3 Necessities in Defending RPOs from 4-2-5 Structures

Oct 9, 2017 | Front, Even Front Structures, Defense

By Marty Albert
Defensive Coordinator                                                                       
Laguna Hills High School (CA)


RPOs have been a the most recent challenge for defenses across the country. To address this, we worked to adjust our base 4-2-5 defense with split-field coverage to not allow the offense to manipulate our defensive reaction. The key was to create a simple game plan that would protect the defender that the RPO is trying to put into conflict. To succeed against RPOs, we need to take our talent and do two vital things to succeed; play fast and play with confidence.

Making The QB’s Read Difficult

Through extensive RPO study, we have determined that the side where the running back is set is the read side for QB. Our game plan concepts were to set the front away from the running back and Split-field coverage away from running back. To disguise that, the outside backer to read side could play B gap quicker because of our coverage call of Red Lock (Man to Man) to # 1 & # 2. Which means the QB is throwing into man coverage and outside backer has no pass conflict.


In diagram 1, the running back set on right side call is Liz to front. Side of running back coverage is Red Lock. The Hawk is considered the conflict for QB, but because of Man coverage he has no conflict in run or pass.

Alignment:  Corners start in man press alignment and slowly shuffle to 6 Yds. The FS calls Red to the two detached receivers. We will pattern read #2. The Rover safety calls Lock (man to man) coverage to the two detached receivers. This doesn’t allow them throw Bubble/Screen/ Slant patterns to #1 or #2.