New Oregon DL coach Tuioti graduated from Hawaii in 2000 and spent time as a high school head coach, as an assistant DL coach with the Cleveland Browns and as a manager of player personnel for Hawaii and Michigan, plus two years as Hawaii’s DL coach. and two more in Honolulu at LB. He’s spent the past five seasons in the Power-5, joining HC Wilcox’s new staff at Cal in 2017 as linebacker coach, moving to the Bears’ defensive line in 2018, then taking the Nebraska DL job in 2019. This article will review the film over these past four seasons.
Cal and Nebraska’s defensive coordinators were Oregon coaches at other times in their careers – Tim DeRuyter for the former and Eric Chander for the latter. Both have used similar patterns that match what Oregon has done in recent seasons, including fronts at 2 and 3, and I expect Tuioti’s line for the Ducks to be a bridge. between last year’s structure and the new Mint/Tite scheme that HC Lanning, DC Lupoi and co-DC Powledge have dragged along.
As discussed in my previous two articles on this defensive staff linked above, I expect the Ducks 2022 defense to transition to a variety of obvious 2-3-6 dime looks on 3.rd passing situations, and I’ve seen something quite similar on Tuioti’s strip over the past four seasons. The main difference is that, unlike Alabama and Baylor who stayed with a Tite front at 3 with a Jack OLB and a nickel DB on virtually all remaining downs, Cal and Nebraska would alternate between a 2-4-5 (two OLBs, no nose) and a 3-4 (two OLB, no nickel) on standard downs. There was also a strong tendency last year in Nebraska to bring out the 3-4 only when the offense had two or more tight ends on the ground; such a trend did not exist with the Bears or the 2019-20 Husker defenses. To learn more about how Wilcox and Baylor HC Aranda deploy Tite fronts differently, here is a great intro.
The reason I think Tuioti’s line will close the gap is because when they were in a 3-4, his three linemen were still in the 4i-0-4i Tite setup that DeRuyter recently adopted (during most of his career he preferred a 5-0-5, but with the increase in spread offenses he switched to the front of Tite obstructing the B gap at some point during his 2012 tenure -2016 at Fresno St). Chander used the same structure in Nebraska. The clips in this article will only include these 4i-0-4i fronts, as I expect them to be the main d-line setup for Oregon in 2022. As with previous articles, these clips are not representative defense of Cal and Nebraska, but illustrative schematic choices that I believe will carry over to Oregon, and Tuioti’s development of linemen within this type of front.
Let’s start with the execution, because even more than the layout, that’s what impressed me the most with Tuioti’s linemen. In this type of 3-man front, the line’s main job is not to get penetration or perform stunts, it’s to control gaps – DEs stay inside the tackle to obstruct the B gap, and the nose gets both A gaps. They make backers (and sometimes DBs) shine by letting them do the edge rush or inside penetration to get tackles and plays from negative distance . I thought Tuioti’s units did a great job in this role, especially since he mostly worked with low to mid 3-star talent… and arguably his best performer was Cal’s nose guard in 2018, Chris Palmer, who was unranked in high school. and has missed Cal dearly over the past three seasons. Some examples:
(Reminder – after pressing play, you can use the left button to slow down any video at 1⁄4 or 1⁄2 speed)
Even though Cal and Nebraska used two OLBs instead of an OLB plus a nickel as I expected in Oregon, I still observed the same basic principle in rushing defense as in all of Tite’s fronts – “spill & kill”. Linemen stay inside tackles and prevent any inside runs, forcing the fullback to bounce outside and giving backers and DBs time to come up (i.e. out of pass coverage) to make the tackle. So while I think these double eagle fronts will be rare in Oregon, readers of the previous two articles should find what they see here to be quite familiar by now:
- :00 – This run is supposed to go through the right B gap of the attack, but the DE closed it completely with a big jump inside, forcing the full back to back up and out where the rest of the defense converges on him. Note that the nose and other EDs keep their eyes on the play, disengage, and move towards the ball carrier as well.
- :10 – Good leverage by the DE here – the RG wants to work him inside but he stays outside to close the B gap while the nose closes that A gap. other side of the formation, but there is no one to account for the ILB on that side and he is patiently playing according to the pattern, so he gets an easy tackle.
- :19 – Note the pre-snap shading as the TE gets moving, now both DEs are inside tackles at the snap against this heavy I formation run. The defense plays this correctly, with the halfback corner and high security uncounted and in position to stop that after just two or three yards, but check the nose and rear DE out of their blocks to stop it even sooner.
- :27 – This is the other way d-liners contribute to stopping the run without tackling themselves – occupying double teams. The RG cannot get the DE out of the B gap and misses the ILB that crosses the A gap. The OLB maintains proper outside leverage to get the back to come back towards him.
The sacrifice Tite’s frontline players make is that they don’t often become the heroes of a game – they don’t come from the edge or enter the backfield based on exotic stunts, and they essentially get the same responsibilities during blitzes. as for standard passes. So the QB sacks and rushes that d-liners help take either the form of releasing a backer or DB to reach the setter, or simply beating your o-lineman directly and getting into the line yourself. back field. I’ve seen a lot of both for Tuioti’s units:
- :00 – Here Cal drops an OLB and brings an ILB on a blitz. The other ILB takes the TE clearing the field to maintain four on three on the ground (and two on one to the limit, with the back remaining to protect). The OLB beats the RT and gets to the QB but he clears, luckily the DE also got past the RG to clean up.
- :09 – It’s still a 3-4, after a big pre-snap move the field side OLB is now over the slot receiver. Nebraska adjusted by slipping an ILB a bit and DE is now outside the tackle; I suspect Oregon would have adjusted differently. Either way, the DE in the 4i position on the other side does a great job of not getting trapped inside and keeping an outside arm free to collapse on the scrambling QB. The flag at the end is for intentional grounding, so it counts as a sack.
- :21 – The DB fails quite dramatically on this jam attempt, so the slot is wide open; it’s something else I doubt Oregon will try. The OLB has done its job and bypassed the RT which annoys the QB (who should have just launched immediately at the top of his fall). The DE crushes the LG so the QB can’t go in that direction, and the nose does a great job of disengaging the center and keeping the pressure on to cause a bad throw.
- :31 – Should look pretty familiar from previous weeks – looks like a blitz but OLBs and DBs back up and ILB comes in the middle instead. Maximum coverage, penetration only rushing four and the other ILB acting as a spy against a rush – that’s much closer to what I expect to see in 2022.