Monday, August 10, 2020

Complementing 5 Up Pressure Concepts

The 2018 Seahawks are in an even front spaced Dime personnel on 3rd & 3 vs. 11 personnel with the TE flexed to presents a 10 personnel structure. 





The Rush: 
The Mike is engaging the Center before working the strong side rush. The Safety is pressuring the A gap with the 3 tech working a B gap pop to contain.

The Coverage: 
Cover 1 with edge covering the RB



The pass protection is a 5 man scat with the RB free releasing. The initial presentation from Seattle forces a 5-0 putting the covered OL into 5 1on1 matchups. The look shows 5 rush threats with the box Safety on the RB in man coverage. The weak OT/OG are forced to fan/fan on the rush threats. The OT has no way of knowing initially the edge rusher is actually manned on the RB and will leave the pass rush when the RB releases. The DT does a good job of attacking the B gap to occupy the OG before working to contain. By the time the OG passes the DT to the OT it is too late to reset to the A gap pressure. The Mike does an excellent job of engaging the Center to create space in the opposite A gap while still working a pass rush move. The Safety isn't one of the 5 most dangerous threats initially creating a pass rush opportunity. The Safety does a nice job staying tight in the A gap to prevent the OG from being able to redirect and set the new A gap threat. The tight man coverage prevents routes from developing while the pressure forces a fast throw and contact on the QB. Consistent Pressure > Sacks. Play forced a 3rd & 3 to a 4th 1.

Good pressure plan from Ken Norton.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Pressuring Y-Off/Sniffer Formations

Y-off creates some challenges that an inline TE doesn't. For an inline TE the pressure concepts tend to focus on Closed or Open side pressures. With a Y-off one issue can be the unknown of where/how the Y-off will block. The Y-off may block his side as a point of attack blocker on power or wide zone. The block on the side of the Y-off's alignment may also be a cutoff block on zone away. The Y-off may block across the formation on split zone or counter concepts. The Y-off may block inside on insert and wham schemes. Add the Y-off release schemes to block 2nd level players or run routes in RPO concepts and there is alot to sort through to pressure Y-off. There are many strategies that work. One we've used the last few seasons is having our edge blitzer read the Y-off to determine his pressure pattern.



The Rush:
The Nose is crossing face with both DE looping to the C gaps. The ILB is pressuring the A gap to the side of the Y off. The Sam is a read pressure reading the Y-off to determine the pressure pattern.

The Coverage:
3 Under 3 Deep

The Read:
The Sam aligns at the heels of the DL reading the Y.

If the Y blocks to the side of his alignment the Sam pressures outside setting an edge and accounting for the extra gap created by the Y. The 3RH ILB can shuffle to the side of 3 on runs and fit the open B gap. The Seam dropping OLB can fold on runs to the open B gap opposite the Y.

If the Y blocks across the formation the Sam blitzes inside. The 3RH and Seam dropper can account for the gaps opposite the pressure including the extra gap created by the block of the Y.


The offense is running a split zone concept with the Y blocking across. The Sam reads the Y across and pressures inside. The 3RH and Seam droppers fitting opposite the pressure. 

Reading the Y-off can be a strategy to handle the unknown of where to pressure a Y-off formation.

Shotgun Wing-T Jet Motion Slip Screen

Lenoir-Rhyne is in 31 personnel shotgun wing-t. The formation begins as a guard over unbalanced. Following the shift the formation is a standard 2x2 wing-t formation.


The screen is built off of the jet motion and fake. The OT's both set with the C-G-C as the three OL using a set-club-go to build the wall as the releasing OL on the screen. The TE seals the ILB helping occupy the Corner. The OL get out to set the wall outside the TE's seal. The slip happens behind the LOS getting lost with the backfield jet fake.


The slip screen is difficult to see defensively and allows the offense to quickly outnumber the defense opposite the motion. The typical challenge with wing-t is the offense gaining number advantage to the side of motion not opposite the motion.

Nice design from Bob Bodine, excited to see what the offense will look like at Mercer. 

Monday, August 3, 2020

The Culture of HUA

I spent part of my coaching career at New Mexico Military Institute. NMMI is a JuCo. Every student on the campus is part of the Corps of Cadets. They wear uniforms, hold rank, follow a code of conduct, and are organized in a military fashion. The leadership on campus and many of the professors and staff are former active duty military. 

When I arrived on campus, I kept noticing cadets who would be given a directive and would respond to their commanding officer "HUA". Having never served in the military, I wasn't familiar with the meaning of the phrase. Our players quickly let me know it stands for Heard Understood Acknowledged. The military requires communication to be clear and understood. Often the discipline of the communication is the difference between life and death for active duty soldiers. 

Football and most other situations we face are not life or death. Communication is however a critical skill in nearly every part of our lives. Communication is a two way street: the talking and the listening.

How can the culture of HUA be adopted into a football program?

The simple answer is you can adopt the term. However, I think it should be much deeper.

When our safeties call a coverage they are behind the LB's and other low players, their voices project forward. The players in front of them tap their helmets in response. The Safety can be heard the low players acknowledge. HUA

When our LBs communicate with our DL, the also can project forward. The DL taps their hip. Hard to tap a helmet in a stance. HUA

If a LB needs to communicate something with the secondary they have trouble just saying it, unless they turn and face the DB's. Often the LB wants to keep is vision on the offense which means projecting a verbal command forward toward the LOS. The DB's often have trouble hearing the command. This means hand signals make more sense.The secondary can see the LB signal. DB's mirror the hand signals. HUA

When communicating on the field we often use hand signals. Stadiums can be loud and elements like wind and distance affect our ability to simply verbally communicate. We often have our players use signals to avoid being misheard in a load chaotic environment. Safety signaling a quarter tool to the Corner who signals it back. HUA

When putting communication on film we use hand signals. When our Corners make a smash/china call they point at it. When our LB's see a guard pull they point. Why? On film we cannot hear verbal communication on the field. We can see physical acts like pointing on video. We make an effort to coach that players to both verbalize and signal.  Why do we see a teammate react to communication of film? Because we know the communication happened. HUA

We do a communicate period in practice. A defensive routes on air type concept. Coaches signal the calls. Players signal coverages and adjustments to one another. When the route is run it isn't about the speed and there is no throw. The period is all about making the pre-snap calls and alerts and the post snaps talk of under, in, out, china, etc. It is all about clear directives and clear understanding. HUA

In the film room we do choir practice meeting. The players sit in front of the film screen. They turn to the side of the room to a signal coach for the call. They snap their eyes to the screen where a play starts from the playlist. Players make all their communications including hand signals. The meeting is scripted. HUA

The film room is great place to for coaches to build communication skills. Asking players why they did what they did on film. What were they thinking? Trying to understand what led to a mistake or a success. Asking players to coach themselves for the play. If you were coaching you what would you say here? Ask a player to explain a Tampa 1/2 drop, coach me like I'm a freshman? This type of communication helps coaches assess how the player has interpreted what has been taught. The player may have tried to understand the directive but may not have fully understood. This is likely a product of two sources: the player has pre-existing thoughts from his own previous playing experience and those preconceived ideas may not match the desired actions or the concept has not been communicated in a way that the player understands the concept in the desired manner. When a coach can listen to a player the teaching can be tailored to the player. HUA

When a player is having a bad day, ask why? He is a human there are many factors that affect his performance. The only way to understand and acknowledge those factors is to ask and listen. HUA

The culture of HUA can go a long way in all of our relationships and interactions both in football and outside. 

“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand.

We listen to reply.” - Stephen R. Covey

HUA isn't just a response. It is signifying understanding. If you don't understand HUA is not the appropriate response. You have to ask for clarification. Action without understanding leads to failure. Often that failure can be avoided by having better understanding of the desired actions in the first place. Directives must be clear and concise, listening is a process of heard understood and acknowledged. HUA

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Defending Sail Route in Cover 2

Nice example of the Seahawks in a base personnel Cover 2 concept against an 11 personnel bunch zone naked sail route.


Seattle is in a over front spacing with the weak side DE reduced to a 4i alignment. The Will LB is walked on the LOS in a 9 technique but is still responsible for the hook drop in the cover 2 coverage concept.


The Panthers are attempting to attack the coverage with a weak side sail concept. The X receiver is running to take the top off the coverage by challenging the deep 1/2 safety. The Y off runs a cutter path behind the LOS selling the action of a block on the back side edge in a split zone concept but ultimately is running the flat route. The point of the bunch is running a deep over. The goal is to attack the flat defending corner with the flat route. By threatening the flat player off of the run action the goal is to get the flat player to stay low while forcing the flat defender to get width to avoid be out leveraged. If the Corner is low and wide the deep over route has open space behind the Corner in the flat and underneath the stretched deep Safety.


The weak Corner does an excellent job following his reroute on X of hinging open. He opens his hips at a 45 degree angle inside pointing his hips and shoulders toward the MOF. His allows him to again depth & width to the sail. His body position also allows him to see the deep over and to adjust his path to pick up the route. His body position additionally creates vision to the QB to allow him to break late to a throw underneath. The Mike LB does a good job opening to get under the crosser forcing the route to keep running allowing the sail technique corner to take the route over.


Good coaching a execution from Ken Norton.

A Gap ILB rush Technique vs. Empty

The Colts are in a Dime personnel on 3rd 7 against an 02 personnel empty set.



The initial formation is 3 receivers strong and both TE's weak. The Colts match up with Corners on the WR and Safety/Dime on the the TE's. Following the motion the Titans built a one back set with a TE in the backfield.



The Rush:
Four down DL in their rush lanes. Mike stacking the weak side DT and bursting to the midline rush lane late.

The Coverage:
Cover 1



The pressure is a very simple 5 man rush concept the brilliance is in the nuance that made it successful. The offense is in an empty 5 man protection concept before they motion the TE in to the backfield. The protection stays in a 5 man scat concept with the backfield aligned TE free releasing in to a route. The 5 OL have to set to the 5 most dangerous threats.

The Nuance:
The weak side DT is in a much heavier 3 tech compared to the strong side DT. Strong side the 3 technique is a wide tilt alignment.

The Mike LB is stacked on the weak side 3 tech not aligned in the middle of the formation.

The Mike's alignment makes him a bigger weak side pressure threat influencing the set of the Center to the weak side. 

When the Dime motions into the box he shows as a weak side pressure threat before getting depth. This is very well done. It adds to the pre-snap thinking for the OL. When the Dime shows up you can see the Guard talking to the Center alerting the potential extra threat now in the box. The Dime's pressure bluff alignment further influences the Center's set weak. The Dime does a great job of deepening his alignment late to avoid a pick with the cut split Y outside of him when the backfield aligned TE runs the swing route. 

The DT's alignment, Mike's alignment, and Dime's presence all force the Center & Guard into a vise set on the 3 technique. Vise means one pass set inside and one outside. In this case the Guard would set the outside half of the 3 tech DT and the Center would set the inside half of the 3 tech. If no extra rushers come the weak side 3 tech gets a double from the Guard and Center. Against pressure looks:




If the 3 tech works wide the Guard can keep setting on the DT while the Center is now freed up and can come out of the vise to take over the Mike on an A gap pressure.

If the 3 tech works inside the Guard can come out of the vise and stay outside for the Mike (or Dime) in the B gap with the Center taking over the inside rusher.

The DT's alignment and the Mike's technique on the pressure makes the pick up significantly more difficult.


The DT is in a position to attack the middle of the vise pass set without committing inside our outside. The Mike stacks the 3 tech. The 3 technique stays down the middle of the vise of the Center and Guard. The OL is expecting an inside and an outside rusher but neither the DT or the LB commit to being inside or outside. Ultimately the protection gets two inside threats.  The Mike waits for the Center to commit to the DT. Once he does the Mike bursts to the midline on a clean run through. Once the Center is committed to the DT making it very difficult to see the Mike or come off to pick him up. 

IF the Center had come off the DT two things would have happened:

1. The Center would have had a brutally difficult redirect pass set on the full speed Mike. Can't fight physics, it is hard to overcome the momentum of being an OL setting one way, blocking a DT with force, then redirecting with the speed and force necessary to make a block in another direction. Also it assumed he could see the Mike. When making a block an OL wants to see what he is striking especially having vision to insure his pass set punch lands with good hand placement. Once he committed to the DT his vision to the Mike is mostly gone.

2. The Guard would have been forced to go 1 on 1 vs. the DT from the DL's outside half with no inside help. The leverage of the DT makes a straight line path for the DT to the QB possible. This would be a very difficult block for the Guard to regain a body position on the leveraged DT to make the block.

Lots of subtle detail make a basic pressure result in a run through sack. 

Really nice pressure concept from Matt Eberflus and the Colts. 

Friday, July 31, 2020

Overloading the RB with 2 Under 3 Deep Pressure

Clemson is in a Nickel personnel on 2nd & 7.



The Rush:
Pressure side DE stems down to a 4i. The full line is slanting away from the pressure with the ILB and Safety pressuring off the edge. The ILB is first going up the field and wide, while the Safety is outside and going through the heel line of the up field ILB. The path gives the Safety a straight line run on the QB.

The Coverage:
2 Under 3 Deep


The usage of the stem down by the DL is a huge factor in allowing the overload of the RB.

If the defense has aligned the DE is a 4i initially the OL may have declared the protection accounting for the defense like a odd front spacing. 

The Guards and Tackles could work a fan/fan concept with the Center on the Nose. This would allow the protection to pick up the pressure.

The strong side OG/OT would handled by the DE/DT. The Center would lock the Nose. The OG would set the pressure side 4i and travel back with him as he tries to cross face. The OT would pick up the first edge threat from the ILB while the RB would pick up the 2nd threat from the Safety. This would allow the QB time to hold the ball and give routes a chance to get open vs. the 2 under 3 deep. There is no doubt a 2 under 3 deep coverage wants the ball out fast to prevent the routes from finding the open space in the coverage concept.

The DE's alignment however wasn't initially in a 4i, he stems down to the 4i alignment.


The 5 technique DE gets the OL into a half slide protection. The OG is uncovered starting the slide putting the OT manned on the DE. The RB is responsible for the either the ILB or Safety blocking inside out. If both blitz the QB has to handle the 2nd free rusher with a hot throw. The RB wants to block the most inside threat.

When the DE stems down during the cadence it is too late for the OL to get into a fan/fan concept. The OT stays manned on the now 4i aligned DE. This functionally turns the protection into full slide with the whole OL setting away from the pressure. One tried and true pressure plan against full slide is to get 2 rushers off the edge vs. the RB. That is exactly what this concept creates. The bonus is the pressure path.

The ILB and Safety present spacing off the edge with the ILB first and inside and the Safety second and outside. The spacing appears to the RB that the ILB is the most inside threat. The RB aggressively commits to blocking the first threat. When the Safety goes through the heel line of the ILB it creates an efficient straight line run on the QB. The RB has difficult pick up against this look to ID the Safety as the most inside rusher. The RB is already committed to the ILB leaving the inside most rusher free.

The QB is forced to get the ball out fast with immediate pressure in his face. The QB is forced to throw at a pressed up X receiver before the route has time to develop. The QB also had no time to work back to the route combination to the strong side.

Nice pressure design from Brent Venables.