Thursday, January 23, 2020

Adjusting FZ Coverage vs. RPO

LSU is in a bunch formation from 20 personnel with a FB body aligned on the hip running a conflict RPO. The concept blends a counter run scheme with a glance route to the X receiver. The read is the weak safety.

QB meshes with the RB reading the weak safety. If the safety rotates/triggers into the run fit the ball is going to the glance behind his head.

If the Safety stays deep the ball is handed to the RB and the defense does not have a +1 to the weak side. The usage of a bunch formation also helps the offensive concept here. The bunch formation strong deters the defense from bumping the LB's weak. Any bump by the backers weak creates stress for  the defense against the possibility of bunch side runs and 4 strong route concepts. 

This is a really nice play design from LSU. The Georgia Southern defense is in a weak fire zone  pressure and has a numbers advantage in the run game if the ball was handed off on the counter. Part of fire zone pressure's success has been the ability to attack run schemes by winning numbers at the point of attack. RPO's are in part a reaction to defensive schemes like fire zone pressure that are problematic. Can't run into the defensive look, just throw the attached pass concept.  Tough to block the +1 defender, just read him. 

This offseason we will be working in spring ball on some fire zone adjustments we have had in the playbook but have not featured. Specifically getting the corners involved as the Seam player.

Same pressure concept with a job swap. The corner is replacing the safety as the seam flat player while the safety is taking over the 1/3 responsibility for the corner. We have used the corner in a trap technique in 4 under 2 deep and sim pressure concepts but not in 3 under 3 deep. This adjustment gives the QB a give read while allowing the defense to remain +1 to the pressure side. 

With offenses continuing to advance with RPO concepts, we are going to have to keep adjusting/adding concepts on defense.

Why do you need all those coverage concepts?

If we keep it simple on defense the reads for the offense are simple and they probably have a really good RPO concept that is going to be a problem. Fundamentals, effort, and physical play will always be our foundation but they don't solve every problem. We have to have scheme answers. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Giving a Corner Relief in Man Coverage vs. 3x1

There are many available coverage tools in 2 high split field safety concepts to handle 3x1 formations. 

Two common options: 


The coverage is going to play a 3 over 2 quarters coverage concept on the #1 #2 receivers. Weak side the Safety is cross keying to the #3 strong. This requires the coverage to be man to man on the weak side and puts the corner in isolation on the X receiver.

A second solution is to play a midpoints concept.


Midpoints is a traditional quarter quarter half concept. This allows the defense to put a cloud corner and safety over the top of the X receiver weak side. No doubt this provides the corner with relief of not being in isolation man to the weak side.

The two coverage compliment each other and many teams carry and call both to mitigate stress areas in the other coverage. Putting a corner in isolation man coverage repeatedly is not without risk. Having a way to relieve the stress is necessary.

One issue if these are primary coverage concepts for a defense can be what if the QB is reading the weak safety. The defense is likely in solo or midpoints.

Now the QB has a simple if/then choice. If the safety works strong in a Solo concept the corner is isolated on the X WR. This allows the offense to take a one on one deep shot to the weak side.

If the Safety is working weak as a deep half player in a midpoints concept the the QB can work strong and attempt to attack the midpoints concept with a verticals concept spaced from hash to hash. The Safety to the strong side is stressed by the two verticals as is the ILB on the 3 drop. The route spacing makes the coverage difficult especially against a good QB who can drive the ball into the #3 on the opposite hash or #2 in the strong seam.

One solution is to mix the two concepts. Here the strong side is a midpoints concept with the weak side playing a solo concept. 

The weak safety is the key. If the Safety shows he is working strong immediately the corner is still isolated and the ball will go to the X receiver. When the Weak safety reads pass he will open his hips weak to provide body position to deter the iso throw vs. the manned up corner. The safety understands that will force the QB strong. This allows the safety to work back to 3 strong. The midpoint technique of the safety to the strong side forces the #3 receiver to work to the waiting safety on the weak side. This type of concept can punish pass concepts/QB reads designed to attack base coverage concepts.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Spread Defense Sim Pressure Package

This is a guest post from Nick Davis the Defensive Coordinator/LB Coach at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. If you don't know Nick, you should look him up. He is one of the brightest young defensive coaches in the country. Follow him on twitter @Spread_Defense. Nick regularly posts video and drill work on social media as well as having several great articles on X&O Labs. His defensive units are annually tops in the Heartland Conference and highly ranked in all of D3 football. Nick has been able to fill up the stat columns in Sacks and TFL's every season with a dynamic multiple defense based out of 3-3-5 personnel. Nick's defense was 9th in the nation this season with 38 sacks. 

Simulated Pressure 

A simulated pressure in our terminology is a pressure that brings linebackers or defensive backs while replacing the rusher or rushers with defensive lineman.  At Rose-Hulman this has become really easy to get to in our system because of our personnel.  We are a 3-3 personnel team that will play both odd and even fronts.  Our fronts allow us to put our linebackers or best cover defensive lineman where we need them.  Our base defense allows us to rush 4 from multiple fronts and play 1 & 3 match coverages.  

The most important part about a Simulated Pressure is trying to figure out the pass protection.  We look for over a 60% tendency when we game plan.  When you have figured out what the protection is going to be then it is time to figure out what type of fronts you want to attack them with.            

3 Down Odd Front
We want to put the most athletic defensive end to the running back side.  If we have over a 60% tendency we will bring both the middle and outside stack backer to the man side of the protection with any blitz pattern.  If you are not sure what the man side of the protection is you can send both stack backers with any blitz pattern.  We like this best with our 1 low hole coverage.  We train the defensive end that if the tailback runs a swing to his side he will peel off on it and owns that in man. If the tailback swings opposite he becomes the low hole player and drops to 5 yards and works off the quarterback.  The linebacker not rushing is the low hole player unless the tailback swings opposite the defensive end.  If the tailback blocks you get a five man rush with a low hole player.

2 & 4 Down Even Fronts  
We want to put the most athletic linebacker or defensive end to the running back side.  If we have over a 60% tendency we will bring the linebacker to the man side of the protection with any blitz pattern.  If you are not sure what the man side of the protection is you can send both backers and let your c gap players play the tailback and the low hole.  The coverage concept is the same as if we were in the odd front but now we have a better match up on the tailback if he free releases.  We prefer to bring the linebacker down the A gap but you can use any of your blitz patterns.

Why do we love sim pressures?

We can get hits on the quarterback only bringing 3 or 4 rushers.  We can bring 5 or 6 man pressure patterns and still have 7 or 8 in coverage.  We prefer to use this with our man coverage but we can play our whole coverage package behind these pressures.  These concepts teach our defensive line coaches coverage and thus they become more involved in our overall defensive system.  The defensive lineman think it is fun to play in coverage and get excited about the concepts.  

Friday, January 10, 2020

Under Front Plug Pressure to Attack Split Zone

Here are the Panthers running an under front plug pressure on 2nd & 5. Carolina is in 4-3 personnel with a hybrid DE/LB. The usage of a hybrid defender allows the front to start in an odd front spaced like a 3-4 and stem pre-snap into an under front spacing. 

The Rush: 
Will LB blitzing his open A gap.

The Coverage:
Cover 1 with the Sam and Safety playing a combo coverage on the two TE's in the wing structure

The Nose in the play side A gap helps stop the flow of the zone. The Will pressuring in the weak side A gap gets penetration denting the zone. The denting of the zone forces the RB to cut back. The Will on the pressure and the 3 tech DT prevent the back side of the zone from climbing to the Mike while the DE boxes the split zone block by the TE across the formation. 

In coverage the Sam and Safety share the two TE's. The down TE zone blocks out, as the widest of the two the Sam takes the TE in man coverage. The off TE blocking across the formation becoming the man responsibility of the Safety. The Mike manned on the RB and the Safety manned on the TE are able to add 2 unblocked defenders at the point of attack on the LOS. 

This plug pressure was featured previously link here. The earlier example was used to attack play action on a 1st & 10. This type of simple versatile pressure can be effective on regular down & distances to attack both run & pass. 

Good stuff from the Panthers and Eric Washington.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Defending Smash with Cover 2

We teach multiple variations of cover 2 concept. Here is one example of a split field coverage deep half tool we play and film of us working and correcting our technique vs. a smash route concept in practice.

The Corner is a flat player, the ILB is a V2, and the Safety is a Deep 1/2.

Against a Smash concept:

In this half tool we do not ask the corner to sink for the corner route. We have other half tools that ask the corner to hinge and sink and midpoint on Smash to help deny the 7 route by the #2. In this concept we want to deny the route of #1 with the Corner. Some coverage concepts play deep to short others are more aggressive denial coverages, this half tool is a denial coverage.

The vertical release of the #2 is going to be body positioned by the V2 LB. The LB is not looking to reroute. Being too aggressive is a good way to get beat across face and allow the route where there is no help in the MOF. The V2 dropper's help is outside and deep.

The Safety is looking to get to a position with outside leverage of #2 because his help is inside from the V2 dropper. With the Corner not using a sink technique to help, any outside throw is the safety's responsibility.

Here is a practice rep from a half line pass drill. The Corner sits on the stop route by #1. The V2 LB opens in body position to carry the vertical with inside leverage. The Safety pedals for depth but does not react to the outside route stem of the TE gaining width. 

The Safety has NO help outside, his goal is to be able to deny the outside breaks and squeeze inside breaks back to the V2 LB. Once the break happens the Safety is badly outleveraged leading to an easy throw and catch into the open space outside. Also horrible job by us as an organization clearing the sideline, those hand shields are a rolled ankle or worse waiting to happen.

Here is a 2nd rep from 2 weeks later from the same group of defenders.

The Corner and V2 LB are very similar in technique to the first rep but the Safety has dramatically corrected his footwork. Now with the hard outside stem by #2 the Safety weaves for width. We work weave in our individual time practice time this rep is a good example of our indy footwork showing up in a group drill. Notice it isn't a requirement to stay outside #2 only to have the ability to break on the outside routes. Not a good job blocking by the LB or corner. The intended WR must be our first block on an interception. Much better job keeping the sideline cleared of equipment, every detail every time.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Shotgun Counter Option

A counter option concept from New Mexico back in 2013. The Lobos are in shotgun two backs 21 personnel with a TE/Sniffer on the hip of the OT. 

This is a nice double option variation. The jab step by the hip blocker helps sell a block across the formation. The dive fake inside helps control the flow of LB's to the perimeter. This play has the ability to hit inside, off tackle, or all the way outside.

When the guard is able to kick the edge, the QB is able to attack the edge, get vertical, and run inside the kick out block.

When the guard is able to log the EMLOS the QB is able to attack the edge and keep the path off tackle. The pitch phase threatens the force defender helping widen the alley for the QB on the keep.

If the force player doesn't honor the pitch and widen, the option portion allows the offense to get wide outleveraging the defense.

When the edge aggressively attacks the QB the pitch happens more quickly but is again able to outleverage the defense wide and quick with lead blocking. 

Very effective counter option concept from New Mexico and former offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse (currently Georgia Southern).

This type of play is a great reason to carry double rotated cover 2 firezone. Here is an example from 3-4 personnel.

The safety rotation pre-snap shows the Safety down to the strong side showing a 4-4 spacing backed up by an expected 1 high coverage. Post-snap the coverage rotates again (double rotated) to a Cover 2 concept with the post safety rotating to the the strong side deep 1/2 and the corner playing the weak side deep 1/2.

The pressure allows the strong OLB to attack off the edge and spill the pulling guard. The fast pressure off the edge by the Safety should force the ball pitched quickly. The cloud corner is able to attack as the force player with leverage to attack the pitch. The perimeter blocking typically does not ID the pre-snap 1 high alignment of the defense as a cloud support. The unexpected nature of the support helps the Corner trigger and attack as the force player often defeating the block before the concept has been ID'd by the blockers as cloud support. 

Monday, January 6, 2020

Bluffing Cover Zero to Disguise Zone Coverage

Chicago is in a 4-2-5 nickel personnel presenting a loaded box on 3rd & 4.

The Rush:
Three man rush with a 3 technique working to the midline rush while the strong side DT drops to the low hole.

The Coverage:
Tampa 2 with both a low hole and high hole dropper both safeties pop out from the low alignment to the deep 1/2

The pre-snap look suggests the coverage is man cover zero with both Safeties low near the LOS. The box numbers/down & distance deter run game. The QB decides to get the ball out quickly to the RB in the flat expecting man coverage from a defender in the core on the RB and a likely pick route from the single side WR. The coverage is in fact a rush 3 drop 8 Tampa 2 concept.The coverage to the bunch allows the defense to play 5 vs. 3 while the weak side is a 3 over 2 advantage for the coverage. Ball gets out quickly for an immediate tackle and a gain of 1 forcing a 4th down punt.

Great job by the Bears presenting cover zero, inviting a quick throw to the flat, and forcing the ball into a strength of a Tampa 2 coverage call. Good stuff from the Bears and Chuck Pagano.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Edge Pressure to Attack Zone Run

Edge Pressure coming from away from the RB and from the single WR side in a 3x1 bunch formation.

Texas is in a 3-4 personnel odd front however the roll down safety makes the pre-snap spacing look like a 4-4

The Rush:
DL slanting away from the pressure bringing two off the edge opposite the RB. The DE is down to the A gap with the OLB crossing the face of the OT zone blocking out. The Safety is off the edge.

The Coverage:
3 Under 3 Deep Firezone

The zone blocking cannot account for the overhang down safety. The offense has 5 OL and the TE in the bunch to block the 3 DL, 2 ILBs, and the pressure OLB that is 6 vs. 6. There is no blocker to account for the 7th defender pressuring off the edge. End result is a TFL.

Nice usage of edge pressure from Texas and former defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Mesh Charge vs. Zone Read

Kansas State is in a 4-2-5 personnel spaced in a even front with 2 technique DT's playing a weak side rotation Cover 3 match.

To the side of the RB the DE executes a mesh charge. 

The technique doesn't stay on the LOS it attacks deep into the backfield angling at the point of the hand off. In this version the DE turns his shoulders to present a keep read for the QB. The DE's angle looks like he is going to tackle the dive. The DE attacks to the near hip of the RB then climbs to the inside hip of the QB. The angle of the DE should force the QB to keep the ball.

This version of the mesh charge is effective because it assigns two defenders to the QB keep. The LB plays over the top for the outside of the QB on the keep. The DE mesh charges then climbs to the QB's inside. Assigning and inside and outside defender creates a vise on the QB who should be forced to keep the ball. 

The aggressive match technique by the coverage to the side of the RB deters the RPO element of the play.

Good execution from the Wildcats and good scheme plan vs. zone read by Scottie Hazelton.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Winning the 1 on 1 Pass Rush

San Diego State is in a 3-3-5 personnel spacing as a bear front running a Tampa 2 Sim Pressure.

The Rush:
Both DE's work out to contain while the Nose works strong to balance the pass rush. The Mike is in the pass rush as the weak side interior pass rush.

The Coverage:
Tampa 2 with a safety in the high hole

By covering up all the OL the defense forces the OL into 1 on 1 blocking. The slide of the OL sends the OT to a LB who is dropping to the strong hook. The Center in the slide works to the Nose. The DE weak occupies the OT leaving the the sliding OG 1 on 1 against the Mike on the sim pressure. Sim pressure is a 4 man pass rush concept, often the pressure doesn't create unblocked players on clean run throughs. What sims do really well is isolate 1 on 1 pass rush matchups that favor the defense. 

The Mike uses a very nice pass rush move here to win the 1 on 1. The OG is setting aggressively, the Mike attacks the momentum of the OG then crosses face. You can't fight physics, an object in motion stays in motion. On OL aggressively setting has trouble redirecting. This type of move is the same concept of a crossover dribble in basketball.

Would you run into a defender when you want to score in basketball? If the defender is in great position where you are moving are you going to run into a wall or change direction? QB is the basket, find a way to score.

This same body movement is a cut used by ball carriers.

This is where cross training can be applied in and out of season. In a circuit for RB cuts a defender can be developing pass rush skills. In a pass rush circuit for blitzers a ball carrier can develop open field evasion skills. Playing pickup or varsity basketball can make you better as a pass rusher. The key is players understand how and when to apply these movements in pass rush situations.

Hit 'em with the Crossover!

Great execution by the Aztecs and really good coaching of pass rush technique by Zach Arnett and Rocky Long.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Split Field Coverage Pressure to Attack Zone Run

Southern Miss is in 3-3-5 personnel with a 2 high split field safety coverage concept. Weak side the defense has a LB walked up as a DE creating a 4-2-5 type spacing. 

The Rush:
The DL is slanting away from the pressure with the blitz side DE working to the A gap while the away DE is working outside. The Nose is working 2 gaps from a zero technique alignment to the B gap. The Golden Eagles sent two LB's off the edge into the zone blocking.

The Coverage:
2 Read coverage to the field with man coverage to the boundary 

The pre-snap presentation does several things:

1. To the boundary side the defense presents 2 low players at the LOS in the face of the receivers and a deep safety over top. This alignment deters access RPO throws to the boundary.

2. To the field the defense presents an inside leverage overhang defender creating 3 over 2 coverage. The field is not a great look for pre or post snap RPO concepts based on defensive numbers and alignments.

3. With the perimeter defense aligned to deter RPO, the box is where the defense looks light. The box presents like a 4-1 core which leads the offense to a zone blocking run scheme. Based on pre-snap look the offense should have favorable numbers in the run game.

Post snap the pressure ends up creating confusion and a run through TFL. The OT zones out to the widest rusher expecting the OG to zone to the walked up LB. The OG instead hangs on the DL slanting inside to the A gap. Even if the OG had worked out to the inside most edger rush the offense is outnumbered in the box 6 to 5. The DE looping outside to the read side is a give read forcing the ball into the defense's advantage. If the QB had attempted to pull and "out-athlete" the DE, the overhang player does a good job of being patient while staying in body position to both deny the RPO and fold in the run game. The overhang's presence helps take the pressure off the DE to make a tackle on the QB 1 on 1.

Nice execution from Southern Miss and good design by Tim Billings to align the defense to deny RPO's, dictate a run, then pressure to change the math on the offense in the run game. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Using Edge Pressure to Attack Jet Sweep

Here is another blitz automatic concept. Previously the concept of blitzing against a specific formation was outlined. This pressure is not about the formation instead it is triggered by motion. When the offense goes in jet motion the pressure is activated. 

The Rush:
OLB off the edge to the motion

The Coverage:
4 under 3 deep cover 3 with rotation to the motion

The call was an odd front quarters concept with no motion. When the motion goes the defense automatically triggers into the OLB pressure. This concept was designed because the quarters was the call we liked vs. no motion but the jet sweep with the RB lead blocking was potentially a problem play. 

Against quarters with an apex OLB The OL can work up to the ILB. The #2 receiver can release to block the Safety which holds the safety from running the alley. The Safety only knows what he knows and initially the concept looks like a route which slows down his run fit plus he must shed the block. The RB can lead for the OLB. 
Against quarters with the defenders bumping vs. the jet motion the OL has a harder time blocking the ILB. The RB can lead for the ILB, the #2 receiver can work to block the OLB. The block by #2 should trigger the quarter safety into the alley quickly. It is still a 10-12 yard deep safety vs. a jet sweep running full speed. This can be a tough play and could be a rough match up depending on the guy running the jet vs. the guy playing safety.

Are we still going to play quarters vs. jet, absolutely. We do want to have answers if the jet becomes a problem play. This type of call also serves as a deterrent. If we have this on and the offense takes a TFL, will they dial up jet sweep again?. 

The blitz automatic allows the defense to set a hard edge on the jet sweep with the pressure and rotate the safety down into coverage to create numbers to the point of attack. 

Just another example of getting the blitz when and where it is wanted.