Confuse Offenses with Zone Blitzes

Jan 25, 2014 | Defense, Pressure, 3-Deep 3-Under Zone Pressures


By Rob Busmente

Defensive Coordinator

Sterling High School (CO)




At Sterling High School, we play a combination of the 4-2-5 and 3-4 defenses.  Our intent was to create a scheme that is multiple in both the looks and pressure packages we can give to the opposing offense.  We like to teach in concepts and we hope to demonstrate how we “compartmentalize” our responsibilities so our players can be interchangeable at any point of time and limit the amount of teaching by using word associations.  Here is a look at how we put together our Zone Blitz attack in a way that makes sense to our players in our 4-2-5 and 3-4 fronts.

For our base zone blitz game, we have classified our blitzes using triggers borrowed from schools like TCU and Virginia Tech (probably many others as well).  They are classified as Dogs, Bullets, and Smokes.  For our purposes today, we will focus on Dogs.  To teach this concept, we actually begin in our Bandit grouping.  We feel that this is the best way to teach the players the communication they need to execute the calls as this grouping involves all positions.  Once we feel this is mastered, we will move into our Tiger and Okie fronts and teach the same zone blitz game.  The caveat is in Tiger and Okie we have an adjustment to make with our Whip as far as pass responsibilities are concerned.  In addition, there is an alternate system to call our zone pressures that we used for many years.  We have not been using the aforementioned calls for very long.  The reasoning behind the change was that our players and coaches seemed to be “stagnant”, almost as if we were “going through the motions” and losing some of our edge.  Now we are executing the same pressures under the guise of new terminology which has raised the excitement level of our players as they feel like they are learning “something new”.  In reality, it has just increased their focus and they feel that this is a more simplistic approach.  We will include our old terminology system as well to illustrate this point.  Not that the system was terrible, in fact a coach may find it to be useful in some way, we were just looking for something different. 

Terminology Coaching Points:

  • A Dog blitz would trigger a combination of Linebackers and Safeties with the corresponding line games that accompany the call; long stick, “rac” and loop.  (Diagram #1)
  • Strong/Weak Dog would be the signal and “huddle” call (we don’t huddle as a unit).  If more structure is desired, we can tag the call with the designated blitzers.  Instead of saying strong/weak, we could say Free Dog, Stud Dog, Rover Dog, or Bandit Dog.  Since the Linebacker is constant we only need the one extra trigger.
  • Plug, Scrape, and Drop terms will come into play now.  Each has a corresponding run fit and pass responsibility.
  • Plug = inside pressure responsibility vs. pass, “bounce/spill” player vs. run
  • Scrape = contain pressure responsibility vs. pass, alley/net player vs. run (this will be explained a bit more)
  • Drop = Hot #2/Wheel vs. pass, alley/net vs. run.
  • Hot #2/Wheel triggers the check the “hot” throw, work curl to flat,  and run with any wheel route by #2 or #3) 
  • These terms become most important when we make our X call adjustment we will discuss later.


Main Coaching Points:

  • On the long stick, the End/Whip will “dip/rip” and read the near knee of the guard.  If the knee comes at me (zone reach, positive pull), stack the guard in the hole and rip up field.  If the knee goes away (straight to linebacker, negative pull, down block), track the ball carriers path, pivot/rip up field and not get “washed” by the tackle.
  • The terms positive/negative pull we got from Greg Lupfer at Colorado State.  Simply put a positive pull is anything to me and a negative pull is anything away (we simplified this concept, there is more to it)
  • Nose “dip/rip” across the center.  Footwork should be “step/step/pivot”
  • Loop rush should keep working to the outside shoulder and keep the outside arm free. 

Bandit Strong Dog


Coaching Points Call Side: