensive end started to come inside as a blitzer was coming outside of him then when they got blocked a little they jumped their asses back outside. There are two problems when that happens. First of all their gap is now usually the B gap when they come inside. If they jump back out, there is nobody in that gap and so if the quarterback or a running back goes through that hole the might hit their head on the goal post. The second problem is that by jumping back outside they bump off the blitzer and make their track wider which means it will take them at least a half a second longer to get to the quarterback or running back. That half a second many times is the difference between a sack and a hurry or a hurry and a completion.

The other problem with the defensive ends on blitzes is that they either have no clue what they are supposed to do when they are on the side that is supposed to drop into coverage OR they are some selfish assholes who know what they are supposed to do but decided to go for a sack instead of executing their drop. Now this happened several times and one of those times the result was a touchdown for UCLA. It was primarly but not just number 84 who was the culprit. On the touchdown he was lined up away from the blitz and the defensive tackle to his side looped out for a contain rush. He stood up as if to drop but then when he saw the quarterback running a bootleg he decided to rush the passer. Had he just taken a couple of steps back either the quarterback would have had to eat the ball and take a sack because he was in the throwing lane to the tight end that snuck out behind him or the quarterback would have tried to force the ball in there anyway and he would have had an opportunity for an interception. Either way, what probably wouldn't have happened is a completion to the tight end for a touchdown.

Now I am not in the habit of calling out college kids because they should be allowed to make some mistakes, but this is big time college football and these weren't freshmen. Besides that if it doesn't get fixed this problem is going to happen again and again this year. And understand that more than the player, I blame which ever coach either hasn't taught them the correct rules or haven't held them to account for not adhering to them.

The truth is there was actually a lot to like in the game. Several players are really playing well so far in the season. I really like number 41 on defense. He makes a lot of plays and he seems to be very consistent. I also like the pass rush potential of our defensive line. I have already lumped a lot of platitudes on our offensive line and running backs and I stand behind them. But everyone is going to have to be a lot better if we have any hope of competing in the SEC.

It is what it is.

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