Snaps

The Big 100 Formation System

Probably the most cost effective way to stress a defense is with multiple formations.  This is often forgotten in the world the spread offense and hurry up mentality.  Using multiple formations can keep a defense practicing lining up all week instead of practicing your plays.  Having multiple formations is a lot easier to accomplish than most coaches think it will be.  Just like anything else we do in this game, it is better when it is done as a system.

The Big 100 formation system allows you to use tag words to get into over 100 different formations.  The best part of this system is it can be taught to your players and installed in just one day!  Paired with a simplified play book you can now focus on running your base plays with the confidence of know that the defense is going to have to spend the majority of their time lining up correctly instead of repping your plays.  It is my opinion that you should pair this system with no more than four run plays.  I myself only use three.  You can learn all about my number one play HERE.

We start learning this system by learning the Tag Words and who they talk to.  We will then start going through the formations based on how many backs are in the backfield.  For the sake of brevity, all plays will be drawn up to the right, and the count will cover right and left alignments.

TAGS

Z – wing, double, strong, R, L, H, Plus all one back formation alignments.

T – G, double, plus all one back formation alignments.

F – King, Queen, Empty

Y – Over, Open

X – Over

Tackles – Extra, Over (both tell the offensive tackle to move over to one side)

3 Back Sets

Three back sets look like the traditional Power-I sets of yesteryear.  The side in which the z back will align is determined by the play call, so each strength call could have the z to the TE side or the quick side.  This causes the DC to draw up an extra card, and counts in the formation count.

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The above formation is representative of  Rt and Lt, and with the z back on either side for both strengths.

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2 Back Sets

Two back sets consist of 21 personnel pro sets.  The F can also be tagged in Queen, which puts him in a sniffer behind the left B gap or a King which puts him in a sniffer behind the right B gap.  So in reality you could add 2 more formations to each of these sets, we will not add them to the count for this article however.

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Wing-T Sets

The Double tag puts the T in a wing to the left side.  The F has the option to queen/king himself depending on the play call.  We will not add that to the count however.

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1 Back Sets

Using extras and overs you can get very creative with your formations in one back!  These multiple look one back sets make it very easy to find formations that will out number the defense.

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Shot Gun Sets

The shot gun sets never need to be called “gun”. The players know it is gun because there is no wing, and only one tight end or no tight ends.  The alignment of the full back is determined by the play call, so for each formation (Lt, Rt) the full back can be on the left side or the right side.  Just like in 3 back, with the z, this causes more formations to be drawn up by the opposing DC.  You can also tag empty here to add two more formations to each set.  we wont count them or draw them up here, but with an empty tag, the fullback will always go to the weak side in a slot.

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CLOSING

While this may at first seem like a lot, upon a closer look you will see that it is in fact, quite simple.  Will you use all these formations in a game? Of course not!  But it will allow you to use multiple looks until you find the formation that gives you what you want to see and the advantage to your offense.  I have gone games where we have only used 4 formations!  I have also shown over 30!  COACHING POINT: the secret weapon of this system is the multiple ways to get into unbalanced!

If you are looking for the perfect play to use in conjunction with the Big 100, then check out “Installing the Wide Zone“. No other play is as versatile or consistently productive, and it matches perfectly with a multiple formation system like the Big 100.  If you need a sneak peak at “Installing the Wide Zone” then take a look at “Why Go Wide“.  Subscribe to my email list so you can be updated whenever a new article posts, and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt. Stay tuned for a future article covering trades, shifts and motions!

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Find Your Number 1!

“I fear not the man who knows 10,000 kicks.  I fear the man who has practiced 1 kick 10,000 times!” -Bruce Lee-

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Roy Jones Jr, Rocky Marciano, Joe “Brown Bomber” Lewis, and Floyd Mayweather. What do they all have in common?  Other than being phenomenal fighters, they all are known for the straight right hand.  you know its coming, its their best and most frequently used punch.  They throw it all the time, and they land it.  Why?  Lets look at wrestling and Olympian and NCAA champion Jon Smith.  The low single is coming, no doubles, no ankle picks, no throws.  Just the low single, and guess what? He is going to get it and take his opponent down.

These legendary athletes were never hard to scout.  Every fan in the stands or watching from home knows exactly what is coming.  The problem is, its coming from all types of angles.  All types of looks.  All types of different scenarios.  It must be defended at all times.  The opponent must be sound against it in all aspects of his game plan!

The point that I am trying to make here is that all of the greats find what they are good at, believe in it and rep it thousands of times!  How does this apply to football you might ask; well I as you this, HOW DOES IT NOT?!  I can tell you now, that when I am scouting a team that we will play, I never get nervous when I see a plethora of different blocking schemes.  More often than not they are mediocre at all of them and if you stop one, one time they illogically jump to another scheme. Want to know what makes me nervous?  When I scout a team and they run 2 or 3 plays, and they run them over, and over, and over.  They have PhD.’s in those plays. They come from all different formations, from multiple looks. What makes it worse is if their number 2 or number 3 plays look just like number 1!  That is a nightmare!

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I’m sure all of you can think of somebody you play that is like this. Some real life examples I can give are Bishop Moore in Orlando, FL and Gold Beach in Gold Beach, OR.  It is no secret the speed sweep is coming when you play Bishop Moore.  You are going to have to stop it.  Not once, twice or three times; but all night long.  You will have to stop it and be sound against it from multiple formations, looks and set ups.  Its coming, and its coming frequently.  In Gold Beach you better be ready for the veer!  Its coming, right at you.  You may stop it, but guess what?  It is coming again, and again, and again.  To quote the head coach for Gold Beach @kdawgswift “You better buckle up peckerwood, because we are gunna run it till you bleed to death!”  (still one of my favorite quotes of all time lol)

So, what constitutes a good number 1 play?  Your number 1 play should meet these criteria in order to be considered as your go to play:

  • Must be able to run it out of any formation
  • Must be able to run it out of any personnel group
  • Must stress the defense in multiple facets (assignments, techniques, alignment)
  • Must be gap sound against all defensive fronts
  • Must have a companion play that constraints the number 1 play while looking the same
  • Must run it religiously

Here are my top recommendations for number 1 plays in no particular order, beneath each play I provided example(s) of good companion plays:

  • Jet Sweep
    • belly, inside zone, GTO, trap
  • Wide Zone
    • dive, inside zone, GTO, keeper, load and speed option
  • Power O
    • jet sweep, power read, GTO
  • Trap
    • jet sweep, GTO
  • Veer
    • mid line, trap, GTO
  • Mid Line
    • veer, trap, GTO
  • Inside Zone
    • wide zone, keeper, GTO
  • Belly/BellyG
    • jet sweep, toss, buck sweep, GTO

DISCLAIMER: GTO is in there a lot.  Everyone should be able to run some counter…. BUT; counter is a set up play,  not a play you live and die by.  Many a teams have learned this the hard way…

CLOSING

This article follows along the lines of two of my previous articles “Whats Your System” and  “A Systemic Attack”.  KISS is my general coaching philosophy, and most teams that adopt this approach tend to experience success.  By doing this are you going to go win a state title???  Well, if you do please give me all the credit!  All joking aside, I can say this: If you simplify, results get better, period.  Subscribe to my email list to be notified when ever a new article is published and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt.

 

10 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being a Head Football Coach!

On March 15, 2018 I walked onto the campus of Freedom High School for my first official day as a Head Football Coach.  That was roughly 6 weeks before the writing of this article.  Both excited and nervous, I still felt I was prepared for the task at hand, as I still do.  As I am sure all of you Head Coaches out there know, as ready as you think you are, there are things that occur that nobody can tell you about.  Even as I write this article, it will be different for new Head Coaches in other places.  So here are 10 things nobody tells you about becoming Head Coach from my perspective.

  1. Hiring a Staff, is not simply hiring a staff
    1. The administration may tell you that you can hire coaches, but there is a lot more to it than that. The red tape is by no means the fault of the admin, but nonetheless it must be dealt with in order to get coaches on staff.  You have county vetting they need to pass.  There needs to be teaching spots that are open or verified as going to be open.  Your prospective staff must be hired as teachers first.  This will be a lot easier if you verify that your coaches are also good teachers.  Finding PE spots is a lot like snipe hunting these days, but find a coach that can teach math or science, and your gold!  My administration might be one of the best, as they have done everything to make sure I am going to able to hire coaches.
  2. The hold overs from the previous staff can be a huge asset
    1. A lot of times a new coach will come in and clean house, or in some cases the house will clean itself out. However, the hold overs from the previous staff that show interest in staying, should be given serious consideration.  They want to stay for a reason, most likely it is because they have a vested interest in the program and its success.  They have already put time, blood, sweat and tears into the kids and the school.  I currently have 2 hold overs from the previous staff.  They have both been tremendous assets.  They know the kids, in one case since these players were 6 years old.  They know the administration, they can tell you how they work and give insight into how to most effectively communicate with them.
  3. The things you say and do become Gospel
    1. As coaches we always try and show good character, honesty and integrity. I was still shocked at the speed of which things I established, said or incorporated got around.  Example: I enacted a weekly grade report program, I announced that this would be happening to the players during our first meeting.  Before I left campus, a dean walked up to me and told me how much he liked the idea of weekly grade checks.  Now if something positive can get around that quickly, imagine if you say or do something that can be seen in a bad light.  You better be sure you are a pillar of character and truth at all times.
  4. The life of your cell phone battery drops tremendously
    1. You will be inundated with phone calls, texts, and emails. Once you put on that whistle you become the contact point for teachers, parents, community members, deans, administration, school staff members, former players, college recruiters, and the list goes on.  Always have an answer for those that contact you, or at the least tell them you will have an answer for them as soon as possible.
  5. You may feel like a politician
    1. Reference 3 and 4. You are now held to a whole new level of accountability.  Everything you do will be scrutinized.  Stand tall and always do what you can to have an answer for people.  You now have to manage a staff, players, and even faculty and admin at times.  The days of saying “that’s a question for the head coach” are gone.  Now, you are the man with all the answers.
  6. Your family becomes more involved than ever before
    1. Family support is always a part of being a coach. As Head Coach however; the amount of support asked of them is immeasurable.  They will be at practices, they will wait up at night, so they can see you.  If your kids are young they will be in your coaches meetings just because they want that extra time with dad.  Becoming Head Coach will be huge adjustment for them.  Take that into consideration as they persevere through a unique transition period.  make sure you create time to spend with them whenever you can, time is something you can never get back and never forget your wife, I wouldn’t be where I am with mine, and I’m sure it is the same for most of us.
  7. Your significant other becomes an nonsalaried secretary
    1. In my short time as Head Coach, I can’t tell you how many times I have asked my wife to take care of a task for me. Can you print this? Can you check on this? Can you call this person back for me while I do this? Do we have a file for this? What is on the agenda this week.  And this goes back to family support. Is it possible to do this job with out the support of family? Perhaps… but I know I never want to find out.  Maybe my situation is unique. All I know is this, without Karly, my life and job get a whole lot more difficult.  I will always try my best to show appreciation and do the same for her.
  8. The players will buy in immediately
    1. Your new players will be eager and ready to work. I was half expecting some stand off or resistance to the me, the new guy coming in. I could not have been more wrong.  They all immediately began to work hard.  From weight room to classroom to field, they have all been improving.  Maybe my message resonated with them, maybe I did a good job reaching them and motivating, or maybe it’s something simpler. Kids are kids.  They want to do good, they want to feel wanted and they want to play football!  If you come in and show that you care about them, and that you want them to be successful, then they will buy in!
  9. You become an administrator
    1. You will be handling much of the same things that administrators handle on a daily basis. You will: check grades, handle behavior issues, correspond with parents, track inventory, set budgets, track eligibility, develop schedules, maintain facilities, and become an authority figure for the all students in the school.
  10. You have eyes and ears everywhere
    1. I recommend everyone do this! I have developed a network of spies to help me keep tabs on the players.  A lot of the time if a player is doing something, I know about it before he is finished doing it.  This isn’t always bad, the good things the players do get reported too, so they can be acknowledge and rewarded!  Step one: get access to a walkie-talkie from the administration.  This gives you immediate communication and Intel in live time across the campus.  Step two: enlist the help of the front office personnel.  I now know every single time a player is late to school.  Step three: send out a faculty wide email list of your current players on the roster so teachers can report to you as well.  Step four: enlist the janitorial staff.  They are the unsung heroes of the school, and they see absolutely everything that goes on with the students, staff, faculty and admin.

CLOSING

Hopefully this gives you some insight into some things that happen when you become a Head Football Coach.  I wouldn’t say any of the items on the list are a negative thing.  Just things to be aware of, utilize and make sure you don’t take for granted. Id like to say a special thank you to Karly Marie Vogt.  I can’t imagine life without you or where I’d be.  I know my time and focus seems to always be on football, but I promise you, that you and our children are always in my heart!

Subscribe to the email list to be updated whenever I post an article, and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt.

The Lost Art of the 4 Minute Offense

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It is one of the saddest things I see happen to football teams, and I see it happen just about every week during football season.  I can guarantee most of you have as well.  You have a football team who has possession of the football, has the lead, and there are 3 minutes or so left on the clock. What happens next I find sad and unfortunate for the players of this team.  The offense, in its own infatuation with as many plays as possible, as many points as possible ends up getting stopped while only using up 30 to 40 seconds of clock.  The other team’s offense takes the field with 2:30 seconds and 2 to 3 time outs left, and proceeds to go down the field, score, and win the game.  Had the first team simply slowed down, even if they snap the ball fewer times, still got stopped, but used up 1:30 to 2:30 seconds of clock, it would be much more likely for their own defense to seal the win for them.  Now the other team fields their offense with 30 seconds to 1 minute left, now they have to resort to big plays and/or trick plays.

In this situation, traditional knowledge and coaching would dictate that you grind out the clock.  What I mean by that, is you take your time between snaps, you call plays that will keep the clock running, and utilize formations that allow you to call these plays regardless of defensive look. You might be a spread tempo team, and I’m not here to talk you out of your belief system and doing what you do.  Lots of teams win lots of games running spread, and going fast.  What I am here to do is make a case for the 4 minute offense!

WHY THE 4 MINUTE OFFENSE

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At some point it is going to happen.  There is no way around it. It is going to happen whether you like it or not.  YOU WILL HAVE TO LINE UP AND PLAY NASTY BALL! It may be down on the goal line, it could be 4th and short, it might be raining and spitting nasty weather, or you may have to chew up some clock to win the game. When this happens, you better be able to buckle up, get under center and do some gut punching! I am a firm believer that every team should have the ability to take snaps under center, and here is why:

  • The QB wedge and Fullback wedge. Its quick, its dirty, it gets first downs.  First downs turn to touch downs.
  • The path of the running backs are more downhill and aggressive in nature.
  • For your play actions and misdirection plays, the QB has his back to the defense

I am also a firm believer that everyone should have the ability to get into 21 and 22 personnel, and here is why:

  • It creates extra run gaps/lanes for the ball carriers.
  • It brings more bodies to the point of attack.
  • It makes it more difficult for the defense to outnumber you on the edges or in the box.
  • It is both physically and mentally tough on the defense, especially the defensive backs.
  • Easy to get into unbalanced formations

FINDING PERSONNEL

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I know, I know…. I hear some of you already.  “We just don’t have those type of guys coach.”  Well sit down, because you may not like what comes next.  That excuse is a nothing more than a cop out.  Everybody has those guys.  Be a dang coach and get them in the right spots.  The perceived lack of “guys” for a spot has nothing to do with players, and everything to do with coaches.  Period.  You have them I promise.  We are not here to cater to the desires of 14 to 18 year old kids.  We are here to build men of character, provide guidance, promote education, develop relations, and win games (yes this should be last).  Here is where you can find your tight ends and full backs:

  • Defensive lineman, use the non-starters, or use the starters if 21/22 is just going to be a special situation offense for you.
  • Linebackers, same deal as the D-Line
  • Bigger bodied wide outs
  • Back up offensive linemen
  • Bigger bodied running backs

WHAT PLAYS TO RUN

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The best part about the 4 minute offense, is you do not need to change any of your base concepts. The running game that is prevalent in the spread offense all have roots in 2 back formations.  You can call the same plays.  The rules for your offensive lineman will not change.  You are simply using personnel to create more gaps, and bring more bodies to the point of attack so you can chew up yards and eat clock.   Below I will diagram the most common spread running plays out of 22 personnel.

Inside Zone:

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Power O:

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Wide Zone:

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Counter GT:

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Isolation:

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CLOSING

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The 4 minute offense seems to be a lost art.  The ego that point averages seem to create is leading many coaches astray from basic game strategy concepts.  In the end, only one average matters.  The average amount of times you take the field and leave with a W! It is like I previously stated, every single team needs to have the ability to get under center and get in 22/21 personnel.  Regardless of your base offensive scheme.  The best modern example of this is the New England Patriots.  They are 4 and 5 wide 90 to 95 percent of the time.  However, when it is time to put the game away, they are undoubtedly the best 22/21 personnel team I have ever seen.  They have no qualms about jumping into 2 back sets, getting Brady under center and gut punching the defense all the way down the field.  Subscribe to my email list so you can be updated whenever a new article posts, and follow me on twitter here @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

 

 

What’s Your System?

What’s Your System?

During the first, six years of my coaching career I was on the defensive side of the football.  Still to this day as an Offensive Coordinator I develop my offense with a defensive frame of mind.  What I mean by that is my offense is viewed as a system, and not a collection of plays as I feel so many coaches do these days.   Imagine if a defense called plays like most offenses do.  A different front every snap, different stunt or blitz every snap.  Sometimes a different defensive base from week to week.  There is a term used for this kind of defense, “Dial-A-D”, it is not a complimentary term.

You see this from time to time on the defensive side and usually the defensive coordinator is looking for work in the spring.  But on the offensive side it seams this is a regular occurrence.   Teams will bounce around from scheme to scheme within a series and its acceptable, but more often than not, it is not effective.  The offense relies on big plays that are inconsistent and they can not drive the field and score.  I personally find this type of offensive play calling the result of a general lack of knowledge and copy cat syndrome.  What I propose is installing your offense like a defense does.  Install it as system that has an answer for whatever the defense is doing.

STEP 1: SYSTEM SELECTION

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It can be any offense. Zone based, Gap based, WingT, Spread, Option, Multiple I, or any combination.  The idea is to avoid scheme hopping and attack the defense with a systematic approach.  Have an answer for everything the defense does no matter what the play call is.  I suggest selecting what you know and sticking with your guns.  Run it till the coaches and players know it in their sleep. Once you have established your offense then you can trim which I feel may be the most important step.

STEP 2: TRIMMING

Whatever you choose as your offensive route be it spread tempo or the receiver-less single wing set, every offense benefits from trimming the playbook.  Almost universally, when the offense trims the playbook you see an increase in offensive production.  Why does this happen? Your players have to remember less, you get more reps against more fronts due to more time being spent on fewer plays, players become confident in knowing what to do because of more reps.  When players know what to do they play faster, that is a well proven fact.

Ill use my team as an example, we have 4 plays.  We will throw some change ups in sometimes if we want to show something new and shiny on film, but we base out of 4, that’s it.  Sometimes I feel this is too much and think about going to 2 or 3 plays.  My number one play is the widezone, I have my reasons for this but for purpose of the article I’ll avoid getting into that. I mention it to bring up the point that every play needs to have a companion play that places the defense in a bind, if they overplay widezone we hit them with powerO.  My number 2 play is the blast (a modified toss) the companion for this one is bellyG.  The plays you select are up to you, just make sure you have a companion for each.  Sometimes, like I said, 4 can be a little much.  Lots of teams in NCAA and NFL football use 1 and 2!  A team out of Orlando, FL has routinely pummeled everyone they play with only these 3: jet sweep, bellyG and counterGT.  All 3 companion off each other!  A great system. The point is by running a limited number of plays to perfection, the offense can incorporate all 11 players to handle the defense no matter how they line up.

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STEP 3: ESTABLISHING WHAT YOU WANT TO DO

What are you trying to do to the defense? This question needs to have a clear answer before you take the field Friday night.  Are you going to tempo them to keep them on their heels? Are you going to formation them?  What are you going to do with your formations?  Having lots of formations is pointless unless you have a system or purpose for them.  Are you getting in spread to run the ball in the middle?  Just because you line up in 4 wide doesn’t mean the defense will empty the box.  Your system better have an answer for this.  While I’m not a huge fan of the spread, the guys you run it have come with lots of ingenious ways to combine base play and companion play into one package.  One example is inside zone and bubble screen.

As I said previously we have over 100 formations.  The purpose is to outflank the defense.  Get more numbers than they have where we can get easy yards. The secondary purpose is to place the secondary in to assignment binds by forcing them to play run gaps.  Now they have to worry about fitting on run and covering for pass.  If the defense can manage to line up to our formations our system can still handle the front because our players know exactly what to do.

WHAT TO AVOID

  • Becoming too scheme heavy.
    • This makes you fundamentally unsound
  • Illogical progressions
    • Switching from scheme to scheme cuts down on practice time
    • Having too many concepts causes linemen to become tentative
      • They start thinking
      • Doubting their assignment (paralysis by analysis)

WHAT TO ESTABLISH

  • A “base”
    • Use a base offense each week
  • Tempo
    • Control the tempo of the game
    • Can go fast or go slow. I suggest what I call strategic tempo
      • Only tempo when you know you have the defense on heels or in a misalignment
      • Going fast for the sake of fast leads to 3-N-Out in 7 seconds
      • Most importantly keep the other offense off the field
    • Expand & Contract
      • Compress and spread the defense with tight, open and unbalanced sets to cause misalignments
      • Place stress on the defense with shifts, motions and trades
    • Adjustments
      • Adjust with formations, tempo or window dressings, not countless new schemes and plays

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The Most Versatile Defense

A look into the multiple 3-4

If you’re looking for a simple, effective and yet multiple look defense, look no further than the 3-4.  With simple, one word calls you can show and even front, a fifty front, a stack look and any look you would like without having to change personnel.  I am firm believer that the more looks you can show an offensive line the better, but you don’t want to sacrifice fundamentals to do this.  The multiple 3-4 allows you to do exactly this, without having to change the base rules for your defense.  Multiple stunts and blitzes are easily attainable whether you call in each play, or have the players auto call to formations.  I find it most effective when alignments are auto called and blitzes are sent in as desired.

PHILOSOPHY

We will stop the run first and foremost!  We will not allow people to move the ball running the football and will adjust week to week to ensure this. The secondary will align in a base 2high shell that allows us to be sound against the run and the pass.  Every day as a team, we will tackle, we will drill run fits and we will run “block destruction” drills. We will penetrate with our defensive linemen and wreck/spill with our linebackers to our run support players.  We do this with our base front “shade” a 3-4 under alignment.

SHADE

This is where it starts for me.  The base look we give.  Shade, is a traditional 50 look or 3-4 under depending on how you call it.  You have a shaded nose, a 5 and a 9 to the call side.  You have a 4i and a 5 on the backside.  The interior linemen are down in traditional 3pt stances. The 9 and weak side 5 are in 2pt stances.   I do something a little different with how I call Shade.  I call to the passing strength.  I do this because with one call I can give the offense two different looks!  A 50 look and an Even Look.  Here are our rules of front alignments for shade

  • Alignment
    • Weak Tackle/End aligns 4i and steps hard inside eyes on guard
    • Strong Tackle/End aligns 5tech and plays squeeze
    • Nose aligns play side shade on the center
    • Sting will be a loose 9 or tight 9 to heads on the TE or 5 tech depending on the call
    • Rush will be a loose 9 or tight 9 to heads on the TE or 5 tech depending on the call
    • Will aligns with inside foot in left B gap
    • Mike aligns with inside foot in right B gap
    • Secondary alignment is based on coverage call

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In the photos above, every call is a right call. As you can see, the base call of “shade” gives the offense two different looks by calling to the passing strength.  We can give them an under front or an over front.  The OLB gets a call that’s away and he has a TE he aligns head up, if call is too him and has a TE he is in a tight 9, a TE and a wing a loose 9 almost head up on the wing.

CHANGING THE FRONT

Changing the front with the 3-4 is incredibly simple.  Basing out of under and calling to the strength gives you two fronts automatically.  By calling or having players auto call to formations you can add several other looks.

This is “Tuff”

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Tuff puts the down 3 into head up alignments.  If you have some war daddies you can two gap these guys and cause a lot of problems for offenses, if not I recommend slanting based off your scout of the opponent

This is “even”

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Even puts the end and nose head up on the guards.  The tackle and the rush in 5s. The sting can be placed as tendencies of opponent dictate, such as to the field, QBs arm, best slot and so on.

This is “30”

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I like to show 30 against the hyperactive pass happy offenses we see these days.  In 30 somebody is always blitzing, I recommend twisting the DL and LB vs lining up and plugging a gap.  This is harder to pick up for the OL even if they practice it all week.  It is just difficult for them to see.  Twists with the LB and DL can cause a lot of issues for the opponents pass protections.

COVERAGES

I have two base coverages that I like to use.  First is “Blood” a 2high pattern match coverage.  The safeties and each corner will read 2 to 1 and match the patterns accordingly. I will get into pattern read coverages in a future article. The safeties are the extra run support players, when a tight end is present you have to constantly drill play action.  When safeties play run support they tend to get nosy and bite up, this is unacceptable and if a good staff is on the other side of the field they will exploit this when they see it. The safeties are execute read steps every snap regardless of run or pass. Against 3×1 we adjust in several ways with the secondary. Here is one example that I call “slide” right:

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The other coverage I call “Bones”.  This is a 1high look.  We have Bones (cover 3) and Bones lock (man free).  In Bones the Free goes to the middle of the field and the Drop, is our extra run defender. Where we put the drop depends on tendencies of the opponent.  Could be to the field, the strength, over the End to give a stack look, it depends week to week. I highly recommend that every defense have a 1high look in the plan.  You will eventually play a team that can run the rock.  When you play those teams you have to force them into situations where they are outnumbered and have to play behind the chains so you can get back in your pass coverages on 3rd and long.  If you stay in 2high against these teams you are asking for a slow death in the 1st half.  In the second half your DBs will wear out, no question, no debate, it will happen, nobody wants their secondary making all the tackles. Those 4 yard runs in the 1st half turn into 15 yard runs in the 2nd. Just save your self the headaches get in 1high and force them into long stick situations. Here is a look at basic “shade bones” with the Drop to the strength:

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PRESSURES

You can talk all day about different types of pressures.  That can be an entire article even two, but for sake of simplicity, for me there are three ways to effectively bring pressure.

  1. Be better than you opponent
  2. Bring more than they got
  3. Bring the blitz from where OL can’t see them.

One and two are pretty self-explanatory, you’re either better and can get off blocks or you bring more bodies than they can block.  Bringing pressure from where the OL can’t see it, I feel is the most cost effective as you do not have to take extra players out of coverage.  For example one of my favorites is the classic C stunt and it is highly effective.  The 5tech takes an outside rush and the OLB twists from outside the box to rush B gap.  The guard will be occupied with helping center on the nose and eyeballing the middle backer. He will almost never see the stunt coming if timed up and called at the right moment. Here is the C stunt:

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SPEED KILLS

When personnel grouping any defense I firmly believe that the most athletic kids on the team play defense.  Speed kills, I will make the trade any day for the fast guy that can make a mistake and then run the play down for a one yard gain over the big plugger that is rendered useless if the play gets outside.  Gain advantage over big offensive linemen with multiple looks and slants and quicker get off.  You can always sub in bigger bodies in short yardage situations if you must. On Defense you want guys that can run! If they can run they can swarm the football quickly, if they can swarm the football, good things happen for the defense.

CLOSING

When speaking about the multiplicity of a defense one has to also consider the ease at which that is accomplished.  K.I.S.S. should be the defining rule.  Make the simple look complex to the opponent.  The   3-4 is simply the easiest way to do that.  It is extremely versatile, you can line up on power running team one week and a tempo spread team the next and still be gap sound up front while having all pass zones accounted for.  You can show under fronts and over fronts with one base call.  Nobody has to flip sides when shifting into your different looks and their rules remain constant. If looking to find an adaptable effective defense then the multiple 3-4 should get your serious consideration.  Please feel free to comment below, and give me a follow @thecoachvogt.