2016 Football Review, Part 2: Bear Fronts and Stemming

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Bud Foster
Bud Foster didn’t use as many Bear fronts this year. (Ivan Morozov)

Link to Part 1

Some aspects of Coach Foster’s 2016 squad we saw coming. As promised, the defensive backfield took up a heckuva lot more zone and read coverage, even against balanced sets where straight-up man coverage is more likely. And I’ll give myself a little pat on the back.  I figured Foster would be comfortable enough letting his corners play however Coach Mitchell wanted them to, and it ended up looking that way.  The extreme, angled stances often seen in prior years were absent; instead, Mitchell’s guys usually aligned head-up on receivers and only declared their positioning after the snap.  I also had an inkling from watching WVU games that they’d throw in more catch-man and more quick jams, and that was the case, too.

But Coach Foster had a few tricks that caught me by surprise.

1) Not So Bullish on the Bear

I missed wide when I figured the Bear—a formation where the Backer steps down to create a five-man line— was roaring back with a vengeance.

The two main elements were there: he had starting ends big and quick enough to cause problems when either lined up as defensive tackles, and he had a Backer in Tremaine