Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Scrap man-to-man vs. Pack, Wilson

If they hadn't already done it, ACC defensive coordinators should be scrapping any plans to play man-to-man coverage against quarterback Russell Wilson after watching film of N.C. State's 38-31 win over Pittsburgh.

Panthers coach Dave Wannstedt said after the game that Wilson had mostly stayed in the pocket for the first three games. Perhaps Pittsburgh used a lot of man-to-man coverages against the Wolfpack because the coaching staff didn't think Wilson would scramble.

Man-to-man defenses can work great against offenses whose quarterbacks never venture out of the pocket. If the cornerbacks and safeties can lock down the receivers on their own, the front seven can devote all its attention to the rushing quarterback and stopping the run.

But man-to-man can be disastrous against a mobile quarterback. With the defensive backs concentrating solely on the receivers, the quarterback can run almost forever if he can escape the pass rush.

That's what happened on fourth-and-14 in the fourth quarter against Pittsburgh, when Wilson got loose for a 21-yard run on what was supposed to be a passing play.

"They were in man coverage and everybody was run off, and (he) was able to take off on the boundary," said N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien. "That was a key scramble of the football game for us."

Taking advantage of Pittsburgh's defensive approach, Wilson rushed for a career-high 91 yards. He said he still will look to pass first instead of running regardless of what the coverage is.

But he's bound to get loose as a runner if defensive backs are devoted solely to downfield coverage responsibilities.

"When people are running with their back toward you, you can get more yards," Wilson said. "It's pretty much as simple as that."

Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

Easier said than done. If you cannot get a good pass rush with just your front 4, most often you have to blitz from the LB, S, or CB position. Those blitzes result in man-to-man coverage. Are you suggesting team play solely zone coverage against Wilson? It's just not that simple.

Anonymous said...

Note to ACC defensive coordinators: Refer to every game Wilson has played post Clemson last year. Nobody has remotely stopped him but U-SC. And I truly believe the only reason that happened is he was "stay in the pocket minded" and the pressure was getting there so fast his "take off clock" was not on par with the pass rush speed. Until you have an all everything LB like Norwood breathing down his neck every play, you'll just have to suffer the results of a very very good QB.