Sunday, February 20, 2011

The 3-4 Defense: Developing the Personnel for the 3-4

*This is the 2nd post in a series on installing a 3-4 defense for use in high school and small college football.

In my last post I briefly discussed the skills you are looking for in each of the “Box” players. Box players are the positions that we use to identify the front 7 (Anytime I add a safety to the Box with a pre-snap alignment we alert the front 7 with a “BOX” call from the safety to remind them of his presence). Our goal is to play multiple fronts to defeat the offenses personnel, formations, and tendencies. Despite the effort to be multiple, I try and limit the number of techniques and skills that each player must learn. Below is a rundown of the alignments and skills each player must focus on:

NOSE-Alignment: Our Nose will only play two alignments. He will play a shade on either side of the offensive center, he will also align in a head-up Zero but will never be asked to two-gap as he will always slant with the call.
-Technique: The nose has one major rule – demand a double team. We want to keep the linebackers free to make plays. The Nose will always try to fit into the block and make it tough for any zone scheme or double to work up and “trade” him off to another lineman.

TACKLE-Alignment: The Tackle will play three alignments. He will align in a tight 5 technique, a 4i, and a 3 technique. He will play a three technique on either side of the center (Under and Solid), but the technique is the same. *Note: some coaches I know have chosen to use either a 4i or 3 and not both*-Technique: Like the Nose, the Tackle will always fit into the block and fight pressure with pressure. He will squeeze any down block.

END-Alignment: The End only has two alignments. He will play a 5 technique and he will play a 4i.
-Technique: In an “Open” formation – without an in-line TE – will focus on squeezing any down block. Against any other block he will try to fight up field and turn the ball back inside unless a stunt sends him anywhere else. He will align in a five and slant inside to B gap. Against a TE, or when in a 4i, he must fight force with force play into the block.

SAM-Alignment: Any formation with #2 aligned as a TE will put the Sam in a wide 9 technique. He will align on the L.O.S. with his inside foot up. Any formation with #2 removed will widen the Sam. He will split the difference between #2 and the OT and align 2 yards from the L.O.S. His eyes and leverage are always inside. An “Alley” call from the safety lets the Sam know that he can align in his normal 9 technique (this call is used vs a trips set when #3 is an in-line TE).
-Technique: 2 main rules effect the Sam in the run game: squeeze any down block and turn the ball back inside at all times. He is taught to force he impact on any kick-out block and to always keep his outside shoulder free. As a pass defender he must collision any vertical route and communicate any inside route. He must always be aware of #1’s alignment.

JACK-Alignment: The Jack will play a 5 technique and a (ghost)7. In our OAKIE front, and with no TE to his side, the Jack will align in the ghost 7 and play 2 yards outside and 1 yard off the line of scrimmage. In any other front, and with no TE to his side, the TE will align in a loose 5 technique with is inside leg up. If the Jack get a TE to his side in any of our fronts he will align head-up on the TE. Having a #2 receiver removed to his side only widens him slightly.
-Technique: Against the run the Jack will always try to squeeze any block and turn everything back inside of him. If he get a TE to his side he will try and out-leverage the TE at the snap and either cross his face on a zone or stretch at him, or squeeze him to close C gap on anything away. Against the pass the Jack will always collision #2 vertical and communicate any inside route.

MIKE and WILL-Alignment: The Mike and Will linebackers will have multiple alignments. The 20 alignment (OAKIE/INDY) is head-up on the guard. The 30 alignment is on the outside shoulder of the guard. The 10 alignment is on the inside eye of the guard. Normal alignment is heels five yards off the ball.
-Technique: The inside linebackers in this defense are told that they must “Ping-Pong” any inside (C gap to C gap) run back to their partner. Play away = run through. Against the pass there are two terms that we harp on: communicate and collision. Coverage dictates responsibility, but if you communicate what you see and collision what you can touch we will be a better defense.

Here are some PowerPoint slides used for teaching the linebackers.


Coach Alvaro said...

How do you adjust vs 2 TE's?

Pete DeWeese said...

There are multiple answers, all based on what type of 2 TE formation and our defensive personnel.

The easiest rule is to play a 7-tech on the weak side. If the offense changes personnel to 2-tite then we would sometimes sub the Jack LB for a DE. Playing the 7-tech gives the Jack C-Gap to the weak side and makes your force player (from secondary) your D-Gap player.

Another very simple adjustment is to keep the Jack in a 9-tech and bring a safety down (or sub another LB) to add another box player. Doing this you basically end up in a 5-3 alignment playing Cover 3. This only scared us if we got 4 verticals (at which point the safety down in the box has to carry #2 wk).

If you would like to email me I can talk about this in further detail.

Larry Villanueva said...

What coverage do prefer for the 3-4?