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By Adam Hovorka, Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator, Schreiber High School (NY)


See how Coach Hovorka has simmplified and molded his blitz checks to attack protections with his 4-3 defense. . Read the report...

 



By Adam Hovorka
Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator
Schreiber High School (NY)
X&O Labs Contributing Writer

 

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Introduction: 

Defensively, our philosophy is to put pressure on the opponent’s quarterback and make the offensive play caller worry about how often his quarterback is going to get pressured. We will marry this with our man coverage. With today’s offenses being so multiple in terms of formations, motions and personnel, it was getting harder and harder to predict which blitzes would work vs. different game situations. To make this situation better, we did what the offensive side of the ball has been doing for years and just created a blitz-on-me system. 

Blitz Problems

In the past we would call a blitz, and hope that the pressure matched the formation called or our kids could adjust quick enough to still get the blitz to come from where we wanted it to come from and have everyone covered. For example, we would call for a pressure with a blitzer off each edge. Thinking that a two-back formation was coming, we would practice against a two back set all week. However, during the game when the blitz was called; the offense wasn’t in two-backs any more but a two-by-two open look.  Since, we are 4-2 box with one high at all times, the pressure vs. two backs would be easy to teach and install. 

Slide1

In this example, the outside safeties would come of the edge and the FS would lock on the TE or #2 and the inside backers would be man on the backs.

Slide1

Instead if they came out in a one-back two by two set both outside safeties couldn’t come unless you put an inside backer on one of the inside receivers, and that was something that we didn’t want to do. 

Slide3

So to rectify the above situation, we would have adjustments to the blitz called based on the formation that the players saw and the inside backer would blitz off of the edge instead of the safety. If we called both outside safeties to blitz, but they came out in one-back, it would be one adjustment and if they came out in trips it would be another adjustment. We were spending so much time in our blitz period just adjusting to formations and hoping the kids could figure out the right blitz. We also found out that kids were thinking too much and not blitzing aggressively or not blitzing at all, there was a classic case of paralysis by analysis.

Coaching Points:

  1. Defensively there should be an alignment period every day, even when it is an offensive practice.  Align to the base formations you will see that week and call out base or “blitz”. Do these as an entire team, put in motions, make sure every offensive player is always covered and mix up man press and regular off-man. 
  2. Have defensive packages for different players. We have packages where the starting linebackers might go in at defensive line and backup secondary players will be in at linebacker so we have the fastest 11 on field ready to pressure and play man. 
  3. The players blitzing need to spend time with the defensive line coach and go over pass rush moves. They need a plan of what to do when they are being picked up by an offensive lineman or a back. 
  4. Pressure makes decent cover guys look real good! Playing zone with average players is more difficult than it is playing man. When playing man coverage, there is no thinking. If you have players that can blitz, then you have players that can play man. We also feel that playing man coverage, either press or off man, we can dictate which routes we are going to see. The pressure coupled with the mix of man press or off man has fit our personnel and our style of play

Variations:

  1. Have a word that means switch, what this does is have the Blitzer switch gap responsibility with the defensive lineman in front of him. This doubles your amount of pressures with one word with and gives the offensive line that much more to handle. 
  2. As the season progresses the threat of blitz is almost as good as the blitz itself. Offensive play callers see all the blitzing and will have their man beaters ready, the screen game revved up and the offensive line doing a blitz pick-up period all week. We have a word that means fake blitz and play our regular zone coverage. This tells the cover guys to align as if its man press and then bail before the snap and play regular coverage. Hopefully you have teams throwing quick fades into a bailing corner or running a quick slant to a linebacker that fakes the blitz and gets in coverage. 


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  • How Coach Hovorka tags his top six-man perimeter pressure and how it adjusts to closed and open formations.
  • How Coach Hovorka tags his top six-man interior pressure and how it adjusts to closed and open formations.
  • What Coach Horvorka does during practice week to get his players prepared to run these pressures against tempo offenses.
  • Plus game film on all these concepts.

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Conclusion:

Pressure is a great tool for defensive coordinators to have at their disposal. Defensive players love pressure packages, cover guys love playing man and opposing quarterbacks and offensive play callers fear pressure. Matching up pressure packages to formations is the best way to optimize your blitz package. As the season progresses, the threat of pressure will be just as important as the pressure itself. For us, it gives our team an identity and gets our guys excited to play defense. 

Meet Coach Hovorka: Adam Hovorka is the Head Coach of the Port Washington Vikings. He just completed his first season at the helm. Prior to that he has been a Defensive Coordinator for 12 years helping teams get to playoffs in 8 of those 12 years and getting to five championship games.   

 

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