St. John Fisher’s X Concept to Defend Read Zone

Apr 22, 2016 | Defense, Game Planning, Defending Specific Offensive Systems and Concepts

By Mike Fox
Defensive Coordinator
St. John Fisher College (NY)
Twitter: @sjfcfootball


At St. John Fisher College our philosophy is to proactively keep opponents off schedule in the run game by creating negative plays on first down. We take an aggressive approach to this philosophy out of our 3-3-5 base defense by using calculated five-man pressures at the point of attack based on film and tendency study.

In this clinic report, I am going to share one of our favorite base pressures used against a zone read scheme offense. This pressure is simple in concept, but I believe the details and teaching in the run fits are what makes them most effective.

At St. John Fisher, we are a base 3-3-5 defense utilizing two 4-techniques with our defensive ends, 3 true inside linebackers and 3 true safeties. We are primarily a cover 3 or 3 under 3 deep base coverage team, but occasionally being run out of a two high safety shell.


It has become common thinking that football has become an offensive driven game. Multiple formations, multiple tempos can create problems for any defensive coordinator. All that said, I believe running the 3-3-5 puts the pressure back on the offense. Preparing for the 3-3-5, duplicating scout looks, and overall scheming against this defense can become a nightmare for offensive coaches.

X Concept