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Monday, September 13, 2010

Boise State Football: Virginia Tech Preparation Reveals Broncos Approach

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If you're wondering how Virginia Tech could come so close to beating Boise State, 33 to 30 ten days ago, but stunningly lose at home, 21 to 16 against James Madison, you simply must read the blog post by Mike Kuchar, The Defensive Coordinator at North Brunswick Township High School in New Jersey, as prepared for and presented at Chris Brown's excellent Smart Football Blog.

To give the Clift Notes version of what Coach Kuchar wrote before the link to it, Virginia Tech broke down Boise State Offense on film in detail and a full five months before their September 6th opener. Coach Kuchar was given the opportunity to be a part of the analysis process.

What was learned was that, first, Head Coach Chris Peterson's approach is to have not an offensive system, but a collection of plays for given situations. Second, Boise State uses leverage, numbers, and grass to "gash the opposition." That is, "leverage" is using shifts and motion to gain a "numbers" advantage at the point of attack, to run a running play that gashes the defense, at times for big gains. What the Broncos do is use a tight-end plus a wingback to add an extra hole for the defense to worry about.

If the defense overloads and overruns this set, their running backs are coached to cut back to the weakside.

(If you paid attention to the Colts vs. Texans game, this is almost exactly how the Texans ran against the Colts. The Colts answer would have been to adjust by putting "eight in the box," then blitz the weakside linebacker to force the running back to make a quick decision before he's ready, or be downed for a loss, or both.)

In the passing game, Boise State also uses the overload concept, employing a 3 x 1 formation, but then motioning the back to the strongside so we have a 4 x 1 set: if the safeties go to the "4" side, Boise throws to the Split End, or the "1," on the weakside.

Finally, Boise State's not afraid to take bold offensive actions, like the famous hook-and-ladder play against Oklahoma, the Wildcat pass, or the fake wide receiver screen draw play, all used in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl:

There's a lot more in Coach Kuchar's account, which you can read with a click here. But Virginia Tech's preparation was the reason they almost beat Boise State and arguably the reason they lost to James Madision, thus contributing to Boise State's drop in the polls this week.

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