Stopping power heavy run offenses can be a challenge especially if you have smaller, less physical players on your defense. These big offenses will feast on a stagnant, one-look defense. We believe Falcon and Heavy are just two simple changeups that can cause disruption and confusion to an offense.
By George Karafantis
St. Anthony’s High School (NY)
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One of the perceived weaknesses of playing a 4-2-5 defense is the extra safety type body that it requires, as opposed to a bigger more physical linebacker that a traditional 4-3 or 4-4 utilize. This additional safety type can make defending a big power-run based offense, challenging. Most run heavy offensive coordinators will salivate when they see 5 defensive backs on the field. We as a defense want to have simple alignment rules and reads in order to allow us to play fast and efficient. We also want to matchup with all offensive personnel without major changes to our defensive personnel. We have three adjustments that are simple adjustments used mostly against 21, 22 & 32 personnel. Two of those are formation based adjustments that are worked throughout the summer and preseason and one is a personnel driven adjustment.
We are a Base 4-2-5 defense that plays predominantly an under front with the strength of the secondary going to the field, or passing strength. Our Sam (Overhang), SS, and Mike all travel together, and our FS and Bandit (weak side Middle LB) travel together.
Verse traditional 21 personnel we like to keep our under front and walk up the Sam to what we call a BFF (Bang, Force, Flat) technique. He is in a two point stance -outside eye alignment off the TE, with outside foot back and hands in the holsters. This technique is part of the Sam’s everyday drill work. He must be able to collision (bang) the TE and force the ball while redirecting to the flat if pass shows. The FS, who is our down safety to the boundary, also works BFF since he will be in that technique vs Double Tight, at times.
Our philosophy to stop power heavy run teams is to get them into 3rd and Long situations. We accomplish this by:
- Aligning Properly
- Spilling and Overlapping all gap schemes.
- Attacking the play before it develops. We get the secondary involved in the run game.
- Stressing the importance of getting 3 and outs early in the game.
The most basic alignment vs team that uses at least one tight end and 2 or 3 backs is to be aligned in a 6-2 defense that was prevalent at the HS level until offenses became more multiple, diverse and pass capable. While we do occasionally align in this it is not the ideal alignment for us in our 4-2-5.
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- The “Falcon” adjustment Coach Karafantis has made from base personnel that gives the illusion of a 7-man front.
- Why the Sam, Free Safety and Strong Safety are the only players that need to be the adjusters to be gap sound against the run game from heavy personnel groupings.
- The “Heavy” adjustment Coach Karafantis makes to remove his weakest secondary run support defender in leu of a defensive lineman.
- Which coverages are implemented with the Heavy personnel groupings that keep things systematic for the 4-2-5 structure.
- Plus, raw and narrated game film on all these concepts.
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Stopping power heavy run offenses can be a challenge especially if you have smaller, less physical players on your defense. These big offenses will feast on a stagnant, one-look defense. We believe Falcon and Heavy are just two simple changeups that can cause disruption and confusion to an offense. While there may be certain concerns, like placing the FS and SS on the line of scrimmage, we feel that playing quick slanting DL can help cover for them. We also must note that these techniques by the Safeties have to be worked on daily. Also keep in mind that you will see more weakside runs against these defenses, so have your answers to those runs prepared for.
Meet Coach Karafantis: George Karafantis has been a football coach at the high school level for 15 years, coaching in 8 championship games at 3 different schools. He has been a coordinator at two different high school programs and has helped improve the scoring defense at each stop he has made. Currently is a member of the defensive staff of the private school perennial power St. Anthony’s High School in NY.