Michigan Wolverines Football: Coach Shafer's Defense as He Told Us at the Clinic

ErocWolverineSenior Writer IJuly 13, 2008

Coach Shafer at Michigan will be playing a base 4-3 defense. The defense will have four goals.  1) Stop the Run. 

2) Get to the Quarterback, and then hit him in the mouth—Coach Shafer’s exact words!  3) Get to the backup Quarterback.  4) Intercept the football, create turnovers, and score if possible.  Defenders who did not properly pursue the ball and fly to it, were benched in a big hurry. This pack mentality was such a great improvement and exciting to watch.  Much of the blitzing came out of nickel packages. In addition, the safeties, even at ten yards depth fill like Linebackers when they read run. What Coach Shafer talked about was the base defense that should and needs to be very basic. Keeping the base simple allows defense to be more aggressive.

Complex defenses require way to much thinking to be aggressive. Coach Shafer relies on defense being fundamentally strong, schemes and packages being sound, and playing hard.   Coach Shafer was asked at this coach’s clinic, about giving up big plays do to his aggressive nature. In addition, he does not think this true. His theory is that as long as you play positional sound, fundamentally strong football you should not give up any more big plays than in conservative defenses.

I agree. It is not the aggressive style of play that leads to big plays. In Coach Shafer’s own words, keep the offense in front, between the hashes, and tackle, and you will be in good shape defensively  Michigan will determine a number defender at line of scrimmage by number of “bigs” the offense has in the game. A "big" was defined as Tight End, Tail Back / Running Back, or Full Back / Running Back. If the offense has three "bigs," Michigan's defense will play what Coach Shafer referred to as nine-man front.  Therefore, against a standard pro set/formation, Tight End, Tail Back, and Full Back in game Michigan will have two Cornerbacks in press coverage and four Defensive linemen and three Linebackers. If the offense has two "Bigs" in game, Michigan will have eight-man front.

Therefore, if the offense has one Running Back and Tight End in the game Michigan will have two Cornerbacks in press coverage, four Defensive linemen, and two Linebackers.   There are two additional rules Michigan will use.  1) If the offense adds a blocker, we add a defender. If the offense plays, two Tight Ends with I formation, Michigan will add a safety to the front and play a 10-man front.  2) If they walk, we walk. If the offense takes a Tailback and either line him up or motion him into the slot, or if they flex a Tight End, Michigan will take one of their defenders from the front and walk them with offensive player.  Secondary Play: 1) Michigan will have a Cornerback who will play into the boundary or short side of the field.  2) Michigan will have what Michigan calls halfback, and will play him to the field.  3) Free Safety will line up to strength of formation.  4) Strong Safety will be the field safety.  Safeties are at 10 yards off line of scrimmage and they generally key and lineup over No. 2 receiver. Where the nine comes from is Coach Shafer counts the press corner as being on line of scrimmage.  In base, he is lined up off line of scrimmage with rest of the Linebackers. However, they did have adjustments where Strong Linebacker lined up on line of scrimmage, covering Tight End and Defensive End stemming down over Offensive Tackle.  In scrimmage our safeties, S. Brown, Stewart, and Williams were making plays. S. Brown returned interception for touchdown, possible two!  Front four:  1) 1-tech Defensive Tackle will play inside shade of either Offensive Center or Offensive Guard depending on call, and can be to either wide or short side of the field. He can also line up to either strength or away from strength of formation.  2) 3-tech Defensive Tackle. Other Defensive Tackle will play outside shade of Offensive Guard opposite the 1-tech Defensive Tackle.  3) Defensive Ends will play either outside shade of Offensive Tackles, or if lined up over Tight End will either play head up, or inside shade.  Linebackers:  1) Middle Linebacker plays head up on the Offensive Center.  2) Weak side Linebacker plays either away from the Tight End, or to short side if field if no Tight End.  3) Strong side Linebacker plays either over the Tight End, or to wide side of field if no Tight End.  This is just the base formations, Michigan has many adjustments depending on offense's personal in the game, formations, are they lined up into the boundary or to the wide side of field, etc. The Final rule Coach Shafer gave us was whenever secondary is in trouble, check to cover 2.  In new scheme, safeties are primarily pass defenders. The way Michigan is lining up safeties, Free Safety will go with trips formation or other multiple set Wide Receivers.

This is more important than wide side of field. Wide side of field or boundary only comes into play if offense is in balanced set. Formation is the primary focus.  Middle Linebacker needs to be able to fill or scrap equally in either direction, that is why heads up. If Tight End is in game, Michigan will stem the front/Defensive Tackles to the Tight End to help balance and add strength to that side instead of shading Linebacker.  written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine  Thanks for stopping by http://gobluemichiganwolverine.blogspot.com/ If you have any questions please e-mail erocwolverine@gmail.com