By Jared Pospisil
Union High School (IA)Insiders Members: Click here to login and read the full-length version of this report including game film.
Editor’s Note: Jared Pospisil served the past four years as defensive coordinator for Union High School (IA), during which time he was part of the 2011 state championship team. Previously, he served 3 years as defensive coordinator for Waterloo West High School (IA), and 2 years as special teams coordinator for Charles City High School (IA), before which he coached high school football in South Dakota and Minnesota. Jared played football for the University of South Dakota in the late 90s.
This year our defense got a lot of mileage out of a relatively easy exchange (X) blitz concept as a means to derail the off-tackle run, specifically the Power scheme. The exchange, meant to complement our base ‘Bully’ defensive end (DE) concept, occurs between the call-side DE and the call-side outside linebacker (OLB). The blitz works best when we have a B-gap defensive lineman to occupy the offense’s tackle (OT) on the blitz side.
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As mentioned, our X blitz scheme was intended to complement our current DE Bully concept. In fact, I would argue that the Sax and Wax blitzes would not be as effective if we did not first establish a great bully presence in the C gap. In our Bully concept, our DEs’ jobs are to ‘bully’ any TEs that align to their sides. This means, at the snap, the DEs attempt to drive the TE into the backfield to clog the off-tackle lane (diagram below). Consequently, throughout a game, opposing TEs, tired of being hit and driven back every snap, begin to fire out harder and stronger at our DEs. Therefore, when our defense executes an X blitz- the opposing TE, intent on hammering our DE- hesitates as our DE unexpectedly slants outside. This hesitation opens the door wide open to our blitzing outside linebacker. If opposing offenses begin to worry about the X blitz, this works in our favor, for now our Bully DE is more effective in driving back an indecisive TE. Another thing to consider if the offense is expecting the X is the opponent’s OT blocking out to our blitzing OLB. If the OT chooses to pick up the blitzing OLB, however, our B-gap defensive linemen is left free to make the play.
We experimented with many coverages to support our X blitzes. In deciding which coverage to use each game, we considered our opponent’s formations, shifts, and motion possibilities. Often, we ran Cover 0, in which our Corners took #1 receivers and our Safeties took #2 receivers, while the Mike and Will took first back out to their sides. Other times, we were able to run a version of Cover 2 we like for zone blitzes, which worked especially well for teams that run 2-tight sets. Finally, we toyed with a few different versions of Robber concepts, with some success. Although we did not run these coverages, I could see the blitz working well with a Cover 1 or a Cover 3 Peel zone blitz concept, as well.
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ConclusionThe X concept is a great addition to any defense. We’ve been able to play around with blitzers, alignments, supplementary blitzes, and coverages to get the most out of it. Establish a great C gap presence, practice timing, scout to determine greatest likelihood for the Power play, and you’ll have a great supplement to your defense.
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X&O Labs Insider members will gain full access to Coach Pospisil’s entire clinic report on his X blitz including:
The technique of the DE in the X blitz
The technique of the OLB in the X blitz
Adjustments against double tight and spread formations
Plus game film of the X blitz concept