Friday, May 28, 2010


An excellent 4-2-5 playbook that doesn't get nearly the same attention as the TCU or Boise State playbooks is from Villanova in 2004. Joe Trainer, the current Rhode Island head coach, was the Nova defensive coordinator. The '04 Wildcats were 7th in Div. I-AA is scoring defense (16.2 ppg).
The playbook also contains position manuals for DL, LB, and DB at the end. The secondary manual is excellent. If you are a split field safety 4-2-5 team it is a must read.

2004 Villanova Defensive Playbook

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Attacking BOB protection Part 3

The next strategy for attacking BOB protection involves sending defensive linemen up the field then under the pass set of an offensive lineman.

In this example of the NCAA blitz the Mike has been declared the "Mike". The TB is able to pick up the Sam. The pressure falls on the LG and LT to handle the exchange of the End and the blitzing "Mike". Unfortunately, offenses are getting better at handling the long stick concept. Here is a variation that can be very effective vs. BOB and serve as a nice compliment to the NCAA blitz.
Here the Mike is walked up into the B gap showing the pressure or timing it up to hit it running. This forces the LG to pay attention. The End jabs up field to hold the attention of the LT then loops to the A gap. Jabbing also helps the timing. The timing of the twist makes the jobs of both the LG and LT very difficult. The LT must react back inside to a blitzer who is already gone and the LG must come off a blitzer he is already engaged on to pick up an End he may or may not see. The same up and under concept can be applied if the Sam has been declared "Mike".

Here the Sam has been declared "Mike" by the offense. The LG is in a bind. What needs to happen is the LT to pick up the Sam, the LG on the up & under DE, the Center on the up & under DT, and the RG on the Nose. This is problematic for the LG because he has to continue to block the DT on a regular pass rush move where he would rip under this pass set because this is a man scheme. But here the LG must compute the fact that because the "Mike" is blitzing that he has to pass the DT to the Center. This pressure forces the Center, LG, and LT to all react properly in a fast moving situation. If an offense is prepared to pick this up they have committed a great deal of practice time and therefore haven't spent as much time on something else.

Another application of the up & under concept can be seen here.

In this example the TB is responsible for the Sam. Once the Center is engaged with the Mike it is hard to see a looping DL. The LG is stuck is chase mode against the DT. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Attacking Big on Big Protection Part 2

After establishing who the offense is declaring "Mike" in their BOB protection scheme the next step is capitalizing on that information. The simplest solution is to force the hot throw by bringing both players the running back has in the dual read. If the offense doesn't throw hot there will be an unblocked blitzer in the QB's face.

In this example the easy solution is to bring both the Sam & Will because the back has both.

The RB can pick up one and the other will be unblocked. A nice compliment to this pressure is to bring the Sam & Will inside in the B gaps instead.

The pressure from the Sam & Will should arrive more quickly through the B gaps. In order for both of these blitzes to be successful plays, the safeties must be ready to take away the hot routes to the slot receivers and all the DB's must anticipate the ball to come out early. Both of these pressures are also ideally suited to be bluffed.

The Sam & Will can easily bluff the edge or B gap blitz and still execute their drop in split safety read 2 concept on both halves of the formation with the Mike taking the 3 drop.
Building on the concepts of bringing both the Sam & Will and bluffing pressure the next strategy is based on where the back is looking first.

The Sam bluffs outside pressure to attract the attention of the RB then executes his drop. The Will blitzes inside and should get quick pressure. If the Sam is a decent salesman and the back commits to him at all the block on the blitzing Will is difficult. If the back does pick up the Will there is still a high probability that the timing of the QB has been disrupted. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Attacking Big on Big Protection Part 1

The previous post (available here) discusses understanding what is BOB protection? The next challenge is how to attack this protection scheme? The first step in attacking BOB is to establish who the offense is declaring "Mike". We use film study to answer these questions.
  • Where are the uncovered offensive linemen stepping/looking?
  • Does anyone on the offensive line or the QB point out a linebacker pre-snap?
  • Where is the back stepping/looking?
We build our game plan around who we think the offense will declare "Mike". Due to the fact offensive coordinators also game plan, we must have a plan for the offense declaring a different linebacker as "Mike" during the game. We ask our players on the field to listen to who is being called "Mike" and to report that information to the coaches between series. We prepare a primary blitz plan for what we expect based on film. For example we expect the defensive position of Mike to be declared the "Mike" we will plan accordingly. We will also have a section of the call sheet labeled SAM as "MIKE" and WILL as "MIKE" to be ready in the event the offense is adjusting their protection.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Understanding BOB protection

Big on Big (BOB) protection is a man based protection scheme. The general concept is the bigs on offense (offensive line) will block the bigs on defense (defensive line) man to man. Most defenses don't utilize 5 defensive linemen therefore the offense has more bigs on the field than the defense. BOB protection teams will assign a linebacker as the extra big meaning the OL is responsible for the 4 down linemen and 1 linebacker (Mike). Who the offensive line declares the "Mike" depends upon the scheme.
In this example there are 7 blockers for 7 potential rushers. The running backs are manned on the outside linebackers (Sam & Will) if either of them blitz the running back will pick them up. The offensive line is manned on the 4 down linemen and the linebacker declared the "Mike". If the "Mike" doesn't blitz the uncovered offensive lineman will give help to an adjacent covered lineman. If the "Mike" does blitz the offensive line will adjust to pick up the "Mike" depending on which gap he blitzes.

In each of these three situations the offensive linemen blocking the "Mike" is different but the man concept is the same, one blocker for one rusher. If the defense is in an 8 man front the offense must assign a dual read player (typically a back) to account for the defensive numbers advantage.

In this example the defense has 8 players (4 DL + 4 LB) in the box while the offense only has 7 potential blockers (5 OL + 2 RB). Here the RILB has been declared "Mike" and is the responsibility of the OL while the ROLB is manned by the FB. The TB has the dual read on the LILB and LOLB. If one blitzes the TB blocks him. If they both blitz the TB will block the inside blitzer and the QB must throw hot. This same concept is applied in BOB protection from single back formations.

Here the offense is protecting with 6 blockers against 7 potential rushers. The running back is responsible for the dual read. Offenses will vary on who they declare the "Mike" and which 2 linebackers are the dual read responsibility of the RB.
Here the offense has declared the OLB (Sam) as the "Mike" in their protection. The OL has the 4 DL and the "Mike" while the TB has the dual read on the other 2 linebackers. If the defense is in a 3 man line the offensive line will have 2 linebackers they are responsible for in addition to the 3 down linemen. I will focus on BOB protection against odd front (3 man line) defenses in a later post. This will be the first in a series discussing strategies for attacking BOB protection.

Blitz of the Week #9

This week's Blitz of the Week is a 4 under 2 deep blitz designed to both get pressure and help defend the quick and screen games that are very popular amongst spread teams.

This blitz is from the field vs. a 2x2 formation.
  • Field End - Long Stick to A gap
  • Nose - Bench A gap
  • Bench End - C gap & Contain Rush
  • Field OLB - Edge Blitz
  • Field ILB - Blitz gap between Long stick and edge blitz
  • Bench ILB - Hook-Curl drop off of #2 receiver. Widen alignment to be able to execute drop.
  • Bench OLB - C-F drop. Align outside #2 receiver. Drop is underneath & inside the #1 receiver.
  • Field Corner - Hard corner. Flat defender
  • Field Safety - Invert to the field Hook-Curl. Collision and Carry #2 in the seam.
  • Bench Safety - Cheat pre-snap to middle of the field. At the snap open a cross over run to the field Deep 1/2. Get to your divider.
  • Bench Corner - Align 1x7 outside leverage on #1. Pre-snap move to 2x 8-10 inside leverage of #1 and be pedaling at the snap. Play the deep 1/2 and be ready to midpoint #1 and #2. You have underneath help on both from the ILB & OLB.

This blitz looks like 3 under 3 deep fire zone with the field safety inverting and the bench safety rolling to the MOF. The field hard corner makes it more difficult to throw screens to the field. All of the quick throws have a defender near them making them more difficult to complete.

VS. trips there are 4 different options.
The first option is to keep the blitz intact and adjust with the bench ILB.
The bench ILB must cheat to get to the field 3 drop. The bench ILB should be arriving in time to separate the #3 receiver from the ball on a hot throw.

The 2nd option is to check the blitz bench and invert the bench safety to the Curl-Flat.
This option allows for more easily executed coverage responsibilities to the field.

The 3rd option is a back side adjustment.
Playing hard corner to both sides is another adjustment to trips. While you lose the illusion from the inverting safety there is an advantage against teams that want to throw single receiver isolation routes opposite 3x1 formations.

The 4th and final option is to check the coverage back to a traditional 3 under 3 deep.

I believe every defense should explore adding at least one 4 under 2 deep blitz to their arsenal to compliment their 3 under 3 deep and man pressure. I believe being able to have hard corners and cover 2 concept with pressure keeps offenses even more off balance. A QB who doesn't know what coverage he is seeing while being pressured is more likely to be sacked or intercepted (the best kind of QB). I also believe this creates a more difficult pre-snap read for offensive coordinators who want to use freeze tempo and check the side line. If that OC sees an invert safety and blitz he now has to wonder is this a cover 3 or cover 2 blitz and is more likely to be frustrated (the best kind of OC).

Monday, May 10, 2010

Blitz of the Week #8

This week's Blitz of Week is from Dick Lebeau's 2002 Cincinnati Bengal's playbook available here.
The front is set "Open" or opposite the TE. The 3 technique DT is opposite the TE and the defense is in an Under or Eagle alignment.
  • Open DE - Loop to A gap. Go 2nd.
  • DT - B gap penetration. Must get a great take off
  • Nose - A gap
  • Closed End - C gap vs. Run, Contain vs. Pass
  • Will - Adjust alignment pre-snap. Edge Blitz
  • Mike - 3RH
  • FS -Seam
  • Sam -Seam
  • SS - Fire Zone Middle
  • Corners - Fire Zone 1/3

This blitz allows for weak side pressure and can create problems for the OL to exchange the twist by the DE and DT. Against a BOB scheme if the Will LB has been declared the "Mike" by the offense the pressure falls on the Center to give initial help on the Nose and come off late on the Open DE that is looping to the A gap.
If the Mike LB or Sam LB was declared the "Mike" by offense the pressure is on the open OT and open OG to exchange the twist with the OT taking the hard charging DT and the OG taking the inside looping DE. The edge blitzer must be ignored by the OT and left for the RB to pick up.

In both situations the offense has to be disciplined to pick up the pressure which requires practice time.

This pressure is also effective vs. draw.
The looping DE is normally accounted for by the hi-wall block of the OT. In this example of lead draw the Center needs to come off the Nose and block the looper. The DE is difficult for the Center to see and therefore difficult to block.
A special thanks to Coach Hoover who sent this blitz my way. Be sure to check out Coach Hoover's site here for a wealth of football knowledge.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tips for Blitz Timing

This post is an excerpt from the 2000 Indianapolis Colts' Playbook. This material can be found on page 17 in the Tips for Blitz Timing, Stemming & Disguising section.

Some QB's have little trigger mannerisms they do before the snap which can be helpful.

TE off and to what receiver?
Is he looking for the heel of the QB?

Motion is a great timer. Motion usually extends to certain points by who is in motion.
  • RB/TE = Usually in Box/D gap area
  • WR = Usually extended outside the core or can tell by when they slow down. Flip (#1 off the LOS, #2 on in a twins formation) us sometimes a tip for Z-in (Crack) motion.

Get a feel for opponent's cadence. Usually when they use a Color # / Color # in their cadence, they say it twice (once to each side) and then make the "Hut-Hut" calls. We can time off of this.
Get a feel for quick counts / first sounds by the offense's body language and any changes in normal routine.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Man Coverage vs. Tandem & Bunch Formations

We are beginning to see more formations with reduced splits. Here is one solution to dealing with reduced splits by the offense when in man coverage.

We refer to any twins set with a reduced split as Tandem even if the receivers are stacked.
  1. Communicate that they are playing a combo man coverage on the Tandem
  2. Align bracketing (1 inside leverage & 1 outside leverage) the Tandem
  3. Coordinate their levels (depth) to prevent collisions 
  4. Both are reading the receiver aligned off the LOS (in this example #1) 

If #1 goes under immediately the inside of the combo (SS) will take it and the outside (Corner) will squeeze to #2.
Vs. a whip route (in then back out) the DB's will stay. Once the receiver goes inside the man responsibilities are set to avoid confusion.
If #1 goes out the Corner will take it and the SS will squeeze to #2
Vs. #1 vertical the SS and Corner will pedal and maintain their bracket position. The SS must be ready for any inside breaking routes and the Corner must be ready for any outside breaking routes.
This same teaching model is then applied to covering a Bunch (3 receivers with reduced splits).
Vs. Bunch the Middle player vs. the Bunch (SS) plays press man and has #2 all the way. The press is used to disrupt the release of the bunch and help the DBs coordinate their levels. The FS and C will bracket the bunch and play the #1 and #3 receivers like Tandem. However, both receiver are off the LOS therefore both the FS and Corner will read the inside receiver's release.