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State Must Find Way To Win Without “TenArcher” Defense

September 20, 2010
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State’s attacking, blitzing style of defense brought about by the infusion of Jon Tenuta into Mike Archer’s defensive coaching staff has made all the difference in the Pack’s fantastic 3-0 start. Call it the “TenArcher” defense.

But the problem State faces this week is this: The TenArcher style of defense won’t work against the triple option of Georgia Tech, for if State tries to bring linebackers and safeties on blitzes, the middle of the field will contain no one to stop a free rushing back.

So Tenuta/Archer face some interesting challenges in defensive coaching this week:

  1. The only consistent method that seems to slow down Paul Johnson’s attack is well-executed “assignment football.” Each and every player on the field is assigned a corresponding position to defend. It puts the responsibility on all 11 players to tackle their man one-on-one if they have the ball without help from their teammates.
  2. State has to limit GT’s time of possession when the Jackets have the ball, for several reasons. One, State’s defense will need to stay fresh from start to finish–Tech’s extended, sustained drives tend to wear teams down in the third and fourth quarters. Two, State’s offense tends to be a quick-strike unit, limiting the amount of in-game rest the Wolfpack defense can get even under normal circumstances. If State’s scoring drives are two minutes in length and the Yellow Jackets’ are eight minutes, it could lead to some very tired legs for State’s defense. And third, extended drives from the Jackets keep State’s quick-strike offense off the field, negating any hopes the Pack may have of overwhelming Tech with a deluge of points.
  3. State has to generate turnovers. Bottom line. If the Pack can’t turn Tech over at any point during the game, the chances of winning in Atlanta are very, very slim.

This is State’s first game against the Yellow Jackets under the Tom O’Brien era, so there’s no precedent to go from to know how the defense will fare against the triple option. Historically, Atlanta has been a very rough venue for State. Facing the Jackets at home would be tough enough; how the Pack defense responds on the road playing a style of defense almost completely opposite from how they’ve been taught all offseason will make all the difference in the game.

If there’s one thing I’ve seen so far that gives me a small measure of solace, it’s this: the tacking seems much better this year than in years past. Our players have done a much better job of wrapping up after contact in the first three games, and the Pack will need to continue doing so against Georgia Tech to limit the huge plays in the Tech running game that typically come when a Jacket sheds their one-and-only defender and takes it to the house.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. September 20, 2010 1:21 pm

    Good analysis. Vegas seems to agree with you — State is an 8-point dog despite being being about even with GT in the polls.

  2. izzykareem permalink
    September 20, 2010 1:46 pm

    this will come off as homerish if i don’t pick us to lose but I think one thing that’s overlooked is how good we are also at holding the ball on offense. We could use the ol’JimmyV/PhiSlammaJamma strategy and really try and milk the clock. We have a QB who if we need just enough to get first downs, he can do it. Also, GT showed no real ability to stop UNC-CH on the run and I think we have a better line and RB’s than UNC-CH (just talking reality here).

    The question will be whether our OL can withstand whatever pressure that GT is going to bring from teh 3-4; something else no one is talking about, but again, having a mobile QB only pays dividends in a situation like this.

    • September 20, 2010 2:22 pm

      I think the fact GT’s defense is in its first year switching from the 4-3 to the 3-4 helps us.

  3. GoalieLax permalink
    September 20, 2010 3:33 pm

    it may be the first time TOB has faced the triple option, but it’s not the first time for Tenuta. Navy ran all over his defense last year in South Bend – the fullbacks alone had 210 yds rushing on just 19 carries while the offense got 404 total en route to a 23-21 win.

  4. September 20, 2010 6:03 pm

    I’m thinking the key Saturday will be how physical State’s secondary, especially it’s corners, decides to play. If those guys come to play and take guys to the ground, I like State’s chances. If not, it could be a long afternoon of chasing guys 40 yards down the field.

    I feel like State’s defense, at least athletically, mathces up with this offense pretty well. Fast athletic linebackers, safeties who can play the run and hit. The key will be the corners.

    Should be pretty entertaining to watch.

  5. gtalumni permalink
    September 21, 2010 9:35 pm

    If you want to stop Tech you will have to contain Anthony Allen B-back, and Joshua Nesbitt QB. These two positions are the heart of GT’s spread option offense and as they go so goes the team. If they can rack up 150yds rushing between them look out.

    • September 21, 2010 10:12 pm

      Who typically draws the assignment to cover the QB? Is it the MLB? If Nate Irving is assigned Nesbitt, that would sure make for an interesting one-on-one battle.

      That’s if Tenuta/Archer play it that way. Tenuta’s crazy/bold/arrogant enough to go off the script and try something unexpected, so who knows.

      • September 21, 2010 11:46 pm

        The MLB won’t be able to get to Nesbitt on most plays until it’s too late. If TenArcher (nice…) decides to go that route, you’re exposing yourself in four ways: 1) a TON of pressure on the playside DE to tackle Allen on the dive. If he misses & the MLB is tracking Nesbitt, a simple cut back & it’s off the the races, 2) Johnson will crack the playside tackle into the MLB, sealing him, 3) you’re vulnerable to any sort of counter option or even simple twirl motion, 4) while Irving is a GREAT player, that’s a lot of ground for him to cover.

        Who draws the QB depends on how TenArcher decides to play things. It really could be any of three players: the playside DE, the playside OLB, or the playside safety. All have their benefits & draw backs. I have only watched the Cincy game but I’d take my chances on the DE scraping to play Nesbitt & having Irving crash the dive & try & contain Allen. There are ways to counter this but as with every game, it comes down to execution. Nice post & it will be fun to watch on Saturday.

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