Tick-Tock-Tick-Tock the Friday kick is rapidly approaching and I have one more thing I want to get out before the game. I talk a good bit about Purdue needing to be disciplined in their pass rush, keeping outside containment, and working as a unit on the inside. It’s been hit and miss so far this season, maybe more like miss, miss, miss, hit, but I want to show y’all what it looks like when defense functions as intended.
If (and I use that word way too much with this team) they can consistently execute to the level of the play below, many of the defensive issues would be solved.
5 Man Front
Yellow Circle - Kydran Jenkins - OLB
Light Blue Circle - Nic Scourton - OLB
Blue Box - RDE - Isaiah Nichols - NT - Cole Brevard - Malik Langham
Nic Scourton (light blue circle) is playing right outside linebacker. His job is to keep the quarterback contained in the pocket and make him step up. He has to avoid getting pushed past the quarterback, and giving him a chance to escape out of the pocket, instead of forcing him into the pocket and into the defensive line.
I put the defensive line in a single blue box because they need to act as a unit (and it’s hard to see when there are too many shapes close together) Their job is to push the pocket back into the face of the quarterback. They have to stay connected and maintain their rush lanes to keep the quarterback from stepping through the pocket and into open space.
Kydran Jenkins (yellow circle) has the exact same job as Scourton. Keep contain, don’t get pushed up the field, make the quarterback step up instead of stepping out.
I’ve added rush lanes for Scourton (light blue circle) and Jenkins (yellow circle). This is roughly around the path they need to maintain in their pass rush. The black line behind the quarterback is as deep as their rush should take them. They have to flatten out and attack down the line instead of staying vertical and being pushed harmlessly past the quarterback.
The defensive line (blue box) needs to try and stay between the outside linebackers, creating a wall to prevent the quarterback from stepping through the pocket. They need to stay connected and push up the field, into the quarterback.
They also need to keep an eye on the quarterback, if he sets to throw, all hands need to go up looking for deflections. One of the best ways to create turnovers is deflecting passes. It also gives the quarterback something to think about when he tries to gun one over the middle on a quick slant.
Set The Edge, Push the Pocket
So far so good. Scourton (light blue circle) and Jenkins (yellow arrow) haven’t been pushed inside. They’re working up the field, but not selling out for an individual sack.
The interior is Ok. It’s tough to see, but the RDE (Nichols) is getting pushed out of the pocket. Looks like he may have been stuffed on a spin move. That happens, but he needs to fight to get back inside. I’d also like to see the LDE (Langham) a little farther up the field, but keep in mind, these are still from a play that lasts a few seconds.
Don’t Get Too Far Up The Field
When Purdue’s pass rush breaks down and allows the quarterback to escape outside the pocket, this is the point where it normally fails. The outside linebackers have to stop their rush and flatten out when they get to the quarterback, they can’t allow the tackle to push them past the quarterback. They also can’t try and make a hero play and try to pick up a sack with a one armed lunge at the quarterback.
The defensive line is still doing their job. They’re connected and roughly in-between the outside linebackers.
This is what you want to see looking down the line. Notice how you’re looking at Scourton’s (blue circle) back? If the camera was on the other side, you’d be looking at Jenkins’s back (yellow circle). That means they’ve flattened out their rush. You don’t want to be looking at their ear hole, that means they’re getting pushed past the quarterback.
The defensive line is still working up the field and are roughly in their rush lanes still. The right defensive end (Nichols) needs to keep fighting to get back inside.
Make the QB Step Up
Shrader is starting to feel the heat as Scourton (light blue circle) collapses the pocket. His first instinct is to escape outside but Jenkins (yellow circle) is still at the proper depth and is blocking the easy route. This is what Purdue fans want to see on every pass rush.
The Defensive line is in good shape. The nose tackle, #91 (Brevard) is jamming up the middle, preventing an easy step through by Shrader. Still need the right defensive end (Nichols) to push back inside, but right now, the quarterback is stuck.
Shafer tried to escape out of the pocket to the left, but Jenkins (yellow circle) was in the perfect position. Things are starting to get hot up the middle, and Shrader wants to escape out to the right, but Scourton (blue circle), despite being held, is still outside setting the edge. He didn’t get pushed past the quarterback.
The defensive line is starting to win. the LDE (Langham) is breaking free and the NT (Brevard) is still anchored in the middle. The RDE (Nichols) needs to keep working hard to stay in the play, because things are about to break down.
Scourton (blue circle) manages to free himself from the tackle (and hold) . Notice how he’s rushing up the field to maintain containment instead of taking a more direct path to the quarterback in hopes of making an individual play? Chef’s Kiss.
Jenkins (yellow circle) is staying outside as well. Again, this is how the outside linebackers are supposed to work in this defense. The numbers advantage is on the inside, where the defensive ends and the nose tackle have one-on-one match-ups. The defense breaks down when the quarterback is allowed to get outside of the linebackers and away from the strength of the defense.
Great job by Jenkins (yellow circle) setting a hard edge on the left side. Again notice how he is still attacking down the line and not letting himself get pushed past the quarterback.
Scourton (blue circle) is maintaining his composure, as much as he wants to light up the quarterback up, if he misses, all this hard work is wasted, because Shrader is off and running.
The outside linebackers keeping Shrader in the pocket allows the defensive line enough time to win their individual match-ups. The LDE (Langham), much like Jenkins, is working hard not to get pushed past the quarterback, he’s attacking down the line. The NT (Brevard) is free, and is blocking Shrader from stepping through the pocket. This is great work by the big man that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. The RDE (Nichols) is back in the play and back inside of the outside linebacker. Again, great work to get back into the play after getting pushed outside off the snap.
Make A Play
This is perfection. The Outside linebackers are still outside. Shrader needs to step up, but he’s stepping up into an unblocked 6’3”, 335 pound Cole Brevard. The RDE (Nichols) is also in great position. Even though the LDE (Langham) is past the quarterback, because he’s flatten out, the Syracuse lineman blocking him is in Shraders way. Things are collapsing in on the Orange quarterback.
He’s trapped, now someone needs to make a play and get him on the ground.
How do you keep a 240 pound quarterback from breaking a tackle and making a play? Have more than one guy jump on him. It’s hard to see, but the nose tackle #91 (Brevard) has Shrader, and Jenkins (yellow circle) is about to jump on him as well. The LDE (Nichols) is also on his way to join the fun. Maybe Shrader can break one tackle, but he can’t break 3 at the same time.
This is what you want to see from this 5 Man Front. The quarterback is surrounded by 300 pound defensive lineman and is about to get snowed under.
I think Jenkins ends up getting credit for the sack, because he gets Shrader on the ground, but this is a team sack. I’m certain the staff used this play to teach this week, because it’s the best pass rush I’ve seen this season. It’s what made Illinois one of the best defenses in the nation last season. It’s why Ryan Walters is Purdue's head coach.
Remember, Jerzahn Newton, a 280 pound defensive end, led the Illini defensive line (including outside linebackers) in tackles, tackles for loss, and sacks. This defense is designed for the big guys on the inside to eat.
This is perfect execution by the 5 man front. Everyone does their job, the quarterback can’t find an escape route, and gets swarmed by 4 of the 5 guys on the defensive front. The 5th guy, outside linebacker Nic Scourton doesn’t get in on the sack because he set the edge and kept the quarterback from escaping. His role in this play is just as, if not more, important than the player who eventually got the quarterback on the ground.
We need to see this against Wisconsin.
The defensive line needs to start winning, and the outside linebackers have to stop trying to make hero plays and do their job. If the defensive line works as a unit, it’s tough to beat, but if the outside linebackers don’t keep contain, it doesn’t matter. If you let teams run away from your strength, and at your weakness in the secondary, it’s not going to end well.
Let’s hope we see a cohesive effort from the front tonight.