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Purdue Football: Pass Rush Found!

A small adjustment paid big dividends for the Purdue defense last Saturday. Look for it again this week.

Purdue v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Last week I wrote about Purdue’s meager pass rush. It’s always nice when the coaches listen to me (kidding of course). The defensive staff decided to give George some help on Saturday, and it paid off in a big way.

Pre Snap

3rd and 9


I won’t spend too much time breaking down the entire defense, because I’ve got a few more articles I want to get out today. I’ve highlighted the important stuff to watch on this play.

The Boilermakers make an interesting adjustment with their front. Instead of the normal 3 down-linemen, you only have 2 on this play (green box). Jenkins (blue triangle bottom of screen) and Karlaftis (blue triangle top of screen) are playing stand up defensive end.

Off the line, Purdue has their outside linebacker (Graham, yellow circle), seemingly in press man with Iowa’s tight end (yellow circle). That’s not exactly what is happening, but it looks like what is happening. Keep an eye on Purdue’s safety (red circle) over the top.


Again, I’ll spare you all the details, but Iowa is lined up in their 3 wide set, with a tight end just off the left tackle’s shoulder. That’s who they are attempting to hit on this play (the tight end, not the left tackle).

Right Before the Snap


This gives you a better idea about what Purdue is trying to do. The rush is coming off right side. Whichever coach is responsible for this play call does a nice job of getting Karlaftis close to a 1 on 1 pass rush. By pushing G.K. (blue triangle top of screen) outside the right tackle and putting Deen (green box) over top of the right guard guard, it keeps Iowa from helping their right tackle (blue triangle) with their right guard (green box). To further isolate this matchup, they have a Johnson (purple box) playing “0” technique over the Iowa center (purple box). His job is to keep the center from helping the guard with Deen.

Down at bottom of the screen, you still see Graham (yellow circle) matched up with the Iowa tight end (yellow circle) in press man. Again, keep an eye on the Purdue safety (orange circle).

Post Snap


The Boilermakers have what they want on this play. Karlaftis is using the Iowa right tackle like a blocking sled (blue triangle). That happens on most plays, but hasn’t led to many sacks.

The adjustment is putting Deen (green box) next to G.K. and having him work the guards outside shoulder. There is no way for the right guard (green box) to help on G.K. because he has his hands full with Purdue’s best interior pass rusher. To make sure Purdue ends up with two offensive linemen isolated on their best inside/outside pass rushing duo, Johnson (purple box) is head up over the center.

At the bottom of the screen, you’ve got Graham (yellow circle) in press man with the Iowa tight end. I assume if you’re reading this article, you know that Iowa loooooves to throw to their tight end in this situation.

Also...keep an eye on Purdue’s safety (red circle). Notice how he isn’t backing up like everyone else? Purdue is setting a little trap for the quarterback.

Win Your Matchup


Iowa uses their back to chip Karlaftis (blue triangle) and then releases him out of the backfield. He’s not important, because the Iowa QB is staring a hole through his tight end, but can’t pull the trigger because Graham (yellow circle) has him locked up underneath.

What is important is G.K. (blue triangle) still attacking the right tackles outside shoulder (and pushing him into the quarterback’s lap per usual) and Deen (green box) is attacking the right guard’s outside shoulder and beating him.

Help can’t come from the outside, because G.K. is killing the tackle. Help can’t come from the inside because Johnson has the center tied up. Folks, we’ve managed to create a 1 on 1 matchup with Deen on the right guard (green square), despite rushing 4 while Iowa blocks with 5.

Oh, and still keep an eye on the safety (red circle).

Finish Him


Purdue will take this look all game. They’ve got G.K. (blue triangle) man up on the right tackle. They’ve got Deen (green box) eating the right guard’s lunch. They’ve got Johnson (purple box) keeping the center from helping anyone. They’ve got Iowa double teaming Jenkins (orange square). No offense to Kydran, but Purdue will happily burn him against a double team while keep Karlaftis away from the guard/tackle double team all-day-every-day.

At the bottom of the screen, Graham (yellow circle) looks to come off his man coverage and is now playing a zone and looking back at the quarterback. The inside throw is seemingly available (that’s bait) but Purdue’s safety is sitting on the throw. If the Iowa QB pulls the trigger, this thing is headed the other direction. It’s almost like Purdue knows Iowa wants to throw to their tight end on 3rd and long.

Pile On


The Iowa quarterback is underneath Branson Deen, his right guard, and George Karlaftis. This is called a sack. It’s a shame he didn’t throw the ball to the tight end, because Purdue has it covered perfectly.


Great work by the Purdue staff to make this happen, and even better work by the Purdue players in executing the game plan.

Putting Deen next to Karlaftis, and having them both attack outside while Johnson controls the center gives the Boilermakers the individual matchup they lacked against Minnesota.

I appreciate the trap they set for the Hawkeyes in coverage. The quarterback saw it, and was forced to eat the ball, but that’s part of generating more sacks. Take away what the offense wants to do, make the quarterback move from his first read, and hope the pass rush gets to him before he can find his second read.

Well done.