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Film Study: The Defensive Alignment That Creates Emmanuel Ogbah Sacks



Emmanuel Ogbah Sack

I have a feeling I’ll get the chance to break down quite a few plays by No. 38 throughout the season. As great as he was last season, Ogbah has had another offseason to get even bigger, faster and stronger, and I feel like it’s showing.

He’ll undoubtedly be receiving more attention from opposing offenses in the form of double team blocks, but it really might not matter too much with how quick he is. With all that being said, let’s look at his latest freakish display of athleticism.

What the offense was doing

As you can see, Central Arkansas is lined up in the familiar shotgun formation. Although we can’t see where they are located, we know that there are three receivers split out wide.

The RB is to the left of the QB and the TE is lined up outside the right tackle. Although the guards are in a three-point stance, both tackles and the TE are in a two-point stance, which is a good sign it’s about to be a passing play.

With only limited visibility, it’s hard to tell what routes the WRs, TE and RB are running, but it doesn’t matter on this play.

What the defense was doing

In the screen, we can see OSU has four defensive linemen and three linebackers, which indicates that it is in its base 4-3 package. This camera angle is neat because it allows us to get a better view at how the defense is lined up and what gap assignments each player in the front seven has.

When it comes to the technicalities of defense, gap assignments are among the most important. You’ve probably heard the term “gap assignment” mentioned by a coach or TV analyst a few times. Without getting too much into it (there will be other plays throughout the year to better illustrate the point), a gap assignment refers to where a lineman or linebacker lines up before the snap and where they position themselves once the ball is snapped.

It’s crucial every player in the front seven correctly executes his assignment because if he doesn’t fill a gap, it allows the RB, or whomever, an open running lane And in the case of a passing play, like this one, a failed assignment could result in the QB having an easier window to throw or being able to tuck it and scramble for yards.

Here’s an image that does a great job showing the numbering for gap assignments:

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 2.19.10 PM

Even numbers mean the player lines up directly on the offensive lineman — a DT lined up directly across from the center is in a 0-technique. Odd numbers mean the player lines up on the outside shoulder of the offensive lineman — a DE lined up on the outside shoulder of the tackle is in a 5-technique.

Numbers with an “i” next to them essentially mean the player is lined up on the inside shoulder of whatever o-lineman he’s across from.

Now, back to how the OSU defense is utilizing gap assignments on this play. Using the graphic above for reference, we know that DT Vincent Taylor is in a 0-technique, DT Motekiai Maile a 3-technique, and DE’s Jimmy Bean and Ogbah both in 5-techniques.

Why this worked for OSU

The ball is snapped and Taylor draws a double team from the C and RG, while Maile is being blocked by the LG. This is great because that leaves Bean and Ogbah in one-on-one situations, perfect for allowing them to showcase their elite-level of athleticism.

When you have a defense as explosives as OSU’s going against a team like UCA, you have to like the odds for your DE to make a play when in a 1-on-1 situation with a lineman.

Ogbah is too fast and too strong for the LT on this play. In fact, Ogbah is so quick off the line that he forces the RB to adjust his route by a few steps. From that point, it was just a matter of Ogbah rounding the corner and closing in on the QB for the sack.

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