Examining Arizona's Double Eagle "Desert Swarm" Defense
Much was made in the media about Arizona's switch to their famed "Desert Swarm" defense in last week's pasting of UCLA. This physical style of play was introduced by former Wildcats coach Dick Tomey in 1992, and was a foundation to their rise as a program.
With a strong chance Washington will see this defensive look tonight at Husky Stadium, we decided to break it down here on the Dawg Blawg. The defense is key on the down linemen creating havoc at the line of scrimmage, allowing the backers and DBs to "swarm" to the ball-carrier. Speed is a priority over brawn, which is why Arizona players like Tedy Bruschi were able to have such success in the system.
In simple terms, it's an eight-man front that many coaches feel is one of the best in stopping an opponent's running game, much like the Chicago Bears old "46 Defense" did in the NFL. And for Arizona, it worked last week as UCLA was held to 37 yards on the ground.
The formation: Five defenders reside on the line. The defensive end in the system plays a "7 technique," meaning he lines up inside the tight end on the strong side of the offensive line. In partnership with the neighboring 3-technique defensive tackle, the nose DT lines up in a slanted position, attacking the neck of the center, which makes him hard to double-team and hinders what teams can do on the weak-side (away from the TE). Additionally, there's a "flex" tackle playing a few yards off the LOS on the weak side. Finally, another lineman plays out wide ... WAY off the left tackle, almost at the 9 technique slot.
The strong safety overhangs about five yards off the LOS and plays more like a LB. In coverage, the remaining three DBs are often play Cover 3.
For more info, local blog SeatownSports has a thorough writeup of Arizona's vintage D that's worth checking out.
Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian noted this week he hasn't prepared for the double eagle flex in almost 10 years, but considering few coaches can script a game plan like Sark, Huskies fans shouldn't be worried
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