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The Shafer Profile Part II

The part with the videos.

Now that we've familiarized ourselves with some of Shafer's credential's, let's delve into some tape from last year's Cardinal and take a look at his schemes (spoiler alert: lots of blitzing).

Shafer runs a multiple-front defense, with a base 4-3. Against spread-type offenses, he'll use a package called the "3-4 Okie" which, as the name implies, is a 3-4 scheme. The purpose of the Okie scheme is to disguise defenses so the offense can never tell who is actually blitzing on a given play. Often, on of the linebacker positions will be manned by a safety (or a LB/S hybrid) for a sort of 3-3-5 look, but with two safeties high.

One of Shafer's favorite blitzes from the 4-3 stack is a dual-OLB fire.

There are also several other blitzes where he will send at least one linebacker, but often more.

3-4 Okie
The design of this package is intended to confuse the offense into not knowing who will rush on a given play. For much more on the Okie, read up on it over at 3 and Out, run by an MGoBlog commenter/high school coach who runs the Okie as his base package.

While an aggressive defense can help generate pressure on the quarterback, there are also disadvantages. For example, if the defense overpursues, they will be vulnerable to misdirection, such as counter runs and screen passes. In addition, if the pressure package doesn't get to the quarterback, there isn't going to be as much help in the secondary. An aggressive blitz scheme can often leave the secondary in man coverage.

When you have the athletes to match up (which Michigan will in most of its games this year), it can work to your advantage. However, it can create mismatches for the offense to exploit.

Losing to the Irish
For those worrying about how Shafer lost to Notre Dame, there is a little bit of reassurance to be had. For one thing, The Irish had a drive that was all of 14 yards, and the other two scoring drives were aided by big plays that were the result of poor execution (or simply not having the talent that Notre Dame boasts), not poor scheming.

Ed. Note: Thanks to Mike Gleeson, Stanford Video Coordinator for the game film, and to VB ├╝ber-commenter RJ for hooking me up with Gleeson.

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“The Shafer Profile Part II”

  1. Blogger RJHOVE Says:

    good post tim...there were a lot of big plays against stanford though in the highlights. I have faith in the man. I followed western while he was there and he changed the culture there.

  2. Blogger gsimmons85 Says:


    couple things bud. number 1 is that most of the time on those okie plays, they were zone blitzing and droping into a 3 deep 3 under "fire zone" coverage scheme as shafer calls it. on different blitzes each droping player has to understand what zone drop he is responsible for... Several of those zone blitzes i learned from shafer and employ myself...

    so you wont see michigan playing man to man all the time when blitzing, thats what makes his blitzing so much better then typical corner on an island man blitzes... notice how mcuh chaos the okie pakage caused...