With his arrival in Ann Arbor this past fall, Don Brown did not disappoint as he led Michigan to the #1 ranked defense in college football this past season. Brown approaches defense the way offensive coordinators approach offense. His schemes are very creative and he will continue to play aggressive for four quarters.
I am by no means an expert on Don Brown’s defense but thanks to James Light, I have a solid understanding of the scheme. Go follow James for more Don Brown content as he is always tweeting about it on his Twitter account.
While studying Michigan’s defensive tape from 2016 I was intrigued by a corner blitz that I saw occur multiple times. The blitz is known as ‘Kamikaze Web’ in Don Brown’s playbook. The defense shows the allusion of a 2-High coverage pre-snap, which they often play. Post-snap they blitz the C and W with the coverage rotating to the blitz.
The Corner and Will are blitzing off the weak side while the Free Safety and Dime Safety are rotating to the side of the blitz. Don Brown’s most common coverages behind his blitzes are City, man-coverage, and a Cover 2 trap.
To the side of the blitz the FS is rotating down playing a “Sight” technique. “Sight” in Don Brown terminology is where the defensive back is trapping the flats with no pressure of rerouting or defending the #1 wide receiver as he is handled by the safety. By trapping the flats this helps take away any quick throws from the quarterback into the blitz.
The D safety is rotating from the other side of the field to play the deep 1/2 of the field from where the blitz is coming from. The M is dropping into coverage playing a “Hole” technique. Below is a detailed explanation of the “Hole” technique from Don Brown’s 2012 UCONN Linebacker Manual.
To the field the C is playing “Side” technique. “Side” technique is a traditional Cover 2 cornerback technique where he is playing outside to prevent an outside release by the wide receiver. The R is dropping from his alignment into the deep 1/2 into the field. The S is playing a “Hash” technique where he is playing the Curl/Flat area. Below is another detailed explanation of the “Hash” drop in Don Brown’s 2012 UCONN Linebacker Manual.
Below is an example of Don Brown dialing up ‘Kamikaze Web’ versus Penn State. Michigan already has the game put out of reach yet Brown is still heating up the blitzes. This blitz coming from the backside of a Trips formation. The offensive line slides to the right after the play-action fake leaving a one-on-one with the cornerback versus the tight end.
Here is another example in which Don Brown dials up ‘Kamikaze Web’ against a Trips formation in their match-up with Ohio State.
You can find a blitz structure eerily similar to this in Nick Saban’s 2015 Alabama Playbook. This comes from Saban’s ‘X-front’ package.
While also studying the New England Patriots defense this off-season I saw Matt Patricia and Bill Belichick dial up another similar blitz structure, this time playing Tampa 2 behind it. I like the ‘delay blitz’ that Patricia and Belichick have attached to theirs as when the offensive line see Hightower pop out they are likely to turn and look for work and he can shoot the ‘B’ gap leaving the tackle with a two-on-one versus the linebacker and corner.New England likes to bring this blitz out of their Dime package with six defensive backs on the field.
Here it is again versus Pittsburgh in their regular season match-up.
I thoroughly enjoy studying defenses such as Belichick’s, Saban’s and Don Brown’s because they are extremely aggressive and are multiple in what they do. You can see with these examples above that all coaches steal from each other in a sense as all of these blitzes are structured the same employing a trap coverage with a corner blitz.