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By Andy Swedenhjelm, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers, Newton High School (IA)

After switching their scheme from a 4-2-5 to a 3-4/3-3 stack, returning and jumping up to the biggest class in Iowa, Coach Swedenhjelm and Newton High School cut their points given up per game by over 12 points using this concept. Find out how here…


By Andy Swedenhjelm
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
Newton High School (IA)
Twitter: @tsbulldawgs64


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At Newton High School, we rely on deception and movement to disrupt opposing offenses. We run an attacking 3-4/3-3 hybrid system where we will send at least four rushers on every play. We do not have the biggest or most talented defensive players, but we will attack them with confidence to help shut down their running games, and force them into passing situations. One of our favorite ways to do this is through gap exchanges. At the high school level, gap exchanges are an easy way to confuse blockers and get your athletes moving in space. One of our favorite concepts is our “X” scheme.  This pressure series works well against both runs and passes, but for this report we are going to focus on using it to stuff the running game.

X Scheme:
We can add our “X” scheme to any of our pressures or blitzes. Our most popular combination is to exchange the gap responsibility of our outside linebackers and our defensive ends. Our favorite way to use this pressure is through our burn and burn X pressure and our blaze and blaze X blitz.

With our burn pressure, we slant our defensive line to the strength, and send our weak side outside linebacker off the edge. When we add a “X” tag to it, we send the weak side outside linebacker through the weak B gap, and have the defensive end play off the edge. 


With our blaze blitz, we slant our defensive line to the strength and send our Mike linebacker off the DE and the outside linebacker off the edge. When we tag this with an X, our Mike linebacker will actually shoot weak A gap, our outside linebacker will loop in to the weak B gap, and the defensive end will be off of the edge.


We typically start in a two- high shell, but play cover 3 behind and roll a safety down late to our blitz side.

Continue to the full-length version of this report…

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  • The specific responsibilities of the nose, stunt side defensive end, outside linebacker and inside linebacker in the X movement.
  •  How using the X concept against gap blocking schemes creates a clear running lane for the outside linebacker.
  • Why Coach Swedenhjelm prefers to call this movement against the backside of inside zone to disrupt the count system.
  • How option responsibilities change when using the blaze movement.
  • How Coach Swedenhjelm will implement the pressure with his under front.
  • Plus game film that illustrates each of these coaching points.

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In conclusion, in a defense built around deception, implementing gap exchanges with your edge players can have big payoffs for teams. Especially at the high school level, they can cause confusion among offensive lineman, and increase the number of defensive rushers you have coming free. It is an easy adjustment to add, and we have been able to add it to multiple schemes that we run. The simplicity of being able to give the offense a completely different look by swapping two defensive players responsibilities makes for an easy install during fall camp.

I hope that you can take something from this clinic report and help to improve your program like I have been able to do in other articles I have read on XandOLabs.com.

Meet Coach Andy Swedenhjelm: This was Coach Swedenhjelm’s first season as defensive coordinator. Prior to that he has been an offensive line coach at Newton High School for three seasons, an offensive co-coordinator at Ottumwa High School, and a graduate assistant coach at Truman State University, where he coached the outside linebackers.  



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