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Subverting Anticipation via Strategic Deployment of Four Verticals

Part 156 of a neverending series of passing game propaganda.

Okay, look, here's what it comes down to: I'm getting antsy about the start of the season. It's not nerves, though - it's the desire to watch the passing game. Yeah, I know - contain your shock. Typically, I've gotten this out of my system one of two ways:

  • Reading about football strategy and figuring out how play design and coaching works. (Yeah, I know, nobody saw that coming.)
  • Flash-testing these theories.
Now, if I only had some kind of piece of software that lets me test these theories ...oh, right. Thanks, EA. For what it's worth, they've done a decent job at figuring out how pass defense works and should work - 15-foot MLB o'doom aside. (Yeah, good luck with that post route, kid.)

The reason I've enjoyed using the EA series in years past has less to do with the actual mechanics of the game and more the mechanics of identifying the coverage - and, as a result, what's going to work. A lot of wrinkles that Tyler Bray will get to use this year (think either/or playcalls, multiple option routes with multiple WRs, run/pass options (hi, Bob Davie!)) aren't in the game, simply because they're totally foreign concepts for most gamers. That's fine; the game can and should worry about the average gamer, and I'll be okay.

Still, that doesn't mean there's a shortage of things to look at. My defensive understanding has increased significantly simply by seeing how the defense lines up (both through watching video and video games), and I'm totally the kind of person who'd use games less as an opportunity to win and more of an opportunity to practice tactical decisions (see how I play FIFA 12 for example, and I should've probably warned Will I was about to talk about soccer there). That's simply because anything the defense does, I should have a response - and so should Bray and the Tennessee offense.

Corners aligning in to force receivers to the inside? I should have an answer. (Levels, possibly, but the answers vary.)

Two-deep coverage against a route that has two guys going deep? I should have an answer (why hello, vertical stretch routes against corners).

Corners cheating up toward the line? I should have an answer (hot routes!).

Obvious personnel imbalance in the box? I should have an answer (my answer looks like Power O; your answer can vary).

One-deep coverage and I have a 2x2 set? WOOOOOO FOUR VERTS ALL DAY EVERY DAY.

Some of these things may be built into the play - and it's not like you have to go all Peyton Manning at the line to be able to pull a lot of these off. I mean, you can do that, but is it totally necessary? Probably not. But you will get better at recognizing coverages and the corresponding adjustments - or what should be naturally open. (And yeah, there are probably run game adjustments too, but be realistic.) That's when the fun starts; I started doing this about four seasons ago, and I watch games totally differently now than I did - to say I recommend this would be a huge understatement.

Now, if we could only get ESPN to use the same camera angles live that EA uses, we'd really be in business.

This post was sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 13. Check out the video for the game below.

EA SPORTS NCAA Football 13 TV: "Son" (via EASPORTS)