Defensive Philosophy

cyclone1209

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Nov 5, 2010
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Have never been a fan of the 3-3-5 formation.
  1. IMO it is a finesse defense (bend/don't break) and LB/DB's have to be overly aggressive to be a solid run-stopping defense.
  2. Campbell talks about being a physical team and I don't feel a 3 man defensive line meets that mantra.
  3. An aggressive pass-rush is the best pass defense. And creates negative yardage plays.
  4. A 3 man rush leaves wide passing lanes for the QB to throw.
  5. Using a spy is a waste of a defender. He's not rushing the passer AND too shallow to be in pass defense against even shallow crossing routes.
  6. Defensive lineman who are 6'4"+ and 250+ lbs are more physical and better trained to be pass rushers than LB's ad DB's.
  7. It is not a blitz to send 3 DL and 1 LB/DB against 5 OL and RB and maybe TE.
  8. Our OL has struggled for much of Campbell's tenure. Does playing a 3 man d-line impact the development of a quality OL?
I feel like there was a time when the 3-3-5 worked because it was unique, but seems like teams have adjusted and identified its weaknesses. Or maybe teams with certain playing styles and strengths can more-easily take advantage of the 3-3-5.

I would love for ISU to adopt a 4-2-5. It would allow ISU to be more physical along the line-of-scrimmage AND still allow one of the safeties to be strong at run support.
Also, when I watch about 32 NFL teams this weekend, 0 of them will be using a 3 man front. Hard to say it’s a great system when NFL teams don’t use it
 

twojman

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Jun 1, 2006
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Our defense had some glitches this season. Heacock will make some adjustments in the off-season. The defense has done way too much good stuff the last few seasons. Chucking it out now because of a snow game and absolutely meaningless bowl game against a hyped up team in their home stadium is crazy.
 

AuH2O

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Also, when I watch about 32 NFL teams this weekend, 0 of them will be using a 3 man front. Hard to say it’s a great system when NFL teams don’t use it
Absolutely not true. Just for starters, the Ravens, Falcons, Dolphins, Packers, Bears and others have a 3 man front as their base. Other teams use it at times.

I would say at least 30% or more defensive snaps use a three man front. Teams might walk another up to the LoS, but that flexibility to do that, and do it with different guys and locations is exactly why teams do it.
 
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Cyclad

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Apr 12, 2006
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Understand we have a young D but I’m fed up our 3-deep safety look. Can we please make an adjustment ?!?!

We have allowed 35 and 36 points in past two games.
Zero sacks
Rarely any pressures
Short yardage stack the box!
I am no great football mind. What I observe.

Our defensive scheme has a couple of weaknesses.
1) no pressure defense - works against bad to mediocre QBs. If you give an accurate QB enough time he will beat you.
2) QB with decent running skills.

Memphis had both. The guy threw a lot of accurate passes and could run reasonably well. I think we are highly dependent on high quality guys on the back end. Not sure we had enough of those guys yesterday.

I think we need to be better at adjusting to our opponent and game situation. If it’s not working, try something different.
 

Clark

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Absolutely not true. Just for starters, the Ravens, Falcons, Dolphins, Packers, Bears and others have a 3 man front as their base. Other teams use it at times.

I would say at least 30% or more defensive snaps use a three man front. Teams might walk another up to the LoS, but that flexibility to do that, and do it with different guys and locations is exactly why teams do it.

I think he's confusing 3 man fronts with only rushing 3.

While nfl teams run 3 man fronts, rushing 3 is a rarity.
 

AuH2O

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Our defense had some glitches this season. Heacock will make some adjustments in the off-season. The defense has done way too much good stuff the last few seasons. Chucking it out now because of a snow game and absolutely meaningless bowl game against a hyped up team in their home stadium is crazy.
It’s not that hard to have a good offense with a talent disadvantage like ISU typically has. It’s extremely hard to have a good defense with a talent disadvantage. You are having to read, react and close space on offensive players that know where they are going, and scheme can only get you so far. What Heacock has achieved with this defense vs its talent over the years, this year included, is miraculous. If anyone can show me a unit in P5 football that has overperformed to its talent over the past 7 years I’d be shocked.

Everybody needs to understand he’s had a 4, a 1 and a 7 in the draft, and will probably have a 2 or 3 in Tampa in 8 seasons. So basically in his time, Heacock has averaged about a single 4th rounder or so every other year. Now, we have had some good college players during that time, but ISU has been one of the better P5 defenses with very few NFL players. Just as a comparison, Vandy has had three 2nd rounders and a 3rd in that time.
 

dafarmer

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Mar 17, 2012
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Have never been a fan of the 3-3-5 formation.
  1. IMO it is a finesse defense (bend/don't break) and LB/DB's have to be overly aggressive to be a solid run-stopping defense.
  2. Campbell talks about being a physical team and I don't feel a 3 man defensive line meets that mantra.
  3. An aggressive pass-rush is the best pass defense. And creates negative yardage plays.
  4. A 3 man rush leaves wide passing lanes for the QB to throw.
  5. Using a spy is a waste of a defender. He's not rushing the passer AND too shallow to be in pass defense against even shallow crossing routes.
  6. Defensive lineman who are 6'4"+ and 250+ lbs are more physical and better trained to be pass rushers than LB's ad DB's.
  7. It is not a blitz to send 3 DL and 1 LB/DB against 5 OL and RB and maybe TE.
  8. Our OL has struggled for much of Campbell's tenure. Does playing a 3 man d-line impact the development of a quality OL?
I feel like there was a time when the 3-3-5 worked because it was unique, but seems like teams have adjusted and identified its weaknesses. Or maybe teams with certain playing styles and strengths can more-easily take advantage of the 3-3-5.

I would love for ISU to adopt a 4-2-5. It would allow ISU to be more physical along the line-of-scrimmage AND still allow one of the safeties to be strong at run support.
Agree, but we need to bring in more DT and DE, something ISU has a problem with. It also might help our O-line to practice against a 4 man line and blitzing package.
 

twojman

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Jun 1, 2006
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ISU will always be at a talent disadvantage when we recruit in the 50's. Not many power 4/5 teams will be behind us. Coaching and development are one thing but ~75% of games are won when the team has higher rated high school recruits. So yes, stars matter.
 

dirtyninety

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Oct 6, 2012
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I stopped watching at 19-0...but I bet a guy that ISU defense would give up a minimum of Five 3rd-and-5 plus plays......from what I saw early, dropping 50 yard bombs on us might have skewed this... The play list I saw had Six 3rd-and-5 give ups if you include a 3rd-and-9 where we gave up 8.5 and they promptly went for a 4th down push and got it (like well coached teams can do). So, I am going to claim I won my bet.

When I see other teams go into passive, prevent zone (Alabama-Auburn, Clemson-Kentucky just yesterday....) I just have nightmares about this scheme we run and the games where the opposition has taken advantage.
 

SouthJerseyCy

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I don't necessarily have a problem with our scheme, but it requires good to great LB's which we have had in the past. Our LB's this year are crap. Bacon is the best of the bunch and he is a walk-on. The number of missed assignments and missed tackles out of that group is staggering.

I really hope this is the top target in the portal this offseason.
 
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isucy86

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Apr 13, 2006
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Also, when I watch about 32 NFL teams this weekend, 0 of them will be using a 3 man front. Hard to say it’s a great system when NFL teams don’t use it

IMO there was a time when it was a great system for ISU. Because it was unique and the Paul Rhoads coaching staff was horrible at recruiting DL. But times have changed, more college teams are running the 3-3-5 and Matt Campbell's staff does a MUCH better job of recruiting DL. In regard to the former, I was taken back by Matt Campbell's quote in Connor Ferg's CF article “They’ve played this defense and (have) coaches that have played against this defense,” That seems like a glaring weekness of the scheme. Now we all know, Matt Campbell isn't going to throw his players under the bus and yesterday's passion/energy on defense seemed mediocre.

But looking at next years roster, I feel like we have the players to run a 4-2-5 without much last minutes recruiting over the spring. The guys have played snaps at ISU.

DT: Orange, Singleton, Onyedim & Hawk (Onyedim could flex between DT/DE)
DE: Petersen, Jones, Ezeogu, Same, Lovett, Bacon, Snyder (Portal)
LB: Sadowsky, McLaughlin, Willich, Ellis, Ebel, Freyler???

With a offseason with S&C staff, could Trent Jones move inside, allowing Enyedim to be full-time DE. Also if we only need 2 LB's I moved Lovett and Bacon to DE as they both are bigger and IMO Bacon has a great motor to be a pass rushing DE aka Bailey, Shawn Moorehead (McDonald was in his own stratosphere).

On the back-end, we have some really solid players returning in Cooper, Freyler, Verdon and Purchase. To get best players on the field, would the staff consider moving Freyler to LB? I realize that is pretty drastic, but he's 6'2" and 220lbs and cover skills. Myles Purchase was a bit of an enigma this year- some games great, others not so much. Would he be better served playing safety? So a DB group of:

CB: Porter, Williams
S: Purchase, Verdon, Cooper, Patton, Surges, Howard, James

That leaves a CB group pretty thin.
 

dirtyninety

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Oct 6, 2012
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Penn State came to win.....wow. What a contrast to our passive zone seminar gimmick defense.....third play of the game the rattle the Ole Miss QB....he might be hurt. I don't remember our 8th man linebacker dropping back ever causing any duress at all on an opposing qb.
 

AuH2O

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IMO there was a time when it was a great system for ISU. Because it was unique and the Paul Rhoads coaching staff was horrible at recruiting DL. But times have changed, more college teams are running the 3-3-5 and Matt Campbell's staff does a MUCH better job of recruiting DL. In regard to the former, I was taken back by Matt Campbell's quote in Connor Ferg's CF article “They’ve played this defense and (have) coaches that have played against this defense,” That seems like a glaring weekness of the scheme. Now we all know, Matt Campbell isn't going to throw his players under the bus and yesterday's passion/energy on defense seemed mediocre.

But looking at next years roster, I feel like we have the players to run a 4-2-5 without much last minutes recruiting over the spring. The guys have played snaps at ISU.

DT: Orange, Singleton, Onyedim & Hawk (Onyedim could flex between DT/DE)
DE: Petersen, Jones, Ezeogu, Same, Lovett, Bacon, Snyder (Portal)
LB: Sadowsky, McLaughlin, Willich, Ellis, Ebel, Freyler???

With a offseason with S&C staff, could Trent Jones move inside, allowing Enyedim to be full-time DE. Also if we only need 2 LB's I moved Lovett and Bacon to DE as they both are bigger and IMO Bacon has a great motor to be a pass rushing DE aka Bailey, Shawn Moorehead (McDonald was in his own stratosphere).

On the back-end, we have some really solid players returning in Cooper, Freyler, Verdon and Purchase. To get best players on the field, would the staff consider moving Freyler to LB? I realize that is pretty drastic, but he's 6'2" and 220lbs and cover skills. Myles Purchase was a bit of an enigma this year- some games great, others not so much. Would he be better served playing safety? So a DB group of:

CB: Porter, Williams
S: Purchase, Verdon, Cooper, Patton, Surges, Howard, James

That leaves a CB group pretty thin.
But you are basically asking to change the defense to something that the 3-3-5 CAN do while limiting flexibility. For example, shift the DE and Nose to 4 man front DT positioning and put a LB like Bacon on the LoS? They can and will do that. He doesn’t have his hand in the ground, but that’s the only difference. You are basically advocating for using the same 6 guys they’d use in the 3-3 stack, but lock them into fewer looks they can bring.

I agree with the general concept, but rather than change to a 4-2, utilize some of these looks a bit more, kind of like they did a lot w/ Vance, using Bacon or another big LB in that role.

Dropping 8 wasn’t the problem yesterday. Memphis hurt ISU when bringing pressure and was playing some man. And they did it with one move deep routes over the top, which I love. The phone booth “replace the blitzer concept works, but if that’s all you do it makes it easy to defend and makes bringing pressure pay off.

The other massive problem was on third and long the two guys they had in the middle intermediate zone (where the two ILB would play in a 3-4) were not getting remotely close to enough depth. Not close. Often it was Lovett and Patton. But other guys too. They turned 3rd and Long into first down or 4th and one exploiting that and it was taking candy from a baby. It was horrible execution. They were multiple yards too close to the LoS. There are just 101 type of things that can’t happen, and it happened multiple times yesterday, and a QB-WR from a random Class 1A team are going to convert on that.
 
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Lyon309Cy

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I think any discussion of the 3-3-5 is a little too armchair-quarterbacky. It is a great scheme for the players we are able to get here. We do not and will never consistently have a d line that can stand up a quality o line and stuff the run, so we concede a 2 yard run and send safeties and LBs from places the O line can't reach. I was skeptical at first, but the proof is in the pudding, it's really effective at slowing the run, and most teams outside of Iowa aren't patient enough to keep chipping away on the ground.
We also don't have the d line to get pressure, whether sending 3 or 4. When we do bring 4 or 5, having 2 of them standing up and able to get downhill should in theory make them harder to block, our LBs just aren't very good yet. Pass rush has been a problem all year, and patient qbs will find plenty of gaps, but having 1 more slower player getting swallowed up by the O line isn't going to change that. I was actually impressed and surprised yesterday that we were much more aggressive than usual blitzing in the first quarter. Every 3rd down, we brought pressure. And to his credit Henigan threw some absolute dimes on a couple deep shots. Most quality WRs have a skill and size, and sometimes speed advantage on most CBs. If we bring pressure we have to rely on the qb not having time to make a good decision or throw. With or without pressure we were not affecting the qb much yesterday, and he was experienced enough to find his answers. We aren't going to play too many qbs with that level of experience and accuracy. At some point you just have to tip your cap.
The 3-3-5 isn't going away, nor should it. It uses an offenses aggressive tendencies against itself and forces teams to play at our pace. We do need TO and another player or 2 to improve at generating pressure.
 

fsanford

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Understand we have a young D but I’m fed up our 3-deep safety look. Can we please make an adjustment ?!?!

We have allowed 35 and 36 points in past two games.
Zero sacks
Rarely any pressures
Short yardage stack the box!
They finished 3rd in scoring Defense in the Big 12, they played 4 of the top 20 scoring offenses in the country.

Now is it smarter to base decision across multiple data points or just 2 one of which was an exhibition game
 
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Peter

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We need at least one guy in the front six who can consistently pressure the QB and none of the LBs or DLs this year showed any consistency with that. Orange is probably our best pass rusher as he basically pushes two guys backwards every play but no one else does much to collapse the pocket.
 

AuH2O

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I think any discussion of the 3-3-5 is a little too armchair-quarterbacky. It is a great scheme for the players we are able to get here. We do not and will never consistently have a d line that can stand up a quality o line and stuff the run, so we concede a 2 yard run and send safeties and LBs from places the O line can't reach. I was skeptical at first, but the proof is in the pudding, it's really effective at slowing the run, and most teams outside of Iowa aren't patient enough to keep chipping away on the ground.
We also don't have the d line to get pressure, whether sending 3 or 4. When we do bring 4 or 5, having 2 of them standing up and able to get downhill should in theory make them harder to block, our LBs just aren't very good yet. Pass rush has been a problem all year, and patient qbs will find plenty of gaps, but having 1 more slower player getting swallowed up by the O line isn't going to change that. I was actually impressed and surprised yesterday that we were much more aggressive than usual blitzing in the first quarter. Every 3rd down, we brought pressure. And to his credit Henigan threw some absolute dimes on a couple deep shots. Most quality WRs have a skill and size, and sometimes speed advantage on most CBs. If we bring pressure we have to rely on the qb not having time to make a good decision or throw. With or without pressure we were not affecting the qb much yesterday, and he was experienced enough to find his answers. We aren't going to play too many qbs with that level of experience and accuracy. At some point you just have to tip your cap.
The 3-3-5 isn't going away, nor should it. It uses an offenses aggressive tendencies against itself and forces teams to play at our pace. We do need TO and another player or 2 to improve at generating pressure.
Agree, one of the great things is that it allows to get those DE/DT tweeners that are undervalued in a 4 man front. It also allows ISU to have only one clogged like Lima or Orange, as those guys are in high demand. Lastly if you run a 4 man front your DEs have to be elite pass rushers. Also guys that are in high demand.

The fact that ISUs DL roles are different from most teams helps a recruiting class in the 40s or 50s turn into a top 15-25 defense.