Are our issues Zone vs Man, Manster54?


This is for anyone who can knowledgeably answer but specifically Manster54 because he has clearly proven his knowledge of the game.

One thing that seems to have changed on each side of the ball (correct me if I am wrong) is that we went to a zone read system versus man to man.

Obviously that has been a huge complaint about our defense in that we run a lot of zone and seem to get absolutely exposed by the passing game giving up huge numbers even to mediocre quarterbacks. It reminds of Skladany and I absolutely HATED his bend but don’t break mentality. In the end if you keep bending you eventually break.

For the offense we are running a zone read scheme and I believe this is a new for our O-Line this year (correct me if I am wrong). I know it is popular in the NFL (Scelfo) but also know that is harder to learn and you have to be disciplined to the concept/your assignment.

That being said, do you think that the change on both sides of the ball from a man to man approach to a zone read approach could be a lot of our problems this year?

We have all said that we feel like the talent is there and that some of it is player discipline and some of it is coaching. Could the change in philosophy be too “mentally burdensome” to the players versus acting on pure instinct?

Thank you in advance.

(Patrick) #2

Really? I think most of us on this board have said that we lack talent at both CB and OL which is a lot of the reasons for the struggles.


I agree there are areas that we lack talent and depth, but as a whole we have a lot of talent. If not true then why are people complaining about losing to Tulane or inconsistent against others. If we have no talent then we should be getting completely destroyed every game.

So is the opinion now that we have a lack of talent? I have seen long threads where people (like Manster54) have debunked the talent issue with pictures by showing where people simply failed to do their assignment and the times that they did. Same player, one time they would look bad and the other they would look good.

So is it talent, coaching, or what?

I feel it is coaching, and my question is did a change in philosophy create some of the issues this year?

(Patrick) #4

You’re taking a macro view of this instead of looking at each position group separately.

Do we have talent on this team? Yes, some of the best talent we’ve had in a long time. Unfortunately, it is consolidated into certain position groups leaving others lacking. At OL and CB, we lack talent.

At CB, we started a former walk-on and a guy converted from WR; both were seeing their first action at that position this year. The 3rd guy in the rotation has been an inconsistent (at best) performer for 3 years and couldn’t beat either of those two out. The 4th guy was a true freshman that got hurt early on. My guess is that we gave cushions to avoid getting beat constantly because of the lack of talent. Even with the cushions, the guys out there regularly made incorrect reads and breaks or dropped easy interceptions (Winchester one against Memphis being the most significant). I did breakdowns early in the season; any time we played tight man on the outside, the corners were usually burned (whether the QB made the throw or the WR made the catch is a different question). Going into next year, Myres and Johnson should be in the rotation, but I hope some of the younger guys can step up to help out as we just don’t have the talent out there we are used to (WJax, DJ, the Wilsons).

At OL, we brought back a lot of experience, but that was from a line that was one of the worst in CFB last year. I don’t necessarily think we went zone-read as I think there may have been some slight changes to what we were already running. One thing, I believe Noble played hurt all year (remember the wrist injury he had in training camp) as he just didn’t look the same as he had the last few years. He was constantly dominated by bigger guys and had snapping issues early in the season. Marcus Oliver, thank god he came here, just isn’t an every down lineman. He was often out of place on running plays, missed key blocks, and often looked lost out there when asked to go to the 2nd level (something that’s been the case his entire career). He’s a decent pass protector, but was a weakness in the run game. Braylon Jones on the other side was a very good pass protector, but struggled making the transition to guard in the run game; he was actually one of our stronger run blockers last year at LT. I expect the staff to look at moving him to RT next season and think he’ll be more comfortable there. The tackles were pretty good in both facets and we usually saw more success when they were the lead blockers. On that last point, our TEs weren’t good, which hurt when trying to run off tackle. I thought Brooker did a good job early in the season, but the staff decided Leslie was the better option. I still don’t understand that decision as Leslie wasn’t a good blocker or receiver. Lastly, our WRs were terrible when asked to block this year which killed any option to run outside. If we want to be successful running the ball, we need to improve a lot.


I am making a macro comment, not view. I said I agree with your comment.

The point of this post was not to break down talent or spend my time writing about talent. Again, I agree we are missing talent in areas and I agree with your assessment. That is why I generalized my comment.

However, the point of the post was to get the opinion of others regarding our switch from more of a man system to a zone read, which has been completely missed.

(CoogDentist) #6

The teams we lost to were not loaded with studs at every position either. This is not a talent issue.

(Patrick) #7

My apologies, got caught up one one sentence. You’re correct.


Not a problem, I just felt like our players looked lost at times because of their assignment not talent. You did mention Marcus Oliver where it is an issue of talent but for him being lost was my questioning about the system.

(Patrick) #9

Agreed. There definitely could be some issues with guys learning the system.

OL is a tough position to play and it doesn’t help that these guys haven’t had continuity with OL coaches. Zone read, especially, takes time to learn and requires good chemistry. My hope is, that if Scelfo stays, this unit is much improved next year.


Great point, I often forget how many OL coaches they have had.

(srassen7) #11

I mean we started a former walk-on and a guy who hadn’t played defense since high school at Cornerback this year…


Don’t disagree at all but Bonner was a walk on as well so that’s why I throw caution to some of those things.

(Mike Higdon) #13

I tend to give more credit to “former walk-ons” who actually earned their scholarships against college level players than to guys who were handed scholarships based on high school. Over the years we have had some very good players that started out as walk-ons. Once they have earned a position, they should have every much the same standing as any kid that came on scholarship.


Completely agree!


Shawn terry 79
First, I appreciate that you ask my opinion.
In regard to offense, I haven’t reviewed it as deeply as I have the defense. I gravitate toward defense more and have more experience and connection to coaches who have worked on that side.
That being said, we do seem to be missing a lot of blocks. The plays I have reviewed…we are missing some when blocked appears to have identified player he needs block…which is technique or skill related. But we also seem to miss some due to confusion on who to block. Imo this could be coaching related. Scelfo hasn’t coached O line in number years. Could that be an issue? maybe but I’m hesitant to blame guy because I just can’t tell you if a player who missed his assignment did so because he wasn’t taught how to identify it or because he got confused and lost focus. But a zone blocking scheme seems leave more chance for assignment mistakes.

Regarding the defense zone coverage…There’s a combination of things going on imo.

  1. 2 of 3 corners are brand new and inexperienced…and imo are not very good at press right now. CMD played press with Johnson early in season vs Ariz and TT…Arizona WR beat him deep but was just out bounds and TT beat him by 5 yards but dropped TD in his hands. I think CMD played safer going forward. He still mixes it in but seems to stay away if CBs get beat…like Winchester vs Fresno. Also CMD used Khalil man to man vs slot until he got hurt. But he got beat often too and had pass interference call call Memphis.
  2. Just because your playing zone doesn’t mean you don’t “match up”. Vs Fresno UH had passes defenses by Adams in zone and by Davis as well. The defenders need to be aware of how many receivers come out. A zone defender who only has one receiver in his area, can matchup. It becomes tougher when the offense floods a zone and makes a defender choose. Also defenders need to communicate when receiver moves from one zone to another.
  3. The Corners are new and learning how to recognize routes. This involves reading the QB drop initially. A quick drop will limit possible route possibilities for WR and CB can then jump the slant or hitch even if in zone. After initial QB read, if ball not out , they now read WR route possibilities are different…maybe deep out, comeback , in route, go route etc. This route recognition comes with experience.
  4. Some benefits of zone defense are more eyes on ball. When playing man you are often not looking at QB. If you press and play man and WR runs a go route, you have to turn and run. This hurts CB run support as offense can just run him off and not have to block him if running a sweep for example. In zone CB will backpedal and see run.
    UH actually had 15 ints this year vs only 7 last year. Imo some of that was related to QBs forcing some throws to deep middle after getting frustrated taking short stuff.

I believe CMD did what he felt was best to limit UH points allowed. The CBs and even the Safeties showed they were not good with deep ball in air. So CMD choose to try and limit deep balls. If he played press, teams would further expose his corners I believe. Defense gave up only 10 pass Tds, 2016 gave up 19. Most here would assume that aggressive style would result in more ints and less TDs, and it often does, CMD numbers were better by far. His defense also gave up 5 less total TDs than 2016.
I think we also need to look at the Scoring offenses that UH faced and that they held almost all to less or much less than their average. The UH offense scored 59 TDS in 2016 and only 43 this year…that was the problem imo. Defense can improve of course and I think will if development at least one cover CB


So the defense is fine and the offense predictably regressed with Greg Ward Jr leaving. Hmm who would have guessed that…


Thank you very much! Some of that I was thinking about, but wasn’t sure since I don’t have your insight. I really appreciate your breakdown and the thought process on both schemes.

I agree that we lacked a lot of talent at the CB position this year, and with your analysis and breakdown it makes a lot more sense why CMD ran the defense the way he did. It is apparent that we would’ve likely been beat a lot more with the passing game if he had not of taking this approach.

On paper, it appears that we have a lot of talent coming in so it is possible to see the defense become more dynamic if they live up to expectations.

Again, I appreciate your response/feedback/opinion.


Thank you.
Keep in mind, I’m not advocating that soft coverage is better by any means. I prefer an aggressive style myself.
I just think the coach did what he felt was best after evaluating the talent at CB.
I just think that at end of day we need look at how many points D gave up and whether it was a number we could reasonably say that the Offense should be able to overcome…I would say that the D did that in every game except 2nd half vs Memphis. And Memphis torched many defenses including ours in 2016 and UCF in AAC Championship.
The other game that needs be looked at in perspective is Tulsa…in the end the scoreboard read Tulsa 45…but that is very deceiving from a perspective of D performance.

Think about it this way. The Offense scored 17 points vs Tulsa…which was a weak performance.
But consider how the Offense contributed to Tulsa Scoring 45.
The D gave up 93 first half yards. They gave up 7 points after Tulsa returned pass int to UH 1 yard line. I think it’s reasonable to say the O should be charged with those points.
Early 2nd half, Tulsa again returns int to UH 6 yard line and scores TD. They should at least be responsible for 3 of 7 points scored. Possibly all 7 depending whose judging.

And then with 30 secs left UH fumbles and it’s run in for a TD…that’s 7 definitely against the O.
So the O scored 17 and was responsible for 17 to 21 Tulsa points…they essentially contributed a net of zero to -3 points in the game.

The D gave up a lot of passing yards but not TDs and played tough red zone D and intercepted 15 passes.


Oh I understand you were just breaking it down and that was CMD doing what he had to do, which now I think was good/smart. I am with you and like the aggressive style as well but you can’t do it without the right personnel.

Totally agree, I said that exact same thing on another thread. For the majority of the season the defense was pretty solid other than those two games you mentioned and as you mentioned there is a lot of blame that goes on the offense in the Tulsa game.

And answering your early comment, more often than not, I feel the defense gave the offense the opportunity to win, and the offense was more or less 50/50 in those opportunities.