defense

The Lost Art of Belly

“The fear of the belly, makes all other plays indefensible.”

Few things make defensive coaches pull out their hair quite like the good ole Belly.  It’s a quick hitting, power play that takes advantage of the natural weakness of the C gap.  Defenses are forced to declare when they are committing to stopping the belly.  It is difficult to lose yards because the speed in which the play hits.  When committing to stopping the belly, the defense will leave themselves open to all other plays.  The belly is a great set up play for other run plays, but specifically toss, jet and counter match up with the belly almost seamlessly, and the play action game off belly can be devastating!

BELLY HISTORY

“Belly” refers to the action of the quarterback and the fullback in which the quarterback will ride the fullback’s path with ball in his belly.  First implemented by Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech in the 1950s out of the “T” formation.  By the 1970s the belly had evolved to an entire series complete with companion plays.  You have Belly Dive (IZ), Belly G, Belly Option and even Belly Stretch (WZ).  The most common application of the belly is the Belly G, any wing-t guy worth his salt runs the Belly G religiously.  But these fellows are becoming less and less common.  The belly is becoming a lost art, it is not seen often, if at all in some areas of the country.

THE BASICS

Regardless of the variant being run, the footwork between the QB and FB will always be the same.  The QB will reverse out and step flat down the line to intercept the path of the FB and put the ball in his belly.  The FB will take a flat step, a crossover step and then step down hill at the tackles outside leg for an aim point.  It is important that the fullback keeps his shoulders square during the flat step and crossover step.  The tail back should do one of the following depending on your scheme/variant: carry out a fake (toss/jet), or get into pitch relationship with the QB.  Your quarter back should fake the option after handing the ball off if he is the mobile type.  For a more pro-style QB I like to have him fake a pass drop after he hands off the ball.

BELLY G

For the sake of this article we will focus on the most common variant is the Belly G.  The offensive line will scoop on the backside and gap block on the frontside. It is important to know that the playside tackle needs to gap all the way down to the A gap when a shade nose is present to help prevent penetration.  The playside guard will pull with a tight downhill path and kickout the playside edge defender, if the edge defender is spilling, the guard will log and pin him in so the FB can bounce.  If there is a wing to the playside then he will arc release and pin the playside linebacker, placing his head in front.  This variant in particular works extremely well in conjunction with a toss fake or a jet sweep fake.  Here is a diagram of Belly G vs a 50 front:

img_2567

Here are some film clips of Belly G:

BELLY COMPANIONS

If you are going to run the Belly G, I recommend you to have companions to go along with it.  When you effectively run the Belly G it will be so feared that the defense will clearly show you when they are selling out to stop it.  This fact makes it near impossible to stop your companion plays!  You will fake the Belly G and give the ball to a different back.  The fake does not have to be exact, it just needs to have the same initial action by the backs and OL to be highly effective.  Your companion plays should fall into 2 categories: same side companion, and opposite side companion.  Examples of same side plays would be jet sweep, toss and option.  Examples of opposite side plays would be counter and reverse.

Here are some examples of toss as a same side companion, toss is a great way to take advantage of edge players that are playing hard inside and spilling.  Take a look:

Here are a few examples of counter as an opposite side companion. Use counter when the defenses backside players are over pursuing to the playside. Take a look:

PLAY ACTION

Play action pass can be absolutely devastating off of a belly fake, especially when used in conjunction with formations that force the secondary into run fit responsibilities.  This places the defensive backs into a conundrum.  They must play the belly to support the run game, yet if they do, they leave open quick strike passing opportunities. The trick is to call them at the right moment.  Here are a few examples of what can happen when called at the correct moment:

CLOSING

The Belly Series is not something that has been common for some time.  But if you are in the search for that missing piece of your offense, it just may be the ticket.  Highly effective, quick hitting, multiple variants, and the ability to open up multiple set up plays.  If you wish to learn how to incorporate the belly into your current offense then check out the, TheCoachVogt.com installation page HERE where it is part of the Pro-T offensive series.  Follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt and be sure to subscribe to the email list so you can be updated every time a new article is posted.

 

 

Advertisements

10 Ways to Effectively Bring Pressure

Just like everything else we game plan in football, the pressures we bring defensively should be calculated and precise.  We want to maximize the chance of success and mitigate any failures to reach the QB.  Bringing pressure can do 2 things typically; it can wreak havoc on the offense or it can spell doom for the defense.  The old saying “live by the blitz: die by the blitz” is what we want to avoid.  When done correctly, a sophisticated pressure package can be unstoppable.

The first thing that should be done is identification of all the protections that the offensive line is going use, and when they are going to use them.  Once identified, you should target the weak spots of that particular protection.  For instance, in half slide the weak point is the side where the RB is responsible for a linebacker and pressures that come from the opposite direction of the slide.  Big on Big protection the weak points will be between covered linemen.  Once you have determined where to attack, your pressure will only be consistently effective if you use them within these 2 parameters: 1-bring more than the offense has to block. 2-bring pressure from where the offensive line cannot see the blitzer coming.  I will provide 10 ways to effectively bring pressure using these guidelines.

BRING MORE THAN THEY GOT

This is pretty self-explanatory. If you bring more bodies than they have, one will come free.  The down side is you take an extra defender out of coverage.  There are countless variations you can use, but here are 4:

  1. img_2472
  2. img_2469
  3. img_2470
  4. img_2471

COME FROM BLIND SPOTS

These are what I call money blitzes.  They are highly effective because the OL can’t see where the blitz is coming from.  You need to do your homework and scout though!  Attack the protection in its weak spots where the OL has no chance to see you coming.  The cost of these pressures is low as well, as they allow you to keep defenders in coverage.

  1. C-Stuntimg_2473
  2. B Gap Exchangeimg_2474
  3. A Gap Exhangeimg_2475
  4. Sam Spikeimg_2476

COMBINATIONS

If you really want to cause chaos you can bring more than they have and bring them from blind spots!  You can really get creative and have fun here, just don’t try and do too much.

  1. Mike A Gap Exchange Overloadimg_2478
  2. Willie A Gap Exchange Overloadimg_2477

 

CLOSING

Would I do all of these? NO!  I would game plan these week to week.  These would be specialized pressures based on the offensive attack we are facing that week.  The bulk of your prep should be working on your base defense and being structurally sound to all formations and plays the offense will show you.  Through proper game planning you identify the spots and times that you should bring pressure to disrupt the offense and force them to punt or cause a turnover.  Make sure you subscribe with your email address to get updates whenever a new article posts! I would encourage you to check out “The Most Versatile DefensePart 1 and Part 2.   Follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt.

FOOTBALL & THE ART OF WAR

 

There are many great books available on coaching, leadership and strategy.  I often get asked; what are good books to use as resources for football?  There are several that come to mind, such as: The Assembly Line by Milt Tenopir, Complete Offensive Line Play by Rick Trickett and all of Tony Dungy’s books.  There is however, one book that was written centuries ago that stands out to me.  It is one of the best reads available on the art of leadership and strategy.  The book is The Art of War, by Sun Tzu.  The book clearly is about warfare, but almost all of its principles can be applied to football and leadership.  I will go through The Art of War and demonstrate how these concepts play a role in our game and roles as leaders.  This review will cover first 8 chapters, as they are dealing with leadership and tactics.  The remaining chapters are concerning the movement of troops and using terrain to house the troops.  I do encourage you to read the book in its entirety, especially the chapters dealing with Spies and Fire, good stuff there even if it’s not relatable to football.

CHAPTER 1 – LAYING PLANS

plans

  1. Sun Tzu – The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road to safety or to ruin.
    1. While football and coaching may not have the finalities of what Sun Tzu says about war, it’s easy to see the correlation. Football is often vitally important to the school (state).  The moral and economic boost that football provides are undeniable.  Football also provides an avenue for student athletes to be successful.  In its most literal sense, football can be the difference between a life of ruin, or a life of success for our players, we have all seen this in some facet or another.
  2. Sun Tzu – The art of war is governed by 5 constant factors: Moral Law, Heaven, Earth, The Commander and Method and Discipline.
    1. Sun Tzu goes into detail about what each factor means for warfare, but for football the connection is apparent
      1. Moral Law – the standards of behavior and accountability set by your program
      2. Heaven – the passing attack or defense
      3. Earth – the rushing attack or defense
      4. The Commander – the Head Coach who stands for virtue, wisdom, courage and strictness
      5. Method and Discipline – Marshaling the team into its proper position areas for coaching, providing rank among staff and players, maintenance of equipment and control of expenditure both physical and financial.
  1. Sun Tzu – The 5 factors should be familiar to every general and he who knows them shall be victorious; he who knows them not, shall fail.
    1. I believe what Sun Tzu is saying here is you have to be able to establish all of these factors into your team (army) in order to be successful. I feel this is 100 percent true.  It is displayed on a yearly basis for us to see.  We have all seen the team loaded with athletes but no discipline.  They get off the bus and you think you’re in trouble, then you beat them by 30 points.  Or the team that gets off the bus and you think you will handle them no problem, then they proceed to throttle the opponent.
  2. Sun Tzu – when making your deliberations, when seeking to determine conditions let them be made on these 7 considerations for you can forecast victory or defeat before the battle has begun. 1-Which army is imbued with the Moral Law? 2-Which of the two generals has the most ability? 3-With whom lies the advantages of heaven and earth? 4-On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced? 5-Which army is stronger? 6-On which side are officers and men more highly trained? 7-In which army is there greater constancy both in reward and punishment?
    1. Let’s break this down for football!
      1. Which team is most in accord with the program?
      2. Which Coach is most knowledgeable in the game and able to motivate players?
      3. Who has the better passing/ground attack/defense?
      4. Which team is more disciplined?
      5. Which team is more talented?
      6. Which team is better prepared?
      7. Which team has consistency in accountability?
  1. Sun Tzu – One should modify ones plans in accordance to which of the 7 circumstances are in your favor.
    1. Pretty obvious here, game plan to your strengths so you can exploit the opposing teams weakness.
  2. Sun Tzu – All warfare is based on deception. When able to attack, appear unable. When using our forces, appear inactive. When close, appear far. When far, appear near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy, and crush him. Attack him where he is unprepared and where you are not expected.
    1. Wow! I know all the wing-T guys out there are nodding in firm agreement for sure. Offensively clearly this applies to counters, misdirection, fakes, all option reads and play actions.  Defensively this applies to stemming and moving fronts, disguising blitzes, rolling to coverages not previously aligned in, etc…   this is one of my favorite points made by Sun Tzu
  3. Sun Tzu – If the enemy is stronger than you, avoid him.
    1. If your opponent has a power 5 commit at defensive end, probably not a good idea to go that direction lol.
  4. Sun Tzu – the general who makes many calculations before the battle is fought is the general who wins.
    1. As coaches we need to scout, game plan and prepare for all possible scenarios so our players have the highest chance possible for success.

CHAPTER 2 – WAGING WAR

wagewar

  1. Sun Tzu – When you engage in actual battle, if victory is long in coming, the mens weapons will dull and their ardor will be damped. You will exhaust your strength. The resources of the state will not be able to equal the strain. Then no man, no matter how wise can avert the consequences. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.
    1. Here, Sun Tzu is clearly waring of the dangers of a prolonged battle or war. This applies to football in the sense that one will significantly increase odds for victory if you put the other team away early. Get the mercy clock running and take away all chance for the opponent to come back, shorten the game by controlling clock once you have established significant lead.  The longer a team is able to hang around the less likely you are to seal victory.  A back and forth game ultimately results in a longer game and both teams odds of winning begins to equalize.  Those games with scores of 58-62 come to mind here or 14-10 on the opposite end. The point is, you need to put the other team away early to avoid exhausting your players and giving the other team a chance to fight back.
  2. Sun Tzu – In order to kill the enemy, our men must be aroused to anger.
    1. To me what Sun Tzu is saying here is that it is up to coaches to mentally, and emotionally prepare our players for the game. We want and need them to on edge, stimulated and excited for what is going to happen in the coming moments.  The “hype” before the game starts so to speak.
  3. Sun Tzu – In defeating the enemy, there must be rewards. Reward the soldiers who take an enemy chariot. Reward the soldier who eliminates large numbers of the opposing force. Reward the soldiers who sacrifice own glory for the victory of the army.
    1. Turn over chains come to mind here lol. But it also stresses the importance of acknowledging individual and group performances.  As well as rewarding those who put team before themselves so the game can be won week in and week out.
  4. Sun Tzu – May it be known that the leader of armies is the arbiter of the peoples fate. The man on whom it depends whether the nation shall be in peace or peril. The man who the responsibility of defeat fall upon, yet he must give out responsibility for victory to his men.
    1. Here Sun Tzu is refereeing to where the public eye is going to be. That is clearly on the Head Coach.  In defeat all blame is falls on his shoulders and he must take it and overcome it.  In victory the credit must be given to the assistants and to the players.  That is the burden of being the man in charge.

CHAPTER 3 – ATTACK BY STRATAGEM

startegy

  1. Sun Tzu – In the art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy whole and intact. To shatter and destroy is not as good. It is better to capture the army than to destroy it.  Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.  The highest form of generalship is to prevent the deployment of the enemies forces, next is to attack the enemy in the field, and worst is to attack a walled city.
    1. Sun Tzu’s words here reflect the high regard he has for defeating an enemy without fighting. I feel this applies to the “new” head coach coming into a program.  you want to win the battle of bringing all coaches into your new direction.  To dismantle the staff and have to find and hire a new one is difficult and often can cause discord among players, and remaining staff members.  It is better to keep the current staff if possible. As long as they will fit in with the new direction of the program, or are willing to learn to fit, it is better to absorb them than to cut them out.
  2. Sun Tzu – There are 3 ways in which a general can bring misfortune upon his army: 1-By commanding an attack or retreat when the army cannot take action to obey. 2-By governing an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom and being ignorant of the conditions of his soldiers. 3-By employing officers of his army without discrimination.
    1. Three was a Head Coach can bring discord into his program
      1. By forcing the team to do things they are not able to do. Whether in training, offensively or defensively. For example, no reason to run spread if you have 5’10 wide receivers that all run over 5 second 40’s.
      2. By governing the players in the same manner as his assistant coaches. The players will be emboldened and lack respect and the assistants will lack motivation and desire to lead.
      3. By choosing assistants without lots of thought and deliberation before giving them access to his players
  1. Sun Tzu – There are 5 essentials for victory. 1-Know when to fight and when not to fight. 2-know how to handle superior and inferior forces. 3-Animate your army with the same spirit through all their ranks. 4-Be prepared and take the enemy when he is not. 5-Have a military that is not interfered with by the sovereign.
    1. The 5 essentials for a successful program
      1. Knowing when and where to attack the opponent. Knowing what fights are worth having and which ones are best let go.
      2. Knowing how to handle a team that has athletes and one that does not. This should be applied to both the coaching of them, and against them.
      3. The spirit of the team should be the same through all players and coaches. Do your best to attain this.
      4. Prepare yourself, your team and your assistants in all possibilities and strike the opponent in places they are not prepared.
      5. A successful program is one that is not hindered by the administration of the school.
  1. Sun Tzu – If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself, but not your enemy, you will suffer a defeat for every victory gained. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
    1. Scout the opponent to know them like you know yourself. Watch so much film that you know what they will do before they do it.  Hold your assistants to the same standards.  If you don’t know the enemy like yourself they will catch you unprepared.  If you don’t know yourself you should not be a Head Coach.

CHAPTER 4 – TACTICAL DISPOSITIONS

TD11

  1. Sun Tzu – to secure oneself against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity for defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself. Thus a good fighter is able to secure himself against defeat but cannot make certain of defeating the enemy.
    1. Here Sun Tzu touches on the importance of being defensively sound, but this does not ensure victory. Only that you are securing yourself from being beaten, while waiting for the opportunity to strike.
  2. Sun Tzu – Standing defensive, shows insufficient strength, but open attacking shows a super abundance of strength. The general skilled in defense hides in the most secret recesses of the earth, but the general skilled in attack strikes from the topmost heights of heaven but does so exposing himself to possible defeat.
    1. I believe what Sun Tzu is trying to imply here is that you need to be effective both offensively and defensively to ensure a total victory. You must play sound defensive football and be able to score points.
  3. Sun Tzu – To lift an autumn hair is no sign of strength, to see the moon is no sign of keen sight, to hear thunder is no sign of sharp hearing. What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease. Hence his victories bring him neither reputation for wisdom nor credit for courage. He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes certain victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated. Hence a skillful fighter puts himself in a place where he cannot be defeated and does not miss the opportunity to defeat the enemy when the moment arrives.
    1. This reminds me of a quote- “Beware the old man in a profession in which most die young.” This applies to the Head Coach being able to put his team in situations that are favorable to victory.  Having a disciplined team that won’t make mistakes, and knowing exactly when to attack the enemy to seal victory.  He knows how to play sound on defense and how to strike explosively on offense.
  4. Sun Tzu – In war, the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won. The consummate leader cultivates moral law, and strictly adheres to method and discipline; thus it is in his power to control success.
    1. This again goes back to being prepared for you opponent. As coaches we should know the opponent where they are strong, where they are weak.  Where you should defend and where you should strike. The coaches that have the strength of a high team moral, and have players that are disciplined can have much greater control over the outcome of a game than ones that do not.

CHAPTER 5 – ENERGY

energy

  1. Sun Tzu – The control of a large force is the same principal as the control of a few men; it is merely a question of dividing up their numbers. Fighting with a large force is the same as fighting with a small force; it is merely a question of instituting signs and signals.
    1. This statement is referring to delegation and communication, both are essential to the success of a program. The responsibilities of the coaching staff should be delegated appropriately.  Effective communication and transparency will make the program run smoothly and keep everybody on the same page.
  2. Sun Tzu – In battle, the direct method may be used for joining, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory.
    1. Starting the game is direct, the nuances of play calling and knowing when to deceive, strike and defend are the indirect methods of battle.
  3. Sun Tzu – Energy may be likened to the bending of a bow, and the release of the arrow likened to making a decision.
    1. I feel Sun Tzu is referring to the tension before a battle, or in the coaching world before a game, or big play call after a time out. Once the decision has been made and the ball is snapped that energy is released.
  4. Sun Tzu – The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals. Hence his ability to pick out the right men and utilize their energy.  Thus the energy developed by good fighting men is as the momentum of a round stone rolled down a mountain thousands of feet high.
    1. Sun Tzu is obviously talking about how to pick out your leaders! They will be identified by their high levels of energy and not having the need to be motivated by others.  They are the motivators themselves.  They can use their energy to infect their teammates and you can ride that momentum to victory. The leaders of your team should be identified early so they be put in place to utilize their natural gift of imbuing energy onto others.

CHAPTER 6 – WEAK POINTS AND STRONG POINTS

weak

  1. Sun Tzu – Whoever is first to the field of battle and awaits the enemy will be fresh, whoever arrives second will be exhausted from travel.
    1. Home field advantage! And if you are traveling, make sure you leave early enough to let your players recover from the bus ride.  I am a big believer in arriving as early as possible to allow this for your players.
  2. Sun Tzu – Make the enemy approach of his own accord, then inflict damage to keep him from drawing near.
    1. I can’t help but think of the offense when I read that. Draw the enemy in with your run game, then inflict damage with a quick strike play action pass for big yards or a touch down to back them back off.  The same can be said of the spread offenses bubble pass attack and deep strikes that are set up because of them.
  3. Sun Tzu – You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks, only if you attack places which are undefended. You can be sure of defending your position only if you hold a position that cannot be attacked. A general skillful in attack keeps the enemy from knowing where to defend; a general skillful in defense keeps the enemy from knowing where to attack.
    1. This is the numbers game at its most basic point. Attack the defense in areas they are not defending.  Wing-T guys have perfected this.  I believe this concept is also what led to the spread attack.  Spread the defense out and find the spot they leave open and attack.  On the defensive side, this goes into game planning to make sure you defend what the offense does best. To have it broken down even more, defend what they do where and when they do it.
  4. Sun Tzu – Numerical weakness comes from having to prepare against possible attacks; numerical strength comes from compelling our adversary to make these preparations against us.
    1. Again I think of offense here. Force the enemy to prepare for multiple things.  I choose to use formations.  I want the defense lining up to formations all weak instead of practicing defending my plays.
  5. Sun Tzu – Carefully compare the enemy with yourself, so that you may know where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient.
    1. Scouting and game planning. You should know exactly who/where to attack and avoid.  The more you study your opponent the more you will understand and come to know them.
  6. Sun Tzu – He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain.
    1. What is your ability to adjust on the fly? All great coaches have the ability to do this. You must be able to identify what the other team is doing and adjust to give your team the best opportunities you can give them for success on the field.

We are going to skip chapter 7 as it has to do with moving armies through country side.

CHAPTER 8 – VARIATIONS IN TACTICS

var

  1. Sun Tzu – In the wise leader’s plans, considerations of advantage and of disadvantage will be blended together.
    1. I feel this refers to planning around your personnel. Know where your strengths and weakness lay. Know where the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses lay.  Then try and attack their weakness with your strength.
  2. Sun Tzu – In the midst of difficulties we are always ready to seize an advantage, we may extricate ourselves from misfortune.
    1. This is stating that we need to always be ready to strike. To identify a weakness and take the opportunity. Even if the game is not going in our favor we must remain ready and vigilant.  How many times have you seen a game completely turn around because of one play? Think of the pick 6, or the strip 6.  Think of a long touchdown run or reception.  We must always be looking for these opportunities and we must train our players to attack them with relentless aggression when they arrive.
  3. Sun Tzu – Reduce the hostile chiefs by inflicting damage on them; make trouble for them and keep them constantly engaged. Hold out specious allurements and make them rush to any given point.
    1. I absolutely love this! We always plan to attack and scheme against players.  Sometimes the most effective thing to do is attack the opposing coach.  What I mean by that is make him constantly coach on the fly. Hold out baits, break your own keys and attack in areas that you have not shown on film, then go back to what you have shown.  If you can confuse and frustrate the coach on the other sideline, the team will descend into confusion with him as well.
  4. Sun Tzu – The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likely hood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our readiness to receive him. Not on the chance of his attacking, but rather that we have made our own position unassailable.
    1. I like to think of defense when I read this statement. When establishing a defensive game play, we must be prepared for all possible outcomes and ways the offense may choose to attack us.  It’s when the offense catches us in something we are unprepared for, that is when a route ensues.
  5. Sun Tzu – There are 5 besetting sins that will prove ruinous to a general. When an army is defeated and leader is slain, the cause will most surely be found among these 5 dangerous faults. 1-recklessness, which leads to destruction. 2-cowardice, which leads to capture. 3-a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insult. 4-a delicacy of honor, which is sensitive to shame. 5-over solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.
    1. While I believe number 5 is not applicable to us as coaches, the first 4 definitely are! All 4 can very quickly lead a program into disarray and chaos.  A reckless coach will put his players in danger with unsafe practices and training protocols or take too many chances in his play calling. A cowardly coach can be too easily influence by assistance, administration, parents or even players.  A short temper has never worked out long term for any coach. (minus Saban lol) Finally, a coach that is over sensitive wont last long in this world.  You will be judged, criticized and harassed.  It goes with the job and title of coach/leader.  You are put there to make the decisions and deal with any and all consequences. That’s why they call you coach!

CLOSING

As you can see, Sun Tzu didn’t just know about war and fighting, he knew about leadership! The tactics used to overcome and enemy are easy to correlate to the game of football; but I feel the advice that he gives on leadership is invaluable. I enjoyed reading this whole book and I do recommend reading the whole book yourself! It can be found for download on various sights all over the internet.  The chapters on the use of fire and the chapter on spies are very interesting.  Subscribe to my email list to receive the weekly news letters and bonus football related content and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt.

Simple Steps For Defending The Wing-T

After receiving feedback from my subscribers and followers, which you all know I love so much you guys are awesome motivation!  I decided to write a quick guide on How to soundly defend against the wing-T offense.  Anybody who has defended a disciplined Wing-T team knows how frustrating it can be.  They can seemingly move the ball down field in 3-5 yard chunks at will, even when you have athletes superior to theirs.  Its not necessarily the wing-T plays that allow them to do this.  It is how they manipulate the flanks, numbers, and angles to get more bodies than you have at the point of attack. What I have here are 6 simple steps to follow that will help you, at the least, be defensively sound.  For purposes of this article we will assume that the offense is NOT a triple option team, I will have a separate article for that soon.

STEP 1- Don’t Use An Even Front

I know, I know, all you coaches that live and die by 4-4, 4-3 and 4-2-5 are about to get up in arms, but please hear me out before you close the article.  If you run an even front you basically have 3 choices

  • Put the DE in a 7, and now your outflanked
  • Put the DE in a 9, what ever you do never, ever use a 3 and 9 against any run first team. The C gap is a natural weak spot as it is.
  • Use a 3, a 5 and walk the Sam down which forces you to walk out the Mike and now your middle is softened and you have taken away pursuit to the short side as well.

There is a reason offensive guys call TE-wing sets even killers.  A knowledgeable wing-T guy will force you into defensive looks you don’t want to be in 6 ways from Sunday. Save yourself the head aches and go to an odd front.  I prefer an under front as shown below:

file.jpeg

Here you can see we are gap sound, and the offense does not have us outflanked on either side.  The odd front allows us to balance up and force the offense to beat us man on man.

STEP 2-Have At Least 5 Guys On Each Side

Wing-T guys will always play the numbers game.  You will need at least 5 guys on each side of the formation to be sound.  Ill use the previous picture again to demonstrate:

file

If you put a line down the center of the offense and defense you will see at least 5 on each side.  This rule will keep you sound in the numbers game and again force the offense to beat you man on man.

STEP 3-Never Leave The Weak B Gap Empty

You need a down lineman in the weak B gap, PERIOD!  If you don’t you will get Belly weak until the cows come home, if you start cheating the belly you get belly option.  Simply putting a down guy in B gap forces 2 things to happen.

  • The guard and tackle must base block the 3 and the 5 making the angle for the wing back insert extremely difficult.
  • The guard and tackle must “X” block the backside giving your edge player ample time to spill.

to defend the weak side trap your 3 tech will squeeze and spill just like an edge player would.  If he is getting trapped, find a new 3 tech, or tilt him so he can more effectively squeeze the down block by the guard.

If you get a double wing look, shift into a bear front.  This gives you 2 down guys in B gap and 2 guys on the wings to keep from being out flanked.  You can see that there are still 5 guys on each side of the ball as well.  Here is a photo:

file1

STEP 4-Beat On Up The Wings

The edge players will align head up on the wings.  They will step with inside foot and punch the wings while keeping eyes inside.  If the wing tries to block him it means 1 of 2 things.

  • Buck Sweep
  • Jet/Rocket sweep

When that wing tries to block him you will have your guy shove him straight backwards to take out a guard (hopefully the front side guard) on buck sweep, or to shed and pursue the jet/rocket sweep.  If the wing releases it’s the Belly G or Belly Option.  Either way, he will target the guard’s inside thigh to either create a pile, or a violent enough spill to make a play on the fullback. If the wing goes in motion away, he should be looking for waggle and counter coming back at him.

STEP 5-Eliminate Guard Kickouts

Step 4 touched on this briefly.  Wing T guys will do anything they can to get guards on your DBs.  Eventually its going to happen, but you can give your DBs the tools necessary to eliminate the guard kickout.  Just like the edge player targeted the inside thigh of the guard, the corner will too.  Looking for the same results.  Be careful however, if you coach in a place where the chop is not allowed you need to make sure that the players are not diving at the legs.  They need attack aggressively, then square shoulders to the LOS and use momentum and leverage to step hard inside and put the shoulder pad on the thigh pad.  Many times, the defender will remain on his feet while the guard either loses his balance or loses contact with the defender.  At the least you can create a nasty pile that the back has to bubble around which allows your defense to rally to the football.

STEP 6-Practice

If you have a wing-T team in your district or one you routinely schedule, then practice against wing-T sets at least once a week.

SHOT GUN WING-T

file2

If the offense has a QB…. This is the hardest wing-T set to defend.  First it takes you out of your odd look so you can cover the slot up. The QB can read the edge player, or can read the LB for RPOs or just keep it and hit the weak B gap if the LB chases the guard.  I would force the offense to run weak based on numbers.  I feel with the alignment shown above the offense has no choice but to run it weak. As far as defending the RPO, the OLB is going to beat the snot out of that slot player.  That is the most un-officiated part of the field, you will use that to your advantage and do what ever is necessary to prevent that slot from an inside release.  Knock him down, grab him do what you have to if you cant run with him.  I play a 1 high look because most gun guys will not throw that stop over and over…eventually they all get impatient and try for bomb…now you got them in long sticks, or even better… an interception or sack.

CLOSING

While not a complete answer to anything and everything a wing-T team can or will do, this is a very good set of rules to use when preparing for the offense.  As always scout what they do and when they do it, to have the greatest advantages you can. Here is the list of rules again

  1. No even fronts
  2. 5 on each side
  3. Never leave weak B gap empty
  4. Beat up the wings
  5. Eliminate guards
  6. Practice

Subscribe to my email list to receive updates weekly and if you are not already following me on twitter you are missing out on more opportunities to talk football, so make sure to hit the follow button @thecoachvogt

“Coach, They Know Nothing”

We have all been guilty of it.  Myself more than I would like to admit.  We assume our players know things just because they are playing high school football.  As coaches we must treat every player like they’ve never played before when they come into our programs, sometimes we must do that with players who have been there for four years.  I’m going to tell a couple of funny stories here; but it is not to laugh at the players.  These stories happened because I failed to communicate exactly what I wanted, and I failed to understand exactly what they knew.

“Chicken Wings”

It was storming in Florida, go figure.  Due to the lightning we took the team into the school’s cafeteria.  Naturally space was limited, and we could not do anything live due to being indoors.  We decided as a staff to just have the Defense align to formations and walk through run fits and stunts.  I was running the scout offense, showing play cards so they could see formations and just get lined up for defense.  A young player, a transfer for us was on the scout team as one of the skill kids.  After I showed the card he just kind of stood there and looked back me.    I said, “Hey man, go line up in a wing to the right.”    He still kind of just looks at me, I can see the confusion in his eyes and already feeling impatient for being rained off the field, I raised my voice and said in my stern coach voice, “GET LINED UP IN DANG WING LIKE I TOLD YOU!  TO THE RIGHT!”  the player then quickly trots just to the right of the quarterback who is under center, gets in a half squat and puts both hands in his armpits to make his arms little wings!  Funny now, but probably embarrassing for the player.  He had come from a spread team, played one year of freshman ball and had never heard the term before.  He had no clue, that was entirely my fault.

“Mr. Freeze”

This one happened in a game.  It was late in the 4th quarter in a preseason game and we were beating the other team badly.  Head Coach decided to call off the dogs and put in some young guys to get reps.  I send in my freshman tailback, first play he rolls forward before the snap taking a step, false start penalty, he does the same thing on the next try.  Time out gets called.  I tell him “you cant move, just stand there, do not roll forward again or your coming out”.   Well the players go back to the field and you can probably guess what happens next.  The ball is snapped, the fullback is going down field and there’s my young tailback, just standing there not moving.  This is again, not the players fault.  I assumed he knew that I was referring to during the cadence only.  I should have said clearly “until the ball is snapped”.  I guarantee in his head he was thinking “I’m doing exactly what coach told me”.

“The Goose”

This was a JV game when I was a young coach.  I was the Head Coach and defensive coordinator for the JV team.  We were on the 11-yard line.  It was 4th and maybe an inch, barely missed the chain post on the measure.  I call time out and we are going to go for it.  I just told the offense to run a sneak, and as the QB was heading out to line up I grabbed him and said to him “Hey just go up there and goose the center so you can catch them off guard”.  He nods adamantly, and sprints back out to the offense who is already lined up.  Nothing is happening, the offense is just lined up and doing nothing.  It looks like the QB is saying something, but I can’t hear him.  I start yelling from the sideline as do the other coaches.  The refs finally blow it dead and we have a delay of game penalty.  When the QB comes over I ask him what happened.  And he replied with “COACH! COACH! I yelled GOOSE like 10 times and nobody did anything!”  This is very funny to me now, but again, not the players fault in the slightest. That’s entirely on me and my assumptions.

Closing

As coaches, we must be sure we are clear and communicate exactly what we want and expect from our players.  They are not going to know what a 3tech is just because they play high school football.  They aren’t going to know what bender route is just because they play high school football.  These things need to be taught to them.  As coaches, we are also teachers.  To assume that players know things without checking for understanding, is to set them up for failure, and that is not why we do what we do.  To quote one of the Head Coaches I have worked for “Coach, they know nothing.  Teach them everything as if they have never played before.”

Comments always welcome, follow me on twitter @thecoachvogt.com

 

 

10 Signs You Might Be A Football Coach

You Might Be A Football Coach if….

  1. If you’ve ever gone home and had to scrub off white field paint on Thursday nights, you might be a football coach.
  2. If august feels like Christmas because you know your going to get a bunch of new apparel to wear, you might be a football coach.
  3. If your significant other asks you to dress up nice for a date and you grab your Dri-Fit polo that does not have any school logos on it, you might be a football coach.
  4. If empty spaces on random paper/pages…or napkins, or junk mail or basically any scrap paper you can find are filled with diagrams, you might be a football coach.
  5. If you have a never ending supply of little black rubber beads strewn about your car and house, you might be a football coach.
  6. If you’ve ever considered being an Uber driver because you’re doing it for free anyways, you might be a football coach.
  7. If you ever gotten irritated at random objects for being the wrong colors that week, you might be a football coach.
  8. If you’ve written names on a board for a personnel meeting and rotated them all around just to have them back in their original places after an hour, you might be a football coach.
  9. When you say, “I’ll be home right after practice”, and your significant other feels the same way you do when you hear her say “I’ll be ready in five more minutes”, you might be a football coach.
  10. If you go at least 10 consecutive Thursday nights sleepless, you might be a football coach.

Bonus: When you know the satisfaction of helping young players grow and become men of character, you might be a football coach.

Give me a follow on twitter @thecoachvogt

THE MOST VERSATILE DEFENSE: Part 2-Coaching the Front Seven

The Multiple 3-4 Defense can easily claim the title of the most versatile defense.  By basing out of a 3-4 under front you can have one call defensively and show a 50 front one snap and it will convert to a 4-2-5 look on another depending on the offensive formation.  This is done with out changing any base rules for the players or the manner in which they set the strength.  If you haven’t read part one of this series, please follow this link here “The Most Versatile Defense” and it will cover the basics of the defense.  This article will concern coaching and personneling the font seven defenders.

file

DEFENSIVE LINE

We align the three down linemen in a shade, and a 5 to the front side and a 3 tech or a 4i backside depending on the player.  You want flat backs and most of the weight on their hands.  I like the gap hand down, so it is easier to get hands on the offensive lineman.  The first step is a 6 inch “power step” the second step should place the foot equal too or only half a step in front of the first step.  With the second step you want a violent punch on the shade half of the offensive lineman. Only take on half the man and emphasize using hands to get separation. “No Hands; Join the Band”.

When aligning in head up for an okie front, I prefer to have the DL on the move with slants, pinches and stunts.  The 1st step for a slant/movement is a 45 degree power step, and still punch the gap half.  If the DL has gotten leverage on the slant transition to a long arm technique to create space and pursue the ball.  If the DL is fighting for leverage, use a shuck to gain leverage and penetrate the gaps.  They can finish a shuck with a swim or rip.  If done correctly the shuck is usually plenty effective against run or pass block.  When you know it’s a pass you obviously have an advantage.  When this happens, I like my DL to be thinking long arm technique, statistically speaking it produces more stats than any other pass rush move. Verified by several NFL and NCAA defensive line studies. The picture below depicts a long arm in action:

0602.bentley

NOSE GUARD

636145057438326681-crb111116-fball-10-

For the nose guard I look for a guy with a quick first step and lots of attitude over shear size.  I want a havoc causer here.  By playing him in a shade on the center or a head up 0, you ensure the center is occupied.  We want him concerned about the nose and not the snap.  A quick nose guard can cause a lot of errant snaps, especially against shot gun teams because the ball must travel through space. It is simple physics, the longer the path of a projectile, the smaller the variable needed to effect its path.  If your nose can command a double team, then you have the right guy there.   If hes a real war daddy then you can two gap him… but true two gap noses are hard to come by, even in the NFL.

DEFENSIVE ENDS

Again I like quick explosive guys over size here.  Speed off the ball can be a real head ache for some of the lumbering offensive linemen out there.  For an example, one time in my career I had a defensive end start in a 4A state championship game and lead the team in sacks and he was only 167 pounds.  The next year he started for us at corner back and received a D1 scholarship.  Its about attitude and will.  Speed kills.  If the ends are playing in a shade they need to squeeze any down block. “Down is Dive” no dive then spill.  Other than that all the rules of the defensive line still apply.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

636071563867688272-uscpcent02-6r3gsid97p311gv9w1e8c-original

If you like to flip flop your inside backers, then put the more physical guy to the same side as the shade and the 5 tech. Put your quicker guy that can run to the same side as the B gap DL, this covers up your linebacker and protects him, so he can run.  For simplicity reasons, I like to not move them when I can.  The LBs reads are “through the guard”.  What this means is guard key is first then the eyes flow through to the backfield action.   This takes practice, but the players pick it up quick and will rarely misread the play once they understand it.  High hats on snap is pass, draw key is when the OL turn out on the DL.  Initial flow of the hats will be first read, then as stated though the guard to the backfield.

The first steps for the LBs must be what I call “read steps”.   These are 2-3 short rapid fire, choppy steps no more than 3 inches, in the same direction as initial flow.  These steps are crucial in allowing the LBs to make the proper reads and react to play direction.  The read steps allow the LBs to redirect on counters, draws and play actions by preventing over selling with steps that are too big.   The LBs are responsible for filling open windows from inside out.  The players on the line of scrimmage will force everything to spill out. Ideally the inside LBs will make the tackle in D gap for no gain if the players on the line have not previously made the play.

OUTSIDE LINE BACKERS

These are the guys that will make your defensive mediocre or elite.  You want guys that have attitude and can run.  Long rangy builds tend to have a little more success here if playing on TEs a lot.  When playing on the line of scrimmage over a TE or a wing the rules are similar to a defensive lineman.  1st step is a power step and we punch violently to control one half of the blocker.  The OLBs best weapon is the punch and shuck when man blocked.  When facing a kick out block, we will spill.   The technique is commonly called “wrong arming” take the outside arm and rip through the kick blockers inside arm.  Once spilled penetrate and make the ball carrier bubble out so the LBs can scrape and rally.  If he doesn’t bubble, make the tackle.  You want to be sure to avoid spilling to shallow, about 1 to 2 feet into the backfield is perfect.

CONCLUSION

This is a base description for coaching the techniques for the front seven in the multiple 3-4 defense.  It is a system that is adaptable and puts speed on the field. In general, you want to turn everything into a toss sweep and make it go sideways. The sideline has never missed a tackle.  Part 3 will cover the role of the secondary in the defense. Please feel free to comment and share.  Give me a follow on twitter at @thecoachvogt