Bearcat Red Zone Defense Creates Irish Pick

By FirstDown PlayBook on Oct 3, 2021

When we first saw this Cincinnati Bearcat red zone defense yesterday, we were pretty sure it was a green dog pressure. Bearcat linebacker #0 Darian Beavers came on a delayed blitz and got right in the Notre Dame quarterback’s throwing lane.

This caused an ill advised pass. Corner back Ahmad Gardner took advantage of it with the pick. This ended an early Notre Dame drive. It also set the tempo for the afternoon as Cincinnati showed they are not only in this class they are near the top of it.

There were a lot of moving parts with this football play, just like most. Notre Dame was moving the football with different varieties of the mesh concept. This was despite the fact that the Bearcats were in zone coverage a lot. The mesh concept is normally better vs man coverage. It is still good vs zone if your receivers do it right.

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The receivers have to sit down in the holes and not run through zones. On this play, Notre Dame motioned to a 3×1 formation before the snap. The Cincinnati red zone defense bumped the coverage which indicated they were in zone coverage again. When the ball was snapped though, they brought five man pressure. Or at least it looked like five man pressure.

Either Beavers saw the protection back block or he was on a cross dog. Either way he wisely altered his path away from the back to end up directly in the quarterback’s face. The QB was desperately looking for a hot outlet or somewhere to get rid of the ball.

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When it rains it pours because the Notre Dame tight end #87 fell down and was nowhere to be found. He was helping to chip on the rush end on the way out to his route. This is where the play should have been either extended, the ball thrown away or take a sack. Instead this red zone defense forced the Irish gave up an important 3 points.

If you are an Irish fan or coach, you will surely be quick to point out that you had 6 to block 6 so it should have been picked up. However that is the nature of red zone plays where things happen very fast! Tap on the drawing and take a look at the play right here. You be the judge. What red zone defense did the Bearcats have dialed up?