P ut t ing th e Sting Back i n the Ye ll ow Jacket Defense

t is a distinct honor to be asked to write an article for this year’s Summer Manual. On behalf of our Head Coach Scott Boone and the entire Yellow Jacket family, we would like to thank the AFCA for allowing us to share some of our thoughts concerning pressure defense. Our defensive staff was brought in by Coach Boone in the spring of 2002, for one purpose, to change the style of defensive play at Randolph-Macon College. In 2001, the Yellow Jackets finished last in the conference in total defense (386.6 ypg.), scoring defense (29.8 ppg.), rushing defense (221 ypg.), pass defense efficiency (129.1), and turnover margin (-9). With our new pressure package, we finished the 2002 season first in total defense (294.4 ypg.), second in scoring defense (17.2 ppg.), third in rushing defense (110.3 ypg.), second in pass defense efficiency (103.1), second in turnover margin (+5), and put the sting back in the Yellow Jacket defense. Defensive Philosophy Pressure defense allows us to dictate to the offense their style of play. We pressure in order to stop the run and make the offense one dimensional. Pressure allows us to disrupt blocking schemes, get an extra man to the point of attack, and force the offense into definite passing situations. We are capable of overloading the pass protection, thereby disrupting the quarterback’s timing and making him throw hot. Constant pressure, quarterback knockdowns and quarterback sacks take their toll. Our style of pressure defense changes field position, creates turnovers, and wins football games. Our defensive mantra is “when you need to stop the bleeding, apply pressure.” In preseason camp we introduced our players to a short list of “buzz” words which best describes what it takes to be a great defensive football team. 1. Team: Take pride in doing your job within the team concept ( Be unselfish). 2. Master the Tools of the Trade: Alignment, Assignment and Technique. 3. Attack: Stem, Stunt, and Blitz. 4. Effort: Relentless pursuit and gang tackling. 5. Poise: Performing under pressure. 6. WIN ! Defensive Goals We are a goal-oriented defense. In the off-season we spent a great deal of time studying our conference opponents and


our conference’s defensive statistics. After careful review, we established a set of goals that would put us first in each of the conference’s defensive categories. At Randolph-Macon, we feel that we can win every contest if we achieve seven of the eleven team goals. This past season, we were fortunate to reach our defensive team goals in eight games. We feel being goal-oriented gives our players something tangible to strive for and helps them remain focused in their preparation. Our goals are as follows: 1. Three turnovers per game. 2. Score or set up a score. 3. Hold our opponents to 17 points or less. 4. Third down efficiency of 65 percent or more. 5. Tackling efficiency of 90 percent or more. 6. Ten or more tackles for loss. 7. No run over 15 yards. 8. No pass over 25 yards. 9. One hundred-fifty rushing yards or less. 10. One hundred-fifty passing yards or less. 11. Three hundred total yards or less. Scheme We are a multiple 4-3 gap control defensive football team. Our scheme allows us to get eight men in the box to stop the run, to pressure with movement and to pressure with the blitz. We have the ability to run blitz on first down and blitz against the pass on third down. We are committed to man coverage and play a high percentage of press man. Although we are predominately a manblitz team, we also have one or two zone blitzes in our weekly game plan. The key to our style of pressure defense is disguise and timing. We attempt to show the same look as much as possible. For example, from one of our base fronts, Under 1, we are capable of stemming, stunting, man blitzing or zone blitzing ( Diagram 1).

Diagram 1: Under 1

Stemming the Front Moving from one alignment to another or one defense to another prior to the snap is a

big part of our package. We feel that stemming is a simple way to disguise our defenses, thereby confusing the blocking schemes and the quarterback’s reads. Because we lack size inside, our nose and tackle are seldom in the same alignment before or after a snap. For example, a Switch call changes the alignment of our two inside players making it more difficult for the offense to trap inside or isolate on our linebackers (Diagram 2).

of our two inside players (Diagram 6). We will also stem and stunt to cause more confusion (Diagram 7). We can slant all four of our down guys by tagging the term Move to our defensive call. Right or left movements are determined by formation, motion, etc. based on our game plan. Move is executed from a head-up alignment (Diagram 8).

Diagram 5: Under 1 Ed or Tac

Diagram 2: Under 1 Switch

blitz either our Sam or our Will depending on our opponent’s tendencies; formations, backfield sets, motion, etc. Our linebackers also can use their discretion within certain parameters as to which gap to blitz. We tie in man-free coverage behind the blitz. We have had a great deal of success with our five-man pressure on first down. It is sound against the run, the pass, or play action. For example, Smash is a strong-side blitz with Sam coming off the edge and the End angling to B gap. Sam is our primary force player and Mike assumes responsibility for C gap versus run. Our strong safety (Jacket) has the tight end man to man (Diagram 9). Wreck is an outside blitz to the weak side (Diagram 10).

Diagram 9: Under Smash Diagram 6: Under 1 Opposite
We also stem into and out of entire defensive fronts. Adding the term Stem to a defensive call alerts our defense that we will be moving from one defensive front to another (Diagrams 3 & 4).

Diagram 3 Diagram 10: Under Wreck Diagram 7: Under 1 Switch Opposite

Diagram 4: Stem Under
In our six-man pressure package, we blitz both Sam and Will with all the same combination of charges and options. We tie in zero-man coverage behind our six-man blitz and use the same force rules (Diagrams 11 and 12). We game plan to determine which combinations will be most productive based on what our opponents do and the abilities of our own players. By stemming, stunting, and blitzing, we can put our players in a position to make big plays and force the offense into making bad plays.

Diagram 8: Under 1 Move

Stunting the Front Changing gap responsibilities by moving on the snap is another way our defensive front can disrupt the flow of the offense and pressure the quarterback. We are capable of multiple movements up front. One player, two players, three players, or all four players will move based on the term we tag to the defensive call. Individual moves are designated by the terms Ed, Tac, Nose and Rock. For example, Under 1 Ed or Under 1 Tac, etc (Diagram 5). One of our favorite two-man stunts is Opposite. An Opposite call changes the gap responsibilities

Pressure by Blitz When you decide to use a pressure system it is imperative that everyone be on the same page. There has to be an understanding of the purpose of the blitz. Pass blitzes may require an adjustment in alignment, charge, and responsibilities which differ from run blitzes. Our package allows us to pressure with five, six, seven, or eight men backed up with man or zone coverage. In our five-man pressure scheme, we will

Diagram 11: Under Smash/Wreck

Diagram 12: Under Smash/Wreck

Eight Men in the Box In order to stop the run, we bring an extra man into the box. Our pre-snap alignment in most cases is either a two deep shell or four across. Prior to the snap we will walk down one of our safeties into the C gap at a depth of six or seven yards. Our inside linebackers will margin over. We regard this as a gray area for the quarterback, creating confusion in regard to run support and pass coverage. Disguise and timing, as stated earlier, are critical in our scheme. Therefore, we ask our safeties to stem down as late as possible. Besides the benefit of an extra hat at the point of attack, we have more ability to squeeze the underneath crossers. In this alignment we still have great flexibility as to coverage calls and blitzes. Coverage With the eighth man in the box, we play a lot of man free and Cover 3 from the same look. In man free, we leverage and squeeze based on where our help comes from. If our help is over the top, we

squeeze the receiver’s up field shoulder. If we have low and over the top help, we will squeeze the low shoulder. It is imperative in our scheme that our linebackers hug up the backs. This blitz-engage technique allows our linebackers to become pass rushers if their runningback stays in to block. We teach our linebackers to flatten the runningback out to the sideline if he releases for a pass route. By aggressively squeezing the receivers we put pressure on the quarterback to make the perfect pass (Diagrams 13 and 14).

grass. In our strong roll, the Jacket will have either a 2/3 match up (curl/flat) or a 3/2 match up (hook/curl) depending on the zone call. In our weak roll, the Bandit will have a 1/2 match up depending on the release of No. 1 (Diagrams 15 and 16).

Diagram 15: Cover 3 (Strong)

Diagram 13: Man Free

Diagram 16: Cover 3 (Weak)

Diagram 14: Man Free
Conclusion On behalf of the entire Randolph-Macon football family, we would like to again thank the AFCAfor the opportunity to share some of our ideas. Our coaches are sold on pressure defense and our players love the up tempo, in your face style of play it allows. We hope this limited view of our pressure package has been helpful. Good luck in 2003.

Our zone coverage is based on a match-up concept which allows us to squeeze receivers instead of covering

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