This year will mark as one of the best in Indiana Football history. The Hoosiers finished 11th in the country, the highest mark since Indiana went to (and lost) the Rose Bowl in 1967 (9-2/AP #4). The Hoosiers beat Penn State, Michigan, and Wisconsin in the same year, while narrowly being defeated by Ohio State (35-42). It was a year of firsts for a hapless program. In a COVID riddled season, the Hoosiers were a bright spot in the Big 10 and had one of the best finishes to a game on the year (below).
Defensively, the Hoosiers (6-2) were led by the secondary, who held the second-best pass EPA in the league at -.168, enough to rank 11th in the country (Northwestern came in second nationally). Overall, the defense came in at #5 in BCFToys DFEI (which ranks overall efficiency) and 18th overall in EPA (-.094). Not bad for a team that has historically struggled in the B1G. Hoosier DC, Kane Wommack, would parlay this season into the head coaching job at South Alabama. At 33, he is the youngest coach in the FBS.
The Hoosiers scheme is a 4-3 hybrid that mixes coverage and pressure, similar to most defenses in the B1G. As stated earlier, the secondary was the team's strength and used in all facets of the game. Wommack used Cloud force and secondary blitzes to keep offenses guessing all year. In the end, the Hoosiers would finish the year tops in the B1G with 17 interceptions and #1 in sacks with 25. The defense wreaked havoc on the B1G all year.
This month we look at a simple 4-3 pressure that is structured uniquely. Most four-down defenses have a WICK pressure (Will to “C”), and in many cases, the DE rips into the open “B.” This creates a Bear reduction and a 5-1 box. Wommack turned this simple pressure into a four-man Creeper with the potential of five rushers off the RB. Creepers, or replacement pressures, insert a second level blitzer on one side only to drop a first level defender from the opposite direction.
Below, the WICK Creeper is illustrated. What is truly unique about the pressure is the “hug” rush by the CB. In most cases, the contain rusher is responsible for the RB. With a nub-TE (closed), the CB is near the line of scrimmage (LOS) and can now become the hug rush. Usually, if this is the case, the contain rush will stay outside and let the hug rush fold in like a TEX stunt.
Wommack puts three defenders on the Tackle and the RB. If the RB were to flare, the CB would take him, and the Will would run a COP path (contain pressure) and hold the edge. The leverage of the Jack is critical too. The Jack’s width forces the Tackle to take him, while the RB is most likely responsible for the CB off the edge. This makes the OT commit to the Jack diving in on the Guard. As the Will inserts, the RB has to take the first threat. Since the CB is “hug” rushing, he is coming with tempo, meaning he is not rushing as soon as the ball is snapped. You can see the CB slightly hesitate below.
There is a moment in the clip where the RB has to make a split-second decision. Take the Will of the OT’s backside or fan out to the CB. His rules are to take the first threat off the edge, so he pivots inside. Not only does the RB not have any power, but the Will out leverages him. This pivot leaves no one for the CB who makes the sack. The RB didn’t fair well, and the Will meets the CB at the QB.
The Wick path is a best-practice path that is found in most four-down schemes. The added value of a hug rush by the CB makes this four-man Creeper into a pressure. As always, make the RB block. Wommack had a great design in this pressure too. The Creeper leveraged the Jack on the OT and took advantage of the RB’s rules. It is a cheap and efficient way to get an overload on the RB and something unexpected versus that formation.
Versus a nub-TE with the RB set to him, the defense has what I refer to as a Hi-Lo threat. There are two eligible players to that side that need to be dealt with. By placing the CB on a hug rush, the Hoosiers could defend against screens and flares and insert an extra man against an unskilled blocker. This is excellent coaching and a great scheme to get your secondary involved in the blitz game.
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