Redhawks Defensive Gameplan Stifles Bearcats Offense

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into today's game the Miami Redhawks had allowed 633 yards per game in two contests against Marshall and Kentucky. They held UC to 369 yards, thats 147 yards under the Bearcats average. How did they do it? By moving their linebackers off the line of scrimmage.

It seems counter intuitive that backing the linebackers off would improve the performance of the defense. But it does, particularly against an offense like Cincinnati's which is ostensibly a pro style attack with an emphasis on the run game. But that is not always the case.

Moving their linebackers off the line of scrimmage does a couple of things. 1) It made it harder for the Bearcats offensive linemen to bump up to the second level of the defense on their blocks. UC uses a ton of combo blocks were two linemen block one until the defensive linemen is secured. At which point one lineman peels off to the second level. Backing the linebackers off the LOS makes executing those techniques harder. Not only does the lineman have to go further, but he has to hunt the linebacker down and block him in space. Its a block that good a offensive linemen should make, but increasing the distance between the lineman and the point of contact ratchets up the difficulty level. Couple that with the stellar play of Austin Brown in the center of the redhawks defense and what you get is linebackers running free against the run.

2) Miami took Dayonne Nunley, by far the best defensive player on the RedHawks team, and made him their play-maker in chief. He is, by definition, a corner back. But he played most of today in the middle of the field about 8 yards off the line of scrimmage, in the middle of the field, beneath the two deep safeties. He essentially played as a robber the entire game, snuffing out routes in the middle of the field and playing downhill in run support. He would up with 10 tackles on the day,  but his impact was even larger than that.

Cincinnati played badly on offense. The offensive line looked disjointed, the backs struggled to run through contact and Brendon Kay looked shaky. But Miami came to play with a great gameplan and they executed it to perfection on defense. Not so much on offense, but that defense looked better than they have in a couple of years.

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