Senior cornerback Ross Cockrell is one of Duke's starters in the 4-2-5 defense. Credit: TAKAAKI IWABU - firstname.lastname@example.org
Yesterday, Andrew Carter wrote about North Carolina's switch to the 4-2-5 defense. While the Tar Heels have their own wrinkles in their scheme, it is the same base that Duke uses. The Blue Devils made the switch last year, and, statisically, it didn't seem to have a huge impact, as Duke ranked 11th out of 12 conference teams in total defense (425 yards per game), 11th in rushing defense (181 yards per game) and 12th in pass defense (245 yards per game).
The Blue Devils did have the misfortune of losing their best defensive lineman, Kenny Anunike, in the fourth game of the season. I wrote about Anunike for today's paper, and, if he can stay healthy, he is the one proven game-changer Duke sports on defense.
Anyhow, back to the 4-2-5. I asked David Cutcliffe last week why they swtiched to the scheme, and here's what he had to say:
“We are in an era of spread offense, in an era of three and four wide receivers consistently. Forever we had gone nickel defense in those circumstances with people matching personnel. What we think is that we can find those versatile athletes at the safety positions that can play like linebackers and cover like DBs. So, instead of having to jump in and out of personnel, if they go into two tight ends, we can play our five defensive backs.
“We did a study on the percentage of personnel groupings we faced. And by far and away, it was the personnel grouping of three wide receivers of some sort. So, why would you not use as your base what you’re playing most of the time? So, that’s the science behind it.
“You’re putting speed on the field, and I always tell people the one thing in football that I can assure you is that speed has never had a bad day.”
So, there you go. If you read Andrew's piece, you'll see that UNC had a similiar thought process when they decided to switch. Stay tuned to see how successful each team is this season.