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smuBy Mike Kuchar, Senior Research Manager, X&O Labs

See how multiple programs are checking their pressures to attack the weaknesses of the full slide protection schemes. Read more here...

By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
X&O Labs
Twitter: @MikeKKuchar

Editor’s Note: The following research is part of X&O Labs’ special report on Developing a Pressure Check System, which can be found by clicking here.



Full-Slide Protection (Diagram 70A): Full slide protection simply means the offensive line will slide all in one direction and put its back away from the slide. Here, the offensive line could slide in many directions, to the field, to the boundary, to the QB’s backside, etc. It’s important to get a tendency on where they are sliding most often based which could be based on down and distance and personnel.


Without question, full slide protection is the most simple to dissect and perhaps just as simple to attack. The key is to understand where they are setting their slide. Slides can be set to the back, away from the back, to the field or to the boundary. Once that tendency is determined, it becomes more sensible to attack away from the slide protection. We were surprised to hear that many defensive coaches are still seeing the majority of offenses employ full slide protection on a weekly basis. “We see so much slide protection in our league, everyone is doing it.” Butler Community College defensive coordinator Tim Schaffner told us. “We blitz the back to also work on the zone read.”

Ohio State defensive coordinator Chris Ash told us the same thing. “Many times on third down, teams are protecting based on where the back is set,” said Ash. “They will turn away from the back so we will overload the back. It’s almost like 100 percent of the time, some teams don’t cross the back and the center turns opposite him.”

A simple answer to attack full slide protection is to send two (players) to the side away from the slide. Coaches can design those patterns in any variables, could be a five-man pressure, six-man pressure, etc. Most typically, coaches that choose to use a five-man pressure will get the away side defensive end in coverage. A six-man pressure could send both linebackers or a linebacker and safety off the edge. Jeff Judge at Defiance College uses six-man pressures to attack full-slide protections. “If the back wasn’t scanning or double reading, we brought two outside edge pressures,” said Judge. “We would know which one they are using. Now if they are scanning their back, we try to find out which way they are sliding and we will start to bring two from a slide.”

Garrick Gillick, the former defensive coordinator at Bentley College just tags a “solid” call to attack full side protection teams. He will add-on the play side outside linebacker to the side of the slide (Diagram 75). It can often equate to having that linebacker (with a full head of steam) on a back in the backfield.


Scan Protection


Another variable in protection is when offenses start to position the back away from the man side. In these instances, the back will need to sort or “scan” cross the front to handle any outside pressure (Diagram 76). In these instances, a check has to be made to send pressure away from the back. Scott Donaldson, the defensive coordinator at Heidelberg University, will have his players check his pressure away from the back in these instances for a couple reasons. “Either they caught on to the fact that we are blitzing the back and start putting him opposite the man side, or we do it for run purposes,” said Donaldson. In order to do this, Donaldson will utilize what he calls “Magic” (Diagram 77) , which will send the defensive end into the A gap, the Will into the B gap and the Mike as a contain rusher. The coverage rotates away from the back with the weak side defensive end dropping to coverage. It’s a three-strong pressure away from the back.


If the back flopped sides, the blitz can still be run the other way by the Mike linebacker making a “Lucy” (left) or “river” (right) call indicating where the pressure is coming from. A similar concept is tagged “Mexico” (Diagram 78), where the weak side is executing the pressure away from the back. The defensive tackle sticks into the A gap, the outside linebacker chases the inside hip of the offensive tackle and the weak side linebacker is off the edge. The coverage rotates to the side of the back.



To view the game film on all these concepts and access the entire special report on Developing a Pressure Check System, please click here.



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