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By Laban DeLay, Head Coach and Billy Skinner, Safeties Coach, Arlington Lamar High School (TX)


In years past, offenses would align in empty formations for two main reasons: to accentuate the talents of an athletic quarterback or to pick apart defenses that are forced into playing vanilla coverage structures. But these days it becomes necessary to defend both of these components by knowing when to play coverage and when to send pressure. The defensive staff at prep powerhouse Arlington High School (TX) details how they scheme against empty and 4-5 call package they use to defend gaps in the run game and neutralize opponents’ top pass threat. Read the report.

 



By Laban DeLay, Head Coach
Billy Skinner, Safeties
Arlington Lamar High School (TX)
Twitter: @Coach_DeLay & @CoachSkinz

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Introduction:

We are in a football era where defending offenses is becoming a more difficult challenge each year. Winning football games 3-0 or 7-6 are few and far between due to athletic ability and the creative minds of offensive coaches. At Lamar High School, we are diligent about not staying in one front or coverage very often and trying to create confusion for the quarterback and offensive coordinator. This clinic report will feature the Lamar Vikings defending empty sets by bringing a variety of pressures and mixing the coverages.

Scheming Empty Formations

Our number one priority as a defensive staff is to be sound against the run in every formation while taking away the opponent’s favorite pass concepts. To do this, we analyze our opponent’s run game from each formation along with their personnel groupings. When we encounter empty formations, we design a 4 to 5 call package tailored to take away their favorite plays and to neutralize their best offensive player. These calls are designed to not only take away their favorite plays, but also to add confusion to their quarterback by a mixture of coverages & fronts. Here are a few examples:

  • If we are playing a quarterback who is better in the pocket, we design a man pressure that will move him off of his spot and ultimately throw off his timing in accordance to routes.
  • If we are facing an athletic quarterback, who is more prone to scramble, we will design a zone pressure that will allow us to keep “Zone Eyes” on him, while we play games with the coverage in the back end.
  • Against a stud receiver, we can design coverage adjustments using our base package to play “STAR” coverage, to eliminate him out of that particular play or series.

We like to mix and match all of these concepts together when we customize our empty package for each opponent every week. During our practice week, we will rep all of our calls while giving our linebackers the freedom to make our empty call checks and our safeties will adjust the coverage to keep everything sound. This allows them to feel ownership in our defense and encourages them to study our game plan thoroughly. We, as coaches, also have the capability to “lock” in a specific coverage per the game situation rather than our allowing our linebackers and safeties to make the adjustments. Our “adjust” call allows the safeties to call a coverage that is best suited vs the formation the offense presents to us. Our safeties have to be great communicators with each other because many times we will make a split coverage call. For example, we might play Cover 2 to one side while playing Cover 4 or perhaps man coverage to the other side. Our safeties will communicate the coverage with one another first & then relay the coverage call to their side corner & outside linebacker. We feel that our “adjust” coverage allows us the flexibility to get into the most favorable coverage as we will detail later in this report. 

Get the Full-Length Version of This Report…

Join X&O Labs’ Insiders, an exclusive membership-based website, and you’ll get instant access to the full-length version of this report—including access to everything X&O Labs has ever published. Plus, if you join today, you’ll also receive up to 4 FREE books mailed directly to your home or office. Here’s just a small sample of what you’ll find in the full-length version of this report:

  • The “Star” coverage adjustment used to neutralize an offenses top threat in empty formations.
  • How underneath re-routes are an effective tool in quarter, quarter, half coverage structures.
  • How run fits are adjusted based off quarterback level and pre-snap motion triggers.
  • Four and five man pressures fits to defend the inside quarterback run game.
  • Plus game film on all these coverage and pressure concepts.

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Conclusion:

As a defensive staff, we feel it is imperative to have a variety of pressures and coverages vs empty. Through Football 101 classroom education we can teach our base coverages & have the capabilities of playing split zone coverages through this installation. Our pressure packages are varied from week-to-week create the mismatches we want to either overload a side or take away the offense’s favorite concepts or playmaker. Lastly, we coordinate the pressures with the coverages to give our personnel the best opportunity for success.

 

Meet Coach DeLay: Coach DeLay is in his 23rd year in coaching. He has been a Head Coach for 5 years, Defensive Coordinator for 8 years and an offensive play caller for 7 years. Coach DeLay just completed his first year as Head Coach at Lamar High School with an 11-2 record. Previous stops for Coach DeLay include South Grand Prairie High School as DC, Richardson High School as DC, Hubbard ISD as Athletic Director/Head Football, Dublin High School as OC and Weatherford High School as an assistant and Co-Offensive Coordinator.

Meet Coach Skinner: Coach Skinner is in his 7th year of coaching. He just completed his 6th year as the Defensive Backs coach for Lamar High School. He spent his first year coaching DBs at Sam Houston High School. Skinner played at Sam Houston State University, where he was a 2nd Team All- Southland Conference safety. 

Get the Full-Length Version of This Report…

Join X&O Labs’ Insiders, an exclusive membership-based website, and you’ll get instant access to the full-length version of this report—including access to everything X&O Labs has ever published. Plus, if you join today, you’ll also receive up to 4 FREE books mailed directly to your home or office. Here’s just a small sample of what you’ll find in the full-length version of this report:

·         The “Star” coverage adjustment used to neutralize an offenses top threat in empty formations.

·         How underneath re-routes are an effective tool in quarter, quarter, half coverage structures.

·         How run fits are adjusted based off quarterback level and pre-snap motion triggers.

·         Four and five man pressures fits to defend the inside quarterback run game.

·         Plus game film on all these coverage and pressure concepts.

Join the Insiders today and get your FREE book(s)!

Get Started Here!

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