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Gordon

Jerry Gordon
Jerry Gordon

Coaching the Under Front Defense

Jerry Gordon’s philosophy and scheme related to the under front defense are thorough, detailed, and
Jerry Gordon’s philosophy and scheme
related to the under front defense are
thorough, detailed, and complete. If you are
looking for answers in defending the wide
range of offenses that you will encounter
without slowing down your players, reading
Coaching the Under Front Defense will be
time well spent.
Andy Rondeau
Defensive Coordinator
Old Dominion University
Coach Jerry Gordon has done a fantastic
job explaining the under front defense.
This book is an invaluable resource for
anyone who wants to coach this defense,
has to play against it, or just wants to learn
about it.
Chris Brown
Editor
Smart Football
Coaching the Under Front Defense is an easy-to-understand manual for any coach interested in learning
Coaching the Under Front Defense is an
easy-to-understand manual for any coach
interested in learning and installing the
basics of this defense. Coach Gordon
provides detailed descriptions of the
techniques and reads required to be
successful at each position.
Tony DeMeo
Head Football Coach
University of Charleston
Coach Gordon’s scheme in Coaching the
Under Front Defense is very sound and
simple, something that is necessary in
order to get defenders to play fast. The
under front defense can adjust to every
offensive formation with ease, has a great
pressure package, and has the capability
to shut down any offensive scheme. This
book is a must read for any defensive coach
looking for a scheme that can defend the
run or the pass.
Doug Clarke
Head Football Coach
A.P.W. High School (NY)
Doug Clarke Head Football Coach A.P.W. High School (NY) $19.95 9 ISBN 978-1-60679-076-2 5 1 9

$19.95

9

ISBN 978-1-60679-076-2 5 1 9 9 5 781606 790762
ISBN 978-1-60679-076-2
5 1 9 9 5
781606
790762
$19.95 9 ISBN 978-1-60679-076-2 5 1 9 9 5 781606 790762 Coaching the Under Front Defense

Coaching the Under Front Defense

5 1 9 9 5 781606 790762 Coaching the Under Front Defense Coaching the Under Front
Coaching the Under Front Defense Coaches Choice Jerry Gordon
Coaching the Under Front Defense
Coaches Choice
Jerry Gordon

Coaching the Under Front Defense

Jerry Gordon

Coaching the Under Front Defense Jerry Gordon

©2010 Coaches Choice. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Coaches Choice. Throughout this book, the masculine shall be deemed to include the feminine and vice versa.

ISBN: 978-1-60679-076-2 Library of Congress Control Number: 2009942314 Cover design: Brenden Murphy Book layout: Studio J Art & Design Front cover photo: ©Margaret Bowles/Cal Sport Media/ZUMA Press

Coaches Choice P.O. Box 1828 Monterey, CA 93942 www.coacheschoice.com

Dedication

This book is dedicated to all the players I have coached and all the coaches with whom I have had the pleasure of coaching. It’s been a wild, fun ride with plenty of ups and downs. This book is also dedicated to my wife, Carol. Thanks for putting up with this sickness we all have, coaching football.

Acknowledgments

I would like to acknowledge all the head coaches and defensive coordinators I have worked with in the 20 years I have been coaching football: Dick Coury of the Boston Breakers; Paul Pawlak of Northeastern University; Bob Pickett, Jim Reid, Mike Hodges, Ted Roof and Jerry Azzinaro of the University of Massachusetts; Jack Siedlecki of Yale University; Joe Dawe of Sandwich (MA) High School; and Scott Woodlief of Potomac Falls (VA) High School. I have learned much from you. Thank you for putting up with my many questions. I would also like to thank the many universities that have always welcomed me and the other coaches that were with me when we visited you. There are too many of you to mention, but I feel this generous sharing of information among coaches is one of the best and unique aspects of the coaching profession.

Contents

Dedication

 

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Acknowledgments

 

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Preface

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Chapter 1: Philosophy and Organization

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Chapter 2: Lining Up

 

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.15

Chapter 3: Defensive Line Play in the Under Defense

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Chapter 4: Linebacker Play in the Under Defense

 

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Chapter 5: Defensive Back Play in the Under Defense

 

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Chapter 6: The Under Defense Versus the Two-Back Run

 

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Chapter 7: The Under Defense Versus the One-Back Run

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Chapter 8: The Under Defense Versus the Pass

 

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Chapter 9: Under Alignments and Stunts

 

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Chapter 10: Basic Under Man Blitzes

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Chapter 11: Basic Under Zone Blitzes

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Chapter 12: Goal Line Defense

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.133

About the Author

 

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.140

Preface

The under defense has been around for a long time. I am not sure of the history of the under defense. I have a University of Houston playbook written in the 1970’s, so it is at least older than that. Interestingly, in that playbook, there are some rudimentary zone blitz diagrams. I didn’t realize it at the time, but we played the under defense when I was at college in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. I think we called it the 52 split eagle. In any case, the defense has stood the test of time. It is not my intent to introduce new concepts to the under front, but merely to have a convenient place to find information about the subject. In my opinion, any defense comes down to knowing your assignment, beating the man in front of you, running to the football, and making a tackle. It is that simple.

Although I have been a college and high school coach for over twenty years, this book is written from the perspective of a high school coach. This book is meant to serve as a manual for other high school and youth coaches interested in implementing the under defense to high school and youth players in America and abroad. Certainly there are countless ways to play the under defense. This way is just the way my team plays it. I have tried to make the terms and principles as simple as possible. It is my hope that this book will be underlined, highlighted, and dog-eared like the football books I keep next to my bed.

1

1

1

Philosophy and Organization

1 Philosophy and Organization Play defense…not defenses. Every great defense is based on sound defensive fundamentals

Play defense…not defenses. Every great defense is based on sound defensive fundamentals taught by the coach and employed by the players. If you are not seeing it on the field, you are not coaching it.

As most coaches might tell you, especially in high school football, the philosophy of the defense is to stop the run first. Effectively stopping the run forces the offense to be more one-dimensional and thus more predictable. As a coach decides what defense his team will use as its base, he must think about what advantages and disadvantages each defense inherently contains.

Advantages of the Under Defense

Man Advantage Around the Ball

Playing the under front allows the coach to always have more defenders than the offense has possible blockers. If the offense has eight possible blockers, the defense will have nine defenders close to the ball (Figure 1-1). If the offense has seven possible blockers, the defense will have eight defenders, etc. (Figure 1-2). Having an extra defender around the ball is imperative, especially with the emergence of the very athletic running quarterback.

S E N T B M W R F
S
E
N
T
B
M
W
R
F
S E N T B M W R F C C

C

C

Figure 1-1. The offense has eight possible blockers, including both halfbacks. The defense will employ nine defenders around the ball, including the free and the Rover.

S E N T B M W
S
E
N
T
B
M
W

C

F

R

C

Figure 1-2. The offense has presented the defense with a one-back formation with the potential of seven possible blockers. The defense will employ eight men close to the ball. The Rover has removed himself from the core of the defense.

Gap Control Defense

Each player is initially assigned only one gap. This gap is the one in which the player is currently lined up in or over. There will not be any confusion as to which gap the defender is responsible for. As shown in Figure 1-1, the Sam is responsible for the D gap; the end is responsible for the C gap; the Mac is responsible for the B gap; the nose is responsible for the A gap; the Will is responsible for the A gap; the tackle is responsible for the B gap; and the Bandit is responsible for the C gap. Gaps can and will change depending on the movement of the offense. Gap exchange is discussed in Chapter 6.

Only One Bubble

Many offensive coordinators like to attack the bubbles in a defense. Bubbles are natural holes a defense presents in their original alignment. The under front only has one bubble (Figure 1-3). The 3-4 defense presents two bubbles (Figure 1-4). The 4-3 defense presents three bubbles for an offensive coordinator to attack (Figure 1-5).

 
     
 
     
 
 
 
        S E N T B   M W Figure 1-3. The bubble
        S E N T B   M W Figure 1-3. The bubble
        S E N T B   M W Figure 1-3. The bubble
        S E N T B   M W Figure 1-3. The bubble
        S E N T B   M W Figure 1-3. The bubble
        S E N T B   M W Figure 1-3. The bubble

S

E

N

T

B

 

M

W

Figure 1-3. The bubble is over the Mac.

 
 
     
 
     
 
The bubble is over the Mac.         S E N T B  

S

E

N

T

B

 

M

W

Figure 1-4. The bubbles are over the Mac and the Will.

 
 
     
 
     
 
Figure 1-4. The bubbles are over the Mac and the Will.         E

E

T

N

E

 

S

M

W

Figure 1-5. The bubbles are over the Mac, the Will, and the Sam.

Tandems

The under defense has two adjacent outside shade players next to each other at each edge of the defense. This formation gives the defense a tremendous advantage against teams that try to get outside or try to block down and kick out.

Having two adjacent players at the outside of the defense makes it difficult for the offense to execute two reach blocks in a row to gain an advantage on outside running plays such as outside zone or toss sweep (Figure 1-6).

S E N T M W
S
E
N
T
M
W

B

Figure 1-6. Two reach blocks

Having two adjacent players means that any attempt to double and kick out can be swiftly defeated because of the proximity of the next defender. The presence of the defender makes it more difficult for the offense to run such plays as counter, lead, or power (Figure 1-7).

S E N T B M W

S

E N T B M W
E
N
T
B
M
W

Figure 1-7. Double-team and kick-out block

Highly Flexible

The under defense is highly flexible, allowing you to play with three or four down linemen. The Bandit (the weak defensive end) can play in a three-point stance or a two-point stance, depending on your personnel or depending on the down and distance. This alignment also gives you more options in a substitution package if you choose to substitute.

The under defense also affords you the option of flip-flopping as many of your players as you feel necessary. Many teams will flip-flop the whole defense. In this book, the defense flip-flops only the Mac and the Will, and the Sam and the Rover. However, in the under front, the only rule is that the Sam and the Rover must be on opposite sides of the center.

Fast Play

The under front allows the defense to play fast when two backs are in the backfield. This alignment forces the offensive lineman to come off double-teams and combination blocks quickly. Once an offensive lineman comes off a double-team quickly, it allows the defensive line to become more of a factor in defending the run. Due to the nature of the coverage, which will be explained in Chapter 8, it is difficult for the linebacker to be wrong as long as he is attacking an open playside gap. It is up to the secondary players behind him to “make him right.”

Few Adjustments

There is very little adjusting once the defense is aligned. The amount of adjusting the defense does is proportionate to how close the defenders are to the line of scrimmage, meaning that defensive backs are asked to do more adjusting than defensive linemen. Once the defensive line puts their hands to the ground, they do not move them. The only time a linebacker would have to adjust from his normal alignments is when the offense motions into a trips formation, and then only in a double-call defense. The secondary will make all the strength adjustments.

The 10 Commandments of Defense

Every defense, including the under, has certain principles that cannot be violated in order to play sound defense. The principles can and should be used with any defensive structure you employ.

• Assignment

• Alignment

• Stance and start

• Hands and eye placement

• Low hip and pad leverage

• Awareness of the situation

• Shed

• Relentless pursuit

• Tackle

• Effort, effort, effort

What is interesting about this list is that only shed, pursuit, and tackling require any real athletic ability. The other seven do not rely so much on athletic ability as the desire to learn and to hustle.

Terminology and Definitions

S E N T B M W R F
S
E
N
T
B
M
W
R
F
S E N T B M W R F C C

C

C

Figure 1-8. Player terminology

Player Terminology

Players are designated as follows in Figure 1-8:

• S = Sam: An outside linebacker that aligns to the tight end.

• E = End: The defensive end that is aligned on the same side as the Sam.

• N = Nose: The defensive tackle that is aligned on the same side as the Sam.

• T = Tackle: A defensive tackle that is aligned away from the Sam.

• B = Bandit: The defensive end that is aligned away from the Sam.

• M = Mac: A linebacker that aligns to the side of the Sam.

• W = Will: A linebacker that always lines up away from the Sam.

• R = Rover: A defensive back that always lines up away from the Sam.

• F = Free: A safety that is not tied into the front, which is why he is called “free”.

• C = Corners: Defensive backs that line up left and right. Many coaches have a field and boundary corner or have one corner follow a particular receiver out of the huddle.

Note: Defensive tackles and ends are given different names, depending on their alignment, for the sake of clarity and teaching purposes.

Technique Definitions

Techniques are used to describe how a player lines up on an offensive lineman. When a zero is added to the technique, it means that the player is on the linebacker level or second level of play. For instance, a 3 technique would mean that the player would line up outside shade of the guard. A 30 technique would be on the outside shade of the guard but at linebacker level (Figure 1-9).

• Shade technique: Shade of the center.

• 0 technique: Head up on the center.

• 2 technique: Head up on the guard.

• 2i technique: Inside shade of the guard.

• 3 technique: Outside shade of the guard.

• 4 technique: Head up on the tackle.

• 4i technique: Inside shade of the tackle.

• 5 technique: Outside shade of the tackle.

• 6 technique: Head up on the tight end.

• 7 technique: Inside shade of the tight end.

• 9 technique: Outside shade of the tight end.

S E N T B M W
S
E
N
T
B
M
W

Figure 1-9. The Sam is in a 9 technique; the end is in a 5 technique; the bandit is in a 5 technique; the nose is in a shade technique; the tackle is in a 3 technique; the Mac is in a 30 technique; and the Will is in a 20 technique.

Gap Designations (Figure 1-10)

• A Gap: Between the center and the guard.

• B Gap: Between the guard and the tackle.

• C Gap: Between the tackle and the tight end, outside the tackle versus no tight end.

• D Gap: Outside the tight end.

D C B AA B C

D

C

B

AA

B

C

Figure 1-10. Gap designations

Receiver Designations (Figure 1-11)

• #1: The first receiver of the formation, counting outside in.

• #2: The second receiver of the formation, counting outside in.

• #3: The third receiver of the formation, counting outside in.

#3 #2 #2
#3
#2
#2

#1

#1

#3 #2 #2 #1 #1

Figure 1-11. Receiver designations