Defensive Coordinator Dave Aranda spoke about the Army and Colorado games at the Na Koa lunch at The Willows Restaurant on September 20, 2010.  Coach Aranda answered a lot of questions from the audience and broke down some game videos.

Coach Aranda said the Colorado game was “disappointing” because we were in “a position to finish” against them and didn’t.  We did finish the Army game and came out with a win.  The difference was all 11 players on defense didn’t play well as a unit against Colorado, even though there were some great individual performances.  Against Army the defense did play well as a unit.

Aranda said he was on the field for the USC game because he expected the defense to play well against USC and he wanted to be able to communicate directly with the players and to see their eyes.  He said based on spring and fall practices, the defense was executing well and was ahead of the offense.  They were executing their alignment and assignment responsibilities, timing their blitzes well and disguising coverages well.   But as soon as the game started against USC, the defense started making alignment and assignment mistakes.  While they had done well throughout the spring and fall, they did not execute in the game.  Because the defense wasn’t playing as well he had expected, he decided to move upstairs to the box so that he can better see what is happening on the field and to make corrections and adjustments.

Colorado

The defensive front didn’t play well while the secondary did.  This is the opposite of the Army game where the front played better than the secondary.

Coach Aranda said the poor tackling, yards after contact and alignment and assignment issues are happening when we are “not playing on our terms”.   When things are going well, the defense plays well.  But when things are not going well such as in a sudden change situation, we don’t play well.  We don’t have the attitude that is needed to make a stand.  The coaches need to develop the confidence in the defense that they can make a stand.  They will work on developing that attitude by challenging the players with competition in practice.

Corey Paredes is one of the most consistent players on defense.  He is emerging as a leader both by example and vocally.  Paredes wasn’t supposed to play on every defensive snap.  They had several different packages planned for Colorado depending on what personnel package Colorado ran onto the field.  In one package, Paredes would be in and George Daily-Lyles would not.  In another package, Daily-Lyles would be in instead of Paredes.

Colorado ran a no-huddle series in the 2nd quarter which caused some issues on defense.  They made half-time package adjustments so that they would not be making a lot of personnel changes in case Colorado went to a no huddle offense.  The result was that Paredes played all snaps because they didn’t use the package in which he wasn’t a part of.  Aranda said they need to find ways to give players such as Paredes breaks.

The illegal substitution play on Colorado’s first drive of the second half was “on me” Aranda said.  He was trying to change personnel based on the personnel that Colorado had sent in for that play.

John Hardy-Tuliau played well for a true freshman at nickel back.  He made some mistakes but also made some plays.  He is learning and will get better with more games reps.

Coach Aranda told the audience what Colorado’s tendencies were that told the defense what kind of play Colorado was going to run.

Colorado did not pass protect well against California the prior week.  So they changed their passing game to a quick passing game and got the ball out fast.  We did not time our blitzes well and also didn’t disguise our coverages well allowing Colorado to get their passes off and completing them.

The long touchdown pass was the result of a coverage mistake.  If they are in zone coverage and a quarterback breaks containment, they have “scramble rules” on which receiver defenders are responsible for.  On this play, a safety mistakenly double covered an underneath receiver and another receiver got open deep.

Regarding the offense’s inability to punch it in from the one yard line, Aranda said they used an unbalanced line designed to attack with numbers. They got the defensive look that gave them the advantage, but we just didn’t execute.  On the fourth down play which resulted in a fumbled snap, they were going to run a speed option to the right.  Colorado had over shifted to the other side and we had the numbers to run the option successfully but fumbled the snap.

Army

Coach Aranda said he would have preferred to use some different defensive packages against Army than he used against Navy last year.  Army not only runs the option, they use more formations and run different kinds of plays that Navy doesn’t.  But he decided to keep it simple and used the same game plan because of the short travel week.  He didn’t want confusion and mistakes.

Army runs option and power running plays out of their base formations and have some tendencies as to how they try to attack defenses.  Aranda explained how the basic defensive package was designed to defend against both the option and power running play plays and the tendencies.  He showed the gap responsibilities of the D-line which usually slanted into gaps and of the linebackers who filled the remaining gaps.  For the power plays, Aranda showed which players had the “fill”, “spill” and “force” responsibilities and exactly where they were supposed to be.  Against option plays, Aranda explained which player(s) had the dive, quarterback (both on the mid-line read and the regular read) and the pitch man.  During the video review, Aranda showed how the defense played as a unit with the front in particular playing their gap and option responsibilities well.  He also showed where they were vulnerable because a player wasn’t in exactly the place he should be.

The defense played very well against the option and power plays during the first half.  Army then switched to a formation that they had not used in the past and were able to start moving the ball.  The new formation had split backs and three wide receivers.  Once they were able to see what Army was running out of that formation, they made an adjustment to the pre-snap alignment of one player which positioned him better to help make plays.  Once they got this adjustment right, they were able to hold Army scoreless in the fourth quarter.

Coach Aranda also showed what the gap responsibilities were against a power running play with a lead blocker.  In that situation, two linebackers had the responsibility of the gap that the lead blocker was coming through.  One linebacker should be on each side of the lead blocker so that the one not blocked could make the stop in the hole.  On the particular play he showed, one linebacker was where he was supposed to be and the other slightly overran the play and was head up with the lead blocker.  The linebacker head up on the lead blocker still did a good job of shedding the block and got in on the tackle.

He also showed what the responsibilities of the defense were on the fly sweep that Army used.  Certain players are assigned to the dive and others are assigned to the fly sweep back.

Charleston Southern

Charleston Southern runs a spread offense similar to Oregon’s offense. 

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