Film Study: beating the Bear front

Patrick Murray breaks down Virginia Tech's "Bear" front and how the Vols can counteract it.

It’s time for Film Study: Battle at Bristol Edition.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the chess match between Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster and Butch Jones and Mike DeBord.

Foster has been known to come up with completely different schemes for a big game like this.

For example, 2014, when he broke out the old "Bear" front to bottle up Ohio State’s run game and the Hokies upset the eventual national champion Buckeyes in Columbus.

The Bear front employs a nose tackle lined up right on top of the center and two ends lined up inside the tackles, covering the guards. Plus two additional defenders on the line of scrimmage.

This eliminates the double teams that make inside zone and gap scheme runs so successful. Things that both Ohio State and Tennessee like to run often.

The Vols came up with a solution to the Bear front... a “Bear beater” dual sweep that they deployed against Alabama last season.

It takes advantage of the position of the defenders by having the tackles block down on the ends lined up inside of them, with both guards pulling in opposite directions to the edge to serve as lead blockers and eliminate the outside linebackers.

Josh Dobbs reads the weakside linebacker to determine if he will give it to the running back or keep it himself.

Tennessee ran the play twice for 38 yards against Alabama and also had great success with it against Kentucky, including a Josh Dobbs touchdown and Alvin Kamara’s 64-yard run.

Surely Virginia Tech has noticed this play on tape.. I’m interested to see how they defend it and how Tennessee adjusts to that.

Let’s go back to the Hokies Bear front.

Notice how many guys are in the box near the line of scrimmage.... Eight guys!

Foster likes to walk his safeties up into the box to help with run.. often leaving his corners in what’s called Cover 0... man coverage with no safety help.

Tennessee’s receivers will have one-on-one matchups that they’ll need to win and the Vols will have to throw the ball down the field to beat the Hokies.

This isn’t the only scheme will see from the Hokies.. They’ll mix it up and they’ll bring some blitzes too.. And who knows, Foster might even come up with something completely different for the Vols.. but I think it’s a good bet that he tries to take away the inside run game and makes Tennessee beat him in the air.


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