Phase Two: 4-2-5 – Case 1: A Communication System to Support Multiple Front Structures

May 21, 2019 | Front, Even Front Structures, Defense, Odd Front Structures

By Adam Hovorka
Managing Editor, X&O Labs
Twitter: @XOLabs_Editor



Over the last two decades, Stony Brook University (NY) has evolved itself from a Division II football institution to a non-scholarship FCS level program and now is among the top teams in the highly competitive scholarship level Colonial Athletic Association. Just this past season saw the Seawolves crack the top 25 nationally at the FCS level nine weeks in a row.

At the heart of this progression is a defense that under head coach Chuck Priore have not allowed opponents to score over 21 points per game in five of the last six seasons. The 2018 season saw the Seawolves produced the following numbers in the CAA:

  • Finished 1st in opponents 3rd down conversion (28.2%)
  • Finished 2nd in scoring defense (20.3 ppg.)
  • Finished 3rd in rushing defense (122 ypg.)
  • Finished 5th in total defense (315 ypg.)


System and Personnel:

The Seawolves are a 4-2-5 defense at heart and have been for years. But the influx of RPO offenses and the speed of the skill players in the CAA have forced them to transition into using both Odd and Even front structures. And they have done so by keeping the same personnel on the field. Much of that responsibility falls on the boundary defensive end- or what Stony Brook calls the Anchor. The following positions round out the personnel in Stony Brooks’ defense.

  • Nose
  • Tackle
  • Field End
  • Boundary End (Anchor)
  • Strong Inside LB (Mike)
  • Weak Inside LB (Will)
  • Field Down Safety (Rover)
  • Field High Safety (Free)
  • Boundary Safety (Whip)
  • Boundary Corner
  • Field Corner


The “Anchor” is the hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker type that has continued to be the pulse of the Seawolves unit and the position that we profile in this report. It’s a position that has continued to be extremely productive in this outfit, registering the following numbers this past fall:

  • Finished 4th in tackles
  • Finished 5th in TFL’s
  • Finished 3rd in Sacks


Anchor Job Description:

At Stony Brook University, the "Anchor" or boundary defensive end is one of the most important positions on the field. According to defensive line coach Rob Noel, he’s a player that started out at as a linebacker but either got too big or wasn't quite explosive enough to make tackles in space. Or, he struggled to make the reads as consistently as a linebacker would. It's a player that is usually at the 240-250 pound range at the FCS level, which is significantly smaller than the 290-pound field defensive end playing on the other side of the ball.

Ideally, Coach Noel wants this player to be around the range of 6’1, 250 lbs. “I'd like him to have as long arms as possible,” said Coach Noel. “Height is not as important as wingspan. The bigger you can get the better, but I am willing to sacrifice height at that position to get a very fluid athlete because we're going to ask him to do a lot of different things on the football field.  I think for us that position must be an extremely high motor type of kid.”