By Ty Gower
Former Defensive Coordinator
Princeton High School (TX)
Although the triple option has been around for a long while, offensive guys have found ways to change Run-Pitch-Option into a Run-Pass-Option, making it yet again, another headache for defenses to combat. Think about how the original RPO (Run-Pitch-Option) also known as the Veer Offense came to be. Coaches got tired of asking OL to block a DL that was a really good player, so what did coaches do. "Let's not block that guy, let's read him." The idea is no different from the "21st RPO scheme”
Think about most modern defenses; where do many defenses put their really good player…That's right, the Sam/Star/Nickel position. Why is that?
- 75%-80% of the game is played on the hash
- Due to #1, we want our better athlete/so-called "hybrid player" to be the field LB, and we want our hybrid player to be on the field to play in space and play all the 3x1 combinations.
- Due to #2, Offenses know who you’re really good defender is and offenses want to read or put him in “conflict.”
Now before you read too much further, I will be discussing how we take the conflict player out of the 3-4. Now before you 4-down front guys stop reading, this could be a great install to help combat the RPO.
Regardless of what defense you run, offenses will find your conflict defender. Whether you base out of 2-high, single-high, 3-3, 3-4, 4-3, it doesn’t matter. The offense will find the conflict defender. When the RPO first became en vogue, it seemed like one of the answers was to spin to cover 3 to the RB, and although that is a good idea, and an idea that we have used, I always had a problem with that “Cover 3” answer. Cover 3 is not something that we hang our hat on. Side note: I want to be as multiple as possible, but at what price? I love to run all the 3 Under/3 Deep Fire Zones, Tite Front Drop 8, 4 -down fronts with the same personnel, implement 3rd Down Packages, and install multiple 3x1 coverages that have been vital to our success.
This leads me to my next point if you want to stop the RPO, which we all do, and we all want to have this or that answer, we can drive ourselves insane trying to come up with all the answers and adjustments for how to stop the RPO. The question is how much practice time you are willing to devote to teaching man technique to play Cover 1, squat technique in Cover 2 (and canceling gaps), and the variations of Cover 3 (who the buzz player is, who is SCIF player, teaching divider leverage, Rip/Liz 3, spot drop 3), which leads me to our world. I believe in what we do by installing 2-High, basing out of 2-High, playing 2-high, and defending the RPO in 2-High. Again, let me reiterate, there are multiple ways to stop the RPO game, and I love to be multiple about stopping it, but we wanted to find a way that was inexpensive for us, meaning how do we stop the RPO from 2-High and take the conflict player out of conflict! Our answer:
Back blitz is an answer for us in defending the RPO game for multiple reasons:
- Allows us to use our base blitzes and base coverages to alleviate the conflict of our RPO conflict players
- Set hard edges in our Tite front (4i-0-4i)
- Gives us options to blitz the RB side or opposite the RB to change up how we alleviate the conflict from our RPO player.
- Which in turn, makes the QB change his perspective about who to read as it relates to his “option” of handing it to the RB or throwing it to WR.
Sometimes you may hear this called B.T.B. or B.T.F. In this report, we will discuss why understanding the backset is simple and vital in being effective in blitzing the RPO.
Where to Start:
- Install your base blitzes: Yes, as I stated we install our fire zones 3 Under-3 Deep pressures like everyone else in America. Get these installed, find a word association/word family so your kids know the blitz pattern and that each strong and weak blitz are the same. For example, within our blitz package the terms "Sugar/Water" are the same pressure with one ILB and one OLB blitzing to create a 5-man pressure, however, the "S" or "W" word tells us that blitz is coming from the strong or weak side. To continue, it's easy to play 3 Deep-3 Under with these blitzes, but for those of us who like 2-high coverage, we had to find ways to carry over our base coverages into your blitz packages. Thus, through the years, we have been able to bring a 4-man/5-man pressure and still play 2-high Coverage.
- Coach how important RB set is: Don't get me wrong, offenses are finding ways to throw off the overhang LB whether the RB is to or away from the read side, but most RPO's are still thrown off the same side as the RB. Thus, you must go back to step #1 with installing your base blitz. So why is the RB important, in a 2x2 formation, who is the #3 WR? that’s right the RB. If you want to be effective in blitzing the RPO, you must know where the RB is.
- Coach how important RB set as it relates to formation: Again, remember Blitz the Back. You and your kids must understand how “Blitz the Back” tells everyone the blitz and coverage as it relates to the RB set and the formation.