Tagging “Hug” and “Hole” Defenders in Odd Pressures

Apr 19, 2021 | Front, Defense, Odd Front Structures, Pressure, Man Pressure Concepts

By Mike McElroy
Defensive Coordinator
Bethel University (MN)
Twitter: @McElroy26



Here at Bethel University, we get the opportunity to play in one of the most competitive leagues in Division 3. The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) saw 3 teams finish in the top 16 scoring nationally in 2019 and has had at least one team in the Elite 8 since 2015. We see great QBs and the top four offenses in the league all run quite different schemes. We needed a call we could play on first and second down for the choice downs that are hardest to plan for. We wanted a call that held up to the run and to the RPO game but didn’t give the QB the option to throw a quick hitch or slant and get in front of the chains.

We employ a 6-man box here at Bethel. We will move between 2-4, 3-3, and 4-2. Our guys have simple movement rules and fits. Below is our color package. Any color tells our secondary we are man free and they have their man free rules (motions, tight splits, empty, etc.). We simplify the rules for the 6 box players based on the call. This report will focus on the box fits and teaching points.


Coaching Points: Back/Face Reads

When any of our backers are interior blitzers they have Back Face rules. As they blitz the B gap, they are reading the Guard. If they get the guards face (think zone scheme) they cross it and work to get vertical. If they get the Guards, they back chase it. We don’t want to cross a guy not trying to block us. We teach them to slip off the back of their hip. We love this against pass sets. The rule is if he sets to you, you cross his face; if he goes down, get off his hip then press vertically.

Hug Players: In Red/Maroon this is always the Will.  In White it matters where the back aligns (field or boundary). We want him to have a little more depth so he can work through the junk on run game. In the pass we tell him he is blitzing the running back. Make him stay in protection and then add in.

Hole Players: Our Hole players must know where the RB is. If the RB is opposite of you, be ready for an immediate downhill run. If the RB is to you, you're thinking QB player on anything zone read or option, but you can be a little quicker out because of the no immediate downhill run threat. On pass your base rules would be 5 yards over the ball reading the eyes of the QB. They need to know if we are spying a certain WR that week. They are also the trigger player on the QB for scramble. If the QB breaks the pocket you must pull it up as we are in man and most guys will have their backs turned. If the QB is a run threat, we will tell the Hole player to trigger as soon as the QB is off his spot.