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By Mike Kuchar, Lead Research Manager, X&O Labs

Garrett Gillick runs picks and twists frequently to attack four man slide or big on big protections. Read more here...

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


Editor’s Note: The following research was conducted in part of XandOLabs.com special report on “Blitz Checks”, continue reading for more information on this special report.


Garrett Gillick runs picks and twists frequently to attack four man slide or big on big protections.   “Running picks and twist makes more sense to put the back in a dilemma,” said Gillick.   Gillick’s two base pressure concepts are what he calls “Waco” and “Seattle.”  Waco is a weak side pressure while Seattle is a strong side pressure, but he will tag a twist or pick just to attack the side of the running back. 

Gillick runs various checks off his Waco pressure system such as the following.  One of the more prominent ones he will use is a pick concept.  To the strong side, it’s dubbed “Seattle Pick” (Diagram 84).  Both the defensive end and tackle take a hard up field charge, while the play side outside linebacker hits the A gap, often on a one on one matchup with the back.  The same action could be run to weak side which is tabbed “Waco Pick” (Diagrams 85).  Here the weak side outside linebacker takes an A gap rush.  It’s a three-under, three-deep pressure package.  Says, Gillick, “Based on protection I feel you can gain an advantage attacking certain protections by having the backers trail the defensive line and then come underneath.  It’s difficult to pick up when executed correctly.”


Put Your Defense in the

Right Pressure Every Play

By Mike Kuchar,

Senior Research Manager,

X&O Labs

When creatively designed and accurately called, a pressure system cannot only be detrimental to offenses... it can be downright degrading. 

But what if you don't call it right?

X&O Labs' research discovered 49.7 percent of coaches are now implementing a pressure check system, a pressure called by a defensive player pre-snap to put their defense in the most advantageous situation.

My research team and I have studied the most effective pressure check protocols based off of several variables: down and distance, formation, personnel, field position and pre-snap movement and detailed all of these in an unprecedented special report, Effective Pressure Check Protocols

With this special report, now you can take the guesswork out of calling pressures and put a tremendous amount of stress on any offense… especially up-tempo, spread offenses.

Whether you've been using pressure checks for years or you're looking to implement the system for the first time, the Effective Pressure Check Protocols special report is your best resource for maximizing this powerful defensive system.

This special report brings you all the latest trends, methods, strategies and schemes that can only come from X&O Labs' in-depth research.

Plus, you'll go inside some of the best defensive programs in the country and get never-before-seen insight on how they operate their own pressure checks.

Here's just a few of the coaches featured in Effective Pressure Check Protocols:

  • Chris Ash, Co-Defensive Coordinator, Ohio State University
  • Bud Foster, Defensive Coordinator, Virginia Tech
  • Tom Mason, Interim Head Coach, Southern Methodist University
  • Tyrone Nix, Defensive Coordinator, Middle Tennessee State
  • Wallie Kuchinski, Defensive Coordinator, St. Thomas University
  • And Many More!

This special report is over 40,000 words and includes 52 videos featuring game film and tutorial videos - and is available in our exclusive membership website, Insiders.

Get Your Insiders Membership Here!

The Effective Pressure Check Protocols special report is broken down into three cases. Here's what you'll find in each case...

Case 1: Implementation Variables and Communication Protocols

In Case One of our special report, we focus on the variables that coaches use when implementing their pressure check system and the communication process they use. These variables include down and distance, field zones, personnel groupings, formations and personnel weaknesses. We also center this data on the communication protocols coaches are using in their systems to get checks communicated pre-snap and implemented post-snap.

Here's a quick look at what you'll find in Case One:

  • How a check system could be the perfect complement to up-tempo offenses and how, if calculated correctly, can harness unpredictability in your defense and create negative plays.
  • The methods coaches are using to devise their pressure check system including how they compile tendencies in the film room.
  • Why 3 to 5 pressure checks should be the benchmark per game for high school coaches, while college-level programs will use between 8 and 10.
  • The various pressure check variables coaches are using in their system including personnel groupings, field positioning and formations.
  • Why double calling, bluffing and killing pressures can provide headaches for sideline control, up-tempo offenses.
  • The 11 most common indicators quarterbacks are using to check plays at the line of scrimmage and how to dissect these "tells" each week to build into your check system.
  • How to package your check pressures into one-word defensive calls and how many you should have going to game week.
  • Why 76 percent of coaches feel more comfortable with their players making the checks and they talk about the process by which they train them to do so.

Case 2: Formation & Personnel Pressure Checks in the Run Game

In this case, we will present our research on the most common pressure checks against various offensive formations and personnel groupings.

According to our research, 74 percent of coaches choose to pressure certain formations and personnel groupings, more so than any other variable. While this may be true, we found it necessary for coaches to be efficient with teaching their players formation structures before installing their check system. Many of the coaches we spoke with when conducting our research said that they will install all of their various types of pressures, field, boundary, tight side, open side, etc. before getting into specifics about formations.  

This is just a few of the things Case Two reveals:

  • Decifering your check system based off formation classifications and surface classifications.
  • Some of the most productive run pressure checks against three-man surface formations.
  • Some of the more productive run pressure checks against two-man surface formations including Montana State University's "backer" concept, which cancels seven gap run concepts.
  • Various B.T.F. (Blitz the Formation) protocols including the ones used by Jeff Judge at Defiance College, a Rex Ryan disciple.
  • How coaches like Neil Hatfield from prep powerhouse Hudson High School (WI) have classified every possible formation into four distinct groupings, and the pressure checks his outside linebackers make in his odd front to each of them.
  • The most productive pressures to attack 21 or 12 personnel, 11 personnel and 10 personnel.
  • How coaches are tagging their pressures to the back in 10 personnel for run purposes, including pressure concepts designed exclusively to stop the power read and read option schemes.
  • Most productive four to a side pressure checks, including trap coverage concepts used at powerhouse Dutchtown High School.
  • Field and Boundary pressure checks based on two and three-man surfaces including the ones used at Virginia Tech under Bud Foster.
  • The field pressure check system currently used at the University of Massachusetts under defensive coordinator Tom Masella.

Case 3: Using Pressure Checks to Attack Protections

In this case, we focused our research on how coaches are attacking protections. When conducting our research, it became tremendously apparent that coaches are spending ample amounts of time dissecting offensive pass protections to get an advantage in their pressures. In fact, there were a good deal of coaches in our survey who talked about using a pressure check system solely in third and long or passing downs when they can beat a protection. 

Once a coordinator has a "tell" on where the protection is being set, the possibilities become endless in attacking those protections. How this ties into a check system is simple: Coordinators are devising their 3 to 4 most productive pressures to attack certain protections and letting their players make the adjustments. Our intent in this case is to present some of those pressure concepts so that you can have an idea of what to bring and how to bring it to attack protections.

These are just a few of the facts our research uncovered in Case Three:

  • Protection identifications and an explanation of vulnerabilities in protection.
  • The protocols coaches are using to break down protections in the film room and how they are devising the framework to attack them.
  • How coaches are finding ways to get an overload on the back in six-man protection and how they are changing their methodology against Pistol formations.
  • Pressure checks to attack full slide protection teams including offenses that "scan" its back in protection to work across the formation.
  • Pressure checks to attack half-slide, insert protection teams including how coaches are overloading the man side using picks, twists and stunts.
  • Pressure checks to attack big-on-big or man protection teams including how coaches are finding ways to put the center in conflict post-snap.
  • Pressure checks to attack sprint out or rollout protection teams including various trap coverage concepts to get help on the perimeter against bubble, speed sweep and sprint out teams.
  • Pressure checks to attack certain offensive personnel (including skill players) based on vulnerability in pass protection or personnel.
  • How defensive coaches are finding ways to manipulate the protection they want by stemming and shifting into different fronts pre-snap.

And that is just a small list of what you'll find in this in-depth special report. 

Here's Your Invitation: We want to take this time to invite you to get instant access to this entire special report because it's full of all the information, drills, game film and strategies you need to significantly improve your pressure check system.

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