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Brethren High School Football

Defensive Playbook
The mission of the Brethren Defensive Unit is to
regain possession of the football!

Do It Right Every Time!

Alvin D. Rischel, Head Football Coach
Brethren High School
4400 North High Bridge Road
Brethren, MI
(231) 477-5355

Philosophy.Page 3
Fronts & AlignmentsPage 4
Defensive Line Play.Page 8
Inside Linebacker PlayPage 12
Outside Linebacker Play.Page 14
Blitz PackagePage 15
Pass Coverage.Page 17

3-5-3 Slant / Angle Defense
The BHS defensive system will be designed around one concept.Simplification!
Games are won when players are comfortable with the system and are not forced to
over-think. We will simplify the game plan and allow our kids to play with speed. We
want to dictate the flow of the game by attacking the offense instead of reacting to it. By
studying the plays that the offense usually has success with and taking them away, we
will force them into doing things that they are not comfortable with. Our goal will be to
play on the opponents side of the ball and create a new line of scrimmage one yard
behind the original. We will emphasize the importance of turnovers and coach
accordingly. Our slant/angle concept is designed to confuse the offensive line and
create conflict for them on every play. This will often result in missed blocking
assignments and negative gains.

Advantages of the 3-5-3


Few coaches are familiar with it or know how to game plan against it.
It allows us to use a variety of different looks with minimal teaching.
It allows smaller, faster athletes to be successful.
It employs an 8-man front, yet remains flexible against multiple offensive
5. Its confusing for the offense and forces them to account for our 3 defensive
linemen with all 5 of their offensive linemen.
6. Its fun for the players to run!

Team Goals

Hold opposing offense to 13 points or fewer.

Not allow a gain of 25 yards or more on any given play.
Hold opposing offense to less than 100 yards total rushing in a game.
Hold opposing offense to less than 150 total yards in a game.
Force and recover at least 1 turnover in each quarter.
Score a defensive touchdown.

Teaching Progression of Every Drill



5. Reads
6. Pursuits
7. Tackling
8. Creating Turnovers

This is the system that will be used when designing and organizing all defensive drills. If
a drill cannot be associated with one of these areas, it probably does not apply to a
game situation & should be eliminated from the practice plan.


Defensive Gaps

Alignment Techniques

Defensive Positions

Nose Tackle


Wildcat (Weak LB)


Defensive End

Bobcats (Hybrid Players)

Monster (Middle LB)



Stray Cat (Strong LB)

Free Safety

BASE (3-5-3)

Nose Tackle:
0 technique 18 from the helmet of the Center. Wrestler type kid who will demand
double teams.
Defensive Ends:
5 technique 18 from the helmet of the Tackles. Quick & physical players, must be able
to occupy offensive linemen and keep them off of linebackers.
00 technique stacked 3 yards behind the Nose Tackle. Best linebacker.
Stray Cat & Wildcat:
50 technique 3 yards behind the Defensive Ends. Touch players who are fearless and
not afraid to stick their nose into the action.
Bobcats :
3x2 off the outside hip of the Defensive End. Hybrid position. Best LB/DB players who
are smart, physical & athletic.
7 yards off & inside shade of the #1 receiver. These players must be able to cover and
defend the pass. We want the better of the two on the field side.
Free Safety:
12-20 yards off the LOS depending on down & distance. Shaded slightly to the strength
side. This is the Quarterback of the defense.

Adjusting to multiple sets



Free Safety will shift over vs. Trips

Vs. 2x2


We will align the Stray Cat & Wildcat directly on the tails of the Defensive Ends, making
it easier for us to put the O-line in conflict with blitzes & stunts.


The job of the defensive line is to disrupt the offensive line and free up the linebackers to
make a play. We must get physical play out of our D-linemen. They must work the LOS
and close down their designated gaps, forcing all inside runs to bounce outside. Make
the ball carrier go where he doesnt want to go.

Working The Line of Scrimmage

DL must work up & down the LOS.

DL cannot over-penetrate, creating open running lanes underneath them.
DL must not chase running backs in the backfield. Attack him where he is
going & not where he is at.
DL must pursue down the LOS in order to meet the ball carrier ASAP.

Defensive Line Slant Technique

Because our D-linemen will usually be aligned head up & slanting in one direction or the
other, it is important that they start out in a balanced stance.

First Step lateral step in the direction of the slant, work to the opposite
knee of the next lineman over.
Next rip back side arm & leg through to avoid being blocked by head up
We want to touch his knee! Disrupt & occupy him, prohibiting him from
reaching our linebackers.
Only after we reach the knee of the lineman can we begin to read his
block & pursue the ball carrier.

Determining the Strength of the Offense

We will use the following determining factors to determine which side of the offense has
more strength:

Location of the Tight End


Wide side of Field

Left side of the Defense

Defensive Line Slants





Note: Stacked linebackers will be responsible for the remaining gaps opposite from the
slant call.
Example with Split Call:

Stray Cat - Front side B Gap responsibility

Monster Strong side A Gap responsibility


Wildcat Back side C Gap responsibility

Reading The Blocks

Down Block
If the lineman blocks down, work through the shoulder & pursue down the LOS.

Reach Block
The defender must beat the blocker to the aiming point and not allow him to cross his
face. Instead, the defender must fight across the face of the blocker, square his
shoulders & work down the LOS to the ball carrier.

The defender must attack the down blocker & fight to his opposite shoulder. If unable to
reach the shoulder, he should split the double-team and drop his outside leg and
shoulder. The defender must keep digging and NEVER give up ground!


Pulling Lineman
If the next lineman over pulls, get in his hip pocket, follow him down the LOS & pursue
the ball carrier.


Alignment & Assignment

The Stray Cat, Monster, & Wildcat will align 4-5 yards off the LOS,
stacked behind the Defensive Line.
Inside LB stance should be rolled up on the balls for their feet with their
butt down, head & chest up and hands free.
Inside LBs will be in constant motion, prowling til the snap of the ball.
This will help add confusion for the offensive line.

Triangle Read

Linebackers are responsible for remaining gaps away from slant call.


At the snap of the ball they will read through the nearest uncovered
lineman (usually the guard) through to the nearest running back in the
backfield, looking for flow.

For our defense to be successful, we need to make it difficult for the offensive linemen to
locate us. Prowling is defined as linebackers decoying & disguising stunts by moving
laterally in & out of gaps. We want to be active before the snap, but it is important that to
not be over-active!

DO NOT move past the next gap.

DO NOT move up past the heels of the DL.
No matter where they are at the snap of the ball, LBs need to be able to
play their original gap responsibilities.

Scrape Technique

If there is an open gap, linebackers need to fill it.

With their hands & eyes up and butts down, LBs will shuffle down the
LOS looking for Open Doors.
As they shuffle down the LOS and find an opening, they must shoot
through it and find the ball carrier.

Reading the Guards

We will read the helmets of the guards for linebacker keys:

If the helmet of the guard goes down, read run. Search for near back &
If the helmet comes at you, attack immediately & DO NOT HESITATE!
If you see the ear hole of the helmet, its a trap to the other side!!
Communicate with other linebackers.
If the helmet pops up, its a pass block. Check for draw, then drop into
appropriate zone coverage.



Alignment & Assignment
OLBs are Force/Contain players and are responsible for containing the outside and
forcing the play back inside or stringing it to the sidelines.
OLBs will align 3 yards outside the end man on the LOS & 2 yards off the LOS when
there is no slot receiver. When a slot receiver is present, OLBs will align 2 yards inside
the slot and 4 yards off the LOS.
OLBs will align with their body square and their inside foot forward so that they can see
the entire perimeter.
OLBs will key the end man on the LOS for their reads as follows:

EMOLS blocks down Squeeze & replace his outside hip.

EMOLS blocks out attack & squeeze.
EMOLS pass blocks or releases Drop back into zone coverage.

Force/Contain Responsibilities

OLBs are responsible for forcing outside runs back inside to the defensive
flow or stringing it out to the sideline.

They must never be satisfied with just being outside. They must force a
change of direction for the ball carrier.

They must always maintain outside leverage and protect their outside arm
and leg, keeping them free.


They should squat at the LOS and never give chase to the ball carrier in
the backfield.

Numbering the Linebackers

Linebackers will be designated blitzes by calling their number. More than one number
may be called at a time to create blitzing combinations.

A call of 14 would designate a blitz from the Outside Bobcat & the

A blitzing linebacker must blitz through the gap that he is responsible for. He must fire
through the gap while maintaining as much control as possible so not to over-run the ball
We will not blitz just to blitz but instead we will do so with a purpose. Our blitz calls will
be coordinated with our slant calls so that the slanting D-linemen tie up the O-linemen in
order to create openings for the linebackers to shoot through. Down & distance will also
be considered.

A call of Havoc designates all 3 stacked Inside Linebackers on a blitz.

A call of Destroy designates all 5 Linebackers on a blitz.


Examples of Designed Blitzes with Line Slants


By pinching the Defensive Ends, we force the offensive tackles to commit to them which
frees up the Bobcats to attack the outside unchallenged. This will put pressure on the
quarterback, forcing him to stay in the collapsing pocket on passing plays and forces any
outside runs to funnel back inside to the pursuit. This call is ideal for Third & Long



This call overloads the strong side off-tackle C gap, while the slant to the weak side
defends against any possible cutback.

We will have 2 base coverage calls: Cover 3 (Base) and Cover 1 (Lock.) Our
philosophy will be to control the passing game. By keeping all routes in front of us, we
will increase our odds to make the play. We will refer to the Secondary as Over
coverage & Linebackers as Under coverage.
Numbering the Receivers
We will number the receivers 1-3 from the outside in.



Deep Thirds.


1 & 5 Inside & Under #1 up to 10 yards. Do not let him cross your face.


2 & 4 Inside & Under #2 up to 10 yards. Do not let him cross your face.
Inside & Under #3 up to 10 yards. Do not chase to flats.


Cornerbacks man #1, Free Safety plays deep thirds.


1 & 5 Man #2
2 & 4 React to running game & read QB run option
Man #3