The Duke Blue Devils lost to the Miami Hurricanes in a Friday night Week 5 ACC matchup. Badly. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t some impressive things from Duke, specifically their pass rush. They logged three sacks on the night, but the play that caught my eye when watching live wasn’t a sack at all.
Down 17-6 mid way through the third quarter the Blue Devils needed a spark. All game it felt like they were close to pulling even with the Hurricanes, they just needed something to get the home crowd going and the offense producing. What they needed, was their pass rush.
On this 2nd and 12 at the Miami 40 yard line the Blue Devils are looking at a 2×2 double slot formation from the Hurricanes offense, who are in 11 personnel. Duke has their nickel 4-2-5 defense on the field for this play.
Duke is going to throw a lot at the Miami offensive line from a scheme perspective on this snap. In fact, they’re going to be combining two pass rushing stunts into one play, which will result in a lot of movement for the Hurricanes OL to handle.
The majority of this design is made up from what is known as a Weak E / Strong T stunt. The strong weak side defensive end and defensive tackle both crash inside, while the strong side DT loops behind both players to rush on the edge. Here’s the basic design from the 2003 New England Patriots playbook:
However, that’s not the only thing Duke will run on this play. They’ll also add a basic End / Tackle exchange on the backside of the rush. An End / Tackle (also known as E/T) exchange is where the defensive end crashes inside, and the tackle loops behind them to rush from the edge. Again from the Patriots playbook:
So how do the Blue Devils engage in two pass rush stunts on one play, when one of them involves three rushers? They have the weakside defensive tackle do two jobs. He is one of the crashers on the Weak E / Strong T stunt, but he’ll also play the role of the looper in the E/T exchange. This allows two stunts in one play, as you can see below:
It ends up being the strong side defensive end, Drew Jordan (#86), who was the crasher in the E/T exchange. He is able to knife into the right B-gap and get right into the quarterback’s face. Without anywhere to step into the throw, Miami QB Malik Rosier (#12) throws the ball well over his intended receiver, resulting in an interception.
However, it wasn’t all individual effort from Jordan that caused the pressure. Miami right guard Navaughn Donaldson (#55) is fooled by the stunts up front from Duke. He sees Duke DT Edgar Cerenord (#92), the DT who is involved in both stunts, coming from the offensive left side of the field. He watched Cerenord loop across without noticing Jordan crashing past him on his right. The RT for Miami, Tyree St. Louis (#78), tries to keep Jordan from the QB, but is unsuccessful.
The Blue Devils needed a spark, and they got one. It just didn’t lead to anything on offense, as they would fall 31-6 in Durham, NC. However, the play above was a bright spot for the now 4-1 Blue Devils, who should try and build on the success of the pass rush in ACC play.