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Multiplicity But Simplicity | Introducing the 4-2-5 Defense

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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.

Sizing up the defenses.
Create offensive confusion at the line of scrimmage.
Play with great leverage.
Establish the eight man front.
Establish a pressure package.
The five spoke secondary.

Patterson's paper is a bit dated, in fact it's about 14 years old, but the concepts still ring true and although I'm sure that Patterson has tweaked some of these ideas, I'm willing to bet that the core concepts are still true and still taught each and every day. TCU head coach, Gary Patterson, at one time was an assistant coach for then New Mexico head coach Dennis Franchione, and Patterson was preaching the 4-2-5 concept way back in 1997.

Since Glasgow was hired, I knew that I wanted to write about the 4-2-5 defense and this is the first time that I'm dipping my toe into trying to explain a particular scheme.  Go easy on me.

A bulk of this series will focus on each of these five principles that Patterson touts in his paper and any other topics that I can think of:

To accomplish these five goals, we use five basic principles within the 4-2-5 to give our players a chance to succeed:

1. Create offensive confusion at the line of scrimmage.
2. Play with great leverage.
3. Establish the eight man front.
4. Establish a pressure package.
5. The five spoke secondary.

The thing to keep in mind with all of this is that you need to read Patterson's paper. All of it.  I'll be honest, there are so many interesting things to consider that you'll understand so much better if you read the entire paper, but for our purposes, I thought it would be best to break these down on each of these principles, the introduction (which is this post) and taking a look at the size of the TCU defense versus the proposed size of the Texas Tech defense. Although this may not be a surprise to anyone, the TCU defense wasn't small and I was somewhat hoping to dis-prove the idea that the 4-2-5 defense is a small defense, and at least when Patterson is running the defense.

I wanted to start off with the five goals for Patterson's defense:

1. Out hit the opponent.
2. Stop the run.
3. Create takeaways.
4. Eliminate big plays.
5. Don’t flinch.

There are times that I think that so much of this stuff is coach-speak. I think to the average fan, these 5 things sound generic and I wonder how applicable it actually is to the player, but the more I think about it, this is a coach and it's a paper to coaches about what he teaches. I think it's easy to ignore stuff like this, but we shouldn't because I would almost best that despite the fact that these things are not real "technical" when it comes to running a defense, they're still important concepts and I'd almost guarantee that Glasgow has the same goals that he preaches on defense.

There is no doubt that "out hitting your opponent" should be on every wall and in every player's locker. The one thing that's always seemed to be the case is that the Texas Tech defense was not overly aggressive and there were times where I felt that the Texas Tech defense was being out-hit. Personally, I wonder whether or not a part of this is not quite having the athletes that other teams seem to have, but out-hitting an opponent shouldn't have much to do with whether or not a team has elite players.

A lot of defenses work from the inside-out and Patterson and it's a mantra that defensive coaches will repeat, which is that we have to stop the run.  Patterson actually means it though. This is a simple concept and it's one that I think we can all get behind. Of course, Big 12 defenses are more passing than running teams, but still, it's not uncommon to think that a defense wants to limit the run and that means that a team must be physical along the defensive line.  And if you want proof, TCU finished 2nd in rush defense in 2006, 11th in 2007, 1st in 2008, 3rd in 2009 and 5th in 2010 (please click on because the good folks there made figuring this out incredibly easy).

For me, I think #3 and #4 go together: create takeaways and eliminate big plays. Teams that create turnovers provide additional opportunities for the offense, which is always a good thing. The thing is that this isn't always a consistent. In 2010, TCU recovered 22 turnovers, good for 58th in the country, 25 turnovers in 2009 for 32nd in the country, 28 turnovers in 2008 for 28th in the country. The key for TCU is that in addition to being pretty successful at recovering turnovers, they're also a team that just doesn't turn the ball over very much. That's a conversation for another day. Still, TCU creates enough turnovers to be in the top 30 teams for 2 of the last 3 years (again, thanks to

And if there's anything that Texas Tech fans can see is that the Red Raiders gave up a ton of big pass plays last year. I wish that I had a way to quantify how many big plays were actually given up, but when a defense goes from giving up 4,581 yards in 2009 to 5,932 yards in 2010 you can only assume that a good chunk of those additional 1,400 yards are big plays. To put this in perspective, on average, teams gained an additional 107 yards per game on the Texas Tech defense. That's not just bad, it's awful. Glasgow has a tough task of getting Texas Tech back to being respectable, and I'd be completely comfortable if Glasgow was able to get those 107 yards back.

Last but not least (although this is maybe the best one) is "don't flinch". I don't think I had ever thought about this concept before, but it makes sense. I don't normally do this, but I think we all what what "flinching" means, but let's get a definition:

1. To start or wince involuntarily, as from surprise or pain.
2. To recoil, as from something unpleasant or difficult; shrink.

This is it. Don't ever pull back, be aggressive. Do not avoid contact or shy away from a hit. Don't shrink. Don't get small.

Again, this is fundamental stuff, but doing the fundamental stuff is what makes teams successful.  And if you listen to Glasgow and the players, I can almost guarantee that you'll hear the players echo these five goals and five principles.

And what's next?  We'll delve into what Patterson means by creating confusion about the line of scrimmage.  Just think about Texas Tech vs. TCU and depending on the opponent, the defensive line loves to stunt.