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By Joseph M. Purvis, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach, Franklin Parish High School (LA)

At Franklin Parish High School (LA), defensive coordinator Joseph Purvis uses the lag fundamental as an alternative for undersized 4i technique defenders that may not be capable of absorbing the beating an offensive tackle can deliver on down blocks.

By Joseph M. Purvis
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach
Franklin Parish High School (LA)
Twitter: @FPCoach_Purvis



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I first came across the lag technique several years ago as I was doing research on defensive line drills. I was watching Rex Ryan talk about defensive line techniques while he was at the University of Cincinnati. He utilized the lag technique with his “two” gaping nose guard. At the time we were a true Jimmy Johnson 4-3 defense playing mostly over and under fronts, but I believed that utilizing the lag technique would help our defense due to the type of defensive line we had on the team most years, and with the heavy shades we played.

The reason we felt that the lag technique would be a great fit for us here at Franklin Parish High School was that we typically have an undersized defensive line compared to the offensive line we see each and every week. Due to the large size difference, we incorporate as many outside shades as we can because a 185-230lb average defensive line would not withstand the constant down blocking an inside shade would get and hold up verse 265-315lb offensive line. We play a very tight outside shade and utilize the two gap-one gap concept (Bully). Together the two gap-one gap (Bully) technique vs downs and on blocks pair very well with the lag technique on reach/zone schemes.


When to Lag?

The defensive line must understand that there are open gaps and closed gaps.

Diagram 1

Diagram 2


If the defensive lineman has an open gap inside of him, he will play a bully technique (very tight and aggressive outside shade).

When the defensive line plays a bully technique, we are telling him we expect the offensive lineman he is aligned on will likely down block and we are overplaying the down block to keep our linebackers clean and free to fast flow. This also allows our defensive lineman to take the inside gap as if they were playing an inside shade if the offensive line on blocks or to lag if they run a reach scheme.

In our opinion, we do not believe that a defensive lineman can effectively play the aggressive style versus the down block attacking the offensive line and be able to play the reach block effectively. The way we can sell the idea to our defensive line is that we do not care about the reach/zone block. The typical defensive lineman in most high schools will struggle at mastering the disruption of multiple blocks, so we really focus on the down block as the most important block we must disrupt. By disrupting the down, we feel we will put ourselves in a great position to be successful versus several offensive schemes (Power/Counter, Veer, Wing T) we see each year. 

The first thing we must have as a defensive line is violent hips and hands! Our goal is to attack the offensive line and attack the inside armpit of the offensive line, by using this aiming point we can put our defensive line in great position verse the down block. The downside of the bully technique, before we started using the lag technique, is that when you faced a reach/zone team they could get to our outside shoulder very easy and it would be difficult for our defensive line to fight back across successfully.



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  • How using the lag technique is dependent upon the alignment of the next adjacent defensive lineman.
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  • Coaching points and film of the Bully Step/Shock Drill that trains the strike point of the lag technique.
  • Coaching points and film of the No Hands Drill that trains the footwork of the lag technique.
  • Coaching points and film of the Move Drill that trains defenders to execute the lag technique while on the move.
  • Plus, narrated film of this fundamental.


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We try and utilize 4 and 3 down linemen throughout the year to help enhance our defense and by using the lag technique, it allows us to keep a consistent rule for reach/zone scheme teams. We looked at basing out of a tight front (4i-0-4i) but could not ask our typical sized defensive lineman that we normally have here to constantly take the beating that the huge offensive tackle would deliver throughout the game with down blocking on the DL. So, we have started utilizing the bully technique from an outside shade to defeat down blocks with the smaller defensive line and then giving them an avenue for success with the lag technique if we face a reach/zone team. At the end of the day, we must facilitate avenues of success for our athletes. By allowing our guys to lag behind a reach block we have built a great compliment to how we play the down and also allows our linebackers to use speed to help run down anything outside while the defensive line helps prevent the down blocks.



Meet Coach Joseph M. Purvis: Coach Purvis student coached at Sterlington High School and then was hired on as a defensive line coach at Franklin Parish High School (FPHS) at the end of 2006 school year. Coach Purvis later became the linebacker’s coach at FPHS and then became the defensive coordinator. Coach Purvis has also Coached at Sterlington High School as the defensive coordinator in 2010 and then returned to FPHS the following year. Coach Purvis is married to his wife of 6 years, Kayla Purvis, and has a 2 ½-year-old son, Isaac.





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