If there was any doubt that the Heisman voters got it right this year, the first half of tonight’s national championship between Alabama and Ohio State should answer the question. DeVonta Smith is having his way with Ohio State up and down the field.
After a 44-yard touchdown catch from Mac Jones moments ago, Smith has 215 yards and three scores on 12 catches, in less than a half of football. He’s just 60 yards from the school record for a game, and 144 yards from 2,000 for the year, in a shortened season.
Charles Woodson knows something about defending elite receivers. The former Michigan and NFL star was actually the last non-quarterback or running back to win the Heisman Trophy, before Smith did it this year. You wouldn’t normally see a Wolverine giving Buckeyes any tips, but he clearly feels for Shaun Wade, Sevyn Banks, and company tonight.
Woodson recommends the Buckeyes going to a bracket technique, which utilizes the cornerback and safety on one side in zone defense to try and mitigate the damage by a player like Smith against the Buckeyes’ corners in man coverage.
When bama motions with Smith in the redzone Osu needs to start letting the corner and safety work a bracket technique to keep stress off corner #OSUvsBAMA
— Charles Woodson (@CharlesWoodson) January 12, 2021
The Athletic‘s Ted Nguyen described one version of a bracket technique called “cone,” which is a signature of Bill Belichick and, coincidentally, Alabama head coach Nick Saban. From his piece a month ago:
“Cone” is Nick Saban-Bill Belichick terminology. It’s a call that is made in quarters or Cover 4 coverage to double a designated player with a cornerback playing low and outside and a safety playing over the top and inside. It’s not a true double team with two players following a single receiver everywhere. The call is a way of giving defensive backs a leverage advantage against a good receiver.
This defense allows the corner or safety to move back into zone coverage if they pass off a receiver, without letting a crossing route get over the top, or a flanker run up the sideline on the cornerback.
We did see some zone early on from the Ohio State defense, and Alabama moved the ball on that as well, but DeVonta Smith is having his way with the Buckeyes in man. We’ll see if Kerry Coombs, Greg Mattison, and the rest of Ohio State’s staff make a big adjustment at halftime.