t is an honor to speak at the American Football Coaches Association Convention.

As a defensive staff, we are proud to represent Coach Nick Saban and the LSU football program. I want to talk with you about our defensive philosophy, our 2002 Fall Camp Objectives we set for our defense and, finally, how we prepare each week for an opponent from a practice and staff preparation standpoint. Each spring and fall, we meet with our players and discuss with them our defensive philosophy. We believe it is important for our kids to understand what we, as a staff, think is important. LSU Tigers Defensive Philosophy 1. Stop the run — We will mix fronts, movement and coverages in order to confuse and pressure the offense. 2. In all situations, defend the inside or middle of the field first. vs. Run — We will not allow the ball to be run inside — Force ball outside! vs. Pass — We will not allow the ball to be thrown deep down the middle — Force quarterback to throw short or outside! 3. Trademark of LSU defense: Aggressiveness — Physical toughness. • Hustle and pursuit. • Sure and hard tacklers. • Eliminate mental errors — Mental toughness. • Strong at the line of scrimmage. • Discipline — No foolish penalties. • Eliminate big plays and cause turnovers (NFL stat). 4. Efficiency in red zone and goal line. • Make offense kick field goals. 5. Adaptability to any situation — Have great communications and teamwork. • Sudden change — Opportunity for greatness. • Third down. • No huddle. • Two minute. • Personnel changes. 6. Turnovers • Take the ball from opponent’s offense. • Set up good field position. • Score on defense. 7. Play for 60 minutes — Moment of truth •Game of momentum, like a pendulum — it will always come back to us. Defense Wins Championships Entering the 2002 season, we discussed our areas of concern, areas we needed to improve and the opponents we were facing


this season. We wanted to outline specific goals for our players to understand what we needed to accomplish in our Fall Camp. Defensive Camp Objectives 1. Become a physically dominating defense. a. Being physical is a state of mind. b. Pursuing the ball — hustle is a habit. c. Punishing the ball carrier. d. Finish plays. 2. Mental toughness. a. Prevent lack of focus at practice/game (let down). b. Eliminate mental mistakes/errors. c. Improve yourself at every meeting and practice. 3. Emphasize as a group. a. Stop run and create turnovers. b. Third down (Sense of urgency to get off the field). c. Red area (Keep them out of end zone). d. Eliminate big plays. 4. Take the next step — Be respected as a dominating defense! Fourth Quarter Program> Spring Practice> Summer Workouts> ??? Throughout the season, we plan and prepare the same for each game. We believe if our kids understand and believe in the routine we have, we will receive better results. Sunday is our players’day off. As a staff, we grade Saturday’s game and usually finish at 2 p.m. for a full staff meeting to discuss the previous game. We start on the next opponent after the meeting. Each coach on our staff has certain phases of the game they are responsible for: Charlie Harbison, Defensive Back Coach: Passing game — all phases (Red area, Third Down, First Down, Second Down). Lance Thompson, Defensive Line Coach: Short yardage and goal line, pass rush plan. Kirk Doll, Linebackers Coach: Running game, shifts and motion adjustments. We start on our area of responsibilities and work on that to prepare for Monday’s practice and the rest of the week. Here is an outline for our game week from a practice and staff preparation standpoint:: Monday — Shells Staff Preparation: scouting report, base runs, base pass, short yardage and goal line. Practice: Eighteen minutes of team, seven minutes of red-area skeleton, seven

LS U’ s Defensive P h il os op hy

minutes of force drill (play action passes), seven minutes of seven-on-seven. Monday night staff: Discuss first and 10, second down. Tuesday — Pads Practice: Nine-on-seven, seven-onseven, team vs. scouts (first/10, second down, short yardage and goal line); all periods are vs. scouts and our offense. Tuesday night staff: Discuss third down, red area, pressure and pass rush plan. Wednesday — Pads Practice: Nine-on-seven, seven-onseven, team vs. scouts (review, third down, red area); all periods are vs. scouts and our offense. Wednesday night staff: Off — recruiting calls. Thursday — Shells Staff Preparation: Watch Wednesday practice tape, two minute and two-point plays. Practice: Seven-on-seven, move field, red area, two minute vs. our offense. Friday Staff Preparation: Watch Thursday practice tape. • Practice: Walk thru. • Game Week Checklist. • Base calls vs. Personnel groupings • Run Game Plan: Fronts, movements, stems and change-ups. • Pass Game Plan — coverages, zone/man, shifts and motion adjustments. • Pass Rush Game Plan vs. Personnel. • Short Yardage and Goal line (quarterback sneak plan). • How will we give them bad plays in all situations vs. all personnel groups (pressure package). • Red Area Plan • Third Down Plan/Fourth Down Plan • Two Minute (before half, end of game). • Two-Point Plays • Get the ball back defense, end of game. • Trick plays • Have we repped what hurts us and what has hurt us this year?

coach that understands the importance of playing great defense. Coach Saban provides an environment for us to be successful as a staff, in a scheme that maximizes the potential of our players. Today I am going to talk on defensive line fundamentals. To start, I want to just share my basic philosophy of front play and set the stage for how we want our linemen geared mentally. Philosophy “Football is a line of scrimmage game, the game is won or lost in the trenches.” Defensive line is the most physically demanding position to play in football. The men who play D-Line understand that the outcome of each contest is a direct result of their performance. You must prepare your body and mind to play every snap to the best of your ability. Playing defensive line entails having the ability to control and dominate the line of scrimmage. Necessary for success is a very aggressive attitude in controlling the run game with the relentless ability to rush the quarterback on passing plays. Through a great attitude towards improvement in practice and constant repetition of techniques, you will gain the confidence in your ability to excel as a defensive lineman. Quickness of your attack with eyes and hand speed, while developing the ability to react to the block will be stressed in all progression of individual techniques. Individual techniques will be kept to a minimum so proper execution and master of techniques can take place. Mental mistakes will not be tolerated. Defensive scheme will give us enough latitude to handle physical problems. Eliminate mistakes in alignment, know your defensive assignments, game plan and what you must do to defeat your opponent. • Play Hard • Play Physical • Play Smart Defensive Line Play Objectives I. Be physical (body) “Great players dominate physically” II. Discipline (mind) Do everything right — all of the time III. Be a team player (attitude) Work to be the best, know your role Defensive Line: Techniques & Fundamentals

Sound Techniques 1. Eyes and hand speed (eyes in your gap). 2. Use of hands—Quickness, Explosion and separation. 3. Footwork (quickness and redirection). 4. Body position and control (leverage and strength). 5. Recognition and awareness (shock, shed and tackle). 6. Be a good tackler (at line of scrimmage and in open field). Fundamentals 1. Pre-snap situation 2. Stance and alignment 3. Take-off 4. Hands: Placement, stab and shed. 5. Facemask under facemask (low man wins). 6. Effort/Desire Fundamentals are the foundation for you to become a great defensive lineman. These areas must become habit and are areas we will work on every snap, every day. 1. Pre-snap Situation: (Awareness) Each opponent will have tendencies that you will be made aware (ex.: scouting report, tip sheets, video, etc.). To be the best player you can be, you need to have an awareness of the following pre-snap situations: a. Time/score of game (two minute, winning, losing) b. Tempo of offense (normal, no huddle, quick huddle) c. Down and Distance, Field position d. Personnel, Formation, Backfield sets, Shifts or Motions e. Offensive line—splits, levels f. Defense called & keys 2. Stance and Alignment a. Stance • Three-point, flat back, weight distributed, up foot should be flat. • Feet should be shoulder width or wider, with a stagger that will allow you to power step on the snap; shoulders will be square to line of scrimmage with face behind down hand, with down hand crowding the ball. • Eyes/head should be up in bull-like position (eyes on keys). •Your body should be coiled and in position to explode from your power angles: ankles, knees & hips. • Off arm — in a loaded position, ready to stab. b. Alignment Lateral: determined by defense called and the splits of the offensive line. Vertical: get all of the ball possible with-

Lance Thompson, Defensive Line
Defensive Line Play I appreciate the opportunity to speak at the AFCA Convention and share ideas on the fundamentals of Defensive Line play. We are fortunate at LSU to work for a head

out being in neutral zone; your hand should be in front on your hat; “crowd the ball”; keep hands out of neutral zone. 3. Take-off: (this is the most critical factor to your success). a. Tackles • Key V of neck, of man aligned on — see the ball with your peripheral vision; on movement, you are exploding thru your man, control your gap and 1/2 of next gap. When your key moves, mash your foot into the ground hard. This will release your hips and help you stay low. Your steps should be quick, short & explosive that will get you into your man/gap in a good leverage position. Do not step out of your stance, this will cause you to get high. (Release your hips first.) We must develop quickness in our takeoff. This allows us to explode on people. Stay low — low man wins! 4. Hands • Your take-off will provide you the opportunity to have a successful snap, but your hands (eyes) will take advantage & assure your success. • The speed, placement & stab are the three critical areas that will allow you to shock and shed the blocker. • Your hands must move from the stance to the man in an explosive and controlled manner. • Slow hands will allow the blocker to control you. a. Speed • On take-off, bring your hands up from your stance; do not coil, explode from your stance. b. Placement • On take-off, your gap hand should go to shoulder of blocker, the shade hand will go to the chest of the blocker; your eyes and hands must work together to allow proper placement. c. Punch • Your target area to stab is thru the blocker; from your stance you should uncoil & explode with your hands thru the man; try to penetrate his body with your stab; your stab will be with your thumbs up and fingers out and elbows in. • The force of the stab should come thru your palms. • From your stance, keep elbows in, as you take off, you want to stab & lockout (grab cloth); the lockout is critical in allowing you to shed the block & go to the ball. 5. Leverage • Facemask under facemask, eyes in the throat.

• Football is a simple game. The low man will win. In your stance, take-off & hands placement, you should be in a good leverage position that will allow you to : a. Stop progress of blocker. b. Shock & shed blocker. 6. Shrug — Shed • Once we have controlled the block, we want to find the ball. • Control your area until the ball reaches a point of no return. • Now it is time to shrug & shed. a. Two-hand Shrug. • Must have control (grab cloth). • Find ball — shrug opposite, use the offensive line’s force and position against them. • Do not leave a block, shrug; most used on direct runs. b. Press & Rip • Most used on flow runs. • When offensive line steps flat, he has no power; attack the block, press & run thru your key; press with the front side arm to open the door, then rip with the backside arm and leg; run thru the front side pad of the blocker. • Stay in leverage position, do not rise to rip. 7. Effort/Desire • Rarely will you win on your initial effort. It is the second effort & your desire to win that allows you to make a play. • Give great effort from snap to the “echo of the whistle,” sprint to the ball — no exceptions, no excuses! • If you hit the ground, your head should snap up & your body should pop back to your feet; where your head goes, your body goes. • Fundamentals will be stressed on every snap! These are essential to you becoming a good player. Treat them like they are the law.

hand placement and quickness on a blocker. The drill is set up with the linebacker in a six point position. The blocker is one yard away from the linebacker in a three point stance. On the coach’s command, the blocker comes off at the linebacker two hard steps. The linebacker, upon movement, explodes out of stance at the blocker with his hands attacking the blocker’s breast plate. The linebacker should form a cup with his hands on the blocker’s numbers. Thumbs should be up with hands inside blocker’s. The linebacker’s hands should be above his eyes on contact. The hands above eyes insures that the linebacker led with aggressive hands and his pads out in front. This drill continues down the line as the coach makes corrections as he goes (Diagram 1).

Diagram 1

Kirk Doll, Asst. Head Coach/Linebackers
It has been a great honor to work with Coach Saban and the defensive staff this year. I have learned a great deal from all of them. Our staff at LSU stresses fundamentals throughout the spring and fall practices. Each work day we work on the ABC’s of football. The different drills rotate to specific situations and needs but emphasize blow delivery, defeating blocks, tackling, agility and footwork. This discussion will focus on six drills we use to teach blow delivery and defeating blocks. I hope it will be of interest to you. The first drill is the six point explosion drill. The drill’s purpose is to improve

The second drill is used for blow delivery and defeating blocks on the one-man sled. The drill is set up with linebacker four to five yards from the sled. The linebacker is offset on outside tip of sled. On coach’s command, the linebacker shuffles into sled attacking, separating and shedding. Drill footwork and attack from both sides. The drill purpose is for the linebacker to work on his athletic position as he attacks down hill on the sled. He is moving and attacking the sled with the blow delivery fundamentals taught in the six point explosion drill. The linebacker wants to strike with force, separation by hand placement, pads out and running feet upon contact. Emphasis is upon contact for his feet to be instantly restarting securing separation and then on the whistle rip off the sled in football position (Diagram 2)

Diagram 2

The third drill is the triangle drill. The purpose of this drill is for the linebacker to aggressively attack blockers in a football position from a 45-degree angle — separate, stress and shed. The drill is setup with two offensive blockers five yards from each other. The linebacker is five yards in depth away from the blockers mid-pointing the two. The drill begins on the coach’s command with players buzzing their feet. The coach points to blocker one or two. That blocker attacks the linebacker. Upon recognition, the linebacker attacks the blocker with near leg and shoulder in proper football position. After contact and separation, both players return to original alignment and drill is repeated as needed (Diagram 3).

enter outside the third bag. The linebacker mirrors the path of the blocker (now the ball carrier), attacks inside-out path and executes a form tackle (Diagram 4).

Diagram 5

Diagram 4

Diagram 3

The fourth drill is the shed drill. The purpose of the shed drill is to work on the linebackers footwork and attacking a blocker from the football position while separating from the blocker and executing from tackle. The drill is setup with three agile bags five yards apart. The blocker and linebacker face each other with five yards of separation. On command, the blocker shuffles twice and enters between bag one and two to block the linebacker entering. The linebacker, upon movement by the blocker, shuffles and attacks the blocker. The linebacker separates and both players retreat back. They shuffle twice and enter the next area. The linebacker attacks and separates. Both players retreat and re-

The fifth drill is the zone drill. The purpose of this drill is to teach proper footwork and hand placement, football position to defeat and separate from blocker and form tackle the running back. The drill is setup with blocker in three point stance four to five yards from the linebacker. The running back is behind the blocker, five to seven yards deep, pending tempo of the drill. On command, the blocker zone blocks and running back runs at a 45 degree angle. The linebacker shuffles in a football position as the running back goes at speed to insure linebacker defeats stresses and separates blocker, maintaining gap control. The runningback then works toward the line of scrimmage as the linebacker executes form tackle. Linebacker must see movement direction of running back and offensive line. He must leverage the blocker with proper hand placement with his pads out in front of toes. This drill can also be set up with two linebackers and two blockers simulating zone flow to and cut off scoop away (Diagram 5). The final drill used at LSU for blow delivery and defeating blocks is the Cut Drill. The purpose of the drill is to teach the linebacker how to defeat a low block and then execute form tackle in football position. The drill is setup with the blocker in a six point stance aligned at a 45 degree angle.

The linebacker is in a two-point stance with head up on blocker in a football position. On command, the blocker crabs to block the linebacker’s outside leg. The runningback shuffles on movement laterally and goes at speed where the linebacker must defeat the blocker first, maintaining football position with leverage to execute form tackling on the running back. The linebacker must keep vision on blocker first. He flattens ear hole of helmet with directional hand and off hand is placed on rib cage of blocker. This should flatten out blocker’s force and keep linebacker outside leg force. As linebacker defeats block, running back goes toward line of scrimmage and the linebacker executes form tackle (Diagram 6).

Diagram 6

I hope that these drills will be of some use to your linebackers. If you have any questions or need clarification, please feel free to get in touch. I want to thank the AFCA and Coach Teaff, not only for this opportunity but for all of their tireless hours and dedication to promote the greatest game — football!

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