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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.

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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.

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