Kan Li / Scout.com

Breaking down the Gators' defense: ECU

A play-by-play look at the defense in the 31-24 win over East Carolina.

SERIES 1: Score 0-0; (ball on -25 yard line): Screen left and Quincy Wilson and Marcell Harris play it well, fight off the block and it goes for (+2) yards. 2nd &8 – Penalty, false start on offense. 2nd &13 – Taven Bryan had a chance at running back in backfield and chose to get the QB who handed off instead of keeping. Back gets a hole and scoots left side for (+7). 3rd &6 – Jalen Tabor had good technique on right outside receiver, but gave up the slant anyway. Nick Washington seemed a bit out of place letting his eyes wander away from where they should be and away from the play. Slant goes for (+13) yards. 1st &10 – Jonathan Bullard gets in the backfield extremely quick plowing by two guys and almost gets a tackle for  loss, but the running back gets (+1) yard before Anzalone cleans it up. 2nd &9 – Another (+20) yard slant hits on Quincy Wilson this time and Antonio Morrison missed a tackle to let the big gain happen. 1st &10 – Penalty false start on offense.  1st &15 – Ivie in there extremely quick but a draw that goes for (+4) yards. 2nd &11 – Come back route with the corners playing way off gets (+5). 3rd &5 – This was the long (+31) yard touchdown throw. Wilson played it about as well as he could play it and just mistimed the jump at the end. Ball was perfectly thrown, but it does appear they were in 2-man coverage and Marcell Harris should have been there to help him out.


DEFENSIVE ISSUES: The two slants were played horrible and that was a constant throughout the game. The touchdown pass needed safety help that wasn’t there.


SERIES 2: Score 0-7; (-20 yard line): Jordan Sherit with a delayed takeoff still makes the tackle at the line of scrimmage when the back was hemmed in. 2nd &10 – Gators bring five forcing a quick throw and Brian Poole is there to break it up on the left sideline. 3rd &10 – Gators bring heat again ECU with a screen pass to the back. Anzalone almost makes tackle in the backfield, but he does manage to get (+5) yards on the play.


BIG PLAYS: Six man front stuffs the running play on 1st down for no yardage.


SERIES 3: Score 3-7; (-25 yard line): Ivie nearly had the running back in the backfield, he got away and rambled Marcus Maye keeps him from getting anywhere in the open field and he gets (+2) yards. 2nd &8 – Inside zone run, didn’t like Anzalone’s posture on that one, he didn’t seem to want to stick his head in and help with the tackle. 3rd &3 - Inside zone again and nice play by Taven Bryan who took on his block then shed the block when the back hit the line of scrimmage and stopped the runner for (+1).


BIG PLAYS: 1st down Ivie so quick in the backfield altering the course of back and Maye with the open field tackle. Bryan on 3rd down with the excellent play in the trenches.


SERIES 4: Score 10-7; (-25 yard line): Power run play to the left. Gators with just 6 in the box. Back gang tackled at the line of scrimmage. 2nd &10 – Quick pass outside on Quincy nets (+5) yards. 3rd &5 – Gators rush just 3 and drop 8.  QB finds a small opening and hits it for (+10). 1st &10 – Pressure from Alex McCalister forces quick pass and underthrown. 2nd &10 – Bullard caved in the right side of the offensive line and the back was then met by Caleb Brantley and McCalister for (-2) yards. Bullard was a total mismatch against their guard play. 3rd &12 – Pressure from inside and QB throws it deep and really threw it away.


BIG PLAYS: Defensive line forced two big plays on 1st and 2nd down.


SERIES 5: Score 10-7; (-27 yard line): Jarrad Davis on a blitz and gets the running back (-7) behind the line of scrimmage. 2nd &17 – Outside screen and Maye forces the fumble that Poole lands on.



BIG PLAYS: Both were huge plays.


SERIES 6: Score 10-7; (-20 yard line): Draw play and CeCe Jefferson and Morrison combine on the tackle for (0) yards.  2nd &10 – TE straight ahead with the Gators backing up on defense and he gets (+9). 3rd &1 – Bullard almost takes handoff in the backfield makes the tackle for (-5) yards. Noticed that Khairi Clark was in on the play.


BIG PLAYS: 1st and 3rd down nasty play by the defensive line.


SERIES 7: Score 10-7; (-30 yard line): ECU gets ball back after roughing the punter… 1st &10 – Lots of pressure everyone covered, QB scrambles and throws into traffic. Almost intercepted. 2nd &10 – Mobile quarterback heads outside and Jarrad Davis lowers the boom and a fumble on the play that gets reversed. 3rd &9 – Delay of game 3rd &14 – Rushing three and Ivie still gets quick pressure on the QB. Play was called grounding so loss of (-7).



BIG PLAYS: All were big plays in the series.  


SERIES 8: Score 10-7; (-22 yard line): Receiver settles down in the middle of the field on a DIG route and the QB finds him with the defense in a zone and for (+14) yards. 1st &10 – Outside pass broken up by Tabor and Harris. 2nd &10 – incomplete pass, thrown short. 3rd &10 – Draw play gets 5 yards.


2nd HALF

SERIES 9: Score 10-7: (-8 yard line): Really nice push from the defensive line on the play and the QB forces the throw too deep and incomplete. 2nd &10 – Short STOP route by slot receiver that gets (+9) yards because defense was on their heels. 3rd &1 – Maye gets rubbed on the outside and loses his guy who gets the 1st down and (+4) yards. 1st &10 – Bryn Cox comes off the right edge like a missile and the QB has to throw it away deep. 2nd &10 – Quick pass on the outside and Tabor hits him hard enough to cough it up. 3rd &10 – Jarrad Davis with great coverage on the crosser and forces an incomplete.


BIG PLAYS: Cox with the fierce rush on 1st down forced a bad down and distance situation.


SERIES 10: Score 10-7: (+28 yard line): Gators bring five in a Deep Cover-1.  Two issues here. Maye lost in coverage and falls down and Duke Dawson was way too deep to defend that much of the field. He has to play shallower or start making a play on the ball the moment it is thrown and he waited on it.


ISSUES: read above.


SERIES 11: Score 17-14; (-25 yard line): Good pressure threw it deep but not really enough time to do anything with it. 2nd &10 – Taven Bryan almost murders the QB who just gets it off on a three yard route that gets (+4). 3rd &6 – Quick pass with more heat and Davis makes the tackle after only (+2) yards.


BIG PLAYS: Constant pressure y the defensive line on that drive.


SERIES 12: Score 17-14; (-34 yard line): Crosser over the middle and Morrison called for Pass Interference. 1st &10 – Entire D-line playing the screen but pushing the O-Line backwards as the QB looks for a receiver. Finally has to throw it away. 2nd &10 – Quick inside toss and Jarrad Davis blows it up on the outside and the play nets (-4) after a swarm of defenders there to make the final tackle. 3rd &14 – More pressure from the outside and Jalen Tabor jumps a quick route outside and takes it to the house for a Pick 6.


BIG PLAYS: Davis blowing up the running play and of course the Pick 6.


SERIES 13: Score 24-14; (-28 yard line): Long pass downfield incomplete after being hurried by outside pass rush. But, Harris called for holding down field. 1st &10 – Marcus Maye with nice coverage on the tight end down the field along the right sideline and he breaks up the pass. 2nd &10 – In a zone defense the slot receiver runs a little inside out route and is left alone in the left flat and gets (+8) on the play. 3rd &2 – Back finds a small crease on a draw play and gets (+4) for the first down. 1st &10 – McCalister hardly touched coming over the left side of the defense and a deep throw from the QB goes sailing a little deep and incomplete. 2nd &10 – QB does a nice job finding a little window for the tight end on a slant move Good for (+15). 1st &10 – Khairi Clark on a tackle from an inside run. (+5) 2nd &5 – Quick flare pass to the running back nets (+7). 1st &10 – Bullard just throws down the right guard and swallows the running back for (-7). 2nd &17 – Ivie has his turn and sacks the QB for loss of (-7). Tack on a personal foul penalty. 3rd & forever – Short dump pass over the middle and the defense backed up and the receiver slips on the grass.


BIG PLAYS: Back to back big losses with Bullard on the RB and Ivie sacking the QB and then the personal foul that pushed them out of FG range.


SERIES 14: Score 24-14; (+34 yard line): Quick slant finds a small window for (+17). 1st &10 – Davis rockets in to get the RB behind the LOS for (-4). 2nd &14 – Wilson falls down in the deep zone and the pass was complete on the outside for (+9). 3rd &5 – Good coverage and QB forced to throw to short guy for (+2).


BIG PLAYS: Davis with the jets to get to the backfield on the (-4) running play.


SERIES 15: Score 31-17; (-34 yard line): Tight end slant for (+8), Nice play action drew away the linebackers attention. 2nd &2 – QB finds a little soft spot behind the linebackers on a crossing pattern that nets (+28). 1st &10 – Screen and Dawson tackles the guy at LOS and strips him of the ball only for it to roll (+4) ahead and land in the arms of an ECU teammate. 2nd &6 – Good pressure and QB has to hurry throw on right side incomplete. 3rd &6 – Another slant on the right side that nets a first down and (+8). The linebackers and safeties keep getting drawn inside by play action leaving wider holes for the slants to be thrown. 1st &10 – Morrison forces a fumble on a screen play, but play is called an incomplete pass. 2nd & 10 – RB screen and Jefferson chases the play all the way from backside to make the tackle at the LOS. 3rd &10 –


ISSUES: The slant pass was big throughout the game and this was a big series for that.


FINAL THOUGHTS: My replay ended early as I mentioned before, right in the middle of that series.

Honestly after watching closely, this was one of the better games from a defensive front standpoint that I can remember. The pressure was relentless and continuous because the guys were substituting. I thought Bullard was the main star, Ivie played very well. McCalister hit the quarterback numerous times. Taven Bryan and CeCe Jefferson had some nice plays in there as well as Bryan Cox. I really thought the defensive line played extremely well.

The linebackers were superb against the run and they bit quite often on play action causing the slant passes to have the desired room to throw and then they couldn’t recover quickly enough. Jarrad Davis had an extremely nice game though, especially at or behind the line of scrimmage.

It seemed like Quincy Wilson and Jalen Tabor were in on every play. I can’t fault Quincy on the first touchdown, he played it near perfectly. I think Marcell Harris should have been there to help as a Cover-2 safety and he didn’t. Tabor played very well as in all-star caliber.

The safeties had issues in man coverage, especially Maye. There were a couple of plays he made in coverage, but I wouldn’t have him cover anymore if possible. They have to play smarter on play action and were burnt a few times with it on quick plays. I also think missing Keanu Neal and Vernon Hargreaves in the game hindered communication and just overall play in the secondary. That looks to be fixed this week.

Overall I can’t complain about the play calling on defense. Sure they play more zone than we have seen in a while, but the D-Line to me is getting in there really quickly and they were short at the CB position going into the game. Let’s see if that continues.



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