Film Analysis: Seattle BFG’s Keys to Success

Disciplined resets and stifling defense.

Sion “Brummie” Scone of Flik ultimate gives his analysis from filmed games at USAU Club Nationals.

Seattle BFG, who defeated Seattle Mixtape on universe point in the semifinals 13-12 on Saturday morning to reach their first-ever National final, has played crisp ultimate, moving the disc smoothly and reliably on offense and playing some stifling defense. Here we take a look at a few clips from their quarterfinal victory over Philadelphia AMP.

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Veteran handler Mario O’Brien was near perfect for BFG. Watch above as Seattle sets up a simple vertical stack directly in front of the disc and attacks the break side repeatedly. With a single isolated cutter running into half of the field, it’s a simple job for O’Brien to break around. The second cut in the play follows, timed just as the first pass is caught, thereby maximizing the amount of time and space the thrower has to work with. Notice in particular how the rest of the stack reacts each time the disc moves, pushing further downfield to maintain the relative space between the stack and the disc, ensuring that BFG have a ready supply of cutters in the right position to cause difficulty for AMP:

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As soon as the disc stops flowing, BFG looks backwards to initiate a reset. O’Brien moves downfield slightly, takes one step to wrong foot his defender, then cuts laterally to the break side to receive the disc. His momentum takes him beyond the thrower, which is important as it ensures he will be able to throw immediate continuation. Knowing this, his defender has to run around to prevent the backhand, freeing up a forehand to the inside lane.

While all of this is happening, keep an eye on that back of stack cutter; she keeps her eye on the disc the whole time, moves downfield into a dangerous position, then times her cut as O’Brien receives the disc. Finally, it is worth noting the speed of the throw; the faster it moves, the more yards the offense gains. In just a few passes, BFG are in the attacking red zone:

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The reset here is a practical carbon copy of the previous one, with O’Brien again getting open behind the disc. Meanwhile, another cutter had been moving to the break side to offer another throwing option; O’Brien was able to immediately throw to him to keep the disc moving. The receiver wants to move the disc off the line, looks to O’Brien who is out of position, so looks downfield again. The front of stack – “3H” – reacts immediately, offering a relatively easy pass in the undefended channel, with continuation for the score:

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Sound defensive fundamentals caused difficulties for AMP’s resets, piling on the pressure which led to some handling errors, and in this case, a high stall timeout due to the complete shutdown of all options:

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Let’s look in more detail. Following an out of bounds pull, AMP has the disc at the brick mark. Knowing that many teams have effective plays to run from this type of position, BFG poaches off the handlers in the horizontal stack. All four of AMP’s downfield players make cuts, and none of them are viable options with these poaches in place, so AMP swings the disc to the middle handler as the third handler begins to clear deep. As the disc moves, so BFG react by going into a straight up match defense:

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AMP falls into a vertical stack and also relies on the 3H position to provide a reset option. AMP swings back to the center of the field and continues to the sideline; note the missed switch opportunity on the far sideline which could have prevented the continuation:

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With the disc on the sideline, BFG have the opportunity to clamp down and stifle AMP’s movement entirely. Let’s start by looking at the marker. He starts a few yards away, then slowly moves in as the stall rises, before dropping back off towards the end of the stall. The mark is a consistent straight up throughout. This type of movement can put off a thrower, as it means that potential throwing spots (below the arms, to the outside of legs) are constantly changing throughout the stall. Dropping off towards the end of the count is also a smart strategy, as it reduces the likelihood of the thrower drawing a foul and getting a fresh count.

AMP have a cut on the far sideline, but the BFG defender commits hard to prevent the under and closes quickly, so there’s no opportunity to throw to it. The cutter continues to move to the far side of the field, where the defender leaves more space, ensuring that he is positioned to prevent any flat, hard throw but also positioned to ensure that he won’t be beaten back to a spot near the disc. We also see excellent dump defense in action; as the reset player moves, the defender orbits around, keeping his back to the disc and maintaining a buffer, preventing any short range pass. The only option available is for the thrower to go over or around him. The remaining cutter defenders are all playing incredibly tight defense while keeping their heads up to see where the disc is and what threats might materialize.

All of this combines to nine seconds of total team-wide shutdown:

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  1. Sion "Brummie" Scone
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    Sion "Brummie" Scone coached GB Open from 2010-2012, and also coached the GB World Games team in 2013, and the u24 Men in 2018. He has been running skills clinics in the UK and around the world since 2005. He played GB Open 2007-12, and GB World Games 2009. He lives in Birmingham, UK. You can reach him by email (sionscone@gmail.com) or on Twitter (@sionscone).

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