The Texas Longhorns football team should consider instituting the 6-1 Quarters defense employed by Coach Belichik in the 2019 Super Bowl. I watched the dismantling of the high-octane Los Angeles Rams offense by the New England Patriots defense. It was pure coaching genius from Coach Belichik, a defensive-minded coach. Coach Belichik’s defensive strategy employed in the Super Bowl is detailed here.
The Patriots dismantled the Rams offense by utilizing a blend of tactics, such as Quarters coverage, where two corners and two safeties each cover one-fourth of the field in zone coverage. Employing Quarters coverage helps the defense to defend slant and post routes better, as these were the routes that the Texas defense has been burned on multiple occasions in the pass-happy Big-12, especially when they blitz or crowd the box too heavily and go man-to-man coverage with the defensive backs against the speedy Big-12 receivers.
However, employing Quarters coverage puts both of the safeties back deep, so a good running team could exploit this. To counteract the potential for a good running team to run through the defensive line without the safeties helping, Coach Belichik employed a 6-1 defense, where he place his outside linebackers on the line, and these linebackers become defensive ends who are now able to set the edge, and defend against sweeps and running back screens. With the edges set by the outside linebackers on the line, the defensive linemen can now focus on penetration into the backfield, as they have confidence that the edges are secure. The defensive linemen can then disrupt the timing of the quarterback, as they will be in the backfield more often, and also prevent long gains by the running backs.
For a team like Oklahoma, which likes to pass and run, the Longhorns employing the 6-1 Quarters defense could be part of the solution to beating Oklahoma and reclaiming the Big 12 Championship.
But employing the 6-1 Quarters defense requires an adequate number of experienced and skilled defensive linemen and linebackers, which Texas currently lacks. This may explain why Coach Orlando employed the Cloud defense frequently in 2018, using only 3 defensive linemen and up to 6 defensive backs. Since Texas’ strength is in its defensive backs, it makes sense to place more of the DBs on the field. To make up for the lack of defensive linemen and linebackers, Coach Orlando may consider using a defensive back in the 6-1 scheme, like on the edge on the line.
Given Texas’ poor performance against run and shoot Big-12 offenses, employing the 6-1 Quarters defense could be a solution to disrupt these high octane offenses.