Thursday, March 18, 2010

TCU's Thunder Concept

TCU is known for converting big athletic linebackers and even running backs to defensive linemen. The Horned Frog's defense under Gary Patterson has featured multiple slants, twists, and blitzes that capitalize on the athleticism of their front 4. The Thunder concept TCU employs is just another way for them to utilize their athletic defensive linemen. The blitz that will be the focus of this post is Bullets Thunder Zero Cop which can be found in the TCU Playbook. The front is set Tite with the 3 technique to the TE.
The Bullets blitz sends both inside linebackers straight ahead into their gap responsibilities (A for the Sam, B for the Mac). TCU also tags the blitz multiple ways to send the ILB's to different gaps.

The next aspect of the call is Thunder which tells the Safety (SS or WS) to the TE to blitz outside. The final part of the call is Zero Cop. Cover Zero is straight man coverage with no safety help and Cop is a tag that tells the DE to the coverage to man the TE. This is where the Horned Frogs utilizing athletic DL allows them to be creative.

The corners are responsible for the #1 receivers while the 2 safeties have the backs. The right DE is man on the TE.

vs. a Twins set

The Corners are responsible for the split receivers, the safeties have the backs, and the right DE has the TE.
Against a team that flexes their TE or a no TE set the SS has to make a "Switch" call to the DE and play man coverage on a split receiver.

The "Switch" call by the SS puts the DE back in the pass rush. The corners and safeties keep their coverage responsibilities.
Against one back formations with or without a TE the safeties make the adjustments to cover the extra receivers.

This blitz concept allows TCU to rush 6, bring simultaneously pressure to the TE side and inside, load the box with 2 safeties manned on running backs, and utilize the athleticism of their defensive ends.


  1. This blog is amazing! The best one out there right now (sorry Brophy and Chris Brown). This is the blog I've always wanted to write, but didn't have the time or expertise to do. Man, this is great!

  2. Great Article! I am enjoying and learning from the information you are explaining in your blog.

  3. I too love the blog, but don't like this particular blitz. Why not just have the WS/SS take the TE, and have the DE rush? You still have the same number of rushers from the roughly the same spots without the risk of a linemen covering a good receiver. Especially with the caliber of TEs we are now seeing at the NCAA level. Would really like to see this blitz on film.

    1. That would just be a bullets blitz then and that edge pressure comes real fast and they got to decide who will block him which will eliminate another passing threat. And with the pressure the off has to keep the backs in which will allow you to really rob with either the FS or WS because they have the backs but if they block then u got extra cov guys.

  4. The blitz is effective in large part because the offensive line defines down linemen and blitzers in completely different ways. The confusion of having 4 down linemen, 3 blitzers, but a non-traditional 6 man rush can overwhelm the protection and QB. The blitz is also good vs. TE run game and PA pass.

  5. Wondering about the DE's technqiue on this one. Sinking hard at the snap? Mug the TE and then release? Bail pre-snap?