By Nick Davis
Defensive Coordinator/LB Coach
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (IN)
This past season we installed three, four, five, and six down fronts in four days. We spent a day on each of the four different types of front structures. We use a category system for our fronts, in which the first letter of the word and the type of word will tell you how to align. The three down fronts are all different types of birds. Our four down fronts are all different types of fishes. Five down fronts are all different types of mammals. Our six down fronts are different types of fruits.
Before I dive into all the fronts, we are a 3-3-5 personnel, one gap defense that plays mostly one high man coverage. We are a field/boundary defense, therefore our front strength does not have to match our coverage strength. For each of our fronts, our defensive linemen and linebackers base rules are the same. Each player in the box owns a different gap and has rules for what that gap or player in that gap does. To eliminate a signal, we yell in our defensive fronts, then signal the movement and coverage each play. Each week we have a default front so if there is no call they know what to line up with. Once we make our game plan, we will look and see what the most popular alignment is for that week and that is what generally becomes the default front for that week.
Day 1 Install:
Day One we installed every 3 down front we planned on using for the whole season. Owl is our base three down front. The “O” tells the Defensive Ends where to line up in regards to the tackles. So in Owl we line up outside the tackles in a five technique. Our Nose is a base 0 technique and our linebackers stack the tackles and center at five yards. Ibis is our 4I front. The ‘I” tells our DE’s to line up inside the tackles in 4I techniques and the outside stack linebackers line up at 3 yards and apex the tackle and the next extended player in the formation. Our Falcon and Buzzard Fronts tell either the field or boundary Stack to make the 4I adjustment. We can also align our fronts based on where the TE or TB are in the formation. Eagle tells us to make the 4I adjustment away from the TB or what we call the “A”. We tell our DE’s we want the “End” to the A. The opposite of Eagle is Albatross. We put the 4I adjustment to the “A”. Hawk tells our DE’s to line up head up the tackle because of the “H”. We can also set our front to the TE. The “T” in Tweety tells our Backers to make the 4I adjustment to the TE. As the year goes on you can always add new fonts we just have to find a type of bird that makes sense. With our 3 down fronts we also have adjustments we can make. We can shade our nose to the field, boundary, or to or away from the TB. We have tags to change linebackers depth or what direction to set the strength. So one example of a tag would be Ibis Flip. We will send our field players to the boundary and flip our strength.