Defending the Power-O

21 Aug
From Shakin’ the Southland

Like every good base play the Power O is not just a play the offense runs well, it is also a vital diagnostic tool. The offense will be paying close attention to how the defense is keying and defending the Power O.

More specifically the offense will pay attention to what level of the defense is actually making the stop against the Power play: on the line, at the linebacker
level or at the secondary level.  This information will help the offense diagnose how to modify their attack to be more successful with the Power and alert them to other areas the defense might be vulnerable to complementing plays.

If we are really going to gain an appreciation for how to complement the Power play, we need to examine what the defense is up to. So let’s take a brief trip to the other side of the ball.

Playside Defenders

The primary pressure on the Power O play is on the end man on the line of scrimmage (usually the defensive end, this player is often abbreviated EMOL) and the two/three other key defenders in the box (usually the Sam and Mike linebackers and possibly the Strong Safety).

Off-set I vs. a 4-3 Defense

I am calling these defenders in red “playside defenders” because they are the players that can attack the kick out blocks and leading guard on the power play
rather than being blocked down.  These defenders can respond in a variety of ways but the responses usually fall into two categories.

Continue reading


Coaching Philosophy: You Need One

24 Jan

By Curtis Peterson
Strong Football
November 29, 2010
I’ve talked to numerous coaches, and so many seem lost. I think the big problem with many coaches is they lack direction. They lack an ultimate purpose that drives all their teaching on the football field. Every coach, despite how silly and childish it sounds, needs a coaching philosophy.
Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about X’s and O’s, or what offense or defense you want to run when you’re in charge. Oh no. I may be only 23 years old, but I recognize the need for a coaching philosophy. When I get away from it, I find myself not satisfied with the teaching I’ve done with the players on the field. 
Step One: What is your philosophy on life?
So how do you build your own philosophy? I think the first step is to recognize what drives you in life. Be honest with yourself. As a man (or woman), you should recognize what your philosophy is throughout life. Examine your life. What code have you lived by? Correction: What code have you lived by when you have been most satisfied with life. Seriously, be honest. It’s perfectly fine to be selfish. Some people want to beat the competition, or enjoy the moment. That is fine. Just adhere to that.
Step Two: Coaching Philosophy
Now, second step, look at what you want to be as a coach and examine how satisfied with your coaching career so far. Are you satisfied? If not, you probably haven’t adhered to your life philosophy in coaching. I bet you they are very similar when you are completely satisfied, or at least they are founded upon similar principles.
My Life Philosophy
For me, I can tell you my life philosophy. A successful man is built on a foundation of integrity, gentlemanly behavior, a strong mind, responsible citizenry, and leadership by example or oratory. A man that is firm in these principles will experience life to the fullest, while at the same time being triumphant in all that he does. That’s my philosophy. Believe it or not, I can probably nearly quote that on command. 
My Coaching Philosophy
But what about my coaching philosophy? I honestly feel that I want to help every athlete and coach around me grow as a person, a student, and as a team. I will do this by being consistent and fair while demanding hard work, discipline, and fun. This philosophy isn’t built just upon players. Notice how I say athlete and coach. I want to help my fellow coaches grow, not only as people and as teammates, but as students. The relationships I build with players and fellow coaches mean a great deal to me, so both are included. In addition, I feel everyone, especially myself, is a student. I try to soak in everything. I’m terrible at judging, however, I’ve done my best to try to understand people’s perspectives and respect their opinions. So I am constantly a student, learning from every coach I have come across, even if their experience is limited or they are an “old timer” so to speak. You can learn something from everyone.
Concluding Remarks on Coaching Philosophies
That is my life and coaching philosophy. I challenge you to find your own. Don’t create it, don’t memorize it. Find it. It is within you. Just be honest about it, especially with youself. It really coach be anything. Once you establish it, you will find you will be much more successful, and much more satisfied with your coaching career and your life.

Reprinted by permission of the author.  To receive a copy of Coach Peterson’s free e-newsletter, go here:

Terminology: Backside Contain

19 Jan

The backside of any defense is where, initially, the ball isn’t going.  Backside contain is protection for those times when an offensive play – like a reverse, or counter, or bootleg – changes direction and attacks a defense’s backside. 
Like containment on the playside, backside contain is about keeping the ballcarrier bottled up in the backfield and allowing the pursuit from the interior defenders to catch him before he breaks “outside” into the perimeter where the defense is weakest.
The assignment is performed at the edge of a formation by a Defensive End or Linebacker, depending upon the defensive scheme. 
Routinely the contain defender will “stay at home” or “squeeze down” and look for the ball coming back his way.   When the ball goes away, he will “trail” the play at the same depth as the ballcarrier and shut down any reverse before it gains speed. 
In either case, the defender is under control and will not cross the line of scrimmage and pursue the ballcarrier until he, himself, has crossed the line. 
Now to “squeeze down” means to replace.  The Defensive End (99) in the picture below is doing exactly that.  He’s moving into the space vacated by the Offensive Tackle who is blocking down on the weakside Linebacker (33).  From this position, he can stay “flat” – meaning parallel to the line – which keeps his outside arm free in the event of a trap block coming from the inside and allows him to read flow.

Equipment: Helmet Tunnel

17 Jan

Demonstration of a helmet tunnel for use in pre-game activities.  This one was purchased by the Barstow (CA) Youth Football association.   The kids should have fun running through this.   

Breaking Down Film

13 Jan

First ask yourself do you need to do film work?  It is after all, youth football.   At the Senior-level, with the 12-14 years olds, we can see where the extra work can gain you an advantage.  But below that we don’t think it’s necessary unless your opponent is extraordinary. 
We coach 12-14 year olds, so we have and we do use film for particular opponents.  What we’ve learned from coaching in high school is that you don’t need extraordinary skill or talent to break down film.  We’re an example of that.  What you do need is a free afternoon, a loving wife, and some pizza.  Beyond that, you need a plan or process that keeps you focused.
For us, the process begins by viewing the game without hitting the pause or rewind button.  What we hope to acquire is a sense of the game’s flow.  Was it clean or sloppy?  Was it a blow out or tightly contested?  Who dominated?  So on and so forth. 
As we watch the game, we script it by writing down the sequence of plays.  We use the form pictured below and in the space next to where we diagram the play during the second viewing, we note the play number then circle the abbreviation below it that describes the overall action in the play:

(Click on image to enlarge it.)  

P = pass
R = run
PA = play action
TP = trick play
TO = turnover
PT = punt
PTR = punt return
PAT = point after
KO = kick-off
OS = onside kick
KOR = kick-off return
PEN = penalty

Now, when we view the video a second time, we know what to expect.  We also know when to stop viewing the film because the game is a blow out and our opponent either won handily or lost badly.   Many times, we only have to watch the first half of a game or up to the 3rd quarter to get the intel that we need.
The second time we watch the video, we’re more deliberate.  We pause and rewind so we can accurately diagram each play.
When our opponent is on offense, we diagram the formation they use and the play they run.  We then chart the down and distance, the yards gained (or losted), who carried (or caught) the ball, and the direction of the play.  Was it right or left?  Was it to the boundary or field side?
We basically do the same thing when they’re on defense.  We identify and diagram their scheme and any blitz or stunt they might have used.
As with the offense, we chart the down and distance, the yards gained (or losted) and, in the case of the defense, who made the tackle.
The same can be said of special teams.  We are interested in the formations they use in each situation, the kicker’s leg strength, the direction of any kick and of any return, and the type of coverage used.   Lastly, as with the defense, when our opponent is kicking, we’re looking to see who made the tackle.
Now, armed with this information, we compile our data to see what “tendencies” our opponent might possess.  We determine that by adding the number of times they do a certain thing.
On offense, we determine:
— What are their top 3 formations?
— What are their top 3 run plays (including motion)?
— Who is their top 3 RBs?
— How many times did they run inside, outside, and off-tackle?
— How many times did they run right?  Left?
— How many times did they run to the boundary? To the field side?
— If they like to pass, what are their top 3 pass plays (including motion)?
— Who are their top 3 receivers?
— When did they pass?
— When did they use any trick play?
On defense, we look for:
— What is their base defense?
— What are their top 3 adjustments?
— What are their top 3 blitzes?
— What are their top 3 stunts?
— Who are their top 3 tacklers?
On Special Teams; we focus on:
— What was the kicker’s leg strength?  An average distance works.
— Did they favor a particular direction when kicking?  When punting?
Once we do our math, we will have some numbers to either support our observations and initial impressions or counter them.  So when we view the video a third time, we use the slow-mo and rewind repeatedly to look for details that undoubtedly escaped us in our previous viewings.
Some of the details that we look for are:

On defense:
— How do they play contain on both the playside and the backside?
— Who is their best DL?  Their weakest?
— Who is the best LB?  Their weakest?
— Who is their best DB?  Their weakest?
— How effective is their force?
— What is their speed pursuing to the outside? 
— Versus a slot, do they bump a LB or invert a Safety?
— How are the DL mechanically?  For example, do they stand up or fire out?
— What are their tackling skills on a scale of 1-6, with 6 being a decleater?
— Who is their leader?
On offense:
— Who is their best RB?  WR?
— What are their line splits?
— Do they adjust them according to the play?
— Do they flop the line, always running behind their best OL?
— How are the OL mechanically?  Stand up or fire out?
— Who is their best OL?  Weakest?
— Who is the leader? 
— Do they use a hard or silent count?
— Can we strip the ball?
— How do they set the edge?
— What is their principal run blocking scheme?  Gap?  Man?
— How do they react to press coverage?
— Can we tell by formation ( and motion) what play they’re going to run?
— Do they give up or get tougher when confronted with adversity?
— What is their general demeanor?  Confident or cocky? 
After three viewings (and, when I can sneak it in, a fourth and fifth), we’ll have developed a good sense of what our opponent does and how well they do it and we can game-plan accordingly.  It’s not a perfect process, in that it’s not as detailed an analysis as what we performed in high school but, given our level of competition, it works for us and maybe it will for you as well.

Defense: Defending the Double Wing

12 Jan

By Tim Fox
Football Core Values
January 12, 2011
I want to discuss some fine points we, as a staff and team, focused on when facing the Double Wing.
1. Our first priority, like usual, was aligning properly. The weeks prior to our match-up with the DW opponent, they revealed a number of interesting formations and change ups to their foot-to-foot, traditional 2-TE, 2-Wing look. They came out in the “Beast” package a few times (we’ll get into that later) and various spread formations. They had little success utilizing those formations in the preseason, but it was still important that we be able to line up and defend their favorite plays out of those formations.
An important point I have to make is this: do not do anything drastic to stop ANY particular offense. If you’re a 4-3 team, don’t all of a sudden become a 3-4 team, and vice versa. Be you. You will only slow your players down, which is the equivalent of kryptonite to Superman.
We stayed in our 3-4 look. 5-0-5 up front. We played 2 9-techniques, but in our 3-4, those 9-techs are outside linebackers. What we did was put our two strongest defensive linemen there. Here’s why:
2. Stop…errrr…contain “POWER.” This is the “their” play. It’s arguably one of the best plays in all of football. They ran it a total of 31 times against us. In my research of the Double Wing, I heard about the famous “Power Hour” where DW teams will run Power and only Power against 11-22 defenders. They want their players to believe in it. They want their players to feel confident in it. They want their players to believe that the only way to stop it is to play with extra players on defense. Don’t always spill power, don’t always contain power. We didn’t blitz at all, but we did change up what our 9-techs were doing.
They did not gain more than 8 yards on a single Power running play against us, but…
3. …be prepared to play 4 downs on every possession…regardless of field position. If it’s 4th and one from their own 20, they’re going for it. Therefore:
4. You must win 1st down! This is our philosophy against any opponent, but it’s particularly important against running teams, such as those that utilize the Double Wing, Wing-T, etc. However,
5. your secondary must be pass first, run support players second. We gave up 21 points as a defense. 7 came with 30 seconds left in the game on 3rd and 21 from their own 40 yard line. Granted, we did miss 3 tackles on the game winning (losing?) touchdown, but we bit on playaction. Discipline is key all the way around. We got a heavy dose of Power and Power Pass sprinkled in. They completed 3 out of their 12 passes: 2 short (less than 10 yards) and the one bomb that won the game.
6. We were easily (EASILY) the physically superior team. Your entire team must be in-sync when playing a DW team. We gave up a touchdown on a punt return. Our offense ran 12 offensive plays in 3 possessions in the first half. The time of possession numbers were 3-1 in their favor.
These are some factors that you must be ready for. 3 and outs will not help you against any one, but particularly against an opponent whose philosophy is serious ball control.

Defense: Learning to Use the Zone Blitz

12 Jan

By Joe Daniel
Football Defense Report
January 12, 2011
You should have a little bit of an idea about why we want to use the Zone Blitz in our defensive scheme now. But we have not gotten into exactly what the Zone Blitz is.
Zone Blitzes are a 5 man rush package that features a zone coverage behind them. The starting point for a zone blitz package is a blitz with four defensive linemen and a linebacker (if you are an even front) or three defensive linemen and two linebackers (for odd fronts).
Most Zone Blitz packages use a 3 under, 3 deep zone coverage behind them. This creates safety because you always have players behind the receivers to make a tackle and line up again if the offense does have success.
In man blitz schemes, you are subject to the deep ball and big plays, more so than the Zone Blitz.
Some teams also use a 4 under, 2 deep zone coverage behind their Zone Blitzes. Coupling this with the 3 deep zone coverage creates even more confusion for the offense, if your players can handle it.
From the starting point of basic one-linebacker Zone Blitzes, we can expand the package. Zone Blitz packages can include blitzes by multiple linebackers, safeties and corner backs.
Linebackers and even Defensive Linemen can get involved in the coverage package. This creates more opportunities for confusion for the offense (and for your defense if not taught properly!). It also lets you get your athletes in to a number of different positions during the course of a single defensive series.
When to Use the Zone Blitz
One of the goals of this book will be to teach you not only a variety of Zone Blitzes, but when it is best to call these blitzes. Certain calls will be more effective in certain situations.
Again, do not make calls just to make a call. Going in to a game, I only want to take a maximum of three different zone blitzes. There is just no reason to take more than that. Offenses can only do so many different things to you.
Every Zone Blitz you use should have a specific purpose. Think about what you are trying to accomplish.
— Are you trying to force the Offense to change their game plan? 
— Are you trying to pick on a particular player on the offense?
— Are you trying to put your most dynamic player in multiple positions to cause havoc for the offense?
If you are using a Zone Blitz as an answer to the offense, keep in mind that you are probably letting them dictate to you. This is not the mentality we want to have.
The ultimate success of your package will be based on how well you game plan for your opponent. Offenses are so varied today, and so too are the individual talents of our defense, that we cannot give a cookie cutter answer to “when to Zone Blitz.”
Reprinted by permission of the author.  You can visit Coach Daniel at