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RokStories By Kean University (NJ) Defensive Staff

Editor’s Note:  X&O Labs Senior Research Manager Mike Kuchar spent time this spring at Kean University (NJ) talking with head coach Dan Garrett and the rest of his defensive staff about the Cougars 50 front zone pressures.  The Cougars finished 2nd in the NJCA in total defensive in 2012 and qualified for the Division 3 playoffs in 2011, the first in program history.



By Kean University (NJ) Defensive Staff Insiders Members: Click here to login to the Insiders and read the full-length version of this report including game film.

Coach GarrettEditor’s Note:  X&O Labs Senior Research Manager Mike Kuchar spent time this spring at Kean University (NJ) talking with head coach Dan Garrett and the rest of his defensive staff about the Cougars 50 front zone pressures.  The Cougars finished 2nd in the NJCA in total defensive in 2012 and qualified for the Division 3 playoffs in 2011, the first in program history.

The Pressure Process:

Much like many other successful coaches, one of Dan Garrett’s primary philosophies is that the process is more important than the result.  This can be true in many elements of football, but perhaps none more so than when installing pressure packages.  Too often players are so consumed with whom to blitz and where to blitz and losing sight of the entire concept of the blitz.  While this process may not be new to some coaches, it’s inherently built in Garrett who does everything methodically when implementing his blitz patterns.  According to him, this is a culmination of the schemes he learned current University of Miami head coach Al Golden when he was with the University of Virginia.

The key in any system is to play fast, so Kean uses a five-man pressure system with a three-deep, three under coverage system.   According to Garrett, he’s tried other concepts such as the two-deep system Wagner College uses (add Wagner College piece link here) but he felt it was often too much for his players to handle.    In either case there are main focus points he makes sure his players understand when implementing the zone pressure.  They are below:

Slide1 Slide2 Slide3

Something we felt Coach Garrett does with his staff is breakdown to his players the type of blitz angle they are on when they are sent.  We’ve seen too many players not understand how to blitz, often taking themselves out of the play by the time the ball is snapped.  In order to alleviate this, Coach Garrett gives his blitzers the following aiming points:

  • First level blitzer- Blitz to the heels of the offensive line, then react to ball movement.
  • Second level blitzer- Blitz to depth of QB post-snap and get home, reaction to ball movement might be later.
  • Third level blitzer- Blitz to up-field shoulder of deepest offensive player.  This blitz Is usually responsible for turning the ball back into pursuit.

Controlling Your Blitz

Once Garrett and his staff teach the coverage zones of the pressure, he progresses into how he controls the blitz.  Controlling the blitz simply means calling the pressure based on what tendencies you see from your opponent.  Garrett will game plan his blitzes based on offensive tendencies and formations.  According to Garrett one of the benefits of the odd front pressure scheme is that both sides are mirrored.  This helps with any change of strength or motion.  Whatever pressure you select, both sides of the defense need to be prepared to execute it- depending on the offensive formation.  "Certain offensive coaches do certain things and now you can neutralize or attack those tendencies," said Garrett.  "A high percentage of the time you will be right- at least much more than you will be wrong.  It takes proper homework on your opponent."

The concept of the tag blitz puts the defensive coach in control of where the blitz is coming from.  Kean University’s zone pressures attack four particular offensive elements:

  • "Closed" Blitzes attack the Tight End side of formations.
  • "Open" Blitzes attack the Split End side of formations.
  • "Strong" Blitzes attack the strength of the formation.
  • "Weak" Blitzes attack the weak side of formation.

Mirrored Teaching

When Coach Garrett implements the pressure patterns, he uses the whole, part, whole methodology by just putting up X’s on the white board or having random players stand-in on the field during walk-through’s.  He pairs the Open or Weak blitz with the Closed or Strong blitz so that players are mirroring each other.  In the example below, Garrett is using a four strong (or weak) concept.

Slide6

Once he feels if his players understand the concept, he’ll progress to adding defenders based on position into the pressure.

Slide7

In the next example, Garrett now will progress to change-up the blitz to an alternate side pressure, where one outside linebacker will blitz with the opposite inside blitz.  Again, this is done in a mirrored fashion with "X’s" so players understand the concept.

Slide8

Once he feels as if his players understand the concept, he’ll progress to adding defenders based on position into the pressure.

Slide9

Blitz Patterns

Florida

Florida is four weak or four strong pressure that sends the inside and outside linebacker to the call side.  Garrett likes to blend his Florida concept with a "Cavalier" front which means the Defensive Ends will be in solid 4 techniques- head up the offensive Tackles.

Below, the blitz is drawn up against defending the QB in the read zone game.  Notice how the pressure comes right when the QB pull the ball.  It forces the pull read for the QB.

Slide22

If Garrett wants the running back to keep the ball, he’ll "tag" the blitz away from him forcing a give read for the QB.

Slide23

To see video of Cavalier Florida, click on the line below:

 

What you’re missing…

X&O Labs Insiders members will gain full access to the full length clinic report on including:

  • How Coach Dan Garrett and the Kean defensive staff train their Corners footwork to react off the QB in zone pressure coverages.

  • Their methodology in tagging a pressure based on certain offensive tendencies.

  • Kean University’s formation adjustments in their four base zone pressures.
  • How Kean is able to tag pressures based off threats in the read zone game.

  • Plus game film of all these concepts.

Join X&O Labs' Insiders Website. Click Here!

Conclusion

By using mirrored fronts that the Odd Front provides, the multiplicity in the zone blitz patterns can be abundant while the teaching time is shortened.  According to Garrett, the key to the scheme is making sure both sides of the defense (strong and weak) know who is blitzing and where they are coming from.  This comes with constant reinforcement in the classroom and on the field. 

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