Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Running the base triple vs the 5-1-5

Because of the leverage on the middle backer this defense loans itself to being a great defense to run the triple against. As a rule we will pound the triple to the field as log as we can block run support and/or control him with play action pass.

With the 4i we will start off with our loop scheme. Initially, we handled this defense as an even defense but two problems occurred with our labels and their interpetation into our positional rules as they apply. The first is that in our triple, we would bump off the nose and the lber would have to be blocked by the tackle. It is safe to say, as the only second level support the defense has the lber is running over the top and can be treated as such. By treating it as an 50, our guard now goes directly to the backer. (note: we step playside foot and go to where the lber is going.) Also as we will see later the odd call allows us to run midline and midline triple without fudging any rules. This would not be available in the Even calls.

In essence, we have leverage on the backer AND free safety with the tackle and guard. We can handle everybody. Theoretically, with leverage on the lber and the guard stepping placed, we should pin the lber every time allowing the tackle to go straight to the free. It is a great play. If the free is running the alley the SS must account for the HB running vertically and is usually deeper. With the arc block the HB is running away from the free safety so if he is playing the HB vertically he must play flatter and slower and doesn't become a really alley threat. (Note: I've seen teams play this defense with deeper SS ala 5 across in order to handle the HB vertically. ) See fig 1 (The play action pass off this is a killer!)

If the SS is deep enough we can switch block taking the pitch further away from the free safety. See fig.2. This also sets up the wheel.

If there is a problem with handling the perimeter we can go end over. This defense is usually a match up type defense and will flip the corners over. (see fig 3 ) They like to do this to keep the three safeties in the same configuration.

You can see in these looks that the remaining DB /SS to the short side is really in a bind to play the arc and covering the HB deep on the play pass.

If they do not flip the will either bring the safety over (fig 4 we have a blocker for him.) or bing the SS out (fig 5) this softens up the flank, makes the HB block easier) and makes the threat of the inside receiver going vertical a threat. (we can easily make him eligible)

Finally if the Strong Safety fudges and does not cover #2. We will throw the quick screen to #1 (fig.6) if #2 is ineligible. Or the bubble if #2 is eligible. Both of these set up 2 on 1 fast breaks.

With middle to backside pursuit usually stopping homers in the option, you can see that against this defense running the loop scheme allows for big plays because of the ability to get the tackle downfield. It should be number one against this defense and run with the placation pass till they stop it. All other plays, as we will show in later articles,  should come off it.  

In part C we will deal with running the midline tuck and the midline triple. Why and how?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Attacking Bastard defenses Part 1A the 5-1-5

So I came across an older notebook when I first started coaching and it contained many
"bastardized" looks and concepts I faced while I ran this offense and the wing-t. The objective of the notebook was to get my thoughts down right after the game and have definite approach in handling these defenses if they come up again. Here lies the key - have an idea before you go into a game. You can only get this if you study other peoples tapes, TV games, and go to every defensive clinic on defending the flexbone. (no matter how stupid it sounds!) Many of the defenses in the book I had never seen against me but had watch other team play it or heard about it through my talks with other coaches or at clinics. That way I was ahead of the game. I had the answers for the surprise!

Here are my basic rules for handling these types of looks:

  1. Have plan ahead of time. Don't be surprised and grab bagging.
  2. Find the simplest way to make the defense fit into your system. We are talking about surprises here so you have to be quick and simple and CLEAR in your communication! It is better to fudge the defense into your system then come up with a complicated explanation and game plan in the immediacy of the game. Remember by nature they only had one week to practice something new. Use your advantage to make it something you practiced every week. Something your kids know and are confident with.
  3. Limit what you run to those plays that take advantage of the weakness of the defense (and by very definition these defenses have severe deficiencies.) and fits in the best with your offensive structure. You may have to let ego go and throw out that great gameplay you developed for the other teams base defense. You may not be able to run what you would like to run or that new shiny adjustment you practiced all week. But you will have success.

There are a number of ways to get into this defense from various fronts (4-4, 3-5-3, 5-2, etc.) but it is one that if you run this offense enough - you will see! It comes in two forms.

Figure 1A has the expanded version with 4i's (some people play 4's and pinch B) and figure 1B has the compressed version with both tackles in 3's or b-gap alignment. 

There are a couple of notes and similarities as well as differences
  1. While the nose may be shaded, for the sake of these articles, we will consider him a zero technique. This plus the zero technique linebacker make this a balance defense with 5 1/2 man to each side. Since we are mirroring both sides we would be inclined to run to the field. (They may combine and have one side as a seven man front and the other as a reduced defense. In that case our notes will point to the exact side and be different to each.) (NOTE: In a later article we will approach the same defense with a shaded nose as this changes things dramatically.)
  2. In fig 1A with the front expanded both sides it appears to be a seven man flank. #3 is outside. However one mistake I made when playing this defense the first time is that I considered it an even front due to the middle lber. This caused the elimination of many calls and too much fudging an others. We'll get into that later.
  3. In fig 1B with the front condensed, both sides are reduced because #3 is inside.
  4. In both cases due to the single linebacker they have reduced their second level defenders from the inside out. We must assume they are running the free safety through the alley to match numbers which means that the wr are one on one with either match up zone or man to man. If they keep the safety in the middle - strike up the band!)
  5. There is a huge difference in fig 1B if the guards are in the gap or in 3 techniques. It greatly affects blocking schemes and will address that.
  6. In fig 1A they have expanded the front to match numbers on the perimeter. By doing this, although technically gap sound, they are giving a large area for two players to handle. If the Lber is a runner, as most single lbers are, you can isolate the nose making him defend two gaps.
  7. If you add a tightend,  usually both defenses with play a seven technique, allowing you to leverage the whole defensive interior. (same with tackle over) If the play a 9 they are opening up the C-gap. Remember with two on two gaps inside you can isolate the d-gap if exposed. The same is true for tackle over teams. More on this later.
  8. For sake of simplicity, we will no worry if the defensive ends are up or down. That doesn't matter
Now that we have the base structure of these defenses down, in our next article we will start by attacking Fig 1A simply and by rule without changing anything for the qb or the team from our base offense and offensive tags. You will also see why we treat this as an ODD defense and not the "Even" look our count system would demand. (If you are not familiar with our defensive structure, calls, and tags you can read it in an earlier post.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

How Air Force attacked San Jose State Simply and Effectively

or how Air Force used one flank and three or four plays to keep everybody in the offense and score a ton.

As I have a lot or idle time on my hands, I've decided to analyze some option team's games and get into specifics of the attack. The first was from two weeks ago: Air Force vs San Jose State. Game that Air force eventually blew them out.

Part one defensive structure:

For the sake of this article (and for space) I am going to limit the article to the balanced 2x2 double slot formation whit Air Force was in about 70% of the time. (I do not chart these so that is an estimate.)
The defense set by Greg Robinson, San Jose's defensive coordinator (and proclaimed "defensive guru!") was to stay in his base reduction defense and quarters coverage, putting the reduction into the boundary. ( see fig 1) This essentially placed a six man side to the field and a reduction side side to the boundary. (6 to 5 ratio) Air Force did the right thing running away from the oversight. (In high school with less room this becomes harder into the boundary.

(I believe the biggest mistake was that San Jose out the three to the field further strengthening a side they wouldn't run

Part two Running the triple

Air Force ran the seal scheme into the boundary. (Halfback linebacker to safety.) San Jose state played their end heavy and really squeezed the tackle in order to keep him off the linebacker. Without rotating AF had a hat for a hat inside, thus sealing the box.. (I guess San Jose thought they could run down the option to the short side without hard rotation. They could but only after big chunk plays.) see fig 2.  The quarterback was the man runner in this scheme as he could not be accounted for. It looked like SJ tried to vary the two man coverage combinations but that has no affect on the FB QB combination.

Part three Keeping the ball spread out and putting SJ in binds.

One thing AF does better then the other option teams is change its pitch keys and keep the defense from getting into a dive, QB, rhythm. This also keeps all the backs involved in the offense. So they used the way SJ played to confuse them and get the ball in different backs hands.

Part three A) Getting the HB's and pitch phase involved.

In order to get the halfbacks involved AF ran the exact same veer scheme, arced the HB (SE and HB took care of two on two which had to be soft due to the DB's conflict with covering the deep pass. Remember SJ did not rotate out of this.) They then pitched off the scrape backer and the HB ate up huge yardage. (See fig 3). At this the inside lber in his effort to run over the top of the HB in triple in order to play the QB ran right by him.

Note: I'm not sure if this was triple and pitch off the scrape or double where you pitch off the 5 or the scrape, whoever plays out on QB. With the five squeezing EVERY play they both come out the same.
AF has run both as have I.

Part three B) Getting the ball in the fullback's hands - inside

Because of the numbers SJ gave AF there was no way the LBer could sit inside. Additionally, he was getting multiple looks on the perimeter that made additionally reading inside impossible.  So AF ran the zone dive and gashed them over and over.  The tackle blocked the inside half of the five with the HB climbing through the outside half. Nobody was home. See fig 4

Later in the game the five ran out vs. a flex formation thinking it was crack rocket allowing the tackle to continue inside and get a clean shot on the Lber.

Part three c) Getting the fullback outside. 

Taking advantage of the tackle's hard squeeze, AF went to it's belly game, sealing the five and walling the lber. (see fig 5) With the only two defenders outside the five technique absorbed by the pitch and play pass the inside lber was in a blind.  If he played inside out, the fullback would stay outside and have an open gap. If he played hard over the top of the the linebacker hugged the easy hook by the guard and still had and open game.


AF did run some other stuff, going end over to match numbers to the field, placation pass, and tackles over, but the majority of their yardage was on these four plays. When you run a complete system, every defense has weakness you can exploit. The key is to not out think yourself. Keep it simple, keep all the players involved, put the defense in a bind, AND POUND THE WEAKNESS!!! You don't have to do it a million ways - find it and go!