December 30, 2011

Scouting Report: Virginia

The 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl is one day away as Auburn is set to square off against Virginia. What strengths do the 'Cavs bring into the game and what the Tigers must do to overcome them for its eight win.



Virginia Offense




Offensively, the Cavaliers use multiple formations with different personnel packages to create mismatches in certain areas and catch opposing defenses misaligned. Virginia relies on a strong ground attack to open up the passing game.

The Cavaliers motion receivers and backs regularly attempting to create confusion for opposing defenses in both the running and passing game. Motioning different players out of multiple formations forces defenses to play less man coverage and stick to more traditional zone coverages.

The Auburn defense has to be able to get lined up correctly and make the right checks in order to have success against a Virginia unit that motions throughout the game. On the ground the 'Cavs use zone-blocking concepts to create creases for junior running back Perry Jones to reach the second level of the defense.

Virginia's bread and butter is the counter-zone play out of a single tight-end I-formation set. After the snap, the backside guard pulls to seal the play-side linebacker. The center blocks back on the vacant gap left by the pulling guard and the tight end cleans up the edge player backside.

The Cavaliers also rely heavily on the traditional zone out of a two- back set in the shotgun formation using the off-back as the edge blocker to create a hole outside of the play-side defensive end.

Traditionally, the zone is supposed to hit inside the tackles, normally in the B to C gaps with an available cut back in the backside A-gap. Virginia's version of the zone is setup to bounce outside of the widest man on the line of scrimmage and leave the back with a one-on-one matchup with the outside linebacker.

Once the Cavaliers have established their zone attack they will change it up by running isolations and leads out of the same I-formation.

The easiest way to shut down the Cavalier's version of the zone is slanting the defensive line and using an overhang-player to spill the lead blocker on the edge.

Defenses get in trouble defending the zone when they use stunts upfront to try and create penetration in the backfield. Zone blocking allows offensive linemen the ability to focus on one area and defensive stunts are ineffective because the offensive line isn't worried about an individual defender.

To be successful on Saturday the Auburn defense has to keep Virginia's biggest running threat, Jones. inside the box and contain the edge where the 'Cavs want the play to hit. If the Tigers can eliminate Virginia's zone runs and force Cavalier starting quarterback Michael Rocco to beat them through the air, Auburn should be in good shape defensively.

Virginia's passing game is predicated on luring the defense up with play-action or heavy formations with a fullback and single tight-end. Rocco hasn't shown the ability to sit back in the pocket and pick apart zone coverage for an entire game in any of his 12 starts this year.

The Cavs will line up in trips and doubles from under center or in the shotgun attempting to spread the defense out opening up lanes for the intermediate to deep passing game. Typically, the heavy wide receiver sets have been shown out of the shotgun with a single back and split-end to the short side. Virginia rarely uses play-action passes out of heavy receiver sets with a single running back in the shotgun. ...

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