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Monday, July 14, 2014

The Vertical Set and Carolina's Pass Protection

One of the biggest offensive changes of 2013 went fully unnoticed, with
a single blip against Buffalo its only real telltale sign.

Carolina, like essentially the whole league, used a kick-slide technique
with their tackles, a modestly reacting set of steps designed to push
the contain rusher outward. It's the essence of what makes a passing
pocket. It's stanrard.

And yet, last year, Carolina's tackles went to the Vertical Set. It's
a staple of many spread type teams, and certainly more reactive - it
resets the line of scrimmage to, if I were to guess, about as far as the
OT is willing to retreat , where he anchors and strikes the defender.
The rusher, on the other hand, has less time to react, can't get his
hands on the OT until late, and therefore there's even less time to make
a move. You really can't be beaten outside easily, the inside is
compact, and the OT has leverage.

In theory.

Byron Bell struggled heavily with the vertical set against Mario
Williams, which is what got it noticed in the first place. Eventually
he settled down - and Jordan Gross rode it to a Pro Bowl. For what it's
worth, the strategy can work - both Gross and Bell rated very, very high
with two seconds to throw (source: ). Gross excelled throughout, rating high deeper in time, but nonetheless, the Vertical Set can provide you a little extra time.

2014 will show whether it's a matter of the talent or the scheme, since
Gross and Travelle Wharton (rated high as well at guard) are gone. Bell
and Nate Chandler are the top two, though it's hard to say where Garry
Williams ends up.

I'll fully cover the line soon, possibly tomorrow, but I found the
Vertical Set quite interesting, and more info can be found at various
college football strategy sites, such as:

This is another reason to further the argument that the LT isn't
necessarily the most important lineman. The center makes the calls,
and the two tackles hold the edges. I can't find one more critical than
the others.

I'll push that a step further - Carolina was in shotgun about 74.5% of
the time last year, and that was considered "average" by statisticians With the gun, you're not taking these huge
sideways strides to get to throwing position. So if your shoulders are
generally more square, the entire time, is there really a 'blind side'
at all?
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