Saturday, September 14, 2019

2019 Purdue Offense vs. TCU Defense

X & O geeks have been waiting all off-season for this match-up between two of the best in the business: Purdue's Jeff Brohm and the nation's top passing Offense vs. TCU's Gary Patterson and his 4-2-5 Defense.  It will be a classic Offense vs. Defense chess match extraordinaire.  




Brohm vs. Patterson
Jeff Brohm is beginning his third season at Purdue and is assembling the pieces to create an offensive juggernaut like his teams at Western Kentucky that he led the nation in scoring in his last season in 2016.  Gary Patterson is the godfather of the 4-2-5 Defense that has been ranked number one in the country five times.  He has built the TCU program from scratch into one of the premier programs in the country.  He and Nick Saban are the only two-time winners of the AP Coach of the Year Award.

From the Jeff Brohm Purdue bio page
"Under Brohm, the Hilltoppers averaged 44.6 points, 356.6 passing yards and 526.2 yards of total offense per game over three seasons. Their starting quarterbacks completed 69.2 percent of their passes and threw 131 touchdowns with merely 25 interceptions. The offense averaged 7.3 yards per play, while running 72.1 plays per game. Western Kentucky broke more than 75 school offensive records since 2013, when Brohm served as assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach."

"Western Kentucky ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring offense (No. 6 in 2014, No. 3 in 2015 and No. 1 in 2016), passing offense (No. 2 in 2014, No. 4 in 2015 and No. 5 in 2016) and total offense (No. 4 in 2014, No. 9 in 2015 and No. 5 in 2016) each of Brohm's three seasons as head coach."

Purdue averaged just over 30 points a game and they exploded on the national scene last year by putting up 28 points in the 4th Quarter of a 49-20 rout of previously undefeated Ohio State.  Purdue only finished 6-7 but they had three victories over Top 25 teams.

Gary Patterson's 4-2-5 Defense is seen at all levels of the game.  His revolutionary ideas of divorcing the Front from the Coverage AND divorcing the Read Side Coverage from the Away Side Coverage have changed how pass defense is played in the modern game of football.  

You have to understand Brohm's roots to learn more about his offensive philosophy.  He played under two of the top offensive minds in football with similar styles of Offenses: Andrew Coverdale at Trinity HS (KY) and then at Louisville under Bobby Petrino.  He then served as an Assistant Coach under Petrino and then later got his first experience in coordinating an Offense [Ed. note: Coach Coverdale did not coach Jeff Brohm in HS, he coached his younger brother, Brian Brohm, and Rondale Moore as well.]

2018 notwithstanding, Bobby Petrino was not too long ago considered to be the best playcaller in college football.  He was a leading expert in the passing game but his teams so good because they were extremely balanced.  His Play-Action passing game was second to none at the collegiate level for many years.

Brohm sought to maintain the same offensive balance as his mentor.  I believe his Offense at Western Kentucky, as I mentioned in this article on the Power Screen play, was the best Screen team I have seen on film.  I also was extremely impressed with their Pass Protection in studying their film.  Brohm is also known for Tempo, Gadget plays, and for designing unique Pass concepts to attack a certain Defense, which is why this week's match-up vs. Gary Patterson will be so fascinating to watch.

Gary Patterson has done an amazing job at TCU, taking them from Conference USA to the Mountain West and now to the Big 12 Conference.  The Big 12 is a Defensive Coordinator's nightmare (nobody is leading the nation in scoring Defense with Lincoln Riley in the conference) and TCU has had a couple of uncharacteristically below average seasons vs. these explosive Offenses.  The big thing about Gary Patterson is his ability to adapt his 4-2-5 Defense to combat these Offenses and the RPO threats that have emerged this decade.  

Patterson can easily get into the Odd Fronts, since he divorces his fronts from his coverages.  He has been doing more of this lately and has tweaked some of his base coverages to stay ahead of what Offenses are trying to do with the Run-Pass Option.  They did a very good job last season (great job except for the Oklahoma and West Virginia games), holding seven opponents under 20 points despite a struggling Offense.  If the Offense improves, they can be expected to battle Oklahoma and Texas at the top of the Big 12.

Personnel
The Purdue Offense is built around Heisman candidate Rondale Moore, who is a Percy Harvin clone.  He is quick, fast, and like Percy, is extremely strong for his size and can accelerate from 0-60 like no one else in college football.  He was an All-American as a Freshman last year with 2,215 all purpose yards, including 114 passes for 1,258 and 12 TD’s.  He averaged over 10 yards a play every time he touched the ball.  He has 13 catches for 220 yds and 1 TD already in 2019.  

Rondale Moore will line up everywhere: inside, outside, stacked behind another WR, and in the backfield.  Brohm is masterful in finding ways to get him the ball and he uses the threat of #4 to get other guys open and to create explosive plays.  Here is a play of him lined up in the backfield with fast motion, opening up the vertical route on the Fake Screen Pass for a TD in their first game vs. Nevada.


Senior QB Elijah Sindelar has emerged as one of the leading passers in the nation.  He tore his ACL at the end of his Sophomore year and didn't play much last year as a Junior.  Sindelar has had consecutive 400 yard passing games, the first time a Purdue QB to do so since Drew Brees in 1998.  He leads the nation in passing yards and is tied for 1st in TDs, but he has thrown 3 Ints, which is uncharacteristic for a Jeff Brohm Offense built on efficiency and eliminating mistakes.  He had a mild concussion last week and is listed as a game-time decision.  If he can't go, Jake Plummer (not related to the Jake Plummer) will get the start.

The Base Personnel group for Purdue is 11 Personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, and then 3 WRs), with #89 Brycen Hopkins being another versatile piece in the Offense that makes this Offense go.  He is a big (6'5" 245) and athletic H-Back who can effectively line up at TE, FB, or WR.  He has 9 catches for 125 yards and 3 TDs so far this year and expects to be a focal point in the gameplan with all of the attention that will be given to Rondale Moore. 

Jeff Brohm said this about TCU's Defense (from Rivals Gold and Black page):

"This is a very good TCU team. We will have our hands full with their defense. They have two really good defensive tackles and two really good cornerbacks. They move around, they shift their coverage. Their line movement concerns us.

"Coach (Gary) Patterson is really aggressive in his play and he has coached defense for a very long time. He is very creative. He will prepare for a team on a week-by-week basis and you will face some things against them you have not seen before."
TCU's strengths at the CB positions outside are negated somewhat by Purdue's strengths of having Rondale Moore in the Slot and H-Back Brycen Hopkins inside.  Purdue's outside WRs are good (Ahmad Anderson has 10 catches for 104 yards and is a threat) and can beat teams with lesser corners, but they will not have as much space to work vs. TCU's talent on the outside.
Purdue has some real weapons but unfortunately they have one area of weakness that will be difficult to overcome: the Offensive Line.  Brohm, like Petrino before him, loves to pound the ball with the running game to help create explosive plays in the Play-Action passing game, but the running game has not yet emerged this year.  Sindelar has been effective on the QB Draw RPO, but more is needed from RB #40 Zander Horvath, who has 81 yards but only 3.0 yards per carry.  

Purdue lost a 17-point lead to Nevada due to turnovers and their inability to run the ball.  Sindelar must be able to protect the football better.  Some of his mistakes can be attributed to getting happy feet because of protection issues.  They were only sacked once vs. Nevada but gave up 7 TFLs in the run game.  They improved and gave up 0 Sacks vs. Vanderbilt, but still had 6 TFLs, and those cause an Offense to get off-schedule in getting first downs.  Purdue is inexperienced up front, with only two returning starters.  Making matters worse is that Purdue's most experienced lineman, RG Matt McCann, was banged up last week and is questionable.

Purdue Gameplan
I made a video of Purdue's explosive plays from the first two weeks of the 2019 season.  You will notice that Jeff Brohm lines up #4 Rondale Moore and H-Back #89 Brycen Hopkins in a lot of different positions.  

Explosive plays can create even more explosive plays, especially with Tempo.  If you notice the time on the clock, Purdue ran the Gadget play with the fast motion Fake Screen immediately right after another explosive play.  If Brohm has the defense on its heels, he will not hesitate to strike.


I would expect Brohm to utilize 12 personnel sets more than he has so far to try to establish a running game vs. TCU and to help set up their Play-Action Passing game.  I expect to see the Down play from a 12 personnel TE-Wing set that Brohm has run with much success in the past.  Here are some Key Plays and Red-Zone TDs from 2019 Purdue.



Purdue will need the threat of the run game to create some explosive plays and to keep the TCU DL from pinning their ears back.  The use of 12 personnel and having two TE bodies in the core should keep the TCU DL honest and force them to slow down to play the Run.  I think 12 personnel with Rondale Moore at RB and motion to Empty sets could be very effective.  Play 11 in the Explosive Plays video was a Play-Action Post from 12 personnel and Brohm has a lot of ways to attack opponents in the Play-Action game.  Also, while explosive plays are important, Purdue will not win if they cannot protect the football.  They had 10 explosive plays vs. Nevada but it was negated by 5 turnovers.  They did much better vs. Vanderbilt, only turning the ball over once.

I also expect Purdue to lean heavily on Tempo and on the Screen game to slow down the TCU pass rush.  Also, you could see the Arrow RPO concept as another way to get the ball into Rondale Moore's hands.  Here are some examples on film of their WR Jailbreak Screen, RB Screen, and the Arrow RPO.  Like I mentioned earlier, Brohm is second to none in coaching up the Screen game.


TCU Gameplan
TCU's base defense is a 4-2-5 Nickel, but I expect TCU to play some Dime ($2 is TCU's Dime player), with a 4-1 or 3-2 Front to help defend against the Pass and to give them an extra man on the perimeter to defend the Screen game that Brohm is known for.  If TCU can stop the Run in Dime personnel, it will be a very tough night for Purdue.  The advantage of playing a Dime front is that they will be able to play 3 over 2 to both sides of a 2x2 set and not give Rondale Moore room to operate in the boundary slot:




I believe Gary Patterson will look to take advantage of an inexperienced Purdue OL and heat them up, especially if the starting QB, Sindelar is not able to play.  Patterson is known for his Man pressures: Smokes, Bullets, and Dogs; but in recent years he has run more of the 2 High Zone Blitzes (this one would be easily effective pressure to blitz the formation vs. a 12 personnel TE-Wing set) and Creepers/Simulated Pressures to complement his pressure package.


When he is not bringing heat, expect Gary Patterson to take away his opponent's biggest strength and run some Cover 1 Double #4 to bracket Rondale Moore.  Coach Vass did a great job detailing how to double team a WR who lines up in multiple spots, which you will be guaranteed to see with #4 on Saturday night.  TCU will also be prepared for motion from #4 and the Safeties will need to adjust who has the bracket and who has the deep Middle of the Field (MOF).


If TCU plays base coverage, they cannot be distracted by Rondale Moore and ignore their assignments, like Nevada did on the first video with #4 on fast motion and the Fake Screen play.  TCU is very well-coached on the back end and their eye discipline will be key in preventing big plays.


Playing Zone coverage and having extra eyes on Rondale Moore to help contain him on any short receptions will definitely be a part of the gameplan.  Tackling will be a point of emphasis this week as Rondale Moore is a small, fast, and quick target who can make people miss; but he is also strong and powerful, so he can break tackles and stiff-arm foes with equal ease.  Luckily for TCU, they get work trying to tackle Jalen Reagor everyday in practice, so I expect they should be able to minimize YAC (Yards After Catch) from Rondale Moore for the most part.

Prediction
Gary Patterson has had an extra week to prepare and he is well aware of what Purdue is trying to do with Rondale Moore, as he does many of the same things on TCU's Offense with Jalen Reagornot only finding creative ways to get the football into his hands but using the threat of him to open up big-play opportunities for the rest of his teammates.  

I find it a bit surprising that the Frogs are 3.5 point underdogs even though they are on the road.  Purdue's loss to Nevada was made worse by Nevada getting trounced 77-6 by Oregon last week.  Purdue was 5-2 when they rushed for more than 100 yards or more last year, but they were 1-5 when they failed to reach the century mark.  This year they are 1-1 after failing to reach 100 yards in both games.  They won't solve their problems up front in the Run game this week and despite the amazing Rondale Moore and Gary Patterson joking about TCU having 5 QBs still fighting for the starting job, the Frogs D will be too much.  I am picking the Frogs to win by at least a TD.  The game is at 7:30 pm EST on the Big Ten network.


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