“…they completely shut our run game down.”
--Opposing offensive coordinator
By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
I’ve known the University of St. Thomas staff for nearly ten years. My first visit to St. Paul (MN) was back in the summer of 2009 when head football coach Glenn Caruso had just taken a two-win team the year before to seven wins in just his first season.
I remember the enthusiasm in his voice when telling me about what he was about to build there. In his opinion, he had gotten the opportunity of a lifetime to lead a program with the resources and reputation that the University of St. Thomas has.
Flash forward nearly a decade (and seven 10-win seasons later) and I honestly can’t say that I was entirely surprised by his success.
He led the Tommie’s to an incredulous 110-17 record (.868 win%), including a 72-8 record in conference play. It’s a win percentage that has only been eclipsed by other divisional powerhouses like North Dakota State (FCS) and the University of Alabama (FBS). They have been mainstays in the NCAA Division 3 playoff landscape making eight total appearances, including two Stagg Bowl trips during that time. Oh, and he’s won the conference title three years in a row.
But there was one thing that did surprise me when tracking their success this past season.
You see, I usually wait until the latter half of the season to check on them because, like most championship level teams, they get better as the season advances heading into the playoffs.
But as I looked through their box scores, there was one glaring statistic on the side next to their opponents, the accumulation of doughnuts. By November 11th, St. Thomas had shut out four opponents already. Now, this is a defensive unit that routinely been in the top 10 at that level, but they were outscoring their opponents by ridiculous margins.
So, after UST’s 11-2 run this season, I picked up the phone to congratulate defensive coordinator, and my good friend, Wallie Kuchinski. I asked to him to send me film of his 2017 defense.
What I saw on video… I couldn’t believe
The things his defense did to opponents in the run game was flat-out scary. It was like watching a video game. Coach Kuchinski’s kids relentlessly besiege ball carriers. When you watch the video, it'll remind you of your Nintendo Tecmo Bowl playing days.
It seemed like Coach Kuchinski and his staff always called the play right this past season. The Tommie defense produced some of the most compelling statistics ever posted by a defensive unit. Some of the notables include:
But the most glaring statistic is that the Tommie defense held opponents to 21 yards a game rushing this season, which equates to nine inches per rush. It’s a fact, look it up. It’s the lowest recorded output ever. And they did it by pressuring on 85% of downs. As Coach Kuchinski told us, “Nobody is doing this.”
Apparently, he’s not the only one who noticed. One of St. Thomas opponents, Berry College (GA), who themselves had an 11-win season losing to the Tommies in the Division 3 playoffs, was just as astonished. “We ran the ball for 170 yards a game this season and they completely shut our run game down [Berry was limited to 14 total rushing yards],” offensive coordinator Rich Duncan told us. “The beauty of their system is how they teach their first and second levels to fit gaps on the move.”
Here's the good news…
During my visit to St. Thomas, I got everything you or your defensive staff will need to implement and use this same pressuring system.
And my staff and I have put everything in a brand-new special report…
Here’s a small amount of what you’ll find in this special report…
Case 1: 5-Man Pressure Patterns and Zone Blitz Technique—As an odd front outfit, St. Thomas will pressure with up to seven defenders at any given snap and the way Coach Kuchinski has been able to do so is by structuring his pressure players by concept. In his pressure system, he classifies defenders into the following roles: pressure side arrow defenders, non-pressure side arrow defenders, contain/splatter defenders, chase/spill defenders and power defenders. Each of these roles has techniques tied to it. We detail the six pressure patterns Coach Kuchinski uses in his five-man pressures as well as the drill work used to train these defenders to react off run to and run away run-action.
Case 2: Full Field and Split Field Pressure Coverages—Fact is pressure starts on the backend with coverage. One missed gap can lead to an explosive play for the offense. While each of his 5-man pressure patterns can be mixed with various coverages, Coach Kuchinski will tag coverages based on two elements: personnel and formation. He has variants of one-high, two-high and no-high coverages in his system. But with each coverages comes a technique. These techniques are built around concepts, such as a “puck” defender in zone coverages or a “man progression player” for defenders in man coverage. And each of these techniques have drills to reinforce them.
Case 3: “70% Rule and the Rule of 3”— Calling the right pressure at the right time can be demoralizing on an offense. Like many coaches, Coach Kuchinski has a method behind when and why he calls certain pressures. One of the principles he uses is the “rule of three,” which is a matrix used to call the right pressure coverage based on personnel. He will also live by the 70% rule, which is a proven equation that pilots his calls based off offensive tendency. We delve into the logic behind how to use these pressure patterns/coverages against various personnel groupings and offensive systems.
VIDEO: This special report also includes over 35 videos showing this system in real-game situations, practice and drills.
This entire special report, The St. Thomas Pressure Package, is available right now in our membership website, Insiders.
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