“The Foster 5” – Innovation 3: The Multiple RPO System

“I don’t ask Mike linebackers to carry the seam and handle the run game. You can’t do both of those things with the RPO game today.”
– Bud Foster, former Defensive Coordinator, Virginia Tech University

 

 

By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager/Co-Founder
X&O Labs
@MikeKKuchar

 

 

The Ideology: Alleviate Stress for LB’s in Intermediate Coverage

You get what you get with Bud Foster, there isn’t much grey area in his persona. He’s as genuine as they come. So, it’s not surprising that the man’s personality matches his philosophy when it comes to dual reads in offensive football. He doesn’t believe in double-talking players, or as he continually referred to as “fork tonguing” them. I’ve never heard the term before my trip. So, by the fourth time he uttered it I was scrambling to find out if it had a deeper meaning. From a linguistic standpoint, the phrase means to say one thing and do something else. But from a football standpoint, it simply means instruct your players to have one responsibility and do it well.

Quite simply, Coach Foster wants his linebackers to do one thing- stop the run. And if he has any say about it he will not ask them to play both the run and pass in any particular down. “I don’t ask Mike linebackers to carry the seam and handle the run game,” he told me. “You can’t do both of those things with the RPO game today. Offenses will find that and try to manipulate him as much as possible. We want to take linebackers off stress and put the safeties over the top of them. We will put him in a position to not compromise the run.”

 

Sink Coverage:

The basepoint for accomplishing this is what he calls “Sink” coverage, which is nothing more than what other defensive coordinators call “Poach” or “Alert.” It was the complement to any zone coverage (Quarters, Robber, etc.) when offenses aligned in 3×1 formations. The backside safety (Rover in his scheme) is asked to handle any number three vertical threat, alleviating the Mike completely from any pass responsibility.

The base rules are below:

 

Field Corner (Robber Side)- Alignment- 2×10 inside number one. Inverted deep half defender

Whip/Nickel- Alignment– 3×3 off detached number two receiver. Force, flat, wheel

Free Safety– Alignment- Apex number two and number three vs. extended number two. If number two is flat, rob curl. If number two is vertical, play man to man.

Backer– Play number two man to man or back out in trips

Mike– Work off number three. Read to hook defender.

Boundary Corner– Man to man on number one weak.

Rover– Poach number three receiver strong. “We cheat him over the strong Guard and he will read the Tackle area to identify run vs. pass,” he told me. “Maybe it’s the Center that gives the best read. Because he has to snap the ball and make his block on one side or the other.”

 

As evidenced in the clip below, it was a solid answer in safely defending the middle of the field.

 

 

But while the passing game may be shored up in trips, it left poor support in weakside runs, pitting a corner in primary support particularly in three surface formations into the boundary.

 

The clip below best illustrates this coaching point:

 

 

While “Sink” was a good answer in long-yardage situations, it wasn’t a good fit to hold water in early run downs. “You always have to analyze what is your best package for run and pass,” he told me. “What will give you the best support in the run game? If an offense is running spacing routes and snags I’m not worried about it and we can run Sink. You can match all that stuff up. But if they start running vertical switches and double moves, that’s where they can stress a defense. But can they put all that together? That’s the challenge”

 

The Impediment: Glances, Pops, and Intermediate RPO’s

So, when the football world was flipped on its ear with the advent of Run/Pass options, offenses, like the system at the University of North Carolina, were using single-side RPO’s to isolate two their studs at X- Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome. So, in his preparation, Coach Foster was presented with a choice. He can live by his man methodology by matching up his boundary corner with the X and continuing to tie the Rover into the field side. But that was too tall of a task for him to handle in the RPO world. He had to find ways to bracket the X with both the boundary corner and the Rover.  “I figured let’s match things up to contest all throws,” he said. “Essentially, I wanted to turn everything into quarters or man free. I felt like we can contest all throws and be sound in the run game. I didn’t want to give them anything cheap.”

As shown in some of the clips below, this decision is not made arbitrarily with an understanding of risk. The risk is giving up big plays because of being isolated in man coverage to the field side. To him, the reward of contesting throws was well worth the risk of having QB’s fit throws into tight windows. “You could play three-deep zone but they will stress you somewhere with a seam,” he said. “In zone there is too much space where a 5-yard pass can convert to an explosive play. In man, you can constrict a 5-yard play and you can cloudy the read in Quarters. The bottom line is I don’t want to give them a seam. If I’m going to give them a seam it’s going to be a seam where I can contest the throw.”

 

The Adaptation: Mini and Key Coverage

So, Coach Foster went to using more match-up man principles in defending the RPO game by playing “Key” coverage to defend 3×1 formations. He locked out number one with the field corner and played a matchup zone with the Nickel and Free Safety on number two and number three. It was a built-in adjustment and an AFC (Automatic Front/Coverage) call when defending RPO heavy teams like the University of North Carolina and Wake Forest University. Playing this adjustment provided him two man advantages:

  1. Bracket coverage on the number two receiver strong in trips- which often was the target of vertical throws in the RPO game.
  2. Bracket coverage on the boundary X, which protected against intermediate RPO’s such as glance and pop routes.

 

Key is an alert call, so any 2×2 to 3×1 motion will check “Key.”

The responsibilities are below for the field side defenders:

 

Key Coverage:

 

Field Corner:

  • Man on or off Man on number one
  • Press or 8×1 alignment off number one
  • Man key

 

Whip/Nickel:

  • Force/Flat Wheel
  • Alignment- 6×1 outside number two
  • Key number three to number two

 

Free Safety:

  • Read number three to number two (play three vertical)
  • Alignment- outside eye of number three

 

 

To him, defending RPO’s in man coverage is all about where the matchup issue advantage is defensively. That usually came with slot receivers working off the Nickel. “A lot of teams worked us on number two tying up our FS or play action and running #2 on posts,” he said. “The conflict is going to be a matchup on the inside receivers. So, Key coverage alleviated some of those matchup issues by having the Nickel and Free Safety bracket number two strong. Now with QB-generated RPO’s, you have to play man coverage but you need to do it with vision.” He expects his back half to play with man eyes by using a simple analogy- put your pecker on his inside hip. “He should not cross your face unless it’s a shallow cross,” he told me. “To do that we teach to slow play it with a slide and glide technique. You need to be off so you can see the route and drive on it.”

As shown below, the defender must work to fight to gain leverage once number two is vertical.

 

 

This slide and glide technique can also be used by the Free Safety driving on number three in key coverage.

The clip below best illustrates this coaching point:

 

 

Key coverage was also used against heavy personnel outfits like the University of Pittsburgh to defend its boot and play-action game. It provided for sound coverage against flood concepts like the one below:

 

 

Since it is part of the quarters/man free coverage family, Key coverage can be utilized with any 5-man blitz package. Bud would prefer to pair it with Cowboys to trigger the backside corner. A major advantage in playing Key coverage is the run support provided at the point of attack. Since the Whip/Nickel is involved in potential man coverage responsibilities, the Mike linebacker has an A gap to ball rule and asked to hammer any run game back to the Backer and Rover who would be the free hitter vs. trips. Again, if the Mike feels stressed in having to play an interior gap, he’s always given the responsibility to make a “Taco” or “Black” call to clear the gaps in front of him.

The clip below best illustrates this coaching point:

 

 

The Free Safety can now become a bonus defender against the run if he gets a true run read from number three. Clearly, if number three is attached to the core and not detached this can be diagnosed much quicker.

The clip below best illustrates this coaching point:

 

 

 

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“Collect” Technique to Block Movement in Gap Runs

By Arthur Ray Jr
Offensive Line Coach/Recruiting Coordinator
Northwood University (MI)
Twitter: @CoachLA73

 

One of the oldest plays in football at all levels, even with the newfound love of zone football most coaches who want to run the ball still have a version of the Power Gap scheme run. My time as a player at Michigan State under my OL coach Dan Roushar this was a staple play in our offense. With the rise of Spread football, this play has evolved but the principals have for the most part stayed the same. Today we will dive into the ways I believe in and teach power from a technique standpoint, especially aiming points on our double teams, as well as blocking power vs. blitzes/movement.

 

In this first diagram, I want to explain how we teach Power. Traditionally Power was always a 2 Back play, but now with additions of Power Read/Jet Power, we are still finding ways to modify most offensive coaches’ favorite run play. Today we will dive into the spread concept of 1 Back power and the most effective way I feel to block it. We ran various versions of Power/Read involving our QB so primarily that is what you will see in the clips!

 

Here is an image of Power 2 back and 1 back.

Here are the base rules for the OL:

Playside Tackle: Secure B Gap, If 3 Tech Double team (Deuce Block) to Backside LB. If B Gap is open work through under control to Backside LB.  You MUST GET MOVEMENT AT POINT OF ATTACK!

Playside Guard: Secure Front side A Gap, if 3-Tech “Deuce” Block with Tackle to the backside LB with eyes up for A-Gap run through. If there is a Shade or “2I” work drive block fundamentals knowing Tackle will secure the B Gap with movement.

Center: Gap Down and secure backside A Gap! Do not allow a DL to Cross Your Face. If there’s a 3-tech, work flat shuffle technique to down block principles.

Backside Guard: Square/Skip Pull with maintaining EYES on P.S. LB/ if he bails outside on jet eyes immediately go to backside LB or first guy Inside. Make sure we are getting enough depth so we can sort through the trash and adjust

Backside Tackle: Post, Seal, Hinge! Secure Backside Backer than Hinge for DE. If you have a 3-tech backside Jab down hard on 3-tech until you feel the Center’s presence, then Hinge for DE.

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Inside/Outside Puller Fits to Defend Gap Runs from Mint Front

By Lawson Green
Defensive Coordinator
Oak Grove High School (LA)
Twitter: @lawson_green45

 

We are a base 3-4, 2-high team with our defensive linemen aligned in a 4-0-4 front.  Our defensive line is usually bigger kids that must demand a double team and can eat up blocks. Our End is the more athletic of the two tackles. He will bump to a 5-tech at times. Our Tackle is a true Defensive Tackle that will have to play 3 at times. We teach our Defensive linemen a Shade technique for when they are lined up on the shoulder of an offensive lineman and a Head technique for when they are lined head up. Our inside linebackers are decent runners, but they must be able to get off blocks and make tackles. Our outside linebackers must be able to play the curl area in the pass and set the edge or play a 9/6 tech against a Tight end. Our Corners are our best cover guys, and our safeties need to be our best tacklers. We have adapted our defense over the years to try to stop the spread attack. We no longer start our defensive installation by defending the Pro formation.  We now start with defending 2×2. When talking about run fits in our defense our players must understand that our coverage leverage is going to dictate their fit in the run. If their coverage places them outside the box, they are going to fit according to our rules based on the alignment of the back. If they are inside the box, they fit based on the blocking scheme they get. When defending 1 back gap scheme teams we always want to make sure that we have someone inside and outside of each puller. When a lineman pulls, they are creating two new gaps to the side they are pulling to, so we must make sure we have someone in each one of them.

 

Aligning to 10 personnel

The Front Five: We align our front five to the field when in our base 3-4 front. We want to take away gaps from the inside out. We play our tackles in 4s or 4Is depending on their ability, they will utilize our head technique. They are responsible for the B gap on runs and they are contain rushers against the pass. Our nose is aligned in a zero. He is the backside A gap player. We want our nose to disrupt the middle as much as possible while maintaining the backside A gap. If our nose gets a double team, he will sit his hips down in the crack and fight pressure against the double team.  Our ILBs align in 20s and are frontside A gap players on runs to and cutback/Quarterback players on run away. The ILBs are fast-run fitters.

 

Outside Linebackers (OLBs)vs 10: Our Sam and Jack will apex the #2 receiver and the offensive tackle. They will align 5 yards off the ball with their inside foot up.

 

Sam and Jack are either a “Pause” or a “Fit” player based on the alignment of the back. If the back is aligned to their side, they are a Pause player, meaning that they will hang in the slot window for a pass then play Qb to cutback. If the back is aligned opposite of them then they are a Fit player, meaning that if they get run action, they are going to attack the line and get square to force the ball back inside.

Safeties vs 10: The Strong and Free Safety will align off of the #2 receiver based on the coverage call. They are pass-first players. Their job is to fit outside in vs any run to their side and to play long cutback away from him. The Free Safety will align 5×7 off the offensive tackle to the single receiver side. He has the same responsibility as the Strong.

Corners: The Corner aligns from the #1 receiver based on the coverage call. He is a pass 1st player with secondary contain responsibility vs run to him and last man pursuit vs run away.

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“The Foster 5” – Innovation 2: Converting the G Defense to Defend the 11 Personnel Run Game

“In G defense I can close my eyes and know how teams were going to block and manipulate us. We couldn’t protect the backside linebacker in gap runs.”
– Bud Foster, former Defensive Coordinator, Virginia Tech University

 

 

By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager/Co-Founder
X&O Labs
@MikeKKuchar

 

 

The Ideology: A Single Gap Control Mentality

Bud Foster defenses know how to get after the quarterback. In fact, since he arrived in Blacksburg in 1995, the Hokies have led all FBS programs in sacks (894) and sack yardage (-6,110). And while he realizes that the days of the 50 sack per year season tally has dissipated, he still works tirelessly to put less and less on the shoulders of the defensive ends in his system. It’s a far contrast from many defensive coaches who expect these players to handle multiple responsibilities in the run and pass game. For years in Blacksburg a defensive end’s job description was two parts:  get off the ball and create havoc. And with the success of many under his tutelage- Jason Worilds, Darryl Tapp, Cornell Brown, and Corey Moore to name a few- who is to argue? Coach Foster built his G defense around spill principles in the run game, asking first level players to bend down the line of scrimmage to spill blocks so that linebackers can be free to make plays. This philosophy stayed true to keeping those precious linebackers free to flow to the ball, and came with first level defensive lineman playing single gap control in most situations. He never tinkered with the two-gap technique, mainly because he felt he didn’t have the type of personnel to do so. “You don’t see many defenses that can line up and play two-gap that can just man-handle people like Alabama can,” he said. “We couldn’t get those guys. We can play with smaller guys that are every bit as physical.” So, he had to create one on one situations that allowed players to play faster. And since most offenses work to manipulate edge defenders in the read game, it didn’t make sense to ask him to do multiple things. “Edge players are our most dynamic players,” he said. “You want them to be playmakers. Offenses continually try to negate speed players and manipulate them, so we try to find ways to allow them to play fast and attack the offense. If we slowed them down, it affected our pass rush. Instead, we turned them loose.”

 

The Impediment: Lack of Protection for Box LB’s in 11 Personnel Run Game

Back in 2015 when I last visited with Bud, he was enamored with the Bear defense, and for good reason. The Hokies had just come off a 35-21 win at 8th ranked Ohio State, where he used the Bear front exclusively to draw off double teams to hold the Buckeyes’ potent run game to 108 yards on the ground, down from the 264 yards per game they averaged that season. The plan worked until the following season when OSU rushed for 359 yards in a redemption win. RB Ezekiel Elliot wasn’t a great matchup for the Mike linebacker (who would be?) and QB Cardale Jones was able to avoid the 5-6 man pressures to extend plays and just like that the Bear defense was shelved. But according to Bud, that outcome wasn’t the sole impetus that drew the change.

Part of the role of turning first level defenders loose was allowing them to be bend players and not read players. These were called “Free Calls,” in Bud’s system where the defensive end was able to bend down the line of scrimmage to play the first level of the option concept. It was an easy technique for first-level defenders that were able to get the ball spilled to the perimeter so that second and third-level defenders can run things down. It fit with the premise of the G defense because it got everything spilled. But the problem was the upfield natural movement of that defensive end allowed for offensive linemen to get angles on second level linebackers who were not able to get over the top of blocks in gap concepts. So, in a sense, the ball was getting spilled to grass.

 

The Adaptation: The 50 Defense

So, in 2017, Coach Foster went back into the lab and produced what he felt was the perfect hybrid between the Bear and his vaunted G defense. He called it his 50 defense.

 

Without changing personnel, he tabbed what he called a “Bear” End who would be allowed to be in a standup position at the line of scrimmage. The other 5-technique defensive end would align with the Whip/Nickel, the Nose would reduce to a pure 0 technique, and the Tackle would play a 3-technique to the side of the “Bear End.”

 

The Bear End can be set to the following surfaces based on specific preferences:

  • To the Boundary– This provided alley support to boundary corner in field zone pressures

 

The clip below best illustrates this coaching point:

 

 

  • To the Field– This provided immediate support in any perimeter runs like jet sweep

 

The clip below best illustrates this coaching point:

 

 

  • To the Back– This provided immediate mesh disruptions for speed options teams.

 

The clip below best illustrates this coaching point:

 

 

  • Away from the Back– This provided immediate mesh disruption on dual options like power read.
  • To the Tight End– This provided a better edge for outside runs

 

To get these protocols straightened out, the Bear End would align to the strength called by the Mike. The Mike would set the front to any of those possible scenarios above while the coverage would adjust accordingly. But if there were pressures called, the base rule was to have the Bear End align to the boundary or away from passing strength.

The 50 defense was something he wanted to use exclusively against the 11 personnel run game because the presence of a backside B gap responsible first level defender made it hard for linemen to get to the backside linebacker in run schemes. “You get two linebackers in the box and usually one of them is clean,” he told me. “It was a big help in defending spread gap schemes that we’re seeing now like counters.” According to Bud, it also allowed the field defensive end to play both the C and B gap in his “pop pinch” technique described below. The Mike linebacker was able to overlap concepts and run them down.

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Vertical PAPs off Power Read and Power Pitch Run Action

By Gabe Luvara
Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach
Robert Morris University (PA)
Twitter: @gluvara

Four verticals is one of the oldest, and most time-trusted pass concepts in football. In our offense, as well as most others across the country I’m sure, it is a day one install concept. Like most staple plays, it allows for great variation across most any formation and opens options for creative play designers to layer different receivers in the landmarks spread across the field. At RMU, it is also a major point of emphasis in our play-action game from week to week. As we build our plan in the run game we always keep an eye on what defenders will be activated in run the respective run fits and how, if possible, we can take advantage of empty field space created down the field w vertical variations. These plays are low-cost concepts for us as they have great carryover for the QB’s and receivers from the initial install of the drop-back pass play. Incorporating the play-action versions allow the ball to come out even quicker in the seams because of the initial step to fit of the LB’s. Pass rush can be influenced thanks to the different protection schemes (run looks) we use and allow us to hopefully get the ball out quick while defensive linemen are still beginning to alert themselves into a pass rush transition.

WR Jet Play-Action Verticals

Use of Jet sweeps in some form or fashion are a possibility for us in any game as an option to fill our perimeter run plan. One of our first versions of PAP verticals comes off this action.

This is a 5-man protection with a slightly moving pocket as the QB will set up in approximately the pre-snap B gap area after shuffling with the mesh of the WR. The action we are selling in this instance is our power read play to the jet sweep. The front-side tackle is responsible for the B gap and wants to sell the “deuce” combo for the first 3 steps before gearing down and transitioning into a pass pro mirror technique. Once the ball is snapped, he must keep his eyes in his gap and if there is no immediate threat (3-tech) he should leave an inside drag arm and look for any work coming to fill his gap. A pre-snap coaching point is that the tackle be alert to any potential edge pressure showing off the front side. If needed he can make a call to alert the front side of the OL and the pulling guard of the possibility of pressure. In this case the guard and tackle should emphasize staying square to collect any inside movement of the DL and freeing up the pulling guard to connect w the blitzer.

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Air Raid Concept Designs from Compressed Formations

By Pete DeWeese
Offensive Coordinator & Quarterback’s Coach
Sprayberry High School (GA)
Twitter: @coachdeweese

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In the world of offensive football, compressed (or Tite) formations are nothing new. Teams have been using Tite Bunch formations in Pro and Spread offenses for decades. Several other offensive systems have used Double-Wing and Double Slot formations to condense offensive sets and put the defense in a bind. I think that football has seen a bit of a resurgence of compressed sets in recent years from NFL teams like the Rams, Chiefs, and 49ers as well as college teams from across the county. LSU used compressed sets as a big part of their National Title run in 2019.

Our offensive staff at Sprayberry has used compressed formations in some fashion since we arrived before the 2017 season. As the offense grew, we found ourselves building more and more Tite formations into our system. By the time that we entered the 2019 season we had built a solid catalog of compressed sets that aided our offense production.

One of our primary reasons for transitioning to Tite sets was for our run game, as we felt that we could use the formations to gain numbers for our edge run game. The other advantage that we sought to gain from our compressed sets was the ability to alter coverage structures. Sprayberry is in a highly competitive 6A region here in the metro Atlanta area. Several of our opponents have outstanding defensive coaching staffs and are stocked with incredibly talented players. The best teams that we play want to play some variation of match coverage and they all want to be physical at the line of scrimmage with their secondary. Utilizing compressed sets can force teams to utilize checks that may get them out of their coverage comfort zone, and that is our goal. As we moved to more and more condensed sets, we found ourselves needing to adapt our traditional passing attack into our Tite sets. We believe that any offense can take many of the common staples of modern offenses and easily execute them from condensed formations.

SMASH CONCEPT

Smash is certainly nothing new. Many offenses utilize different variations of the traditional Hi/Low stretch that Smash places on a flat defender. Whether you are facing a Cover 3 defense or a 2-High team that will Cloud the coverage, good defenses can easily find ways to blurry the picture for a Quarterback when you are utilizing traditional splits. I have found that compressing the formation makes the read even easier for the quarterback and often seems to make it more difficult on the defense. Instead of using some form of a hitch, condensing the formation allows you to put the receiver into the same space with a different angle of departure. Whether you choose to put the #1 receiver, the #2 receiver, or a RB into the flat, you easily place a quick threat to that area of the field and force a quick reaction by the defense. Our primary method of running Smash puts the outside receiver on a speed out. Any corner that wants to be a hard-flat player gets pulled outside as the angle of our route often forces him to turn his hips and match the path of the route to the sideline. If he does not turn his hips but instead sinks off to protect the safety, he is giving up leverage and leaving your flat route open. The other option that we see is defenses that want to protect the CB by aligning him 3-4 yards outside of the formation. When defenses give you that soft edge, they are now more vulnerable in the run game and open themselves up to some of our other concepts.

The most common response we see from 2-High teams is either play a “SINK” version of Cover 2 or Pattern Match off the release of the #2 receiver. Because of this, we have found that 2-High teams typically keep the safety both more inside and a little deeper than they may be otherwise. This allows continues to put the CB in a bind as we pair our speed out with the traditional corner route. If the Safety is deep and inside, we have created the leverage that we need for our route and given the QB an extremely easy read.

One-High defenses must decide where they are going to put their alley defender. If they put him outside of the #2 receiver, or even outside of the #1 receiver, you have been able to take advantage of the interior run gap that the alignment has created. You also must take advantage of what has likely become the free release of your #2 receiver against that look. We think Smash allows you to do just that.

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Gap Double Teams vs a 3-Down Nose

By Tom Doddy
Offensive Line Coach & Run Game Coordinator
Rowan University (NJ)

 

I believe that to be a championship football team, you must be able to run the football at high efficiency, not only against advantageous run boxes but against stacked boxes when everyone in the stadium knows you are going to run the football. Today’s defenses pose problems that defenses back in 1983, the year I started coaching, did not pose. We see more multiple fronts, stemming, and movements than ever before. As a result, our run scheme and blocking techniques are simple but flexible enough, to handle all the different looks that we are going to see week in and week out.  It is my philosophy, like the late Coach Howard Mudd, that we will do a few things and will do them extraordinarily well.  Our run game consists of zone runs (inside, mid, outside) and gap runs (power, counter, and dart).  Power is a staple in our offense.  It is an “Alka-Seltzer” run play for us. If things are getting unsettled, running Power will allow us to be able to calm things down and get us back on track.

My philosophy as an Offensive Line Coach has been shaped by my experiences playing the position in high school and college and coaching the position at the collegiate and high school level.   My experiences coaching other positions in football (QB, RB, TE, DL, LB, and Safeties) and coaching other sports (baseball, women’s softball and throws in track and field) have also shaped my teaching progression.  I believe that you teach linemen HOW to block before you teach them whom to block. As you will see, our teaching progression will be broken down into the following:

  1. What is my job?
  2. How do I do it?
  3. Do it
  4. Repeat

By breaking it down into this simple progression, it will help our players become problem solvers on the field. If something goes awry, they will know how to go back and correct themselves appropriately.

Today, I would like to present to you the C/G double team technique, versus a 3-down front, we teach in our gap run game at Rowan University.  When running Power, Counter, or Dart, all our double teams, are executed with the same technique. It is a unified technique.  We are going to take two adjacent OL and apply mass and force onto the Nose.  For teaching purposes, we break down our responsibilities and techniques into a Post Man (Center) and Drive Man (Play Side Guard).

The double team block intends to displace the Nose vertically and/or horizontally.  As a result, our technique must match the intent of the block.  In doing so we will be able to displace the defender vertically (drive him to LB depth) or horizontally (widen a defensive gap) based on how the Nose plays the block.    Our thought process is we must dominate the first level first before we can even think about climbing to the second level.  Our shoulders and hips must stay as square to the LOS as possible and play with great eye discipline.    This will allow us to deal with defensive movement and or pressure, allow our hips to fuse, and utilize the complete width of our blocking surface.   In essence, we will not provide many open windows for defenders to exploit.

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3-2 and 3-1 Box Run Fits from 3-Safety Defense

By Josh Runda
Defensive Coordinator & Linebackers
Bluffton University (OH)
Twitter: @Rundatheball

 

 

At Bluffton University we base out of the 4-2-5. However, when I became the Defensive Coordinator, I knew I wanted to be able to run the 3-High Safety defense as well. This would allow us to be multiple and make offenses prepare for 4-man fronts and 3-man fronts. The trick was finding a way to marry the two defenses and be able to have variations of the Same coverages out of both looks. Our identity is simplicity and at the end of the day, we want our players to play fast and playing with confidence. Our goal is to be able to run our coverages in our 4-2-5 and 3-High Safety defense without changing the language. The 3-High Safety defense also gives us the ability to run different variations of drop 8 coverages.

 

The Basics
If you aren’t familiar with the 3-High Safety defensive structure, here is a look at our base alignment to a 2×2 attached tight end formation.

 


Positionally upfront we play with an End (E), Nose (N), and End (E). At linebacker, we play with two in the box linebackers, our Mike (M) and Will (W). Our Sam (S) is a true field player. In the secondary, we play with two Corners (C), a Strong Safety (SS) which travels to the field, our Boundary Safety (BS), and our Star (ST). The Star is our middle safety.

 

Our Base Coverage
We are a split field coverage team working in triangles. Our strong safety works with the Sam and the corner to their side and the boundary safety works with the will and the corner to their side. Our safeties align on the outside shoulder pad of the #2 WR to their side. Based on their alignment, they decide if they can give help to the corner to their side. If they do think they can give help they will put us in a “Read” (Cover 2) call to that side. This means all three defenders are going to read off the #2 WR’s release. If the safety does not think they can give help they will put us in a “Nail” (Cover 4) call to their side. In both coverages, the Mike is going to have eyes to #3.

 

 

 

We are a +1 mentality to the box and because we often count the Star as a run-first defender, we utilize him as a “takeaway” defender in our base coverage. This simply means that we will utilize the Star to take away something the opposing team does well in the passing game. We also can add him on to the rush or use him as a spy vs. a mobile quarterback.

 

“Read Coverage”

 

Corners:

 

Alignment: 1x 6-7 yds I/S

Responsibility: Flat/Deep Quarter

Key: #2

Goes in – Sink with #1

Goes out – Drive Flat

Goes Vert – Use Mesh technique on #1

 

Safeties:

Alignment: O/S Shoulder of #2 10-12 yds

Responsibility: Deep Half

Key: #2 / Skooch steps at the snap

Goes in – Eyes to #1

Goes out – Over the top of #1

Goes Vert – Man to Man

 

“Nail Coverage”

Corners:

Alignment: 1x 6-7 yds I/S

Responsibility: Deep Quarter

Key: Mesh technique on #1. If #1 is under, zone off

 

Safeties:

Alignment: O/S Shoulder of #2 10-12 yds

Responsibility: Deep Quarter

Key: #2 / Flat Foot

Goes in – Eyes to #1

Goes out – Eyes to #1

Goes Vert – Man to Man

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“The Foster 5” – Innovation 1: Designing Pressures to Manipulate the Modern QB

“For a time, offenses got away from 3×1 open because of protection issues. Now they are using it more to either manipulate you down the middle of the field or to isolate your boundary corner. You have to protect him. You will not always get the matchup that favors him.”
– Bud Foster, former Defensive Coordinator, Virginia Tech University

 

 

By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager/Co-Founder
X&O Labs
@MikeKKuchar

 

 

The Ideology: Varying Coverage and Insertion Points to Exploit Mismatches

Let’s start with a foregone conclusion: Bud Foster loves to pressure offenses. That has never changed. But how he decides to manufacture pressure has been a continual development in the mind of the legendary defensive coordinator. We’ve all seen the grainy footage of Virginia Tech’s Whip Dogs and Cane Dogs of the early 2000s. If you haven’t, we’re willing to show it again. Those samplings are included in the Film Room section of this study. You need to see how Xavier Adibi and Corey Moore got after the QB. But his evolution now has come in the form of altering two main aspects of his zone pressure system: varying insertion points for his pressure people and building out the coverages on the back end.

He tells me that in a good year, he will be 15-18% zone pressures, 30% man free pressures, and 55% zone coverages. There are also be years where they are not a good pressure team so he will play more base. The difference lies in how many coverages are used to support them on the back end. “In any of our pressure patterns, we can play Cover 7, Man Free, Trap, Cloud, Robber, or Quarters he told me. “It can change week to week for us. It’s based on whether an offense is a run team, an RPO team, or a pure drop-back team. That is where we’ve been different.”

One of the more interesting things I garnered from my sessions with Bud is noticing how different he is in classifying his zone pressure system. Most coaches I’ve worked with classify their zone pressures based on the concept type and would follow this traditional format:

  • 3-deep, 3-Under zone pressures
  • 3-deep, 2-Under zone pressures
  • 2-deep, 4-Under zone pressures

 

Each one of these categories will have a distinct amount of pressure patterns tied to it. For example, a “Bark,” pressure pattern would continually be with always be utilized with 3-deep, 3-under zone pressure coverage. But Coach Foster doesn’t classify his pressures in that regard. Instead, he’ll build coverages off the pressure pattern. And because he varies the coverage behind these patterns, most of his pressures are grouped by name, not by coverage. For example, a Whip (Nickel) zone pressure alone can be supported by several coverages on the back end. I assumed this could be confusing for players but the more time I spent with him the more I realized that players knew by alignment who was involved in the pressure. And that knowledge came with the understanding of the offensive formation presented. I’ll have more on that in the next section.

Like most coaches, Coach Foster teaches the back end of coverage before creating the pressure pattern. He is a self-reported coverage-loaded coach. “Our people have to understand invert coverage concepts first then we build our pressures around them,” he said. “It’s coverage first then we plug the blitz pattern in. You don’t mess with the coverage. You can plug people into the coverage.” This placement is the culmination of the process of finding mismatches in protection and coverage, both of which I elaborate on below.

  • Cover 7– This was a strong thirds rotation coverage that would replace the blitzer to the field. He liked to use these against spread offenses that took vertical shots on the perimeter. This softer coverage matched up well against deeper routes.
  • Cover 5 (Trap)– I noticed he used this coverage to get immediate protection in the flat to defend the horizontal pass game. It was something he built in when offenses started to identify pressure indicators and attack the flanks.
  • Cover 2 (Robber)– This coverage he used to soften the leverage of corners who had to defend speedy receivers to the field. I noticed it was something he used a great deal of against Miami who had faster receivers outside.
  • Cover 9 (Quarters)– This was used as a tighter fit coverage to contest intermediate throws and RPO’s. It played out more like man coverage with boundary pressure.
  • Cover 5 Switch/Cover 2 Switch– This is the coverage he progressed to protect seams. It’s part of his adaptation and is explained below.

 

But there are certain staples in Coach Foster’s zone pressure catalog that need to be understood before digging deeper into his methodology. The number one rule is simple: the first level must secure their gaps, either with their bodies or the bodies of their opponents. That is a non-negotiable and that wording is littered all over his 500-page defensive manual.  There are several pre-snap movement verbiages tied to his system, which is explained below.

 

First Level Movement Categories:

  • “Tag”- 3-Technique works from B gap to A gap.
  • “Spark”- Same as Tag but 2i defender goes from A gap to B gap.
  • “Long Pinch”- C gap to B gap movement. Used by defensive ends to the side of the pressure. They will read the block of the Guard. If the Guard fans, he comes underneath the block. If the slide goes away from the pinch, he has to work back into the C gap.
  • “Long Scoop”– Used by Nose and Tackle to cross the face of the Center. This defender needs to be deep enough to get over the top of the Center. The same rules apply above. Center works slide to him, they cross face.
  • “Stem”- Nose and Tackle pre-snap movement. Each will stem from a 2-technique to a 3-technique. These stems are called. “We can’t play with two 3-techniques,” said Coach Foster. “If they get caught on first down, they are both sparking.”

 

Except for Stems, all of these calls are built into the call. Players are notified of the side of the pressure by “Lucky” calls (blitz is coming from the left) and “Ringo” calls (blitz is coming from the right). Any two-shade in Lucky tells them they are an A gap penetrator. Any three-shade in Lucky tells them they are tagging.

 

Zone Pressure Principles:

Pressure defenders at the second level are either contain rushers or benders. Each of these responsibilities is below:

  • Contain rushers= crash stunt. This is taught to Backers, Nickels, Whips, Rovers, Corners, FS. They would play pitch on the option and have flare control in the passing game. They have the contain element of the concept.
  • Benders- D crashers. According to Coach Foster, this defender cannot be flat enough. They will take the ball/dive player on option or the QB if no dive element. They must spill everything with a free rush. Corners or Nickels and Rovers can all be benders.

 

In most scenarios, the initial penetrator would be an outside edge defender and then LB would be contain. I’ve noticed many breakdowns in the technique of the D-crasher when I was sitting down with Coach Foster to not come tight enough down the line of scrimmage. He teaches this by using his Hoops Drill, which is available in the Film Room section of this report.

With a pressure catalog as extensive as his, I was curious to see how he assesses blitzers. He told me that although different years bring different personnel, he found that the Nickel in his system usually was a better pressure defender than a cover defender. This is why he relied more on them to pressure than to play more coverage. The same could hold true with the Rover. “It’s all about timing, anticipating, and the ability to slip blocks,” he said. “They need to play with good leverage and not be allowed to get pushed.” He teaches this by using his Skate Drill, which is available in the Film Room section of this report.

Bud felt that the hardest thing to get pressure players to understand is to make sure they have a plan before they rush. “Those second-level players can’t have hesitation,” he said. “The worst-case scenario is to bull rush or power rush the blocker but I don’t want to get run by the QB where he can dip up and run away. I want them to play fast. You don’t want QB’s to step up and attack seams, etc. It’s the same thing with our front four. We want to push the pocket with our defensive ends. There are different QB that can turn and run or slide out with vision downfield. We need to keep the launch point in a certain area and close the pocket. We need to limit the passing lane.”

 

Zone Pressure Installation:

He follows a progression when installing his zone pressure catalog. I include his complete fall and spring installation in the Appendix, but from a general standpoint he uses this framework:

  • Field Fire Zones first
  • Boundary Fire Zones second
  • Pipe (Middle) Fire Zones third

 

“Once you have those patterns put in it just becomes concepts like insertion points, long pinches, and wipe techniques,” he said. “We would have a full run-through in practice to emphasize two back offense to get our base rules. Then we move to one-back offense. I want to get base fundamentals done.”

The man pressures described in Section 4 get installed first. Then, he progresses to teaching his zone pressures. We will follow the order below when detailing them in this section:

  • Whip
  • Whip Dog
  • Cane Dog
  • Slice
  • Devil
  • Cowboy
  • Rover
  • Cab
  • Clippers (30 Pressure)
  • Boundary Dog (30 Pressure)

 

Field Pressure Patterns:

How he classifies these pressures has so much clarity, particularly for the defenders upfront. All of his field fire zones abide by the following outline below:

 

The field pressures are all the same to the pressure side. “It’s only different for the Nickel, Free Safety, and Mike linebacker based on coverage,” he said. There is a lot of text in that outline above, but essentially Field fire zone rules follow the format below:

  • The defensive end to the pressure side is either long pinching or he’s up the field like he would be on the “Slice” pattern.
  • Tackles are long scooping.
  • The Nose is sparking away
  • The Defensive end to the boundary is dropping.

 

The following pressures are included in Coach Foster’s field zone pressure catalog:

  • Whip
  • Whip dog
  • Cane Dog
  • Strike
  • Slice

 

What I wanted to do first is introduce these pressure patterns and when to use them. Then I’ll address how he went about altering the coverage structure behind them to attain mismatches in either protection or personnel.

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Varying Uses of Middle Safety in 3-High Structure

By Bobby Curran
Defensive Coordinator
Conway High School (SC)
Twitter: @CoachCurran42

 

Three-high safety defense is the most trending topic in defensive football recently. Foundationally, we are a Tite front, 3-4 defense. Going into the season we wanted to be able to paint a different picture for the offense than our “base” without changing personnel. In doing so we incorporated the three-safety defense as a changeup for us. Getting into the three-safety defense and changing as little as possible was our goal. To do this, we took our MLB and told him to align as the deep middle safety (8-10 yards). There are a lot of philosophies out there that allow for many different players to fill the role of the middle safety in a three-deep shell. What we found is, if you want to keep your teaching the same across all positions, the easiest position to move is one of the middle linebackers from our base 3-4. The MLB being deeper does not change anything for him. His run fits are the same. His pass responsibilities are the same. The secondary shell is the same.

As a quick note, we will line up our three-high package against anything. We’ve run it against 10 personnel, and we’ve run it again 32 personnel when a team got heavy on us. This just furthers the point that if you keep the rules and fits consistent, it doesn’t matter what you see on Friday night, your kids can line up and play ball.

A frequently asked question to me when talking about going back and forth from a 3-4 to a 3 high is, “How do you deal with the last #3 and pass distribution?” Our base foundation is press quarters so when we hear #3, the first thing that pops in our heads is a “push” call that is a staple in every quarter’s toolbox. With three-high safeties and only one inside linebacker, we do not want him leaving the box to chase anything. We’d like to take the thinking off his hands and just have him focus on the box.

 

Teaching Progression

Basic Picture: This is a picture of our base defense. As in any defense, we have a multitude of ways we fit things. We can box, spill, and use various players in different roles, which is why we love the 3-4 defensive structure.

 

Ways We Use our 3rd Player

In pass coverage, we must relate to #3. After the pass routes distribute themselves, the #3 usually becomes the in-breaking route because no matter where they start, the inside player is always going to turn into #3. Thinking with the end in mind, we know what his assignment is going to be. This being known, we can now move his alignment to put him in the most advantageous position for him. This means we can change his alignment. With our three-safety package, we can use him as our QB player in the run game, we can spy him on a particular player, we can use him as a robber, and, as you’ll see on film, we can use him as an RPO hunter.

Coaching Points:

Alignment: Our M will align stacked directly behind our W, depth will be decided by game plan and down and distance. Typically, if we are in a running situation, we’ll have him around 8 yards. The deeper in the down and distance, the deeper his alignment will take him. We use his heels as our key for alignment. If I want him at 8, that means his heels are at 8, etc. Again, he will relate to #3 if #3 is removed. That’s the only thing that will take him out of his stacked alignment. If #3 is in the backfield, he’ll stay stacked. The stacked alignment, for us, simply makes his assignment and angle harder to pick up for the offense.

Read/Key:

Reads for our MLB to stay the same regardless of his alignment. As a caveat, I will say, in spring/summer, when we work on reads, I teach our LB how to read backfield and linemen. I do this because every player is different. Some are exceptionally good at reading guards. They can decipher a down block vs. a reach block, etc., and get where they need to go. Others are outstanding backfield readers. I give them a bit of freedom in deciding what works best for them if it fits our system. He will get his pass read just as he would in the box, the high hat from the offensive line. His keys will change week to week given the game plan. For example, if we are going to be heavy 3 high safety for a given week, we will have him key the #2 WR if we know we’ll get a strong RPO game, etc.

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Pass/Screen and Screen/Screen Options Off Number 3 Defender

By Robin Bowkett
Head Football Coach/Offensive Coordinator
Souhegan High School (NH)
Twitter: @coachbowkett

 

We would classify ourselves as a multiple spread option offense. We have a read key or two on pretty much all our plays and concepts. We took this into account when building our screen game as well. Historically, our program has been a real solid screen team as our personnel upfront and on the perimeter helps dictate that. We devote a ten-minute screen period during our offensive practices in the preseason which helps emphasize the importance of screens within our offense. We feel the benefits of running read screens include, tagging off our base plays, carry over for the offensive line, can call on any down, gets athletes in space, and forces the defense to defend the whole field.

 

TB Slip Screen

The first screen we will talk about and install is TB Slip Screen. This screen generally is a PSO (pass screen option) and we like to pair it with one of our base pass concepts. We install this screen first because it marries up with our base pass protection. We like it best vs off zone coverage, but you can run vs man. This past year, we ran the stick concept with slip but in the past, we have mainly run 3-man snag. We like to run this out of 3×1 as we feel it is less crowded for the offensive line and simplest for the QB. We also like this screen because it an easy read for the QB regardless if the defense is in an Even or Odd front.  Versus a four-man front, the Read will be the Playside backer, the Sam in a 43 or the Mike in a 42 box.  Against a 34 look, the read is still the Mike backer and vs a stack look, the read will be the Frontside stack.   This is a great play vs pressure as long as the OL can account for the defender responsible for the back.

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Targeting the Weakside Safety in the Y Cross Concept

By Tye Hiatt
Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach
Shepherd University (WV)
Twitter: @HiattShepherdU

 

 

The cross scheme (Y-Cross) is a base concept for our offensive staff at Shepherd. It is a scheme that has answers to different coverages and is a concept that we can adjust to our personnel. This concept is one that we can add to as the season progresses and make adjustments as needed. One of the factors we stress with our players when installing this offensive scheme is that we want our players to understand the “big picture” of the play. We want players to understand how they fit within the base concept. This play gives us the freedom to move players around the field and put players in multiple positions to be successful.

 

In this first diagram, we will go over our base install for the concept.

Hiatt Cross Diagram 1

 

Here are our base install rules:

Boundary WR #1: 5-Step Hitch – Work down the line vs Man
Boundary WR #2: Slot Fade – Release to the bottom of the #’s, hold the line at 13-15 Yds (Stem and hold vs man coverage)
Field WR #1: Roll – 12 to 14 Yds on depth – Stay flat to negative
Field WR #2: Cross – Work inside apex defender and attack vertical, do not run past the center, allow the QB to throw to grass (Man coverage – work inside, vertical stem and flatten)
RB: Flash fake, funnel edge defender to Tackle and release to flat (Anticipate the ball coming out quick vs pressure)
QB: Flash Fake – 5-Step Series

 

Using the eyes of the quarterback to work through this play, here are the key reads we look at within the concept:

 

Pre-Snap Key

  • Identify the WS (Or the player who is defending this area). The quarterback wants to get a pre-snap view of where this defender is aligned and his demeanor.
  • The quarterback wants to look at Y/N Hitch – With the pre-snap picture he will ask himself “can I complete the hitch?” If this is a yes, come off the flash fake and throw the 5-Step hitch. If No or if the picture is not clear, work to the key read.

 

Post-Snap Key

  • Work the post-snap key read on the WS (Or the player who is defending this area).
  • If the WS works inside the hash toward the middle of the field, the quarterback will work the high/low into the boundary.
  • If the WS works outside the hash toward the boundary or drops vertically on the hash the quarterback will progress cross, roll, back.

 

 

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Targeting the Weakside Curl/Flat Player in the Drive Concept

By Tye Hiatt
Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach
Shepherd University (WV)
Twitter: @HiattShepherdU

 

 

When we throw the football at Shepherd University there are two key factors that we look at. The first one is protection. We never want to install a pass concept that we feel we cannot protect with our offensive line and running backs. Within this key item of protection is also the ability to run the concept with a five or six-man protection, while also having routes built-in for our QB to throw the football vs pressure and/or the blitz.

The second factor we look at is the ability to complete the concept at a high level. We want to give our eligible receivers the ability to create separation from defenders and keep the teaching progression consistent for the QB. The drive concept is a foundation play for us at Shepherd and is a play that fits two of the most important factors that we look at when throwing the football.

 

In this first diagram, we will go over our base install for the concept.

Hiatt Drive Diagram 1

 

Here are our base install rules:

Boundary WR #1: Drive – Align 4 Yds from #2 WR – Work through the heels of the near DL – read the opposite C/F defender and adjust vs zone – Be alert to middle pressure
Boundary WR #2: Square In – Outside release – 12 Depth – Flat to negative, get separation
Field WR #1: MOR (Mandatory Outside Release) – Vertical stem and outside release the corner. Hold the line and win vertically. Look for a potential vertical shot
Field WR #2: Speed Out – 4-6 Yd depth. Stem and win leverage toward the sideline. Anticipate the ball on your outside shoulder
RB: Replace – funnel edge defender to Tackle and release on the replace route. The aiming point is 3 yds deep x 3 yds wide over an attached #2 WR
QB: 5-Step Series

 

Using the eyes of the quarterback to work through this play, here are the key reads we look at within the concept.

 

Pre-Snap Key:

  1. Identify the curl/flat player away from the drive. The quarterback wants to get a pre-snap view of where this defender is aligned and his demeanor.
  2. Look at Y/N Speed Out – With the pre-snap picture can the quarterback complete the speed out? If this is a Yes, rocker and throw the field speed out. If No OR if the picture is not clear, work the key read back across the field.

 

Post-Snap Key

  1. Work the post-snap key read on the weakside curl/flat player.
  2. Once we identify what the curl/flat player does with the speed out we want to work through the drive progression:
    • Drive – 5 and throw (3 and throw in the gun)
    • Square In – 5 and gather (3 and gather in the gun)
    • Replace – 5 and gather (3 and gather in the gun)

 

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Designating Attack vs. Free Rushers to Defend Screens and Draws

By Rick Scheidt
Defensive Coordinator
Fresno City College (CA)
Twitter: @ScheidtRick

 

 

One of the most frustrating outcomes for any defense is when a draw or screen hits for a big gain. This was a common problem for me as a young coach especially against teams that had success throwing the ball. In this report, I will go over various concepts for either controlling a pass rush or controlling a pressure out of a 4-2-5 defensive scheme.

The most important point when introducing a controlled pass rush or pressure to your defensive players is the concept of attacking technique. Attacking technique in a gap-controlled defense emphasizes using two hands engaged on the offensive player (sternum and bicep) while creating an air pocket for vision in each player’s respected gap. When introducing a controlled pass rush or controlled pressure, it is important to identify the players that are responsible for attacking technique because these will be the players designated for recognizing draws and screens.

Designating which players will attack technique versus which players are free to rush the passer can be communicated either by a word or it can be communicated numerically.  For a controlled 4 man pass rush we use words or numbers based on the personnel of the offense as well as the down and distance tendency of the offense. I’ve listed the following examples of communication from the military alphabet for a controlled 4 man pass rush:

  • Tango – All 4 defensive linemen are attacking technique
  • Alpha – All 4 defensive linemen are free to rush the passer
  • India – The defensive tackles are free to rush the passer, while the defensive ends are attacking technique
  • Oscar – The defensive ends are free to rush the passer, while the defensive tackles are attacking technique

 

Scheidt Diagram 1

 

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Split Field Pressure Coverages From Odd Stack Spacing

By Travis Roland
Head Football Coach, and Defensive Coordinator
Flagler Palm Coast High School (FL)
Twitter: @COACH217ROLAND

 

At Flagler Palm Coast, we utilize what we call 30 Stack or what most call a 3-3-5 defensive front. We transitioned to this front for two reasons, one because we had an abundance of hybrid style players, and this front (or personnel grouping) allowed us to maximize the talent we had.  Secondly, we chose this front due to the lack of size on our defensive line unit, and using this front allowed us to slant, loop, twist, and turn, utilizing our player’s strengths at the point of attack. This front allowed us to become much more athletic as a total defense.

Our philosophy at Flagler Palm Coast High School is to use the strength of our kids, which is their aggression and speed. Our sole goal on almost every defensive possession is to try and create all one-on-one matchups at the point of attack. We feel that if we can get to one-on-one matchups, our players’ speed and aggression will put us in a place to be successful. Upon my arrival at FPC, I was a big man-to-man play-caller. Our Linebacker coach, Brian Cox, sat down with me and discussed how we could slow up the QB’s reads versus our pressures if we split the field coverage with a man side and a zone side. There are also situations where we split the field with two different zone coverages. This allows us to present a multitude of looks to the opposing team to create confusion and flexibility in certain situations to allow us to be successful. There are times we take a basketball approach to our 6-man zone coverages and play matchup zone. We understand that there are always hots but our players understand the leverage they start with they must keep.

Who’s Who: Look at the following chart to see what names we call our positions. Our defense is broken down into Strong and Weak, but not your typical way. The left side is considered the “Strong Side” of the defense and the right side is considered the “Weak Side” of the defense.

Roland Diagram 1

 

In this diagram, you could see how we line up versus a balanced 2×2 formation if we chose to be one high pre-snap. As stated in the introduction, our players do not have to ever flip sides. Our Strong End, Sam, and Bull are always on the Left/Strong side of the defense. Our Weak End, Will, and Dog are always on the Right/Weak Side of the defense. Our Corners also play Left & Right (Strong and Weak). The “F” (Free Safety) is always the High Safety and in the middle of the field. He does not declare a side until post-snap (that’s our goal).

SE Left Side Defensive End- 4 TECH
NOSE Traditional Nose Guard- 0 TECH
WE Right Side Defensive End- 4 TECH
Sam/S Left Side Stack Backer – Stack on End
Mike/M  Middle Stack Backer – Stack on Nose
Will/W Right Side Stack Backer – Stack on End
BULL Left Nickel Safety
DOG Right Nickel Safety
FS Free Safety
C Corner

 

 

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