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Split 4-4 Defense Manual

August 2007
Split 4-4 Defense
Coaching Philosophy.................................................................................................................................................................4
Why the Split 4-4?.....................................................................................................................................................................5
History of the Split 4-4..........................................................................................................................................................5
Defensive Philosophy............................................................................................................................................................5
Learning Progression for All Defensive Positions.................................................................................................................5
Defensive Team Goals...........................................................................................................................................................6
Why the Split 4-4?.................................................................................................................................................................6
Numbering and Alignment Techniques.....................................................................................................................................7
Defensive Gaps......................................................................................................................................................................7
Numbering System.................................................................................................................................................................7
Defensive Calls..........................................................................................................................................................................8
The Huddle ............................................................................................................................................................................8
When the Offense breaks the huddle….................................................................................................................................9
Pre-Snap Readiness Process..................................................................................................................................................9
Split 4-4 Base Alignment – “Split 31 Cover 3”.......................................................................................................................10
Defensive Keys........................................................................................................................................................................12
Formation Adjustments............................................................................................................................................................14
Strength Call........................................................................................................................................................................14
Personnel Identification.......................................................................................................................................................14
21 Personnel (2 Backs 1TE)................................................................................................................................................16
20 Personnel (2 Backs, 0 TE)..............................................................................................................................................17
11 Personnel (1 Back, 1 TE)................................................................................................................................................19
12 Personnel (1 Back, 2 TE)................................................................................................................................................20
22 Personnel (2 Back, 2 TEs)..............................................................................................................................................21
2 x 1 Formations..................................................................................................................................................................24
2 x 2 Formations..................................................................................................................................................................25
3 x 1 Formations..................................................................................................................................................................26
Glossary...................................................................................................................................................................................27
Defensive Line Play.................................................................................................................................................................28
General Coaching Points......................................................................................................................................................28
Principals of good defensive line play.................................................................................................................................28
Defensive Lineman Techniques...........................................................................................................................................28
Defensive Tackle and Nose Play.........................................................................................................................................30
Strong Side Defensive End Play - HAMMER.....................................................................................................................36
Weak Side End Play - BUCK..............................................................................................................................................41
Linebacker Play.......................................................................................................................................................................43
Basics...................................................................................................................................................................................43
Linebacker Principles...........................................................................................................................................................43
Shed Techniques..................................................................................................................................................................43
Linebacker Running Back Keys..........................................................................................................................................44
Inside Linebacker Play.........................................................................................................................................................46
SPUR Linebacker Play........................................................................................................................................................49
BANDIT Linebacker Play...................................................................................................................................................51
Secondary Play.........................................................................................................................................................................53
Pass Coverage – Cover 3.........................................................................................................................................................57
Numbering Receivers...........................................................................................................................................................57
Zones....................................................................................................................................................................................57
Under Coverage for the Linebackers ..................................................................................................................................58
Receiver Routes...................................................................................................................................................................59
Pattern Reads.......................................................................................................................................................................60
Cover 3.................................................................................................................................................................................63
Cover 1.................................................................................................................................................................................65
Cover 0.................................................................................................................................................................................67
Robber..................................................................................................................................................................................69
Invert Cover 2 – “INVERT”................................................................................................................................................71
Pursuit Angles..........................................................................................................................................................................74
Stunt Packages.........................................................................................................................................................................77
Split 4-4 Defense
Line stunts............................................................................................................................................................................77
Dogs.....................................................................................................................................................................................79
Blitzes..................................................................................................................................................................................84
Zone Blitzes.........................................................................................................................................................................88
65 Goal Line............................................................................................................................................................................92
Tackling Method and Drills.....................................................................................................................................................93
Reasons for Method.............................................................................................................................................................93
Form Tackling Technique....................................................................................................................................................93
Tackling Drill Principles......................................................................................................................................................93
Personnel..................................................................................................................................................................................96
Resources.................................................................................................................................................................................98
Split 4-4 Defense

Coaching Philosophy
1. Love your players
2. Lead them to become better people – Titans built for others
3. Be organized and prepared
4. Be a steward and a student of the game
5. Be positive and enthusiastic
6. Emphasize attention to detail – set a high expectations for your players
7. Be a man of integrity
8. Focus on what you can control
9. Put the team and Blessed Trinity program first
10. Enjoy the journey

“…be prepared in season and out of season: correct, rebuke, and encourage - with great
patience and careful instruction.” II Timothy 4:2

“They call it coaching but it is teaching. You do not just tell them...you show them the
reasons." Vince Lombardi

“…you have no bad habits to break, other than what we allow to exist… We either coach
it or are allowing it to happen.” Marvin Lewis

“If you are prepared, you will be confident, and will do the job.” Tom Landry

“The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.” Joe Paterno

“One of life's most painful moments comes when we must admit that we didn't do our
homework, that we are not prepared. “ Merlin Olsen

“Today's preparation determines tomorrow's achievement.” Unknown


Split 4-4 Defense

Why the Split 4-4?


History of the Split 4-4
The Split 4-4 is an old school defense based on the fundamental concepts of the wide tackle-6, split-6, and 4-4 defenses
used since the early 1960s and 1970s. The wide tackle-6 was popularized by Jerry Claiborne who ran it in the 1970's
while at Maryland and Coach Claiborne got it from Coach Bryant while they were both at Kentucky. The wide tackle-6
was also employed by General Neyland at Tennessee. The split-6 or split-60 was championed by Vince Dooley and Erk
Russell at the University of Georgia as the “Junkyard Dogs” defense which they used to win the national championship in
1980. Coach Russell went on to use the defense to build a Division II and I-AA national power at Georgia Southern. The
4-4 defense was made popular by Ara Parsegian while at Notre Dame, and it was once referred to as the “national”
defense.

A current variation of the split used in major college football today is the 4-2-5 which is being used at schools such as
Virginia Tech, Boise State, Baylor and Arkansas.

Defensive Philosophy
We will be known for our relentless effort, physical toughness, discipline, sportsmanship, character, and the passion with
which we play defense:

1. Stop the run on first and second down and play good zone defense
2. Win third downs and get the offense off the field – bring pressure by rushing at least five and playing
man to man or man free pass defense
3. Squeeze the field outside in and pursuit the field inside out
4. Play with passion - be aggressive and physical
5. Control the line of scrimmage, hustle and pursuit relentlessly, and be sure and hard tacklers
6. Eliminate mental mistakes, big plays, and penalties by being mentally tough and disciplined
7. Play together - believe in yourself and your buddy next to you
8. Refuse to stay blocked – be physical, get off blocks, pursuit relentlessly, and make plays
9. Don’t use lack of physical skills as an excuse
10. Show great character and sportsmanship – overcome adversity
11. Control the momentum of the game with defense – take the ball away, score, create field position, and
defuse sudden change situations
12. Give 100% effort every down regardless of the game situation or score – play until the echo of the
whistle

Learning Progression for All Defensive Positions


1. Stance
2. Alignment
3. Assignment
4. Technique
5. Keys
6. Reads
7. Block Protection
8. Block Escape
9. Pursuit Angles
10. Tackling
11. Creating Turnovers

You will be successful if:

1. Your kids get lined up right.


2. Everyone understands their gap/coverage responsibility
3. You pursue the football well
Split 4-4 Defense
4. You tackle well.
5. You create turnovers...

Defensive Team Goals


1. Win
2. Play with enthusiasm and intensity – out hustle the offense
3. Hold opponents to 3.0 yards per carry
4. Hold offense to 8 points or less
5. Hold offense to under 25 offensive plays (punts not included).
6. Do not allow a rushing touchdown from within our 10 yard line.
7. Score or give our offense field position twice (50 yard line plus)
8. Get three takeaways
9. Intercept 1 out of every 8 passes
10. No big plays - Run > 15 yards, Pass > 20 yards, TD’s > 15 yards
11. Win 70% of third down plays and 100% of 4th down conversion attempts
12. Three and out 50% of all drives
13. No TDs in sudden change situations (e.g., turnover, blocked punt, kick return, etc.)
14. Eight minus yardage plays
15. Zero mental mistakes, penalties, and critical errors: drive continuing penalties, misalignments, missed
tackles

Why the Split 4-4?


1. It is strong against the run and contains the pass
2. Provides excellent alignments and angles for stunting and overloading blocking schemes
3. The unusual spacing and alignment creates blocking confusion – it’s not a defense a team sees every
week or on television – contrarian
4. Adjusts and adapts easily to counter most problems created by an offense without significant changes in
defensive techniques or additional instructional time.
5. Alignments are simple and easy to teach, but difficult to block
6. Especially effective at the lower levels where offenses are 90% run oriented
7. Attacking techniques will force offensive play creating big plays for the defense
8. Forces offenses to block against stunting defenses, work under long yardage situations, and throw under
pressure.
9. Stresses quickness, speed, and strength rather than size. Youth and middle school players can adapt and
be very effective in the system.
Split 4-4 Defense

Numbering and Alignment Techniques


Defensive Gaps

Defensive gaps are designated with letters:

1. A Gap: Center – Guard gap


2. B Gap: Guard – Tackle gap
3. C Gap: Tackle – End gap
4. D Gap: Outside the TE

T R R L L T
C
E T G G T E

D C B A A B C D

Numbering System

The following numbering system is used to designate the alignment positions for defensive lineman:

T R R L L T
C
E T G G T E

8 9 7 5 4i 3 1 S S 1 3 4i 5 7 9 8

6 4 2 0 2 4 6
Alignment Technique:

0 – Head up center (can shade either side if called) 4i – Inside shoulder tackle
S – Shade strong or weak side 5 – Outside shoulder of tackle
1 – Inside shoulder guard 6 – Head up end
2 – Head up guard 7 – Inside shoulder of end
3 – Outside shoulder guard 8 – Outside end
4 – Head up tackle 9 – Outside shoulder end

Linebackers alignment will use the same number times 10 (e.g., a 40 alignment is three to three to five yards off the ball
head up the Tackle).
Split 4-4 Defense

Defensive Calls
Various defensive calls are used to present the offense with either a split 4-4, 4-2-5 (“stack’), wide tackle 6, or a 46
(“Bear”) front while keeping the defensive gap control responsibilities simple. The multiple fronts try to create confusion
for the offensive blocking schemes. The defense play call sequence is: Front alignment, Stunt, Direction (i.e., strong or
weak), and Coverage. For example: 31 Split Strong Slant MoWer

• The front alignment tells the strong side and weak side tackle the alignment technique.
• If a stunt is called, it is called after the alignment. If no stunt is called, play your base assignment. Stunts can be
called to the strong or weak side. If a stunt is called without a strong or weak direction, it is run on both sides.
• The coverage tells the defensive backs and linebackers coverage responsibilities on pass plays. We have five
types of coverage: base (cover 3 – three deep), inverted cover 2, robber, dog (cover 1 – man under with a free
safety), and blitz (cover 0 – man to man with no free safety)
• In the above example, the strong defensive tackle aligns in a 3 technique, the weak defensive tackle is aligned in a
1 technique, the tackles are slanting to the strong side (declared by the SPUR linebacker), the inside linebackers
are blitzing (Mike and Will), and the secondary is in man to man blitz coverage.

The Huddle

H T S N B

C W F B C
Procedure
1. The SPUR calls the huddle by raising his hands and the defense aligns on him. He sets the huddle two yards off
the line of scrimmage.
2. While MIKE gets the defensive call from the bench, WILL declares down and distance followed by the Free
Safety declaring field position (i.e., middle or hash)
3. MIKE makes the defensive call one time
4. MIKE will give a “Ready” call, everyone responds “Hit”, claps and hustles into position.
a. Tackles/Nose go to a knee on their side of the ball
b. The secondary will go to their normal area of the field.
c. Everyone should be looking at the offensive huddle
d. When the tight end and the other receivers break from the huddle SPUR and MIKE give the strength call.
e. Everyone sprints to their alignment

Remember….
1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart, relaxed, and looking at the signal callers
2. Nobody talks in the huddle except MIKE, WILL, and Free Safety,
3. Hustle in and out of the huddle. It is important to get the defensive call quickly so that additional adjustments and
calls can be made when the offense breaks their huddle
4. If you do not hear the call, call “check”, and the call will be repeated.
Split 4-4 Defense

When the Offense breaks the huddle…


• Tackle and Nose go to one knee on their side of ball
• SPUR moves between the Tackle and Nose
• Secondary goes to their area of the field
• All eyes are on the offensive huddle

E T N E

M W

R
C C

Position Procedure
1 SPUR Declares strong side with a right or left call: “SPUR Right” or “SPUR Left”. The
. strong side is the Tight End side. Formation strength progression:
1. Tight End
2. One receiver side (no TE)
3. Quarterback’s throwing hand (double tight ends)
2 MIKE Repeats right or left call (e.g., “Right-Right!”) to set the Tackle and Nose on the
. offensive guards. MIKE aligns to strong side call.
3 WILL Aligns away from MIKE
.
4 FRED Makes any formation and coverage call
.
5 BANDIT and Aligns to weak side away from SPUR
. BUCK (weak end)
6 Tackle/Nose Align on offense guards based on the strength call and front call.
.
7 HAMMER (strong Aligns to strong side call
. end)

Pre-Snap Readiness Process


1. Know down and distance.
2. Get the call in the huddle.
3. Recognize the offensive formation.
4. Take the correct alignment.
5. Take a great stance. Be ready.
6. Read and know your keys.
Split 4-4 Defense

Split 4-4 Base Alignment – “Split 31 Cover 3”

C C
W M
Ba
Bu N T S H

Position Stance/Alignment Technique Key/Progression vs Run vs Pass


HAMMER 2 pt .- inside foot up Near back, man on (TE) Flow to - D Gap contain, squeeze Rush
(Strong End) Wide 9 technique(1yd outside field, take on blockers with inside QB’s
TE) shoulder outside in
2 read steps across LOS, keep Flow away – trail deepest back –
shoulders square and outside looking for bootleg and reverse landmark
arm and leg free Flow outside – fight outside is QB’s
keeping shoulders square, near
maintain outside leverage shoulder
Option – 1st threat
Tackle/ 3pt. gap foot up and sahed Near back through G Flow to – A or B Gap depending Bull rush
Nose hand down; 3 tech. (outside on tech. QB –
shoulder of G); 1 tech to open Flow away – squeeze A gap, landmark
side; Attack G outside shoulder pursuit flat down LOS look for is QB’s
with near foot and hands cutback near side
through “v’ of the neck Flow outside – bend towards the number
ball looking for cutback
BUCK 2 pt - inside foot up Near back, man on (T) Flow to - C Gap contain, squeeze Rush
(Weak End) 5 tech (outside shoulder T) field, take on blockers with inside QB’s
2 read steps across LOS, keep shoulder outside in
shoulders square and outside Flow away – trail deepest back –
arm and leg free looking for bootleg and reverse landmark
Flow outside – fight outside is QB’s
keeping shoulders square, near
maintain outside leverage shoulder
Option – 1st threat
SPUR 2 pt – inside foot up slightly TE, near back Flow to – force C Gap Flats
staggered Flow away – cross key far back,
7 tech (inside eye TE on LOS) check for bootleg, counter, for
Attach TE with outside foot. reverse. Cushion back and take
Prevent inside release by TE. proper pursuit angle
Flow outside – slant towards D
gap
Option – 1st threat
Split 4-4 Defense
Position Stance/Alignment Technique Key/Progression vs Run vs Pass
MIKE 2 pt –gap foot slightly staggered Near back through G and Flow to – fill A/B gap Hook/curl
10 tech (outside foot splits the Center Flow away – cross key far back for
crotch of the guard 4½ yards off trap and counter. Scrape downhill
the ball). towards weak side A/B gap filling
Read step towards gap cutback lanes
responsibility Flow outside – scrape downhill
towards C/D gap. Fight through T
down block
Option – 1st threat
WILL 2 pt – gap foot slightly Near back through G and Flow to – fill A/B gap Hook/curl
staggered Center Flow away – cross key far back for
30 tech (inside foot splits the trap and counter. Secure strong
crotch of the guard ) 4½yards of side A gap. Scrape downhill
the ball towards weak side A/B gap filling
Read step towards gap cutback lanes
responsibility Flow outside – scrape downhill
towards C/D gap
Option – 1st threat
BANDIT 2 pt – inside foot up Near back through T Flow to – force D Gap, maintain Check
Walk alignment - 4x4 of end outside leverage slant
man line of scrimmage -split Flow away – cross key far back, pattern;
distance between Tackle and X check for bootleg, counter, for drop to
reverse. Pursuit down LOS looking Flats
for cutback
Flow outside – force D gap
Option – pitch
Corner 2 pt – inside foot back. Nearest uncovered lineman Flow to – close play outside in Deep
Align 5 yards off and 1 yard Backfield flow Flow away – take pursuit angle to outside
outside #1 receiver to open side Ball level cut of play in case in it breaks. ⅓
; take an inside shade to a QB Option - pitch
closed side; align 5 yards off #1 receiver
and 2 yards outside the TE if he
is the widest receiver
Back pedal until run or pass is
read

Fred (Free 2pt. - foot to wide side is back Key ball to the receiver Secondary Force – alley support Deep
Safety) Split difference between outside who poses immediate Option – quarterback to pitch middle ⅓
receivers – 8 yds off the line of threat to the middle ⅓
scrimmage
Never align outside the guard
towards a two or three receiver
side
Split 4-4 Defense

Defensive Keys
We are able to accomplish quick recognition of offensive plays by using a series of keys. On most offensive plays we will
only need one or two keys to know what the play is We use five different keys to determine where the ball is going before
and during the play:

1. Formation & Alignment


2. Pre-Snap Key
3. Backfield Action
4. Blocking Schemes
5. Level Of The Ball

FORMATION & ALIGNMENT

Offenses can be very predictable with their formation and alignment. We will form a game plan around these offensive
tendencies. An example of a team's tendencies would be; only passing out of split backs or running ball out of the "I". The
individual positions in an offensive formation can tip a play. A split receiver taking a wider split than normal when he is
going to run the "post" pattern. An offensive lineman sitting flat in his stance when he is going to pass block or pull. A
running back aligned deeper when he is getting the ball.

PRE-SNAP KEYS

Each position is given one of three pre-snap key - foot of the "near back", the helmet of the player you're aligned on and an
uncovered lineman. We will key the ball for movement. At the snap of the ball this key will get us moving in the right
direction to make the play or defeat any immediate block.

BACKFIELD ACTION

We will read this key while we are on the move to the ball. Backfield action will determine the direction, type of play and
give us a RUN/PASS read. All positions must know what their responsibility is for flow to, flow away, and flow outside.

BLOCKING SCHEME

Run or pass, there are only a few different ways the offense can block a play. So blocking schemes can be a good key in
determining the offensive play. There will be times when you will able to determine the play before you pick up the
backfield action just by whom and how you are being blocked. We must learn and understand the offensive blocking
schemes, if not, a player is going to have a hard time playing our defense. (Backfield action and blocking scheme will be
picked up by the defender in no set order the player may see blocking scheme first then backfield action or backfield action
then blocking scheme.)
Split 4-4 Defense
BALL LEVEL

The depth of the ball during the play will indicate what type of play the offense is running.

1 to 2 yards deep = OPTION


2 to 3 yards deep = RUN

4 to 7 yards deep = PASS

The keys should be used to find ball and get you moving to it. Think of the keys being in two groups: FORMATION &
ALIGNMENT and PRE-SNAP, these will give you a good idea where the play is going and get you moving in the right
direction. BACKFIELD ACTION, BLOCKING SCHEMES and BALL LEVEL will take you to the ball. We cannot stand
around looking for the ball, we must read on the run!
Split 4-4 Defense

Formation Adjustments
Number one priority is not to get beat by a formation. Responsibilities and alignments may be adjusted further based on
game plan and scouting reports

Strength Call
SPUR declares strong side with a “SPUR Right” or “SPUR Left” call. The strong side is the declared to the Tight End
side. Formation strength progression:

1. Tight End
2. One receiver side (if the offense has no TE)
3. Short side (if two TEs),
4. QB throwing hand (if two TEs)

Personnel Identification
Personnel groupings are identified by a two digit number where the first number represents the number of backs in the
backfield and the second number is the number of TEs

1) 10 PERSONNEL (1 BACK, 0 TES)


a) 4 wide receiver set use to spread the defense, creates open areas and cutback lanes for ball carrier
b) Pass emphasis, offense will read the box
c) Protection problems for the offense
d) We can outnumber the protection, they cannot block everyone
e) We will pressure the passer
f) Expect hot routes, 3 step routes (fade/slant/out), screens
g) Running game is zone, trap, counter, option

2) 11 PERSONNEL (1 BACK, 1 TE)


a) 3 wide receiver set used to spread the defense
b) Because of TE, offense can still run the ball
c) Better pass protection than 10 personnel
d) We will outnumber the protection, offense can protect with a maximum of 7 people
e) The QB should not be able to hold the ball or throw it down field
f) Expect boot, 3 step routes (fade/slant/out), screens
g) Running game is zone, trap, counter, option

3) 12 PERSONNEL (1 BACK, 2 TE)


a) Two TE/Two wide receiver set used to balance-up the defense
b) With two TE’s, think more run than pass
c) Offense can max protect with 8 people
d) Difficult, but not impossible to outnumber the protection
e) Expect boot, 3-step routes (fade/slant/out), deep passes to wide receivers
f) Running game is stretch, trap, counter, option

4) 20 PERSONNEL (2 BACK, 0 TE)


a) Three wide receivers, no TE
b) Used by teams to get defense out of 5 man fronts
c) Offense trades TE blocking strength for an additional receiving threat
d) Spread the defense
e) Remove a run defender from the box
f) Pass protection can be outnumbered
g) Expect play action, sprint out, 3 step routes (fade/slant/out)
h) Offense has 2 backs in the backfield and therefore can run all I/Power plays
Split 4-4 Defense

5) 21 PERSONNEL (2 BACKS, 1TE)


a) Pro personnel
b) Base personnel
c) Run or Pass
d) Tough to out number protection, offense can protect with 8
e) Expect play action, boot, 3 step routes (fade/slant/out/hitch/smash), deep throws with max protection

6) 22 PERSONNEL (2 BACK, 2 TE)


a) Run emphasis, power game
b) Only one wide receiver
c) Passing game is based off play action, fullback or TE out weak, throw to the post/post corner with max protection
d) We will not outnumber their pass protection, offense can protect with 9 if they choose
e) Offense has 2 backs in the backfield and therefore will run all I/Power plays

7) 32 PERSONNEL (3 BACK, 2 TE)


a) Run emphasis, Power game
b) Passing game is based off play action to fullback or TE
c) We will not outnumber their pass protection
d) Expect all power running plays
Split 4-4 Defense
21 Personnel (2 Backs 1TE)
PRO F Coaching
C Points
C
R W M

E N T S E

X Y
Q Z
Q

SLOT F WING F

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

X Y X Y
Q Q
Z Q Z
Q

F F

H H

SPOT / F
SLOT Open F
NASTY
C
C
R
W M
C W M S C
R
E N T E S
E N T E
X Y
X Y
Q
Q Q 2 yds Z
Z Q

F
F
H
H
TWIN F YO
F
SC C
R C
C
W M
R W M
E N T S E
E N T E S
X Y
Q X Z
Z Q Q Y
Q

F
F
H
H
Split 4-4 Defense
20 Personnel (2 Backs, 0 TE)
WIDE F Coaching
C
Points
C
S M W R

E N T E SPUR declares strength to 1 receiver side

X Y
Q
Q Z

H
Split 4-4 Defense
10 Personnel (1 Back, 0 TE)
ACE - Coaching
F
SPREAD Points
C C
R W M S

E N T E
SPUR declares strength to
X Y Boundary
Q QB throwing hand
H Z
Q

ACE - ACE -
LOOSE F QUADS F

C C C
C
R W M S R W M S

E N T E E N T E

X Y X Y
Q Q
H Q Z H Q Z

F F

ACE -
WAVE
FLEX F
F
C
C C
C
R W M
R W M S
E N T E S
E N T E
X Y
X Y
Q
H Z Q
Q Z H
Q

F
F

JACK F BUNCH F

C C C
C
S M W S M W R
E N T E R
E N T E
X Y X Y
Q H Z Q
Q H Z
Q

F F
Split 4-4 Defense
11 Personnel (1 Back, 1 TE)
ACE F Coaching
C
C
Points
R W M

E N T S E

X Y
Q Z
F Q

DUEC F
DOUBLE F
E WING
C C
R
W M C R W M C

E N T S E E N T S E

X Y X Y
Q Q
H Q Z H Q Z

F F

TREY F TRIPS
C
C ¼ ¼ ½
F C
R W M S
C
R W M
E N T E (Flats) (Hook/Curl) (Middle) (Flats)
X Y
E N T S E
Q H Z
Q X Y
Q
Z H
Q
F

QUEE
KING F
N F
C
C C
C
R W M R W M

E N T S E E N T S E

X Y X Y
Q H Z Q
Q Q H Z

F F
Split 4-4 Defense
12 Personnel (1 Back, 2 TE)
ACE F Coaching
C
C
Points
W M

E R N T S E

X Y
Q
F Q Z

ACE - DOUBLE
Twins F
WING F
C
C C
C
M W W M

E R N T S E
E R N T S E
X Y
X Y
H Z Q
Q H Z
Q
Q

F
F

KING F QUEEN
F
C
C C
C
W M W M

E R N T S E E R N T S E
X Y X Y
Q H Z Q
Q Q H Z

F F
Split 4-4 Defense
22PRO
Personnel
– (2 Back, 2 TEs) WING –
Tight Tight F
F
C (Check to C
(Check to
“60”) C “60”) C
W M W M

E R N T S E
E R N T S E
X Y
X Y
Z Q
Q Z
Q
Q

F
F

H SPOT / H

NASTY F
(Check
C to
“60”) C
W M

E R N T E S
X Y
Q
Q Z

H
YO (Check to
“60”)
F
C
C
W M

E R N T E S
X Z
Q Y
Q

H
Split 4-4 Defense
32POWER
Personnel
I (3 Backs, 2 TEs)
(Check to WISHBON
“60”)
C F
E /CT F
C C
(Check to
W M “60”) W M

E R N T S E
E R N T S E
X Y
X Y
Q
Q
Q
Q

F F F

H Z
H
Split 4-4 Defense
Gun Formations
Gun
Gun Twins F
C F SPREAD
C C C
R W M R W M S
E N T E
E N T S E
X Y
X Y
Z H Z
H

Q Q
H F
Q Q

Gun Trips
Gun Trips F F
C Open
C
C C
R W M R W M S
E N T S E E N T E
X Y X Y

H Z H Z

Q Q
F F
Q Q

Gun Gun
Split F Empty
C F
C C
R C
R W M S M W
E N T E
E N T S E
X Y
X Y
Z
F H Z

Q
H F
Q Q
Q
Split 4-4 Defense
2 x 1 Formations
PRO F WING F
C C
C C
R R
W M W M

E N T S E E N T S E
X Y
X Y
Z Q
Q Z
Q
Q

F
F
H
H

WIDE F SPOT / F
C NASTY
C
R C C
S R
M W W M

E N T E E N T E S
X Y X Y
Q Q
Q Z Q Z

F F

H H

SLOT F YO F
C C C
C
W M R
R W M
E N T S E E N T E S
X Y X Z
Q Q
Z Q Y
Q

F F

H H
TWIN
F
CS C
R
W M

E N T S E
X Y
Q
Z Q

H
Split 4-4 Defense
2 x 2 Formations
SPREA
ACE F F
C D
C C C
R W M R W M S
E N T E
E N T S E
X Y
X Y
Z Q
Q H Z
F Q
Q

DUEC
F FLEX F
CE C
R C C
W M R W M
E N T E S
E N T S E
X Y X Y
Q Q
Z H Z
H Q Q

F F

SING
F FLOP
LE
C C
F
C
R C
W M S
W M
E R N T S E
E N T E
X Y
X Y
Q
H Q Z Q
H Z
Q

F
F

DOUBL QUA
F
E C DS C
C F C
W M R W M S
E R N T S E E N T E
X Y X Y
H Q Z Q
Q H Q Z

F F
Split 4-4 Defense
3 x 1 Formations
TREY F TRIPS F
C
C C
C
R W M S R W M
E N T S E
E N T E
X Y X Y
Q H Z Q
Z H
Q Q

F F

KING F WAVE F
C C
C
R
R C M S
W M
W E N T E
E N T S E
X Y
X Y
Q
Q H Z Z H
Q
Q

F
F

QUEE
BUNCH
C
N F
C C
F

R C
W M S M W R
E N T S E E N T E
X Y X Y
Q Q
H Z H Z
Q Q

F F

JACK F LOAD F C
C
C C
S M W M W R
E N T E R E S N T E
X Y Y X
Q H Z Q
Q Q H Z

F F
Split 4-4 Defense

Glossary
Closed formation The widest receiver is a tight end

Backside The side of the offensive formation away from you

Bend Redirect your body to the point of attack

Flow The second linebacker to the point of attack. Takes a slightly deeper route to avoid any wash of players. Do not
over run the play.

Force The fist linebacker to the point of attack. Take on any lead blocker on the blockers outside hip and force the
running back to the inside or force him to bounce to the outside. If no lead blocker, tackle the
running back with head across the man, driving for his outside hip.

Front side The side of the offensive formation you are aligned

Gap The area between two offensive lineman measured from the nose of one lineman to the nose of the next lineman

Outside Leverage Keep outside arm, leg, and hip free. Keep ball on inside shoulder.

Strong side Side of the strength of the offensive formation. Strength is determined by which side the Tight End
aligns.

Stunt A defensive call where a player executes something other than his responsibility in the base defense (e.g.,
linebacker blitzes, defensive ends crash or pinch, etc.)

Weak side Side away from the strength of the offensive strength
Split 4-4 Defense

Defensive Line Play


General Coaching Points
1. Always know your technique, your key, and your responsibility. If you don’t know ASK! There is no excuse for
not knowing. If a coach says something you do not understand, ASK!
2. Take the proper stance: knees bent, back flat, foot up to gap responsibility with approximate heel-toe relationship,
toes pointed straight ahead, opposite hand down three inches in front of face mask on the line of scrimmage, eyes
focused on your key. Keep ball in your peripheral vision as the ball is the primary movement key.
3. Be precise in your alignment to insure success
4. Be DISCIPLINED! Play your gap responsibility and believe in your teammate that he will play his.
5. Be enthusiastic! Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. Encourage your teammates.
6. You will play like you practice. Everything you do in practice must be done to the best of your ability. Care
about what you are doing, and come to practice to work and get better. Develop good habits.
7. Never use your head as a primary contact object. This includes spearing and butt-tackling or nay action that will
bring contact with the top of your head
8. Always keep your shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage. Keep shoulder pad level low for maximum control
and leverage.
9. Fight to stay on your feet to get to the ball. Great players remain on their feet and make plays.
10. Take pre-snap read of offensive lineman stances and splits to indicate possible blocking schemes and run/pass
tendencies. Communicate to teammates:
a. Offensive lineman setting up high in stance with very little weight on down hand, with eyes zeroed in on
you, or leaning back on heels indicates pass block
b. Offensive lineman setting down low in stance with a lot of weight on down hand, and leaning forward on
toes indicates a run block
c. Offensive lineman leaning left or right with little weight on hand and back on heels indicates pulling
d. If the center has the nose of the ball pointed up indicates pass. If the center has the nose of the ball flat or
down indicates run.
e. Offensive lineman has a narrow split to close you down indicates a running play to the outside, possibly a
double team or scoop blocking scheme.
f. Offensive lineman has a wider than normal split to widen you out indicates run inside or away.

Principals of good defensive line play


1. Know your assignment
2. Know your alignment
3. Take the proper stance
4. Attack the line of scrimmage (do not catch blocks)
5. Play the proper technique
6. Do not allow your self to be blocked – escape, pursuit, and tackle

EFFORT + DESIRE = SUCCESS

Defensive Lineman Techniques


There are several techniques that can be used to get to and control a gap. We will use an attack technique as our base
technique. The attack technique aggressively attacks the blocker. The focal point of the charge is the V of the neck of the
offensive lineman. In the attack technique, the first step is to the near shoulder of the blocker through V of the neck. The
hit focus of the hands is directed towards the edge of numbers. Knock the offensive lineman backwards and establish new
line of scrimmage with your feet in the neutral zone. The gap side arm, leg, and hip must be kept free, and the shoulders
are kept square to the line of scrimmage. The defensive lineman works to lock out elbows and separate from the blocker so
he can escape, pursuit, and make the tackle. Never attack past the offensive lineman’s heels until you see the football.
Split 4-4 Defense

We will use a rip technique in addition to an attack technique based on specific calls or coaching adjustment. The rip
technique is an aggressive penetrating charge into the gap. In a rip technique, the first step is always a 45° step to the hip
of the next offensive lineman towards the gap. The gap side arm, leg, and hip must be kept free. Rip the forearm away
from the gap through the outside edge of the chest plate to under the armpit of the offensive lineman. Always stay square
to the line of scrimmage.

The third technique is the “pinch” technique. The technique is used as an adjustment to the trap and inside lead play. The
tackle aligns at a 45° angle to the inside (tail out and head in). On ball movement, drive through the near neck of the
guard, caving him into the "A" gap while occupying the "B" gap with their body. They must shut down the inside trap and
keep the guard off our inside linebackers, chasing him if he pulls. The cardinal sins in this technique are (1) don't let the
guard off easy; (2) don't get trapped; (3) don't get hooked by the guard; (4) don't get cut off by the tackle on plays away; (5)
don't get driven back by a double-team ("grab grass").
Split 4-4 Defense

Defensive Tackle and Nose Play

Defensive Tackle and Nose


Alignment 1 technique – inside shoulder of Guard. Align with outside knee on the inside number of the Guard.
2 technique – head up Guard (STACK alignment)
3 technique - outside shoulder of a Guard. Align with inside knee on the outside number of the Guard.

Keys Near back through guard

Stance Knees bent, hips slightly higher than the shoulder, shade hand down 3 inches in front of face mask, toes pointed
straight ahead, gap foot up with approximate heel-toe stagger. Keep gap arm, leg and hip free (inside hand
down, outside foot up). The eyes should focus on the V of the guard’s neck. Keep ball peripheral vision as the
ball is the primary movement key.

• Pressure on fingertips (they should change color)


• Should be able to fit egg in the palm of down hand (don’t break it)
• Raise butt slightly above head (roll ball down the back)
• Bull neck; look through eyebrows
• Opposite hand should be two inches off ground to square shoulders

Technique The first step is with the near foot to the near shoulder of blocker through V of the neck. The hit focus of hands
directed towards the edge of numbers and the V of the neck. Knock the offensive lineman backwards and
establish new line of scrimmage with your feet in the neutral zone. The gap side arm, leg, and hip must be kept
free, and the shoulders are kept square to the line of scrimmage. Keep pad level below Guard’s. The
defensive lineman works to lock out elbows and separate from the blocker so he can escape, pursuit, and make
the tackle. Cardinal sins for a defensive tackle

• Get turned out by the guard


• Get base blocked 1 on 1 (must create double teams)
• Get reached, hooked , or scooped

Coaching points:
• Attack - get off on ball movement
• Power step with near foot, snap hands from the ground to the target , and explode hips
• Knock the blocker back – create a new line of scrimmage with your feet in the neutral zone – keep
your feet buzzing and the shoulders square
• Squeeze and separate – grab cloth and lock out. Get separation by locking out the elbows.
• Keep pressure on offensive blocker until you locate the ball carrier.
• Escape – Getting off block to make play
• 3 point fit – near hand on the V of the neck, gap side hand is on tricep, and face is on top of the
shoulder pad (ear hole to ear hole)
• Must squeeze trap and wrong arm trapper

Responsibilities • Read progression is near back through the guard and tackle
• Run at you
1. 3 tech - secure B gap
2. 1 tech – secure A gap
• Run away – pursuit down the line of scrimmage looking for cutback
• Run outside – bend towards C Gap look for cutback
• Pass – rush gap to QB. Landmark is QB’s near number
• Make them double team you with the tackle
Split 4-4 Defense
Defensive Tackle and Nose
Blocking DRIVE BLOCK
Schemes Vs
The 3 Guard drive blocks – Near back at you
Technique 1. Attack through the V of guards neck and secure B Gap
2. Fight pressure with pressure
3. Squeeze and separate – grab cloth and lock out. Get
separation by locking out the elbows.
4. Escape and bend to football T
5. You cannot be based blocked 1 on 1.

TURN OUT

Guard drive blocks – Near back inside or away


1. Attack through the V of guards neck and secure B Gap
2. Control the guard and squeeze the A gap with the blocker’s
body.
3. Keep shoulders square and work to cross the face of the
blocker – do not run around the block
4. Take a flat angle of pursuit down the line of scrimmage and
T
watch for cutback

REACH BLOCK

Guard reaches and near back outside


1. Attack through the V of guard’s neck and secure B gap
2. You can not get reached. Make every tackle to the outside until they
double team you. Your main job is to draw a double team and keep
offensive linemen off of the MIKE and WILL linebackers.
3. Make good contact with hands and extend outside arm as you move up
field and lateral with the blocker
4. Keep pressure on until you are ready to shed and make a play T
5. If you are getting reached, you are not getting a good take off
6. Defeating the reach block:
a. With gap side hand (long arm) we lock it out.
b. With shade hand (short arm) we pull it towards us open the gate.
c. Our head stays underneath the armpit of the OL.
d. Our near foot must work up field.
e. We escape with a rip move

“G” SCHEME

Guard pulls outside and Tackle blocks down on your hip (“G” scheme)
1. Attack through the V of guard’s neck and secure B Gap
2. Get penetration and get behind Tackles hip
3. Chase guard to ball
4. If tackle blocks flat (his face in the hole), cross his face and bend to the
football
T
Split 4-4 Defense
Defensive Tackle and Nose
Blocking DOUBLE TEAM
Schemes Vs
The 3 Guard drive blocks and Tackle blocks down (double team) – near back
Technique outside
(continued) 1. Start with same technique as drive block - attack through the V of
guard’s neck and secure B Gap. Grab cloth of the drive back
2. Once you feel pressure from tackle get penetration by sinking hips as low
as possible – back should be turned to the block of the down lineman.
3. Continue to grab cloth of drive block and work body through the gap
4. If you start to give ground, grab jersey, sit down, and make pile, or T
5. Spin out in the direction of the down block from the Tackle, but you can
not give up ground!

COMBO (KISS)

Guard drive blocks and Tackle blocks down through the gap and onto the
front side linebacker – near back outside
1. Attack through the V of guard’s neck and secure B Gap
2. Once you feel pressure from tackle get penetration
3. Defeat the reach block of the guard T
4. Do not get knocked backwards, must hold ground and create true double
team.
M
5. Do not let the guard work his hips in front of you
6. When tackle weaves to go up on the LB, shed and make play
7. If they can not reach you, the guard may try to wash/run you to the
sideline. Once you feel this, sit and work back across his face.
FOLD BLOCK

Guard pulls or folds around down block of tackle – near back outside
1. Attack through the V of guard’s neck and secure B Gap (stab hands and
explode hips)
2. Get penetration if he has beaten the tackles head across the line of
scrimmage and pursuit T
3. If tackle blocks flat (his face in the hole), cross his face and bend to the
football M

INFLUENCE TRAP

Guard sets in pass block or pulls to the outside, center blocks away and near
back goes vertical (influence trap).
1. Attack through the V of guard’s neck and secure B Gap
2. Once you feel the trap, bend to the trapping area. Key to reading trap is
the absence of pressure from the Tackle.
3. Squeeze the trapper back into the hole

T
Split 4-4 Defense
Defensive Tackle and Nose
Blocking VEER TRAP
Schemes Vs
The 3 Guard blocks down, center blocks away and back goes vertical (veer trap).
Technique 1. Attack through the V of guard’s neck and secure B Gap
(continued) 2. If guard releases to the inside, bend to near back squeezing A gap, and
anticipate trap. Do not allow the guard up to the next level.
3. Take on trapper with near shoulder. Stay low, keep shoulders square
facing up field, and squeeze the trapper back into the hole.
4. Some game plans will call for the tackles to “trap the trapper”:
a. You must meet him as far back inside as possible and stuff him T
into the hole.
b. Attack trappers inside shoulder with your outside shoulder (rip)
and work up field
c. Bounce the ball carrier outside

SCOOP

Guard releases inside to linebacker and tackle steps flat into B Gap (scoop):
1. Attack through the V of guard’s neck and secure B Gap
2. Step inside with guard and squeeze A Gap.
3. Jam the guard and do not let the guard release to the second level
(linebacker)
4. Rip the outside arm through the tackles head, pursuit flat down the line of
scrimmage away from the tackle and play cutback.
T
5. DO NOT GET SCOOPED

TRAP

Guard pulls across center and center blocks back – trap


1. Attack through the V of guard’s neck and secure B Gap
2. Get in the hip pocket of the pulling guard and react to the centers block
3. If the center blocks your hip, get behind his hip and chase the guard to
the ball.
4. If the center puts his face in the hole, cross his face and work down the
line of scrimmage in the direction of the guard
T

Blocking DRIVE
Schemes Vs
The 1 1. Attack on snap. Stab hands and extend hips
Technique 2. Push/pull, rip A gap – secure A gap
3. Keep gap arm and leg free. N
4. Locate ball, escape, run to football
Split 4-4 Defense
Defensive Tackle and Nose
Blocking REACH
Schemes Vs
The 1 1. Attack blocker and step in direction on the block
Technique 2. Make good contact with hands and extend outside arm as you move up
(continued) field and lateral with the blocker
3. Keep pressure on until you are ready to shed and make a play
4. Defeating the reach block: N
a. With gap side hand (long arm) we lock it out.
b. With shade hand (short arm) we pull it towards us open the
gate.
c. Our head stays underneath the armpit of the OL.
d. Our near foot must work up field.
e. We escape with a rip move
5. If you are getting reached, you are not getting a good take off

COMBO

1. Attack on snap. Stab hands and extend hips


2. Rip A gap and work to turn your back in the direction of the block.
3. Use other hand to punch center – tie up center and make them double
team you N
4. Do not let the guard work his hips in front of you
5. When center weaves to go up on the LB, shed and make play
6. If they can not reach you, the guard may try to wash/run you to the
sideline. Once you feel this, sit and work back across his face.

DOUBLE TEAM

Guard drive blocks and Center blocks back (double team)


1. Start with the exact same technique as defeating the drive block - attack
through the V of guard’s neck and secure A gap. Grab the cloth of the
drive block. N
2. Make sure you put the second foot on the ground.
3. Once you feel pressure from center turn hips and sink them as low as
possible - back must be turned to the second lineman
4. Continues to grab cloth of the original drive block and work body in the
gap.
5. If you start to give ground, grab jersey, sit down, and make pile

FOLD BLOCK

Guard pulls or folds around back block of center – near back away
1. Attack through the V of guard’s neck and secure A Gap
2. Get in the hip pocket of the pulling guard and react to the centers block
3. If the center blocks your hip, get behind his hip and chase the guard to
the ball. N
4. If the center puts his face in the hole, cross his face and work down the
line of scrimmage in the direction of the guard
Split 4-4 Defense
Defensive Tackle and Nose
Alignment / PINCH/TRAP
Technique
Adjustments Adjustment made to help against traps and powers up the middle
1. Take normal 3 technique stance and alignment except align hips outside
so that you are at a 45° angle to the guard (tail out and head in). Down
hand on outside foot of guard and feet outside hand. Crowd the ball.
2. Drive through the near neck area of the guard.
3. Use the guard’s body to squeeze A gap and your body to control B gap.
4. Look for trapper and squeeze the trap.

TILTED NOSE (30 Shade)

1. Alignment – align tilted at 45° on the center. Ear to ear relationship on


the center. Crowd the ball.
2. Stance – three point stance. Inside foot is back and your inside hand is
down. The inside hand should be on the center’s near foot. T
3. Technique – step with the inside foot on movement. Play through the ear
hole of the center M W
4. Responsibility – run to you: A gap on your side. Run away: squeeze (20) (30)
center to the far A gap and keep him off the linebackers.

Base block – get off, step with inside foot, extend hips; control A gap

Reach block – get off, step with inside foot. As the center’s head widens to
reach you, widen and press up field. Push, pull, and rip A gap.

Scoop block – get off, step with up field foot. As you read the center trying
to scoop and work to the next level, squeeze him into the opposite A gap for
two steps keeping him off the linebacker. Make sure the backside guard does
not scoop you. Stay on the backside of the center playing cut back. If the
scoop block is too wide, go underneath the block

Double team – get off, step with up field foot. Defeat the block of the center
first. As you feel the down block of the guard, fight hard to keep your head in
the crack and get up field. If you start to give up ground grab cloth and sit
down.

Down block – get off, step with up field foot and squeeze the center. As you
feel the guard begin to seal you inside, rip your arm thru the guard’s face
penetrate and flatten down the line of scrimmage.
Split 4-4 Defense

Strong Side Defensive End Play - HAMMER

Strong Side Defensive End


Alignment Wide 9 technique – one yard outside shoulder of a strong side TE.

Keys Outside foot of the near back through the Tight End

Stance Two-point stance with the inside foot slightly up and feet shoulder width apart.

Technique Take two read steps across the line of scrimmage and squeeze down inside. The read steps should
be on a line that is at a 45° angle to the line of scrimmage through the stance of the near back (no
halfback key fullback). Do not attack beyond the heels of the TE. On his second step, he should
have his outside leg and arm free and his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage.

E S
E S
Responsibilities The primary responsibility of the strong side end is contain. He has responsibility for the D Gap
and must squeeze everything down from the outside in. If flow is to him, the end attacks the kick
out block with his inside shoulder through the outside shoulder of the blocker keeping outside leg
and arm free. If flow is outside, fight to keep outside leverage and keep contain. DO NOT SPILL
SWEEPS. If the play is “option” (QB shows his numbers to you), immediately attack the QB to
force the pitch.

By attacking the lead blocker on the sweep and off-tackle plays and attacking the QB on the
option, we are forcing these plays inside and before they have a chance to develop.

If the play is to the opposite side, trail as the deepest back looking for bootleg, reverse, or a broken
play.

On pass, rush the QB outside in targeting QB’s near number/shoulder


Split 4-4 Defense
Strong Side Defensive End
Blocking 1. Take read steps keying near back POWER/SPRINT DRAW (C GAP)
schemes through TE
2. If the TE kicks out, take on block
with near shoulder while keeping shoulders
square and squeeze the line of scrimmage
3. Keep outside leverage (outside leg
and arm free) and look for the play to bounce
outside.
4. If the play bounces outside, keep
runner on inside shoulder, work outside, and E S
force back inside

E S

E S

1. Take read steps keying near back POWER/SPRINT DRAW (D GAP)


through TE
2. If the TE blocks SPUR, attack block
of fullback or near back with near shoulder while
keeping shoulders square and squeeze the line of
scrimmage
3. Must drive runner back into the
hole.
4. If the play bounces outside, keep
runner on inside shoulder, work outside, and E S
force back inside

1. Must maintain contain by fighting SWEEP/CRACK SWEEP (D GAP)


outside
2. Keep ball carrier on inside shoulder,
while keeping shoulders square (numbers should
be pointing up field)
3. Get up field quickly to avoid being
cracked

E S
Split 4-4 Defense
Strong Side Defensive End
Reading Near As HAMMER takes his read steps, he is looking at the flow of the near back. In split backs this is the
Back halfback. Versus the I formation, he keys the first back that comes his direction. If both backs come his
direction, he keys the fullback (lead back). There are 5 primary moves the near back can make:

5 1
4
3 2

#1 Near back goes away

Immediately think in order: inside counter, bootleg, and reverse. HAMMER should think systematically: (1)
squeeze the counter inside by adjusting charge angle down the line of scrimmage –look for pulling lineman
and squeeze the kick out block keeping outside arm and leg free – do not spill the trap; (2) attack the
quarterback bootleg path if he has the ball; (3) trail the play going away as deep as the deepest back expecting
reverse or quarterback reverse scramble

E
Split 4-4 Defense
Strong Side Defensive End
Reading Near #2 Near back dives straight ahead
Back
If the near back dives inside, HAMMER adjusts his charge as described above for closing down the counter.
HAMMER should look for in order: (1) off tackle trap and (2) dive option. Versus the trap he squeezes the
play inside, taking on the trap block with a low inside shoulder keeping his outside arm and leg free – do not
spill the trap

Reaction to trap or G scheme

If the quarterback opens up and shows his numbers, HAMMER attacks the quarterback’s numbers, working
his head to the up field armpit. The end should hit the quarterback at the mesh point (B gap) – attacking hard
and fast.

Reaction to dive option

E S
(QB) (Pitch)
If the TE blocks out on HAMMER, SPUR reacts to his visual key back inside and attacks the quarterback.
Essentially, SPUR switches options assignments with HAMMER. HAMMER must read the kick out block by
the TE and momentarily jam the TE and then jump to the pitch. The safety needs to fill the alley playing
quarterback to pitch on the option and covering any delayed release by the TE.

Reaction to dive option if TE


blocks defensive end

E S
(QB) (Pitch)

F
(QB-Pitch)

#3 Near back kicks out

When the near back takes an inside-out approach, the end should expect an off-tackle play. HAMMER attacks
all kick out blocks by attacking the block with the near shoulder while keeping shoulders square and
squeezing the line of scrimmage. Keep outside leverage (outside leg and arm free) and look for the
play to bounce outside. If the play bounces outside, keep runner on inside shoulder, work outside,
and force back inside.
Split 4-4 Defense
Strong Side Defensive End
Reading Near #4 Near back sets for pass protection
Back
When the near back set for pass protection, HAMMER should expect a drop back pass or draw. Rush the
quarterback’s near number and maintain contain.

#5 Near back flows outside

If the near back moves laterally, HAMMER should read sweep, sprint out pass or sprint option. The end must
keep contain or force the play deep. If the near back is responsible for blocking the end, the end must defeat
the block. To defeat the lead blocker, the end must keep his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and
take on the block with his inside shoulder and forearm keeping his outside leg and arm free.

Split Rules vs. a strong wing split of

• 0 – 1 yard – play outside shoulder


• 2 – 3 yards – play head up wing
• > 3 yards – normal alignment – be weary of down block by wing

vs. nasty split by TE

• > 2 yards – “switch” call with SPUR and align on outside shoulder of tackle.
Split 4-4 Defense

Weak Side End Play - BUCK


Weak Side Defensive End
Alignment Wide 5 technique –one yard outside shoulder of a weak side tackle.

Keys Outside foot of the near back through the tackle.

Stance Two-point stance with the inside foot slightly back with most of the weight on the
front outside foot. Feet should be inside shoulders about 6” to 10” apart. The stance
is not a contact stance; therefore, upper body should be relaxed and ready for
movement.

When in a three point stance, the gap responsibility foot should be slightly up (heel-
toe relationship) with the weight on the front foot and finger tips. Back should be
flat.

Technique Take two read steps across the line of scrimmage and squeeze down inside. The
read steps should be on a line that is at a 45° angle to the line of scrimmage through
the stance of the near back. Do not attack beyond the heels of the tackle. On his
second step, he should have his outside leg and arm free and his shoulders square to
the line of scrimmage.

N E N E

• The defensive end should focus on the hip of the tackle. If the hip
disappears, it is a running play. If the hip retreats, it is a pass. If the hip
opens, the play will be a quick toss or other outside play.
• Once the hip tips the play, the defensive end reads the action of the near
back. The direction of the play is determined by the ball and the near back.
• If Tackle release inside, bend to near back. Always think kick-out, option,
play away. Squeeze inside and read for near back or puller coming at you.

Responsibilities Run responsibility for the weak end is “C” gap (off tackle hole). He should close
everything from the outside in. Take on any blocker with the inside shoulder
keeping the outside leg and arm free. On the option, if the QB shows his numbers,
attack the QB working the head to the QB’s up field armpit. The defensive end
should engage the QB behind the guard’s initial alignment.

If the play is to the opposite side, check for bootleg, reverse, or a broken play, and
trail play as deep as deepest back looking for cut back or a broken pla.

On pass, rush the QB outside in targeting QB’s near number/shoulder.


Split 4-4 Defense
Weak Side Defensive End
Blocking schemes BLAST/ISOLATION BLAST/ISOLATION (Cross Block)

N E N E

CRACK SWEEP (Twins of Tight Slot) POWER SWEEP

N E N E
R R

TRAP WEAK POWER

N E N E
Split 4-4 Defense

Linebacker Play
Basics
The linebackers need to know the following for each defense:

1. Call – in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage


2. Alignment – be exact
3. Stance – focused, alert, and ready to react;
4. Key – both movement and direction
5. Responsibility – Force, dive and flow responsibilities
6. Execution – play the proper technique
7. Pursuit – take the proper angle to the ball
8. Tackle – terminate the play

Linebacker Principles
1. Attitude
a. Play with intensity and enthusiasm
b. Great work habits off and on the field
c. Coach me, Coach
d. Big hitters
e. Toughness and leadership
f. Unselfish

2. Responsibility
a. Know and execute your assignments and responsibilities
b. Use the proper technique
c. Eliminate big plays
d. Hit, tackle, take away, produce
e. Communicate, communicate, communicate

3. Produce
a. Takeaways: cause and recover fumbles, interceptions
b. Make big plays: tackles for loss, sacks, 3rd down stops, break up pass plays, BIG HITS

Shed Techniques
The success of any defense is dependent on the ability of its players to defeat and shed blockers and get to the football.
Linebackers should take pride in not getting blocked.

1. Forearm shiver – used when the ball carrier is behind the blocker
a. Take on square slightly outside blocker
b. Deliver from good low hitting position
c. Step with same foot delivering the blow (inside foot and arm)
d. Strike the blocker pad under pad hitting on the rise
e. Keep feet moving
f. Stay square do not get turned
g. Use the off hand to disengage the blocker (push or pull)
Split 4-4 Defense
2. Fit & Hands - Use this protection when the ball carrier is behind the blocker and has a two-way go.
a. Low shoulder pad/hide your numbers.
b. Don’t punch until you can smell his breath or step on his toes.
c. Punch the blocker on the breasts plates with your thumbs up, elbows in to your midline.
d. Do not look for the ball until you locked the blocker out and have separation.
e. Reduce the back shoulder and rip across in the direction of the ball.

3. Rip - When you know the direction of the ball carrier and you need to scrape over the top of the OL.
a. Reduce the back shoulder.
b. Throw an uppercut through the outside armpit of the blocker.
c. Hug the blocker with your neck (do not leave an unoccupied gap to your inside arm)
d. Square your shoulders back up.

4. Hand shiver – used when the ball carrier is not behind the blocker or when a linebacker is getting chopped blocked or
scrambled
a. Eye blocker staying square to the line of scrimmage (low target)
b. Keep outside arm and leg free. Do let the helmet or shoulder to get to outside knee
c. Lock hands and wrists on blocker’s helmet or pads forcing him down and away
d. Give ground if needed, keep feet moving
e. Stay square

5. Cage – used when aligned on the line of scrimmage in a head up technique (e.g., SPUR aligned on a TE or BANDIT
aligned inside eye of a tight slot or wing)
a. Explode up and through the blocker with proper leverage (keep pad level low).
b. Stay square on the blocker, meet the block as close to the line of scrimmage as possible
c. Focus on the V of the blockers neck
d. Explode hands into the breast plate, grab cloth, and extend arms.
e. Keep feet moving, shed blocker away from area of responsibility. Pull arms down and away across
blocker’s face

Linebacker Running Back Keys


I Split
Formation Backs Strong I Weak I Wishbone Power I Wing T
SPUR Tailback Far back Fullback Tailback Cross key Tailback Fullback
to far back thru power
back
BANDIT Tailback Far back Tailback Fullback Cross key Tailback to Halfback
to far back power back
MIKE Fullback Near back Fullback Tailback Fullback to Fullback Fullback
near back
WILL Fullback Near back Tailback Fullback Fullback to Power Halfback
near back back thru
fullback

Primary key
Cross key
Split 4-4 Defense
I Formation Split Backs F
F
C C
C C
R W M
R W M
E N T S E
E N T S E

Strong Weak
F F

C C C C
R W M R W M

E N T S E E N T S E

Wishbone Power I
F F

C C
C W M C W M

R E N T E S R E N T S E

Wing-T
F

C C
R W M

E N T S E
Split 4-4 Defense

Inside Linebacker Play

Inside Linebackers (MIKE & WILL)


Alignment 20 technique (head up the guard) at least 5 yards off the ball.
1. MIKE –aligns to strong side
2. WILL – aligns to weak side; adjuster in 10 Personnel Group
a. adjusts to #3 receiver to a 3 receiver side
b. adjust to #2 receiver to a 2 receiver side (nickel back)

Keys Near back through guard and center. A pulling guard takes precedence over backfield flow

Stance Two point stance with gap side foot slightly back (heel to toe relationship), knees bent, hands are
positioned slightly outside of knees with palms facing inside. Weight slightly on the balls of the
feet so that the heels clear the ground. Legs should be in a squat position by getting good flexion
in the hips, knees, and ankles. The back is flat and flexed at the hip driving the shoulders
slightly forward and over the feet. Head up and eyes open looking at your key.

From the waist down should be alert and tense and the waist up should be relaxed – be confident.
Start out in a good, low-hitting position that allows them to move laterally without having to
raise or lower their pad level.

Responsibilities Inside linebackers are responsible for the A gap (B gap if the tackle is in a 1 technique) as well
as pursuit all running plays from the inside out. They should take a read step towards their gap
responsibility and react to the movement of the near back.

If the near back goes outside, close from the inside out working from B to C gaps.

If near back dives at you fill the A and B gap mirroring the near back flow

If the near back goes away, drop the butt and cross key far back looking for trap and counter.
Secure play side A gap and pursue inside out. If the LB sees an open window, penetrate the line
of scrimmage and make the play for a loss. Otherwise continue pursuing down the line inside
out checking for cutback.

Techniques 1. Take a 6” read step (“power step”) towards gap responsibility while reading
near back key. A bad step is better than not taking a step. “A stand and read linebacker is
nothing more than a blocking dummy!”
2. Keep shoulders square to the line of scrimmage
3. Take on blockers with an inside forearm rip, maintaining outside leverage, and
either make the tackle or force the ball carrier to cut back into pursuit.
4. Do not work under blocks, work through the outside half of the blocker while
working inside out

Blocking schemes

A GAP ISO

Near back leads through A gap and guard base blocks tackle:

Play side linebacker – fill A gap immediately. Attack the lead block in
the hole with an inside forearm rip. Dump the lead block inside and
maintain outside leverage.
T N
Backside linebacker – attack and defeat the centers block and squeeze
inside. Keep shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage.
M W
Split 4-4 Defense
Inside Linebackers (MIKE & WILL)
Blocking schemes (continued)

FB TRAP

Near back dives on the midline and guard crosses face:

Play side linebacker – when the guard crosses your face to block the
backside linebacker, fill strong side A gap. This should allow the LB to
avoid the block of the tackle and make the tackle in the backfield. T N

Backside linebacker – attacks the guard with an inside forearm rip,


M W
squeeze the play inside maintaining outside leverage.

INFLENCE TRAP

Near back dives midline and guard pulls around tackle:

Playside linebacker – steps toward B gap. When he reads that the scheme
is not a fold because the tackle is blocking on him, he should immediately
fill back toward A gap.
T N
Backside linebacker – attacks center and squeezes play inside
M W

C GAP POWER

Near back leads through C Gap

Playside linebacker – take read step. On second step flow to B-C gap
mirroring near back flow. Read block of tackle and guard. If tackle
blocks down on tackle, attack guard with inside forearm rip and squeeze
play inside. If guard base blocks on the tackle, scrape to the outside E S T N E
shoulder of the tackle and attack with inside forearm rip. Keep shoulders
square to the line of scrimmage M W

Backside linebacker – take read step, on second step flow to play side A
gap mirroring near back flow. Penetrate any open window; otherwise,
scrape down line of scrimmage checking for cutback and counter. Keep
shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage and maintain inside out
position on the ball carrier.

E S T N E

M W
Split 4-4 Defense
Inside Linebackers (MIKE & WILL)
Blocking schemes (continued)

B GAP ISO

Near back leads through B Gap, guard posts defensive tackle/nose, tackle
blocks down:

Play side linebacker – take read step. On second step flow to B-C gap
mirroring near back flow. If the tackle is being double teamed, attack the
fullback with an inside forearm rip. Keep shoulders square to the line of
scrimmage and maintain outside leverage.
E S T N E
Backside linebacker – take read step, on second step flow to play side A
gap mirroring near back flow. Penetrate any open window; otherwise, M W
scrape down line of scrimmage checking for cutback and counter. Keep
shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage and maintain inside out
position on the ball carrier.

SWEEP

Near back goes outside and guard pulls outside:

Play side linebacker – take read step. On second step scrape down hill
through C-D gaps. Pursue inside out keeping shoulders square to the line
of scrimmage. Do not over pursuit
E S T N E
Backside linebacker – take read step. Play through the head of the center;
close from strong side A gap working to the outside looking for cutback
M W
and counter. Keep shoulders square to the line of scrimmage
Split 4-4 Defense

SPUR Linebacker Play

SPUR Linebacker
Alignment 6 technique (head up the TE). May adjust to a 7 technique (inside eye) if he has
problems with the inside release of the TE or controlling the C Gap.

Split rules:
• 1’-2’ – 6 tech
• 2’–3’– 7 tech
• 4’–5’ – loosen slightly
• >6’– 8 tech – “switch” call with HAMMER

Keys SPUR has two primary keys. The TE is the pressure key and the visual key is the
near back.

Stance Two point stance with gap side foot slightly back (heel to toe relationship), knees
bent, hands are positioned slightly outside of knees with palms facing inside. Weight
slightly on the balls of the feet so that the heels clear the ground. Weight is on the
outside foot. Legs should be in a squat position by getting good flexion in the hips,
knees, and ankles. The back is flat and flexed at the hip driving the shoulders
slightly forward and over the feet. Head up and eyes open looking at your key.

Start out in a good, low-hitting position so that he can deliver a blow to the TE on
ball movement.

Responsibilities Versus the run, SPUR is responsible for the C Gap. Versus the run away, he should
sink his hips and cross key the far back checking for counter and reverse. When he
is certain that he is not threatened by these plays, he should pursue down the line,
checking for cutback.

If the TE releases on a pass route, drop to flat zone (base coverage)

Techniques 1. Takes read step with inside foot attacking the TE (cage technique)
2. Keeps shoulders square to the line of scrimmage
3. Gets his hands on the TE and neutralizes him. Does not allow the
TE to release to the inside and block an inside linebacker.
4. Once the TE is neutralized, read backfield flow

Blocking schemes
TE base blocks and near back attacks defensive end: C GAP POWER

1. Trap the TE on the line of scrimmage and


control C gap.
2. If TE tries to hook SPUR, he stays in the
hole and attacks his near back key.
3. If the TE has already hook SPUR, stay on
the line of scrimmage and work across his face. Do not
go around the block.
4. Do not commit inside too early E S T N E

M W
Split 4-4 Defense
SPUR Linebacker
Blocking schemes (continued)
TE kicks out End and near back comes at SPUR: C GAP ISO

1. If the TE blocks out, check near back


immediately.
2. Take on any kick-out block with your inside
shoulder to his outside shoulder.
3. Secure C Gap.

E S T N E

M W

TE hooks SPUR and near back goes outside SWEEP

1. If the TE tries to hook SPUR, work across


the TE’s face and pursuit inside out.
2. Pursue using a 45° angle to the ball. Do not
over run the play.

E S T N E

M W
TE releases inside to MIKE linebacker and near back comes at G SCHEME
SPUR:

1. Controls TE and do not allow him to release


inside
2. Checks inside for pulling guard
3. Maintain position on line of scrimmage.
4. Attack pulling guard with inside shoulder
keeping shoulders square
5. Maintains outside leverage preventing the E S T N E
play to bounce outside
M W

TE releases inside to MIKE linebacker and near back goes TRAP/COUNTER


away:

1. Controls TE and do not allow him to release


inside
2. Cross key far back and maintain position on
line of scrimmage
3. Attack pulling guard with inside shoulder
keeping shoulders square
4. Maintains outside leverage preventing the E S T N E
play to bounce outside

M W
Split 4-4 Defense

BANDIT Linebacker Play


BANDIT Linebacker
Alignment Alignment is dependent on the offense’s formation:
• Split end (X)/pro – walk alignment 4x4 off of tackle (splitting difference
between X and tackle
• Slot (> 5 yards from tackle and > 2 yards inside X) – split the difference
between slot back and tackle 4 yards off the ball
• Tight slot (< 5 yards from tackle) –inside eye 3 yards off the ball
• Wide/Twin (within 2 yards of X) – split difference between the slot and
tackle at a depth of 4 yards
• Trips –inside eye of #2 receiver
• Double TE – 9 technique (outside eye on TE away from SPUR)

Keys Primary key is near back through the tackle. If the near back goes away, cross key
far back.

Stance Two point stance with the outside foot slightly staggered, knees bent, hands are
positioned slightly outside of knees with palms facing inside in a relaxed and
comfortable position. Weight is evenly distributed on the balls of the feet so that the
heels clear the ground. Legs should be in a squat position by getting good flexion in
the hips, knees, and ankles. The back is flat and flexed at the hip driving the
shoulders slightly forward and over the feet. Head up and eyes open looking at your
key.

Responsibilities Versus the run BANDIT is responsible for the D Gap, and he should close it down
from the outside in. Does not pursue inside until he is certain the play is not
bouncing outside. Versus the run away, he should sink his hips and cross key the far
back checking for counter and reverse. When he is certain that he is not threatened
by these plays, he should take a cut-off pursuit angle and look for cutback. If option
shows, he has the pitch back. On pass plays he is responsible for the flat.

Techniques 1. Take read step with outside foot.


2. Read near back through the tackle
3. If the tackle’s hip disappears, it is a running play. If the hip
retreats, it is a pass. If the hip opens, the play will be a quick toss or other
outside play.
4. Once the hip tips the play, BANDIT reads the action of the near
back. The direction of the play is determined by the ball and the near back
5. Pick up backfield action, blocking scheme and level of the ball
6. Must be aware of the crack block by the split end. Work up field
quickly to avoid the block.

Blocking schemes
Split 4-4 Defense
BANDIT Linebacker
Tackle blocks down and near back flows to: OFF TACKLE PLAY
1. Attack ball carrier from the outside in
maintaining outside leverage
2. Attack the base block of a slot with a “cage”
technique:
a. Explode up and through the blocker with
proper leverage (keep pad level low). Stay square on
him and meet the block as close to the line of
scrimmage as possible T N E
b. Explode hands into the breast plate, grab
cloth, and extend arms. Keep feet moving. Shed R
blocker away from area of responsibility. Pull arms M W
down and away across
3. Control D Gap and maintain outside
leverage
Blocking schemes (continued)
Tackle blocks down (or reaches end) and near back goes SWEEP
outside:

1. Take on block of slot or lead blocker with inside forearm


shiver.
2. Work up field at 45° pursuit angle to maintain outside
leverage

T N E
R
M W

Tackle blocks down, near back goes away: COUNTER/TRAP

1. Take read step, sink hips and cross key far back
2. Pick up the backside lineman pulling play side
3. BANDIT is the extra man, attack ball carrier outside in

T N E
R
M W
Split 4-4 Defense

Secondary Play
Cornerback
Alignment Align inside eye on widest receiver to their side of the formation. They are positioned at least
five yards off the line of scrimmage and never more than seven. Corners never lined up
closer than five yards to the sideline. If the formation is closed (the widest receiver is the
tight end), align five yards off the ball and two yards outside. If a corner is aligned on the
one receiver side, he can align on the outside eye since he has inside help from BANDIT on a
three step route from the outside receiver.

Numbers rule: when the widest receiver aligns on or outside the numbers, align one yard
inside the receiver

Keys Order of keys:

1. Nearest uncovered offensive lineman (usually the tackle)


2. Backfield action
3. Level of the ball
4. Quarterback
5. Receiver

Play the pass first and the run second. If the nearest uncovered lineman releases downfield,
the backfield action and ball level will give the “run” read. If the uncovered lineman sets for
pass blocking, or if backs are blocking and releasing, the ball level, quarterback and receivers
will give a “pass” read. When a pass is recognized, key the receivers and the quarterback’s
release of the ball.

Stance 2 point stance with inside foot slightly staggered back. Weight should be on the front foot,
and the knees should be bent and squeezed together. Hips should be high, and the chin out
over the toes. Feet are approximately six inches apart (inside shoulders).

Responsibilities Responsible for pass first and run second:

Pass: Primary responsibility is outside third (cover three). Play over the top of the deepest
route in the outside third and break up on routed in the under zones.
Run towards: Secondary contain - stay outside and close the play from outside in
Run away: check for bootleg and reverse then take a pursuit angle to cut the play off in case it
breaks
Option: Pitch

Techniques 1. At the snap of the ball, execute a short shuffle to protect the inside of the
field. Take away the quick post first.
2. As play begins eye to quarterback. Read the quick three step route (slow
backpedal / eyes from quarterback to wide receiver / drive on tackle).
3. No three step. Eye control to No. 2 receiver. Begin to play in a zone turn
technique
4. As long as #2 goes vertical, continue to drop to outside third, but be able
to break one-third the distance to the “reception area” on intended receiver. Safety needs
to pick up vertical route. Disregard No. 1 receiver’s route but be able to make the play
on any deep throw in your outside one-third zone.
5. Maintain three to four yard cushion until receiver breaks his cushion then
drop their hips and turn up field (zone turn – butt towards sideline facing QB)
6. Play through the outside shoulder of the receiver on run support
Split 4-4 Defense
Cornerback
Split 4-4 Defense

Fred (Free Safety)


Alignment The safety's alignment will depend on the offensive formation. A simple rule that
will put you in the best position to make the play is ten yards deep on the "mid-
point" between the widest receiver to each side. Think of you and the widest
receivers forming a ten yard high pyramid with you at the top of the pyramid. Most
of the time this rule will put you in the proper position, however there are exception.
If a wide receiver's alignment is greater then twelve the safety alignment should be
as deep as the widest receiver is wide. When there are two or more split receivers to
one side the safety may have to cheat beyond the "mid-point" if the receivers stretch
the field. How far the safety must cheat his alignment will depend on the position of
the ball (middle or hash ) on the field and the wide receivers alignment. Remember,
cut down the space the receivers have to run routes in by your alignment – be in
position to make the play on the inside route if all receivers go vertical. An example
of when to cheat alignment and when not to: two receivers split into the sideline,
stay on the field mid-point, the sideline will cut down the space. Two receivers split
to the open side of the field, cheat your alignment to the receivers.

Verse trips cheat over to offensive tackle to the passing strength.

Keys Order of keys:

1. Release of #2 to passing strengh


2. Backfield action
3. Level of the ball
4. Quarterback
5. Receivers (inside out) – receiver who poses most immediate
threat to middle third

Have a pre-snap awareness for alignment of #2 (Tight or Wide)

Key the uncovered offensive lineman to get a run or pass read as you take read steps
in your back peddle. Think pass first! If you don't know what the play is stay in your
back peddle.

Read the quarterback and his drop. Pickup the receivers while looking at the while
QB. Read receivers from the inside out. Key the none throwing hand of the QB for
the release. Hand drops prepare to break on the ball.

If you are having trouble finding the ball stay in your back peddle and stay deep.

Stance Feet; inside foot back (heel to toe) and the feet inside of the shoulder. Weight on the
front foot and heels up. The foot to the wide side should be kept back.

Knees and Hips; Knees bent and hips high, the hamstring should not be parallel to
the ground.

Arms and Hands; Elbows in and even with the player's back. Hands outside the legs,
with the thumb on the outside of the knee.

Head and Shoulders; Head and shoulders out and over the toes.

Responsibilities Run: Work up the "Alley" from the inside to the outside.
Pass: deep middle third
Split 4-4 Defense
Fred (Free Safety)
Techniques Take a 6" directional step back with outside foot. Use 3(Walking) read steps for lane
of ball recognition and the block/ Release of #2.

Time is on your side, keep the game in front of you, be as deep as the deepest
receiver verse pass.

Verse the run:


• Insure pass responsibility of #2 to passing strength
• Verse Sweep: Alley inside out to the ball verse unbalanced formation,
insure the block of #2
• Verse Option: Level through the dump pass lane, anticipating dump pass,
insure pass, insure block before rallying to ball. Play QB to pitch
• Verse Base Block: Anticipate ball coming off LOS and post/ slant by
flanker insure pass until the ball breaks LOS, judge the speed of the ball

Verse the pass:


• When he reads pass, he must adjust his drop so that he is midway between
the two corners
• Read receivers inside out
• If #2 gets vertical jump the route
• If threatened deep by two routes to the middle third, must stay on top and
between the two routes and read the QB
• If #2 runs a short or intermediate route, look for #1 to run deep inside route
• Read QB's intentions (eyes) and melt on the front shoulder of QB. Break
on ball when QB drops non-throwing hand.
• Verse anticipated deep routes: Post or takeoff, open hips for depth. Verse
Post/ Dig: Play post through the dig keying shoulder level of QB
• Ball in the 2 Lane. Open hips to flow for depth.
o If QB, exposes back numbers and bends at waist, anticipate the
throwback post.
o Verse curl flat: Play curl from over the top. Verse drag: Play post
through the dig. Verse Throwback: Utilize man turn for depth
• Vs. sprint out or bootleg open hips to flow for depth and level. Maintain
inside leverage on #2 vertical and don't over run the ball. NOTE: Verse
bootleg, squeeze the deep drag
• Verse 3 Step: Open hips for depth and width, anticipate up route, helping
play side corner over the top
Split 4-4 Defense

Pass Coverage – Cover 3


Numbering Receivers
Receivers are numbered from the outside in. The #1 receiver is the widest receiver to one side on or off the ball. The #2
receiver is the next receiver inside #1, or nearest back in the backfield. The #3 receiver is the first receiver inside #2, or the
nearest back in the backfield. The #4 back is the near back in the backfield.

Zones
The field is divided into deep, intermediate, and short areas. Each area is divided into zones. The size of the zones will
vary depending on the offensive formation, the number of receivers to the side of the ball, the receiver routes, and ball
position on the field (middle vs. hash). The deep zone area is divided into the middle third and two outside thirds. The
bottom of the deep zone starts at fifteen yards and runs the length of the field. The intermediate area (ten to fifteen yards
from the line of scrimmage) has a middle zone (“hole”) and two outside zones on each side of the ball: curl and out. The
short area has three zones on each side of the ball from the inside out: hook, seam, and flat. The intermediate and short
zones are considered the “under coverage”

50
50

OUTSIDE ⅓ MIDDLE ⅓ OUTSIDE ⅓


40

04
X X X

CURL
OUT HOLE CURL OUT
L
30

HOOK HOOK SEAM FLAT


03

FLAT SEAM
X X F X X

C C
B W M
S
20

02

#1 #2
#1

#2 #3
Split 4-4 Defense

Under Coverage for the Linebackers


The linebackers are responsible for the under coverage. MIKE and WILL are responsible for hook, curl, seam, and hole
zones to their side. SPUR and BANDIT are responsible for the outside flats. The base coverage is a man to man match up,
pattern read, and zone coverage defense. It is important for the linebackers to know whether they are on the one receiver or
two receiver side. They should think of the two receiver side as the work side because of the number of routes that can be
run to that side. The one receiver side is the help side due to the limited number of routes that can be run, and we have two
defenders on one receiver.

The linebackers should also know the widest and deepest route that can be run to their side. Once they read pass, the
linebacker should take their pass drop to a spot in the zone where the widest and deepest route could be run to their side.
As they drop to that spot (eight to nine yards deep) they should adjust their drop based on the routes run by the receivers.
As they drop, the linebacker should find the receiver closest to the ball on his side and read his route. If the inside receiver
(#2) is running a route in his zone, he should get underneath the route getting between the receiver and the quarterback and
play man-to-man coverage. If the #2 receiver is not running a route in his zone, he should look for the #1 or #3 receiver to
run a route in his zone. If all receivers to his side do not run patterns into his zones, he should look for crossing routes
from the other side. If nothing shows, he should read the quarterback and break on the ball when it is thrown. When there
are two receivers in his zone, the linebacker should cover the deepest receiver.
Split 4-4 Defense

Receiver Routes
Routes run in coverage zones by receiver:

50
50

2
OUTSIDE ⅓ MIDDLE ⅓ OUTSIDE ⅓
1 3
1
40

04
1
2 4

CURL 3
OUT 2L HOLE CURL OUT
5
3
30

HOOK HOOK SEAM FLAT

03
FLAT SEAM
5 4 5
7

4 3 6
1 4 5
20

02
#1 #2
#1

#2 #3

#1 Receiver inside routes #1 Receiver outside routes


Post Fly
Curl Fade
Dig Post-corner
Hitch Corner
Slant Out

#2 Receiver #2 or #3 out of the backfield


Fly Fade
Corner Swing
Post Seam
Hook Hook
Seam Cross
Arrow
Drag
Split 4-4 Defense

Pattern Reads
Cornerbacks (responsible for deep outside third)

At the snap of the ball, the cornerbacks execute a short shuffle as they make their run/pass read to protect against the inside
release. They must take away in the inside release. Once they are not threatened by an inside release, they should continue
to backpedal and make their run/pass read. If the cornerback has read pass, he should begin his pass drop to the outside
third keying the ball to the receiver(s) who poses an immediate threat to the deep outside third. In a standard 2x1
formation (two receivers to one side and one receiver to the other), the cornerback to the one receiver side should read the
#1 receiver and nearest back. The cornerback to the two receiver side should focus on the widest receiver and the inside
receiver (slot, TE, or twin). If both receivers run underneath routes, the cornerback should continue his backpedal but
reduce his speed so that he can break on the ball. If the widest receiver runs an underneath route and the inside receiver
runs a pattern that threatens the deep outside third, the cornerback must adjust his position so that he can cover the inside
receiver. If the #1 receiver runs an inside route (e.g., hitch, post, curl, dig, hook, slant, drag, etc.), the cornerback must
give an “in” call to the safety and outside linebacker. If the widest receiver runs a deep route, the cornerback should
maintain his three yard cushion and cover the receiver. If the receiver breaks his cushion, the cornerback should drop their
hips and turn up field towards the quarterback, running over the top of the receiver. If both receivers run away from him,
the cornerback should squeeze the field keeping outside leverage on the deepest receiver

Safety (responsible for deep middle third)

The safety should key the ball to the receiver(s) who poses an immediate threat to the deep middle third. At the snap of the
ball, the safety starts his backpedal and makes his run pass read. If he has read pass, the safety must adjust his drop to take
an angle so that he is at the midway point between the two cornerbacks. The safety should key the release of the #2
receiver to the two receiver side. Versus a pro formation this is the tight end. If the #2 receiver releases vertical, the safety
must be prepared to go deep.

When the safety is threatened by two vertical routes in the deep middle third, he should position himself on top of and in
between the two receivers, key the quarterback, and react to the throw.

If the #2 receiver runs an underneath route, the safety should look for a post pattern from the #1 receiver(s).

SPUR (responsible for flat to his side)

When on the two receiver side (usually a pro formation), SPUR should open his hips and drop to a spot 8 to 9 yards in front
of where the #1 receiver originally lined up. SPUR must keep his head on a swivel ad be aware of the depth of the
quarterback’s drop (three step, five step, or seven step). SPUR must listen for an “out” or “cross” call by the MIKE
linebacker who is dropping to the hook-curl zone and an “in” call from the cornerback who is dropping to the outside third.
SPUR covers the deepest receiver in his zone and rallies up to shorter routes.

SPUR should use the following sequence to determine his coverage responsibility after he has made his run pass read:

1. Take read step with outside foot and neutralize the TE. Follow SPUR’s basic rule: neutralize TE, hang in
the C Gap, and diagnose play. Keep your hands on the TE and control him while you read the play. SPUR’s pressure
key is the TE and his visual keys are the near back, ball level, and QB.
2. If SPUR reads pass, he looks for #2 receiver (usually the TE) to run a route to the flat. The number of
routes that the #2 receiver can run to the flat are limited to primarily an “arrow” or an “out” route.
Split 4-4 Defense

C C
Arrow route 8-10 yds

S Out route
S

#2
#1 #2 #1

3. If #2 runs a route to another zone, SPUR should continue his drop and look for #1 to run a route in his
zone. SPUR’s landmark for his drop is 10 yards in front of where #1 lined up.
4. If #1 clears his zone, he should pull up look for a crossing route from the opposite side (e.g., drag or
cross)
5. If no routes show in his zone, SPUR should look to the #3 receiver coming out of the backfield to the
flat. If #3 is not a threat, he should work towards the middle reading the quarterback and breaking on the throw.
6. If SPUR is to a one receiver side, the #2 receiver will be in the backfield. He should first read the #1
receiver (usually the TE) then the near back. If no routes show, SPUR looks for crossing routes from the other side.

MIKE (responsible for hook-curl)

When MIKE is to the two receiver side:

1. Look to the #2 receiver to run a pass route to the seam or hook zones
2. If #2 runs out of his zone, MIKE looks to the #1 receiver to run an inside route from the outside: quick
post, curl, slant, or a dig.
3. If #1 clears his zone, MIKE looks for a route into the “hole” or a crossing route from the other side.
4. If nothing shows, look at #3 out of the backfield.

When MIKE is to the one receiver side:

1. If the #1 receiver is a TE, look to the receiver to run a route in the seam or hook zones.
2. If the #1 receiver is a wide receiver, look for a quick post, dig, or curl.
3. If #1 does not run a route into his zone, MIKE looks for a crossing route or a route into the hole from the
other side.
4. If no routes show, he should look to the #2 receiver (most of the time a back out of the backfield) to run a
seam or hook.

WILL linebacker (responsible for hook-curl)

When WILL is to the two receiver side:

1. Look to the #2 receiver to run in the curl, seam, or hook zone.


2. If the #2 receiver’s route takes him out of WILL’s zone, look to the outside for the #1 receiver to run a
quick post, curl, slant or a dig into his zones.
3. If the #1 receiver runs out of his zone, WILL should look for a route from the opposite side into the hole
or other crossing route.
4. If nothing shows, look for the #3 receiver out of the backfield in the hook or seam zones.

When WILL is on the one receiver side:

1. Look to the #1 receiver to run a route into the seam, hook, or curl zone.
2. If the #1 receiver clears his zone, check for a route into the hole from the other side or another crossing
route form the other side.
Split 4-4 Defense
3. If nothing shows, WILL looks for the #2 receiver (usually out of the backfield) to run a seam or hook
route.

BANDIT (responsible for the flat)

When BANDIT is on the two receiver side:

1. Look for the #2 receiver to run a pass route in the flat. If aligned on a slot, protect against a quick jet
route and any quick inside routes (quick post, hitch).
2. If #2 runs a route into another zone, continue the drop to the flat zone, looking for the #1 receiver to run a
quick inside route or a route into his zone.
3. If #1 clears his zone, he should pull up look for a crossing route from the opposite side (e.g., drag or
cross)
4. If no routes show in his zone, BANDIT should look to the #3 receiver coming out of the backfield to the
flat. If #3 is not a threat, he should work towards the middle reading the quarterback and breaking on the throw.
5. If BANDIT is to a one receiver side, the #2 receiver will be in the backfield. He should first read the
release of the #1 receiver to protect against a quick inside route (slant, hitch, etc.) then the near back. If no routes
show, BANDIT looks for crossing routes from the other side.
Split 4-4 Defense

Cover 3

50
50

C C
R W M
S
40

04
#1 #2
#1

#2 #3 2x1 - PRO
30

03
F

C C
R W M
20

#1
#2
#1
02
2x1 - TWINS
#3 #2
Split 4-4 Defense

50
50

C C
R W M S
40

04
#1 #1
#2 #2
#3 2x2 – Double Wing
¼
30

¼ ½

03
F

C C
R W M
20

02
#1 #1
#2 #3

3x1 - TRIPS
#2
Split 4-4 Defense

Cover 1
Cover 1 is man-to-man coverage with the Free Safety keying the ball, playing centerfield, and backing up the other
defenders. He will jump any vertical release by a #2 receiver. The coverage will typically be used in combination with a
blitzing linebacker (“dog” coverage). Base responsibilities:

1. Fred – Free; or #2 receiver to SPUR’s side if SPUR is stunting


2. Cornerbacks - #1 receiver
3. SPUR – two receiver side: stunt or #2 receiver (usually the Tight End); one receiver side: stunt or first
back out his side
4. MIKE – stunt or first back out his side
5. WILL – stunt or first back out his side
6. BANDIT – one receiver side: stunt or first back out his side, two receiver side: #2 receiver

50
50

2x1 - PRO F

C C
R W M
S
40

04
#1 #2
#1

#2 #3
30

03
2x1 - TWINS F

C C
R W M
20

S
02

#1 #1
#2

#3 #2
Split 4-4 Defense

50
50

2x2 – Double Wing F

C C
R W M S
40

04
#1 #1
#2 #2
#3
30

03
3x1 - TRIPS F

C C
R W M
20

02
#1 #1
#2 #3

#2
Split 4-4 Defense

Cover 0
Cover 0 is man-to-man press coverage. The coverage will typically be used in combination with two blitzing linebackers
(“blitz” coverage). Base responsibilities:

1. Fred – Tight End (disguise as Cover 1)


2. Cornerbacks - #1 receiver. Go with any motion. If #1 is a TE, cover #2 to the two or three receiver side
3. SPUR – Stunt or #2 receiver (usually near back)
4. MIKE – Stunt or #3 receiver (first back out his side)
5. WILL – Stunt or #2 receiver (first back out his side)
6. BANDIT – Stunt or #2 receiver (first back out his side)

50
50

2x1 - PRO F

C C
R W M
S
40

04
#1 #2
#1

#2 #3
30

2x1 - TWINS F 03
C
C R W M
20

S
02

#1 #1
#2

#3 #2
Split 4-4 Defense

50
50

2x2 – Double Wing F FREE

C C
R W M S
40

04
#1 #1
#2 #2
#3
30

03
3x1 - TRIPS
F
C
C R W M
20

02
#1 #1
#2 #3

#2
Split 4-4 Defense

Robber
Attack coverage that can be run to any 2x1 formation – check to cover 3 if there is a one back backfield. The safety will
key the #2 receiver to the two receiver side and jump the receiver running the inside route. If the safety reads run, he
works through #2 receiver to the alley to make sure it is not a play action pass.

Advantages:
1. Able to get FS to both sides of the ball for run support – gets us 9 guys on run support and still be able to
contain the pass
2. Able to get control of #2 deep on any vertical routes.
3. Lets inside LB play run because #2 is always controlled vertically to TE side.
4. Overload coverage to 2 receiver side
5. Alignments blend in with playing our other three coverages (Cover 3, Cov. 0 - blitz, and Cov. 1 - dog).

Liabilities:
1. 3 step sideline cut
2. #3 vertical (backs out of backfield)
3. Can use only verse 2 back or full house schemes. Check to cover 3 vs. ACE formations

1/2 1/2

Hook Curl
Flat Weak Hook/Curl Flat
C
FS
C

Ba W M
N T S H
Bu

Position Alignment Keys Responsibility Technique


Mike Split or stack Near back through G Run: Same as stack/split. If near back expands look up
and Center Pass: Hook and vertical #1 receiver; if near back
route by near back blocks, work to hook zone; if
back goes vertical, cover man
to man
Will Split or stack Near back through G Run: Same as stack/split. If near back expands look up
and Center Pass: Hook/Curl and #1 receiver; if near back
vertical route by near back blocks, work to hook zone; if
back goes vertical, cover man
to man
Spur Split or stack TE, near back Run: same as stack/split. Same as stack/split
Pass: Flats and any out
and up by flat receiver
(wheel)
Split 4-4 Defense
Position Alignment Keys Responsibility Technique
Bandit Split or stack Near back through T Run: same as stack/split. Same as stack/split
Pass: Flats and any out
and up by flat receiver
(wheel)
Corner 8 yards deep one 1. Ne Pass: Deep ½ Verse #1 Wide:
yard inside #1; arest uncovered Flow to – secondary 1. Slow back
6x2 if #1 is the TE lineman contain close play outside pedal for depth (walk),
or a strong wing; 2. Bac in keeping shoulders square to
take normal kfield flow Flow away – take pursuit the LOS and maintaining
alignment (5x1 on 3. Ball angle to cut of play in case inside leverage on #1.
a wide #1) to the 2 level in it breaks. 2. Slow
receiver side. 4. QB Option - pitch retreat from your original
5. #1 alignment while you are
receiver reading ball level. This is
designed to help l you react
to the 3 - Step passing
game. Drive up on 3 step
routes
3. Landmark
on drop is 1 yard outside
hash.
4. Verse
take-off utilize zone turn
Vs. #1 TE
1. Sit and
bounce for recognition of
lane of ball and block/
release of TE
2. Skate to a
landmark l to 2 yards outside
hash
3. Verse TE
inside release, anticipate
corner route
4. Keep
threat inside and in front
Fred Normal alignment 1. Ne Pass: Curl 1. Pass: key
8 yards deep. arest uncovered Run to: Alley release of #2 to the 2
Cheat to head up lineman Run away: Cutback receiver side and “rob” the
Tackle to 2 2. Bac Option: QB to pitch inside route looking for a big
receiver side late kfield flow hit or interception.
3. Ball 2. If #2 goes
level to flat look for #1 to run
4. Rel inside route; if #2 goes
ease of #2 receiver to vertical, lock on #2; if #2
the 2 receiver side crosses opposite, work over
the top and look for #1
opposite.
3. Run to:
work through #2 to the alley
to make sure it is not a play
action pass.
4. If TE
blocks down, fill outside; if
TE reaches inside, look to A
Gap; if TE kicks out on end–
look for counter then play
away
Split 4-4 Defense

Invert Cover 2 – “INVERT”


• Run support and Fred Dog coverage.
• Same as Robber except of Fred who lines up head up center 6-7 yards deep. On full flow, Fred jumps the
alley on run support. Fred works through #2 receiver (inside receiver) to make sure it is not a play action pass. On
split flow or drop back, Fred has deep hole if the read is pass.
• Call against any two back set. Check Cover 3 if Ace or Empty
• Corners align 8 yards head up #1. Drop to halves coverage looking for play action or plays that break.
• Linebackers play same as Cover 3/Robber

Invert Cover 2
1/2's 1/2's

Weak Deep Hole Strong


Hook/Curl Hook/Curl
C C
Flat Flat
FS

R W M
N T S
WE SE

Split Flow

Full Flow
Split 4-4 Defense

Cover 2 Formation Adjustments

C C

FS
W M S
R

N T
WE SE

C C

FS
W M
R

N T S SE
WE

C C

FS
W M
R

N T S
WE SE
Split 4-4 Defense

C C

FS

W M
R N T S
WE SE

FS C
W M
R N T S
WE SE

C C

FS
W M
S R
N T
SE WE
Split 4-4 Defense

Pursuit Angles
Split 4-4 Defense

Base Cover 3 Pursuit Angles


Strong Side Sweep

FS
C
C
W M
R
E N T S E

Base Cover 3 Pursuit Angles


Weak side Sweep

FS
C
C
W M
R
E N T S E
Split 4-4 Defense
Split 4-4 Defense
Stunt Packages

Line stunts
The following line stunts are used with our base zone coverage (Cover 3). None of the stunts affect any of the linebacker
drops or coverages. At the snap of the ball, the interior lineman will use a rip technique to penetrate their gap
responsibility. The rip technique is an aggressive penetrating charge into the gap. In a rip technique, the first step is always
to the gap being protected. The gap side arm, leg, and hip must be kept free. Rip the forearm away from the gap through
the outside edge of the chest plate to under the armpit of the offensive lineman. Always stay square to the line of
scrimmage and do not penetrate beyond the heels of the offensive lineman until the ball is located. The inside linebackers
have the gap not covered by the stunting lineman

Strong Slant – called to strong side Weak Slant – called to weak side

E S T N E E S T N E

Slant to – called to 2 receiver side Field Slant – called to wide side of field

1 receiver side 2 receiver side Wide side Boundary side

E S T N E E S T N E

TEX – always run to the open side. End PINCH


goes first

E S T N E E S T N E
OUT

E S T N E
Split 4-4 Defense
Split 4-4 Defense

Dogs
“Dogs” are five man pas rushes (one linebacker and four defensive linemen) used in conjunction with Cover 1. Inside
linebackers will give a RED call (“Red, Red, Red!!!”) to check out of any stunt depending on game plan and scouting
report

SPLIT BANDIT B DOG

#3 #2

#1
#2
#1

H S T N B

M W B
C C

Position Alignment/Technique Run Gap Pass Coverage


HAMMER Base D Rush QB outside in
SPUR Base C Man #2
Tackle Base B Inside rush QB near number
Nose Wham - Rip weak A gap Weak A Inside rush QB near number
BUCK Wham - Base Weak C/D Rush QB outside in
MIKE Base A Man #3 (first back out his side) or
WILL Base Weak D Man #2 (first back out his side)
BANDIT Cheat to 90 alignment and Weak B Inside rush QB
blitz weak B gap
Corner Base Secondary contain Man #1
Fred Base Alley support inside Free.
out

• “RED” call if offense is in a trips formation (3x1)


• If BANDIT is adjusting to the #2 receiver to the weak side (e.g., twins or slot), he gives a hot call to
WILL communicating that WILL is the weak side blitzer.
• Can be run with FIRE coverage with the three non blitzing linebackers dropping strong, middle, and
weak underneath zones (see zone blitz section).
Split 4-4 Defense

SPLIT BANDIT C DOG

#3 #2

#1
#2
#1

H S T N B

M W B
C C

Position Alignment/Technique Run Gap Pass Coverage


HAMMER Base D Rush QB outside in
SPUR Base C Man #2
Tackle Base B Inside rush QB near number
Nose SLAM - Rip weak A gap Weak A Inside rush QB near number
BUCK SLAM – Rip weak B gap Weak B Inside rush QB
MIKE Base A Man #3 (first back out his side)
WILL Base Weak D Man #2 (first back out his side)
BANDIT Cheat to 90 alignment and Weak C Rush QB outside in
blitz weak C gap. Aiming
point is near backs outside
shoulder
Corner Base Secondary contain Man #1
Fred Base Alley support inside Free.
out

• “RED” call if offense is in a trips formation (3x1)


• If BANDIT is adjusting to the #2 receiver to the weak side (e.g., twins or slot), he gives a hot call to
WILL communicating that WILL is the weak side blitzer.
• Can be run with FIRE coverage with the three non blitzing linebackers dropping strong, middle, and
weak underneath zones (see zone blitz section).
Split 4-4 Defense

SPLIT WILL B DOG

#3 #2

#1
#2
#1

H S T N B

M W B
C C

Position Alignment/Technique Run Gap Pass Coverage


HAMMER Base D Rush QB outside in
SPUR Base C Man #2
Tackle Base B Inside rush QB near number
Nose Rip weak A gap Weak A Inside rush QB near number
BUCK Base Weak C Rush QB outside in
MIKE Base A Man #3 (first back out his side)
WILL Blitz weak B gap Weak B Inside rush
BANDIT Base Weak D Man #2 (first back out his side)
Corner Base Secondary contain Man #1
Fred Base Alley support inside Free.
out

• “RED” call if offense is in a trips formation (3x1)


• Can be run with FIRE coverage with the three non blitzing linebackers dropping strong, middle, and
weak underneath zones (see zone blitz section).
Split 4-4 Defense

SPLIT WILL A DOG

#3 #2

#1
#2
#1

H S T N B

M W B
C C

Position Alignment/Technique Run Gap Pass Coverage


HAMMER Base D Rush QB outside in
SPUR Base C Man #2
Tackle Base B Inside rush QB near number
Nose Rip weak B gap Weak B Inside rush QB near number
BUCK Base Weak C Rush QB outside in
MIKE Base A Man #3 (first back out his side)
WILL Blitz weak A gap Weak A Inside rush
BANDIT Base Weak D Man #2 (first back out his side)
Corner Base Secondary contain Man #1
Fred Base Alley support inside Free.
out

• “RED” call if offense is in a trips formation (3x1)


• Can be run with FIRE coverage with the three non blitzing linebackers dropping strong, middle, and
weak underneath zones (see zone blitz section).
Split 4-4 Defense

SPLIT SPUR DOG

#3 #2

#1
#2
#1

H S T N B

M W B
C C

Position Alignment/Technique Run Gap Pass Coverage


HAMMER Base D Rush QB outside in
SPUR Blitz through hip of Tackle C Rush QB outside in
Tackle Base B Inside rush QB near number
Nose Base Weak B Inside rush QB near number
BUCK Base Weak C Rush QB outside in
MIKE Base A Man #3 (first back out his side)
WILL Base Weak A Inside rush
BANDIT Base Weak D Man #2 (first back out his side)
Corner Base Secondary contain Man #1
Fred Base Alley support inside Man #2 to strong side (usually the TE)
out

• “RED” call if offense is in a trips formation (3x1)


• Can be run with FIRE coverage with the three non blitzing linebackers dropping strong, middle, and
weak underneath zones (see zone blitz section).
Split 4-4 Defense

Blitzes
“Blitzes” are six man pas rushes (two linebacker and four defensive linemen) used in conjunction with Cover 0 (man to
man). Inside linebackers will give a RED call (“Red, Red, Red!!!”) to check out of any stunt.

SPLIT A GAP BLITZ

#3 #2

#1
#2
#1

H S T N B

M W B
C C

Position Alignment/Technique Run Gap Pass Coverage


HAMMER Base D Rush QB outside in
SPUR Base C Man #3 (first back out his side)
Tackle Rip B gap B Inside rush QB near number
Nose Rip weak B gap Weak B Inside rush QB near number
BUCK Base Weak C Rush QB outside in
MIKE Blitz strong A gap A Inside rush
WILL Blitz weak A gap Weak A Inside rush
BANDIT Base Weak D Man #2 (first back out his side)
Corner Base Secondary contain Man #1
Fred Base Alley support inside Man #2 (TE)
out

• “RED” call if offense is in a trips formation (3x1)


• If guards take a wider split than 2’, walk up to the line before the snap and jump the gap.
Split 4-4 Defense

SPLIT B GAP BLITZ

#3 #2

#1
#2
#1

H S T N B

M W B
C C

Position Alignment/Technique Run Gap Pass Coverage


HAMMER Base D Rush QB outside in
SPUR Base C Man #3 (first back out his side)
Tackle Rip A gap. A Inside rush QB near number
Nose Rip weak A gap Weak A Inside rush QB near number
BUCK Base Weak C Rush QB outside in
MIKE Blitz strong B gap B Inside rush
WILL Blitz weak B gap Weak B Inside rush
BANDIT Base Weak D Man #2 (first back out his side)
Corner Base Secondary contain Man #1
Fred Base Alley support inside Man #2 (TE)
out

• “RED” call if offense is in a trips formation (3x1)


• Tackle and Nose look for QB sneak, FB dive, and midline trap. Cannot be trapped.
• MIKE and WILL must read Tackles block. If he is blocking down, do not get hooked or sealed
inside – adjust route through outside shoulder/hip off offensive Tackle
Split 4-4 Defense

SPLIT TITAN BLITZ


Outside linebackers blitzing strong D and weak C gaps.

#3 #2

#1
#2
#1

H S T N B

M W B
C C

Position Alignment/Technique Run Gap Pass Coverage


HAMMER Blitz C Gap (SPUR goes C Rush QB outside in
first)
SPUR Rip D Gap D Rush QB outside in
Tackle Rip A gap. A Inside rush QB near number
Nose Rip weak A gap Weak A Inside rush QB near number
BUCK Rip weak B gap Weak B Inside rush
MIKE Base B Man #3 (first back out his side)
WILL Base Weak D Man #2 (first back out his side)
BANDIT Blitz weak C gap Weak C Rush QB outside in
Corner Base Secondary contain Man #1
Fred Base Alley support inside Man #2 (TE)
out

• “RED” call if offense is in a trips formation (3x1)


• If BANDIT is adjusting to the #2 receiver to the weak side (e.g., twins or slot), he gives a hot call to
WILL communicating that WILL is the weak side blitzer.
• Tackle and Nose look for QB sneak, FB dive, and midline trap. Cannot be trapped.
• HAMMER’s aiming point is outside shoulder of near back
• Can be run as TITAN DOG which is just the strong side running the stunt
Split 4-4 Defense

STRONG SLANT BACKERS FIRE

#3 #2

#1
#2
#1

H S T N B

M W B
C C

Position Alignment/Technique Run Gap Pass Coverage


HAMMER Base D Rush QB outside in
SPUR Base C Man #3 (first back out his side)
Tackle Rip B gap B Inside rush QB near number
Nose Rip weak A gap Weak A Inside rush QB near number
BUCK Base Weak C Rush QB outside in
MIKE Blitz strong A gap A Inside rush
WILL Blitz weak B gap Weak B Inside rush
BANDIT Base Weak D Man #2 (first back out his side)
Corner Base Secondary contain Man #1
Fred Base Alley support inside Man #2 (TE)
out

• “RED” call if offense is in a trips formation (3x1)


• Can be run with Weak Slant Mower
Split 4-4 Defense

Zone Blitzes
In the zone blitz scheme (“FIRE”), Fred is kept in the middle of field free, the corners are man coverage on #1 receivers,
and three defenders from the tackle box are dropped to underneath zones (strong, middle, and weak). The defenders
dropping to the underneath zone combine coverage responsibility to cover the tight end and the two running backs.
Advantages of the zone blitz scheme:

1. Pass protection must account for all eight defenders in the box causing them to be more conservative and
keeping more receivers in to block.
2. Since we may drop defensive ends into coverage, this may cause some linemen to block air.
3. Gives a defense more flexibility in blitzing linebackers to get a five man rush

Zone blitz coverage can be utilized with any dog (five man pass rush) not involving Mike or any outside blitz stunt (blitzes
not involving MIKE and WILL).
40

04
30

03
STRON
WEAK MIDDLE
G
C C
B W M
B S H
20

02
#1 #2
#1

#2 #3

Pattern Reads
Strong Zone

The defender dropping strong zone should drop to a position that will allow him to maintain outside leverage on the #2
receiver (usually the TE). He keys the #2 receiver to the #3 receiver (usually a back). If #2 runs a route to the flat, he
should jump him immediately and cover him man-to-man. If the #2 receiver runs a vertical route and #3 runs a route to the
flats, the defender should gain depth and squeeze #2 inside. He should wait until the #3 receiver crosses his face before he
widens to the flat. If #2 runs a vertical route and #3 blocks or runs an inside route, the defender should lock on #2 and
expect help from the safety. If # 2 runs a crossing pattern, he should alert the inside linebackers with a “Middle-Middle”
call and continue his drop focusing on backs releasing his side.

Middle Zone

The defender dropping middle zone should drop to a position that will allow him to maintain inside leverage on the #2
receiver (usually the TE). He also keys the #2 receiver to the #3 receiver (usually a back). If #2 runs a vertical route, he
should gain depth maintaining inside leverage and look up #3. If #3 blocks or runs a route to the flat, he locks on #2. If #3
Split 4-4 Defense
runs a crossing pattern (crosses his face) he should release #2 and cover #3. If #2 runs a crossing route, he should jam him
and make him deepen his route and give an “IN-IN” call. He should lock on #2 unless the weak zone defender echoes the
“IN-IN” call and the weak side #2 (usually a back) crosses his face. If the #2 receivers run crossing patterns the middle
zone defender and the weak zone defender switch coverages.

Weak Zone

The defender responsible for the weak zone should open up and drop to a position that will allow him to cover the #2
receiver to the weak side (usually a back) from an inside out position. If the #2 receiver runs a crossing route , the defender
should jam him and lock on unless he his given a “IN-IN” call from the middle zone defender. If this occurs, the defenders
should switch coverages. He should cover the weak side #2 receiver on all other patterns.

The diagrams below demonstrate the application of this concept


Split 4-4 Defense

Titan Fire
This is the same stunt as the Titan blitz except for HAMMER who is dropping into coverage.

#3 #2

#1
#2
#1

H S T N B

M W B
C C

Strong Middle Weak


F

Position Alignment/Technique Run Gap Pass Coverage


HAMMER Base D Drop strong zone
SPUR Rip C Gap C Rush QB outside in
Tackle Rip A gap. A Inside rush QB near number
Nose Rip weak A gap Weak A Inside rush QB near number
BUCK Base Weak C Rush QB outside in
MIKE Base B Drop middle zone
WILL Base Weak D Drop weak zone
BANDIT Blitz B gap Weak B Inside rush
Corner Base Secondary contain Man #1
Fred Base Alley support inside Free
out

• “RED” call if offense is in a trips formation (3x1)


• BANDIT is the adjuster to all “ACE” formations. If BANDIT is adjusting to an ACE formation, he
gives a switch call to WILL communicating that WILL must be the weak side blitzer
• Tackle and Nose look for QB sneak, FB dive, and midline trap. Cannot be trapped.
• SPUR’s aiming point is outside shoulder of near back
Split 4-4 Defense

SPLIT ROVER C FIRE


This is the same as BANDIT C Gap Dog except for using zone coverage

#3 #2

#1
#2
#1

E S T N E

M W R
C C

Strong Middle Weak


F

Position Alignment/Technique Run Gap Pass Coverage


HAMMER Base D Rush QB outside in
SPUR Base C Drop strong zone
Tackle Base B Inside rush QB near number
Nose Rip weak A gap Weak A Inside rush QB near number
BUCK Rip weak B gap Weak B Inside rush QB
MIKE Base A Drop middle zone
WILL Base Weak D Drop weak zone
BANDIT Cheat to 90 alignment and Weak C Rush QB outside in
blitz weak C gap. Aiming
point is near backs outside
shoulder
Corner Base Secondary contain Man #1
Fred Base Alley support inside Free.
out

• “RED” call if offense is in a trips formation (3x1)


• BANDIT is the adjuster to all “ACE” formations. If BANDIT is adjusting to an ACE formation, he
gives a switch call to WILL communicating that WILL must be the weak side blitzer
• If the offense is in a 2x2 formation of twins, BANDIT will call “switch, switch, switch” to alert
WILL he is blitzing instead of BANDIT since BANDIT is required to be involved in pass coverage
Split 4-4 Defense

65 Goal Line

C W M S B

E T G G T E

Position Stance/Alignment vs Run vs Pass Coaching


Technique Points
End • 2 pt .- inside foot up Flow to - D Gap contain, squeeze field, Rush QB’s outside Defeat TE.
• Heavy 9 technique(outside eye take on blockers with inside shoulder in – landmark is can not get
of end man on line of Flow away – trail deepest back looking for QB’s near shoulder hooked or
scrimmage) bootleg and reverse kicked out
Flow outside – fight outside keeping
shoulders square, maintain outside
leverage
Option - QB
Tackle • 3pt. stance outside foot up Flow to – C Gap Rush QB’s outside Stay low, do
inside hand down Flow away – squeeze B gap, pursuit flat in – landmark is not penetrate
• 5 tech. (outside eye of Tackle) down LOS look for cutback QB’s near beyond heels
• Attack through outside shin of Flow outside – slant towards D gap look shoulder. Rush of the OT until
tackle for cutback through OT outside you find the
shoulder ball. Do not
get trapped
Guard • 3pt. stance inside foot up Flow to: A gap, QB sneak Bull rush QB – Stay low, do
outside hand down Flow away: squeeze A Gap, pursuit flat landmark is QB’s not penetrate
• 1 tech. (inside eye of Guard) down Flow outside: slant towards B gap near side number beyond heels
• Pinch to the hip of the center look for cutback of the guard
until you find
the ball. Do
not get
trapped
SPUR/ • 2 pt stance Flow to: C Gap force Drop back: seam Never align
WILL • 70 technique (inside eye of TE Flow away: Strong side B gap, pursuit Pass toward: flat feet in the end
splitting the inside foot of the inside out closing any open windows for Pass away: weak zone; never
defensive end cutback hook take pass drop
• Take normal depth except Flow outside: D Gap force beyond five
never align with feet in the end yards in the
zone end zone
• Key near back
MIKE • 2 pt stance B force gap to side of flow. Drop back: hole
• 00 technique (head up center) Flow pass: strong
• Key QB and flow hook

BANDIT/ • 2 pt stance Flow to: outside contain Drop back: flats Play slow
Corner • 2-3 yards outside last man, Flow away: sink hips slow play looking for Pass toward: out watch for
depth depends on situation play coming back Pass away: slow to throwbacks,
pursuit, take end counters,
man to man reverse,
bootleg
Split 4-4 Defense
Tackling Method and Drills
Reasons for Method
1. Safest Method

2. Kids won’t need to relearn later – now taught at most colleges and high schools

3. It’s effective because it will minimize many common problems:


a. Taking eyes off target
b. Arm tackling
c. Leaving feet
d. No lock up
e. No foot movement or drive
f. Not staying between ball and goal line

4. Principles – Derived from Bud Wilkinson


a. Coaches main job is to remove fear
b. Teach tackling half speed over and over until they’re really good
c. Rarely take ball carrier to ground
d. Do full contact only when they’re really good and confident

Form Tackling Technique


1. Hit (breakdown position; knees bent, tail back, arch in back, neck against helmet, eyes
up)
2. Fit (numbers on numbers, helmet to side of ball carrier, eyes to sky, upper body between
ball carrier and goal line)
3. Lock (At instant of contact, wrap arms around ball carrier’s arms, lift his shoulder pads
off)
4. Lift (forward thrust of hips drive your hips into his body this will create lift)
5. Drive (use legs, upper body holds tight, move ball carrier back or to sideline)

Tackling Drill Principles


1. Do not take ball carrier to ground; instead, Drive for 5
2. Insist on successful reps to build confidence
3. Match drill participants by size and ability
4. Start as many as possible with practice snaps alternating between 1st and 2nd string
QB/center

Form Tackle Drills


1. No Pads; Form tackle
a. Runner – stand erect, hands together behind back, head up
b. Tackler
1. Hit position
2. 1 feet from runner
3. Lock, lift, drive for 5
4. Arch back and keep eyes to sky

2. No Pads; Form Tackle with Shield


a. Wyatt suggests this on 2nd week of camp
b. 4 lines, with 4 runners holding shields
c. Runner – begin standing holding shield just below chin; back peddle upon contact with
moderate resistance
d. Tackler
Split 4-4 Defense
1. Hit position 3 yards from runner
2. Lock, lift, numbers on shield, eyes to sky
3. Drive for 5

3. Form Tackle with Shield (this drill and all below with pads)
a. Runner – move forward into contact; shield just below chin; provide moderate
resistance
b. Tackler, same as Drill 2 above

4. Form Tackle from back peddle with shield


a. Tackler – back peddle 5 yards with eyes on target
b. Tackler reverse direction and runner and tackler run toward each other
c. Form tackle with drive for 5

5. Form Tackle Up/Down with shield


a. Tackler – back peddle 5 yards, drop to ground, pop up, then do Drill 3

6. Form Tackle Wave Drill with shield


a. On GO from coach, runner and tackler side step to left 3-4 steps in fit position, on
second GO, they go to right for 3-4 steps, on GO they go left, on HIT, they execute form
tackle

7. Perfect Tackle Drill


a. Do this at least once every day at practice. 3 lines runners go to tackler line and vice
versa
b. Everyone get a partner
c. Insist on sound technique – if not good, go to back of line
d. Runner – stand erect, hands behind back, give a small jump up and allow yourself to be
carried
e. Tackler
f. Chop feet at start
g. Hit position
h. 6 feet from runner
i. Lock, lift, drive for 5
j. Coaching point: arch back and eyes to sky

Drill – Goal Line Tackling


• Tackler and runner must keep head up.
• Coaches AND players must be confident before doing this drill
• Tackler
– Heels on goal line
– Attack on command
– Stay between runner and goal line until whistle blows
• Ball Carrier
− Fit position one yard from tackler with arms ready to receive
handoff
− Run through tackler, not side to side, head and eyes up
• Coach
− Give ball to ball carrier to start drill
− Blow whistle when momentum is stopped or a score
Split 4-4 Defense
Drill – Open Field Tackle Drill
• Ball carrier and tackler in hit position, each about 10 yds from
blocking dummy that’s set up perpendicular to line between players
• On READY, both start chopping feet, on GO move forward to 5 yds
and pause with feet chopping
• Coach stands behind tackler and points left or right
• Ball carrier goes that direction
• Tackler begin sideline tackle
− Stay slightly inside (behind) ball carrier
− Take shortest route to T-bone collision
− Helmet in front and run through ball carrier
− While trying to lock up IMPORTANT ** Turn neck and look into
runners rib cage **
− Stay on feet and drive
− Don’t need to finish him off – stop momentum and help will
come

Drill – Fill Drill


• Set up 4-5 blocking dummies about 2 yds apart
• Ball carrier and blocker stand at end of first dummy about 2-3 yds
behind it
• Coach signal a lane for ball carrier to run through
• Ball carrier
− Both hands on ball
− Stay relatively upright with head up
− Run sideways then run through “hole” as signaled by coach
• Tackler
− Prevent cutback by staying slightly inside (behind) to set up T-
bone and close in to not give room for cut back
− Stay square
− Closest holes are more head on, further ones more sideline
Split 4-4 Defense

Personnel
Position Attributes Candidates
Tackle/ • Best big men
Nose • Either physically strong or quick enough not to get
turned or base blocked
• Strength, quickness, and the ability to use leverage
can compensate for lack of size
• Agile enough to squeeze the trap play and move
laterally down the line of scrimmage
• Larger players with quickness are a bonus (not to be
confused with speed and height)
Defensive • Do not have to be the most physical players
Ends • Must be agile and disciplined
• Quick and agile enough to play linebacker, but can
take a kick-out block from the power play and squeeze
it down
• Speed and height are a bonus – strong end
• Size more important for weak end
Inside • Old school linebackers – aggressive, physically
Linebackers strong, “nose for the ball” and good football sense
• The ability to get off blocks and make plays
• Disciplined in order to make the cross key/backside
read
• “MIKE”:
 Generally stronger
 Communicator
 Must be willing to study and learn the
defense
 QB on defense – vocal, emotional, and
physical leader
 Bigger and slower than WILL.
SPUR • Best defender
Linebacker • Size is not a factor – must be smart and know how to
use leverage
BANDIT • Either the 4th linebacker or 4th defensive back
• Most athletic linebacker
• Strong safety, monster type of player – the adjuster
• Versatile enough to play run support and pass
• Good open field tackler
Cornerbacks • Fast enough to play man-to-man coverage
• Proficient tacklers
• Mentally disciplined
• Good timing and good hands
• Accomplished basketball players
Safety • Disciplined, sure tackler
• Defensive back who hits like a linebacker
• Field position and ball sense
• Centerfielder
• Unselfish and can follow directions
• Intelligent, extroverted communicator – makes
Split 4-4 Defense
coverage calls and makes change in coverage decisions
Split 4-4 Defense

Resources
Coaching Football's Split 4-4 Defense by Pete Noble

The Complete Guide to Installing 44 Split Defense by Joe Roman

Complete Guide To The Split-Pro Defense by Gailord Bellamy

101 Split 4-4 Stunts by Leo Hand

Jaws of Death Defense by John Carbon (free on the internet)

The 4-4-3 Stack/Split Complex For Youth Football by Ted Seay (free on the internet)