Not too long ago there was some debate about how much of an influence the college game has had on the pros. From schemes/systems to how we look at and use players. To how we value players. Remember when people thought RPO/misdirection was cheating ? Poor one out - rip to fallen soldiers of that debate . The games are becoming ever closer and NEP/Bill has been watching, borrowing, adapting and using the college game to better his team for some time now. Both on offense and defense. Whether he's studying or looking at Riley's offense in OK or Iowa St's defense. Saban in Bama. Patterson in TCU. He's not shy about learning from others. Lots of outstanding stuff on nickel/big nickel, tite/mint front, 3-S rotation, Iowa St (Big12 D) ... possible 3 high S looks? Just some really cool stuff from some really, really smart people. Few snips from the 3-S look by Seth "In 2017, Iowa State burst into the spotlight with an 8-win season — two more wins than its previous two seasons combined — playing with three deep safeties. Could this be the next evolution in football? We’ve already seen a change in the type of defensive player on the field. Nickel defense is the new base defense, and dime packages are on the rise as well. These have all been personnel changes. What Iowa State did was change the defense structurally". "A perennial Big 12 doormat, Iowa State saw its defensive EPA/play drop from 0.097 in 2016 to -.119 on first and second down when it played a base three-safety look. This was a huge turnaround. While the team hasn't quite reached that peak in the two years since, it still produced a negative EPA/play in both campaigns. Programs like Baylor and Clemson turned to this structure in 2019 for big results on early downs as well. Baylor went from .107 EPA/play in 2018 to -.155 in 2019. Playing with a three-safety shell allows for a greater number of possible coverages a team can get into from the same look. Clemson, Iowa State and Baylor each played four different coverages on early downs for at least 60 snaps last season. For reference, LSU played two. There’s such a wide variety of things you can get into from that three-safety set". "In order to gain a safety, we have to remove a box player. If we remove a box player, we can’t possibly stop the run very well, right? Baylor finished 10th in EPA/play against the run last season. In their breakout 2017 season, Iowa State finished ninth. Clemson was also elite against the run, but they are elite on defense every year no matter the scheme. Three-safety teams are going to run a three-man defensive line in order to mitigate some of the cost of not having an extra box player. Each team has its own setup, but generally there is at least one defensive linemen tasked with “two-gapping.” Depending on how the offensive linemen block, his gap assignment changes. The nose tackle is almost certainly going to be a two-gap player in both A-gaps, while the alignment of the defensive end will dictate his role. Playing inside the offensive tackle, he will generally have one gap, but playing as a wider edge player, he has to control both the B- and C-gap based on the block he gets by the tackle". "The idea here is to find a way to clog the interior and force the ball-carrier to bounce outside. Even though there is no direct C-gap, the “apex” Nickelback or Sam linebacker (called “overhang” players) will clean up the running back when he has to start moving horizontally. In these systems, you’ll often see the inside linebackers play hyper-aggressively when they see run action. It’s another attempt to clog the middle and “spill” the ball to free players. Against RPOs, these teams sort of have to perform what is called “slinging the fit.” Because you don’t have enough players in the box, you can steal an extra player on RPOs based on where the quarterback is looking. Almost regardless of the direction of the run action, the overhang player who the quarterback is looking at needs to freeze in the passing window. The opposite overhang can now attack the running play. The quarterback can only throw the RPO where he’s looking".