Using 3-4 Gap Exchanges to Attack Run Blocking Schemes

Mar 26, 2017 | Front, Defense, Odd Front Structures

By Andy Swedenhjelm
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
Newton High School (IA)
Twitter: @tsbulldawgs64


At Newton High School, we rely on deception and movement to disrupt opposing offenses. We run an attacking 3-4/3-3 hybrid system where we will send at least four rushers on every play. We do not have the biggest or most talented defensive players, but we will attack them with confidence to help shut down their running games, and force them into passing situations. One of our favorite ways to do this is through gap exchanges. At the high school level, gap exchanges are an easy way to confuse blockers and get your athletes moving in space. One of our favorite concepts is our “X” scheme.  This pressure series works well against both runs and passes, but for this report we are going to focus on using it to stuff the running game.

X Scheme:
We can add our “X” scheme to any of our pressures or blitzes. Our most popular combination is to exchange the gap responsibility of our outside linebackers and our defensive ends. Our favorite way to use this pressure is through our burn and burn X pressure and our blaze and blaze X blitz.

With our burn pressure, we slant our defensive line to the strength, and send our weak side outside linebacker off the edge. When we add a “X” tag to it, we send the weak side outside linebacker through the weak B gap, and have the defensive end play off the edge. 


With our blaze blitz, we slant our defensive line to the strength and send our Mike linebacker off the DE and the outside linebacker off the edge. When we tag this with an X, our Mike linebacker will actually shoot weak A gap, our outside linebacker will loop in to the weak B gap, and the defensive end will be off of the edge.


We typically start in a two- high shell, but play cover 3 behind and roll a safety down late to our blitz side.

Vs Power:
I like to call this against teams that like to run strong side power. If you look at the typical blocking rules for power, the play side center and guard will typically double team the nose to the backside inside linebacker. When the backside guard pulls, it puts the backside tackle in a bind where he is responsible for two defensive players. We coach our defensive end to get his hands on the backside tackle, and this creates a clear running lane for our outside linebacker. When our play side defenders fill their gaps, it causes the running back to slow down and our outside linebacker can come in and make a play. 


To study game clips of this concept against power, click on the video below: