I used a 5-4 basic Defense in two different leagues in the past 2 years.

In one league, 5th and 6th grade, we had 7 shut outs in 7 games while scoring 266 points. I do not use safeties. I use many blitz and stunt packages. I know what you are thinking but it works, we averaged 2 interceptions per game. In the other league, (9-10) we have let up 20 points in 9 games and scored 280 points. We also used it with similar success in a 11-12 year old league where also won the league championship but did lose 1 game. Unlike the above example, I line my DE slightly outside the Tight End's shoulder if there is one, if not then slightly outside the Tackle's shoulder. I play my DT's in the gap between the OG and OT. I play each ILB on the OG inside shoulder and my OLB's outside shoulder of the OT. I use two corner backs. Sometimes I will drop my weak side ILB back two steps if I think it is necessary. If multiple receivers it can become a 5-2, but basically the linebackers just drop back and cover there flats in passing cituations. In the 5th and 6th grade bowl game we had 5 interceptions. Also, the year before in the same league, we only let up 34 points in 7 games while scoring 236 points. This defense works better than any I've seen at this level and yes I can beat you no matter what offense you use as long as my people perform their assignments. We beaten them all, undefeated in two leagues in two years including bowl games in Texas Stadium and the Independence Bowl Stadium. This equals 40 games in two years. Wow! Playing against a team with 5-6 studs is tough! With that many studs you can lie up in any offense and look good. But, to answer your question, defense is, first and foremost, determined by counting up the number of studs you have. A "stud" is defined as a player who can consistently and reliably bring down the other team's stud running backs. The fewer the number of studs you have the more limited you become defensively. For example, the 4-4 is a fine defense but it requires 5 studs to make it go (four LBers and an FS). With 35-40 kids to choose from, you should find 3-4 studs, probably not less, but probably not much more either. Since, no matter what defense you run, your studs will be in the secondary (to take advantage of their pursuit), I will limit my advice to defenses that require 3-5 studs. Second, you need to be aware of the principals of defense. The first principal of defense is to be able to match up, numbers wise, with the offense. If the offense has 5 players to the left of center, the defense needs five players either on, or near, that side also. If the offense adds one more to make it six to the left of center, the defense adds one more also. Or, if they take one offensive player of the five to the left of center away to make it four, the defense must take one away to make it four also (Of course, to every rule there is always the exception and the exception to this rule are the "monster" defenses). The second principal of defense is that you cannot allow the offense to "spread" your defense or "gaps" and "holes" will be created. That's bad. Here is a Split 4-4 defense aligned on a "Twins" I formation set:

C B1 B2

F B3 B4


and the farther over he cheats the weaker the defense becomes to runs to the left (TE side). the FS has to cheat over farther to help out . The defense can also bring 6 (2 DL's. The defense has shaded the FS to the "twins" side but not very much . That is the first weakness. B2. 1 FS).or else he would be lost as a run defender to the left. 1 CB. they are making the defense shade the FS to the "twins" side. 2 DL's. The second weakness is that the front four can also be spread by the offense just going to two TE's. The offense can run the ball between those big gaps. The offense can bring seven to the right of center but so can the defense (B2. we need to draw it up against the expected offense(s) and check to see if they can "spread" us. If the defense has six or more defenders on the LOS. and the F). in picking a defense. The opposite problem of "spread" is "compression". However. First. B4. B1. . Generally speaking. there are two weaknesses to this defense (Both are "spread" related). Since he can't shade very much. So the FS can be "spread". So. something the "I" does very well. So the defense is "sound". it is in position to be "compressed". If you have five studs.1 CB. it's hard to "spread" a five man front (Although I can do it). The defense is no longer sound.E O O T O 0 O O O T O O E O O The offense can bring six offensive players to the left of center. This is shown below: C B1 E O O T O B2 0 O O O F B3 T O E O O O B4 C There are now TWO full gaps between each of the down linemen and with only one LBer to cover each of the two holes. you can run this defense. if the offense starts hitting the "twins" with passes which B4 and the CB can't cover. The defensive "spread" is such that there is only one full gap between each DL and that gap is covered by a LBer. B3.

Cover 2. You don't need any studs for Cover 2 (unless you play a monster) . If you're going to play a six man front and 5 DB's. you're pretty much stuck playing zone. This not only makes them susceptible to the sweep but it also loses all six defenders on the line on every option play. Are you going to play Cover 1. the 6-1: WS C O E T O G O M 0 O O O G O T E O SS C O O Once again. leaving onlty the 5 DB's to stop the play. using 5 DB's creates open passing areas. or Cover 3? The difference is considerable but the BIG consideration is that in Cover 1 or Cover 3. usually 3 under and two deep. you need a stud at FS. Notice also. Also. passing opportunities arise in both the "hook" and slant routes. such as the deep middle. Again. either the QB or the TB is uncovered on pass against man coverage. that in man coverage on a HB pass to the QB.and by playing inverted Cover 2 you can get away with . Another decision that must be made is in your deep coverage. the QB is uncovered."Compression" occurs when TE's are removed and SE's added. the six man front is "compressed" and can be run around leaving only 5 DB's to stop the play. Further. Here is another six man front. Shown below is a "Split 6" man defense against three wideouts: C B1 B2 O E T G O O G 0 O O O O O T E F C O O The defensive line is now compressed with the DE's now in closer.

5-3 Cover 1 or Cover 3. You need to build that into your math. 6-1 Monster. your starting point is your number of studs. . even with those. Here are the numbers of studs required by defense: 3 studs: GAM and 6-1 Cover 2. 5 studs: 4-4 (Split or Stack) Of these defenses. 4-3 Monster. So when you add up the number of studs you have. the four man fronts will have the most difficulty in dealing with the "I" on "paper" but.weenies back there. or 46 Cover 1 or Cover 3. playing Cover 1 or Cover 3 will "suck" one off. Okay! So what have we learned? We've learned that "monster" defenses are defenses of a different category but. or 5-2 Monster 4 studs: 5-4. 4-3 Cover 2. the "paper" problems tend to go away. Ask if you have questions. if you have 5 studs.

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