Multiplicity But Simplicity | Sizing up the Defenses

Way back in 1997, as a defensive coordinator for New Mexico under head coach Dennis Franchione, Gary Patterson wrote a paper about the 4-2-5 defense, Multiplicity But Simplicity: Why the 4-2-5 Defense. This is a seven-part look at the 4-2-5 defense and trying to figure out how it all works.

Part I: Introduction.
Part II: Sizing up the defenses.
Part III: Create offensive confusion at the line of scrimmage.
Part IV: Play with great leverage.
Part V: Establish the eight man front.
Part VI: Establish a pressure package.
Part VII: The five spoke secondary.

Ed. Note:  This past weekend I found a tremendous supplement to the first paper, which is a transcript of a speech that Patterson gave regarding the 4-2-5 defense called, The 4-2 Defensive Package, by Gary Patterson, this too is nothing short of fantastic.  While the first paper is more philosophical, the second is more of a how-to and encourage you to read this as well.  I'll stick with the seven parts outlined above, but will greatly utilize the second paper throughout the rest of the series.

Texas Tech defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow will bring what he learned from Gary Patterson while the Secondary Coach at TCU and bring to Texas Tech the 4-2-5 defense. Head coach Tommy Tuberville hinted that the defense would continue to be a multiple front and truth be told, Texas Tech was running something similar to a 4-2-5 against Houston and Northwestern as Brett Dewhurst and Cody Davis were swinging back and forth between a safety and linebacker spot.

So I was a bit curious about the size of the defense that TCU ran out there this past year because I think there's this perception that the TCU defense is small by most standards.  This led me to take a look at TCU's depth chart for the Rose Bowl game against Wisconsin. Let's take a look at the two-deep for the TCU defense for that game and the Texas Tech defense according to the post spring depth chart:

Position TCU - 2010
1st Team | 2nd Team
TTU - 2010 Post Spring
1st Team
TTU - 2010 Post Spring
2nd Team
LE: 6-2/260 | 6-6/272 6-0/233 (Sam Fehoko) 6-3/248 (Jackson Richards)
NT: 6-2/305 | 6-2/290 6-2/274 (Donald Langley 6-2/286 (Pearlie Graves)
DT: 6-4/268 | 6-6/272 6-2/265 (Kerry Hyder) 6-3/284 (Lawrence Rumph)
RE: 6-2/250 | 6-3/235 6-1/248 (Dartwan Bush 6-2/230 (Aundrey Barr)
MLB: 6-3/246 | 6-1/238 6-1/231 (Cqulin Hubert) 6-1/234 (Blake Dees)
SLB: 6-3/237 | 6-1/210 6-0/215 (Daniel Cobb) 6-1/205 (Zach Winbush)
SS: 6-0/208 | 6-1/214 6-3/191 (Terrance Bullitt) 5-11/166 (Jared Flannel)
FS: 6-1/212 | 6-1/203 6-0/190 (D.J. Johnson) 6-0/188 (Giorgio Durham)
WS: 6-0/195 | 6-4/210 6-2/194 (Cody Davis) 5-11/197 (Brett Dewhurst)
CB: 6-2/197 | 5-11/200 5-10/174 (Derrick Mays) 5-9/163 (Jeremy Reynolds)
CB: 5-10/181 | 5-10/182 6-0/182 (Tre' Porter) 5-10/189 (Jarvis Phillips)

 

So much more after the jump.

Yes, this is a really simple exercise, but I was curious, I already did the work and I really wanted a comparison.

The Front Four

There are some things that I noticed, feel free to add your own. The front four defensive line for TCU (all figures includes the 2-deep) averages about 269 pounds. The current depth chart (and yes, lots of things can change) for Texas Tech is 258.5 pounds. That's a 10.5 pound difference in an average for TCU. This may be a personnel issue of what was available during the spring versus what may be available during the fall. I'm not a real fan of Fehoko at defensive end and I know that he's played both linebacker and defensive end during the spring. There are plenty of options available for the defensive line positions for 2011 (and this link doesn't include DT Delvon Simmons) and if you don't feel like clicking on the link, I count, including the freshmen who should arrive in the fall, there are 20 options available for defensive end and defensive tackle. The problem is, of course, that the those returning players are unproven.

So right now, I have to wonder whether or not Tuberville and Glasgow intentionally want smaller faster players, or once guys arrive and/or become eligible, will the defense add more size along the line.  If you're asking me, I think things change once some of these guys arrive on campus, and the only freshman defensive lineman that I think plays this next year is Delvon Simmons. I'm fine and would advocate redshirting everyone else.  I'd also add that I think guys like Dennell Wesley and Leon Mackey crack the rotation sooner rather than later and these two players, along with Smith and Simmons, will immediately add some size to the defense, especially if Mackey is at defensive end.

Linebackers

At linebacker, Texas Tech is considerably smaller than what TCU ran out there last year and because I'm still guessing, I think that is absolutely not a question about personnel, but choice. Still, there's a difference of 11.5 pounds between the TCU defense and the Texas Tech defense based off of the 4 players for each team listed.  Nevertheless, I think Tuberville wants the smaller but faster players on the field. This isn't breaking news.  Cobb is a converted safety and Zach Winbush was part of Tuberville's first class and although he was recruited by the former staff, he absolutely fits Tuberville's profile, which is a smaller linebacker that can run.  Hubert and Dees fit what Glasgow probably wants in middle linebacker and I'm fine with this rotation.

Secondary

I won't try to make any size comparisons with the secondary. I have no doubt that the staff wants faster players on the corners as I think there's a reason that Jeremy Reynolds, a true freshman, has already found his way onto the 2-deep. The truth of the matter is that I think there's really only a handful of true cornerbacks on this team: Mays, Phillips, Urell Johnson, Reynolds and Neboh. Porter is a guy that can swing between positions and I think he's listed at cornerback because of the overall lack of depth at cornerback. Incoming players who are cornerbacks include Thierry Nguema, Reynolds and Junior Osunde. I'm not including guys like Otis Wright or J.J. Gaines at this time because I think Wright was initially a grade risk and I'd imagine that they need to figure out where Gaines will play.  I'd still expect them to redshirt. For me, if you have to worry about one position from a depth standpoint, it's cornerback, without a question. There are plenty of bodies to play just about every position, but I still feel that cornerback is a thin position and it's one that has me more concerned than any other position.

With that being said, I think the technique will be different for all of the cornerbacks and I also think that they won't be asked to do as much as last year. The defense should be in quite a bit of zone coverage, which should make the transition a bit easier for these guys. It's not easy running man coverage, Texas Tech fans can attest to that after watching last year.

I'm also not the least big concerned about safety. The one negative I can say about Glasgow right now is he didn't coach the defensive line, but alternately, the positive is that the secondary has been his baby at TCU for a handful of years. I trust he knows what he's doing in the secondary, particularly safety. I love moving D.J. Johnson to a safety position, Bullitt was named quite often during the spring, I think this is going to be the most improved unit on the team.

Speed and Strength

And in a late-breaking event, I've found another, and probably even better paper from Patterson, The 4-2 Defensive Package, by Gary Patterson, which is going to give us all sorts of good things for this series, but in trying to hone in on just one of the principles at a time, this one being the size of the defense, I do want to pull from this paper, how Patterson focuses on the speed and strength of his players and how he likes to convert high school wide receivers to linebackers, linebackers to defensive linemen, etc.  If it hasn't already hit you, this is exactly how Tuberville has operated for a number of years, and as you can see, Tuberville and Glasgow are completely intent on putting as much speed on the field as possible.

This isn't so much a paper as it is a speech that Patterson gives, and littered throughout this are mentions about how he's converting players and how they must not only be fast, but they must be strong.  And if this isn't a simple enough mantra, I don't know what is:

The one thing we recruit on defense is speed.

I think Patterson and Tuberville are long lost brothers.  Here Patterson talks about how he converted a high school linebacker to a defensive tackle, and for reference purposes, a 3 technique is where the defensive tackle is lined up on the outside eye of the guard:

When I get to the film, you will see number 49 at defensive tackle for us.  He was a linebacker when he came out of high school.  He is now 6'1" and 282 pounds and plays a 3 technique.  He probably should play defensive end, but we had no on else to go inside.  He runs 4.6 for the 40-yard dash.  He benched 560 pounds, squatted 700, and power cleaned 475.  But he didn't do that when he came to TCU.

It isn't a surprise that Patterson focuses on the fact that he doesn't just want his guys inside to be strong and fast, he wants his guys in the secondary to be strong because these guys will be taking on offensive linemen:

Last year we had six safeties bench over 400.  If you have to take on 290-pound guards, you better find some way to stay healthy.  When you play an eight-man front, your safeties are going to be in some positions where they have to take on those big people. 

I mentioned above that I was surprised that Cobb is playing linebacker and Tuberville and Glasgow talk about how much Bullitt has improved.  Keep in mind that these guys will be entering their sophomore year.  They are projectable athletes that have room to grow.  I'm sure that Glasgow saw the type of athlete that Bullitt was and told him and Cobb that they not only needed to be bigger, but they needed to be stronger by the start of fall camp. 

And perhaps it's a bit unfair to compare what Patterson has done last year to what Texas Tech has this year.  Patterson has had a decade of figuring out how his players will work in his system, while Tuberville has had a year and a half and Glasgow has had a spring to make a determination as to where he wants players to go.  At the end of the day, I think that Glasgow has essentially said that for this first year, he doesn't so much care about size, but speed can be a tremendous equalizer.  One last bit from Patterson:

One of our defensive ends was a wide receiver in high school.  He is now 6'5" and 270 pounds and runs a 4.59 40-yard dash.  The key to this defense is speed.  Everyone that plays on the defense can run.

Snip.

We feel if we are going to be a top defensive team year after year, we have to average between 4.62 and 4.66 in our top 22 defensive players.  That figure includes defensive linemen as well as defensive backs and linebackers.  When we establish our 40 times, we time our players running in pads.  Our noseguard weighs 275 pounds and runs a 4.9.

Ultimately, this is what Glasgow wants this year. 

He wants a defense that can go sideline to sideline as fast as the personnel will allow.  If there comes a time that the defense is being overwhelmed physically, then he'll have players that can be plugged in to fix that, but ultimately, he wants to be fast.

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