By Kelly Carrier
Lansing Catholic High School (MI)
Run and pass fits are essential to any defense. We feel that the best fits can be accomplished by teaching multiple concepts to our players to help them filter through post snap chaos. Although reading the offensive line is our primary key, we also rely on other concepts like pre-snap gap responsibilities to get the best fit possible.
To accomplish this, we start in the summer and work all season long teaching conceptual gap assignments based on stunt pre-snap and then progress to what happens post-snap when everything moves. When working with the linebackers, I will always include offensive line reads and clear/cloudy fits in individual, group, blitz, inside run and team.
Pre-Snap Gap Concepts
We begin teaching our gap concepts by using barrels to simulate an offensive line. To keep the players honest, we do not include a RB in our drills. Instead, we work on leveraging the ball carrier during our tackling circuit, inside run period and team period. This keeps the LBs focused on our task and does not confuse them with false steps by a back.
During our individual time, the first drill we introduce is based off our various alignments based on the front (20s, 30s, 40s or 50s) and we introduce alignment depth. We set our heels at 5 yards to give us time to read and react. During this time, the LBs are getting a taste for non-moving offensive parts and gap assignments. Because we angle our defensive line, the linebackers know pre-snap which gap is theirs.
Before the rep starts, linebackers give their pre-snap communication which will include our strength, stunt, and if they are a box or spill player (this is determined by the stunt that is called). I set up about one yard behind and in between the backers during this time so I can have the same view they have. On the "set, go" call, they will fire through their gaps ripping with their left or right arm. This becomes a foundation and a fail-safe as linebackers are instructed to fill their pre-snap gaps if they miss their read.
Post-Snap Gap Concepts: Part 1
After using the barrels, we begin to introduce moving parts/gaps as it is essential that they understand the difference between pre-snap gap responsibilities and filtering through post-snap chaos. The linebackers do this by using three barrels (OTs and center) and two linebackers playing the Guards. To introduce the concept of gaps moving, the linebackers are taught that their primary read as the offensive Guard. Attached to the offensive Guard is a pre-snap gap assignment (either A or B). If the Guard moves or pulls, the offensive Guard moves the gap assignment moves with him. This leads me to ask one OGs to raise his left/right arm to identify the gaps.
Linebackers can tell me who has the gap based on the stunt called. We go through the same drill as above, but this time we have the OG/LB firing out, pass setting or blocking down/double team. Linebackers will rotate and fill gaps based on blocking. In addition to reading the offensive Guard's movement, I will also instruct the linebackers to read on the run and find clear and avoid cloudy gaps.