Though Todd Orlando’s (DC, USC) time at Texas came to a screeching halt after the 2019 regular season, one thing is clear, the man can create pressure. As I wrote in early 2019 after Texas defeated Georgia, Orlando’s defense uses hybrid players and different alignments to put pressure on offenses. In that game, the Longhorns consistently confused a seasoned and well-coached offensive line, garnering two sacks and seven tackles for loss (TFLs).
In the concluding 2019 Pressure Tape review, MQ will breakdown three Longhorn pressures against the now-famous LSU offenses (one of the best in history). Texas didn’t do much to stop the onslaught late in the game (no one did), but there are some definite takeaways. The Longhorns created four total sacks (averaged 2.33 a game).
Orlando now resides in Los Angeles with the USC Trojans and it will be interesting to see how the PAC 12 chooses to attack the Orlando system. The Longhorns seemed to never really find a “home base” on defense. Their “camp D” was a 3-4, but once the season hit, the packages started to proliferate. Orlando has always been multiple, but it seemed like in the end there was just too much going on which was evident by Head Coach Tom Hermans decision to go with Chris Ash as the DC who is known for a simpler style reflecting Ohio State (with more of a Quarters base).
The first pressure is one that continues to pop up in four-down and Tite Front defenses (Mint too) versus Y-off formations. The coverage behind the Longhorn version is Cover 1 (man-free) with the Mike and Safety funneling the TE and RB. The reason why this is becoming a popular pressure is in the way it attacks the edge. LSU and other Y-off schemes are using the TE to load the Zone (add-in) or work across the formation.
The OT has to honor the EDGE that is ripping into the B-gap. The DE (4i) to the EDGE’s side is responsible for spiking into the A-gap and getting penetration. With the TE (#81) working across the formation, there is no one for the wrapping ILB. The EDGE even gets pushed pass the DE but finds the opposite “A” and quickly works upfield.
Even with the RB staying home to block in the pass-pro, simple inertia tells you he is probably going to get knocked back. This is a match-up win for the defense with a RB doing something he probably isn’t great at, blocking. The pressure works will against Duo, Split Zone, or, as illustrated, the pass.
The dual use of the pressure is another added value because the movement works versus the runs as well as the pass. In this situation, the Tigers have a 2nd & 4. Many DCs will view this as a 50/50 down and no different than 1st.
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Attack the A-gaps is a great way to get a QB to get his eyes “down” on the pressure. Many coaches in passing situations will just mug their athletes in the A-gap and play games with the Center. In a four-down, you can run a Cross-Dog or simply insert the ILBs into their respective gaps. In this pressure, Orlando uses the field DE (EDGE) and the Will to attack the interior. The loop stunt by the EDGE leaves the RT against a player that is coming from a non-traditional blitz point. If the Tackle tracks the loop, the edge rusher will hit home.
To the field, the concept being run is called a pin-loop with an added edge rush. The interior D-lineman works into the B-gap and will attempt to “pin” the Guard and Tackle. The addition of the Will LB forces the Center to honor the rusher. In theory, this will create a wide gap and the EDGE should hit home (he almost overruns it!).
This pressure uses some “best practices” with the pin-loop and edge insert. The addition of an interior LB to get the eyes of the RB and Center is a bonus. Again, this is a pressure that can be used on early downs because it is gap sound versus the run and pass. Utility pressures like this allow the defense to bring “safe” pressure on early downs instead of staying in base and playing static.
Coverage wise, Texas is playing a Fire Zone, meaning the DE will drop out away from the pressure. The boundary DE quickly checks for a run-pass read and then “cuts” underneath the “X.” This allows the CB to play deep and keep a “cap” on the route. To the field, the “down” Safety will work outside to funnel the Slot into the middle of the field where there is a post-Safety. Simple and effective coverage on an early down.
The final pressure is similar to the others in its dual use as an early-down pressure. Orlando opts again for a Cover 1 pressure. The defender over the TE will end up as a “rat” once the TE blocks. The term “rat” simply means he is looking to steal crossers. The ILB is tracking the RB and is responsible if he pushes out the other side (some will even add him, green-dog, if the RB blocks). Package wise, the Longhorns are running their “Stack” or 3-3-3 package (3-1 box) with a Bear alignment (303) by the D-line.
Most defenses that base from the Tite or a three-down will have a way to blitz to a Bear look. This is exactly what the Longhorns are doing. The added addition of a looper to the RB is an attempt to get two on the RB. The DE occupying the B-gap is attempting to drag the RT and RG with him and keep their eyes down. LSU keeps the TE in and that helps contain the wrap.
As stated earlier, defenses should attempt to attack the RB. One, if you attack with numbers on the edge (or where the RB is normally blocking), you force the offense to keep him in and out of five-man protections. A quick check down or screen to a RB on the perimeter can have a devastating effect on a blitzing D. Second, football is about matchups. The defense wants to force a non-blocking back into blocking. The clip clearly shows the RB is not aware of an edge rusher. You could blame the TE for not working outside, but then the loop might have hit home.
One thing about the Orlando system is that it is multiple. Sometimes that can get the defense into trouble as it did in 2019, but it wasn’t too long ago Texas was near the top of the defensive efficiency board (#7 ‘17). Since the high mark in 2017, the Longhorn defense moved into the middle pack of defenses (#44 - ’18, #54 - ’19). This would eventually see Orlando out the door.
Regardless, Orlando’s extension of the Aranda tree is much more reliant on pressure and movement. His time in the Big 12, American, and Moutain West has given him access to some of the top offensive schemes in the country. Time will tell if Orlando can get back to being seen as one of the top defensive minds in the country (remember, Saban and Smart visited him).
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