Sunday, January 9, 2011

Simplifying and modifying TCU's blitz scheme for lower level play.

Please note this is an older post I "revamped" to include some diagrams and a better explanation of what I was doing.  Enjoy!

With all the buzz out there about TCU's defense, it's no wonder so many people over on the Huey board have been discussing this defense.  You can see that post here: Gary Patterson has done a wonderful job getting a 9000 enrollment school on the map in major college football.  One of the major reasons is his pressure scheme, which can be found here: on Blitzology's website.  Now, Runchodhit, and Blitzology discuss TCU's scheme to a "T".  What I'm going to do, is describe the way I took this scheme and modified and simplified it to "cut down" on some of the verbage used by Patterson.  Again, this is not foolproof, but sometimes as coaches we go searching to the next level for answers, only to find schemes that are out of our league, or are too difficult to call.  I'm sure there are going to be a ton of critics about this, but to each their own.  I had to find a way to utilize the same blitz scheme, and communicate with 2 way players in a way that they could absorb, not only our defensive scheme, but our offensive scheme as well during training camp.  Here is a look at what I did.

I think the most important thing when blitzing is gap designation.  Somehow, you have to find a way to get your players to the right gap, and not end up with that dreaded mistake of 2 defenders in gap and 1 gap with none!  I had listened to Gene Chizik speak a few years ago at the Nike Coach of the Year Clinic in Orlando, FL when he talked about naming gaps in his 4-3 Over scheme for their blitzes.  He named the gaps to the defense's left, by cities, with the gaps being Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, and Detroit.  The gaps to the right, were named after baseball terminology with the A gap being single, the B gap being double, the C gap was triple, and a D gap blitz to the right was home run.  This was very interesting, as for years I'd tried to come up with hard and fast blitz rules for the Over front (those that know me from the Huey site know I'm an Over guy by nature).  However, I never had much success in doing this.  Chizik gave me the first glimpse in how it's done.  Now, this past season, we moved to using the 4-2-5, and the blitzes are much simpler from this look than the Over front in my opinion.  What I did was to copy Chizik, however I labeled each side of the offense by the same cities.  A gap was Atlanta, B gap was Boston, C gap was Chicago, and the D gap was Detroit.  The only other tag we added was "Away" which meant opposite A gap.  Patterson terms this "Okie" in his defense, but I was trying to hold true to the word association for my players, and "Okie" did not have an "A" in it.  So from there, we just started adding in the blitzes, and the possibilities became endless!

General Rules:
Inside rushers- If you encounter a back on your way to the quarterback, grab him and take him with you, do not allow the screen or draw to beat us.  This is taken verbatim from the University of Florida's Doc Holliday when describing their "Heat" blitz they used to terrorize Ohio State in the 2006 National Championship game.  This is very important because the screens and draws were meant to slow the rush down, and this simply cannot be allowed to happen when blitzing.
Outside rushers- Outside rushers in our scheme were always "peel rushers".  Basically, don't let a back cross your face.  If he tries to, cover him man to man.


Patterson mixes his stunts with his blitzes, and this is a great technique, however I felt it too cumbersome for us, so what we did was give our DL hard fast rules about when we were blitzing.  For the inside guys, the tackle and the nose, if your gap was being blitzed, you went 1 gap inside of your alignment.  This was simple and easy for them to execute.  Now it does limit you on some of Patterson's blitzes, but let's be honest, how many blitzes are you going to run in 1 game right?  The defensive ends had the same rules, except if they had a blitzer coming outside and inside of them.  We gave them what we called "bull" responsibility.  When a DE was "bulling" he did just that, a bull rush.  He was told to honor all his block responsibilities, except when on a pass rush he was not to make a move.  He was to bull the tackle back into the backfield.  The poor offensive tackle had no clue as to what move the DE was fixing to do, and if the tackle tried to kick out on the outside rusher, he got nailed in the ear by the DE, thereby allowing the blitzer to come free.  Lastly, if a defensive end was to slant inside because a blitz was coming outside of him, and that gap was occupied by another defensive lineman, he made a "roundup" call.  This told the defensive lineman to slant 1 gap inside his alignment as well.  So that's it, those are the front rules, very simple right!

Roundup Call

Bullets blitzes were blitzes by both linebackers to the called gap.  So if we wanted to run an A gap blitz with the linebackers, we called Atlanta Bullets.  This put both the linebackers in the A gaps.  Now a lot of people would look at this and say "what about the noseguard?".  When we ran our inside blitzes we aligned in 2 techniques and told the defensive linemen to fill the gaps opposite of the blitz call.  This meant we would get in our 22 front, and the call was 22 Atlanta Bullets.  This put both defensive linemen in the B gaps and both linebackers in the A gaps.  Our favorite Bullets blitz was 22 Bullets Away.  Away, told the defense, each inside linebacker was going to blitz the A gap opposite of their alignment, so in our defense, the Mike was going to go strong A gap, and the Sam was going to go weak A gap.  We told the Mike to go first, since M comes before S in the alphabet.  The defensive linemen would both go to the B gaps and the linebackers hit the line of scrimmage (LOS) on the run, but were crossing as they went!  Very tough blitz to pick up by the interior of the offensive line.

Bullets Away

Smokes are safety blitzes, and we ran them just like TCU did, however the rule we added for outside blitzes was do not let a back cross your face.  Again, this did 2 things.  First, we would always have an answer for the offenses answer to a blitz, the dump off to the back out of the backfield.  This also allowed us to keep the free safety free and play a lot of cover 1 looks.  We also did not give "fire" calls like TCU does, our DE's simply knew, if there was a Smoke call on, they had to rush 1 gap inside their alignment, unless there was a tight end present (we ran a 7 technique as a base call).  We also never used a "Silver" call either, but I like the idea of what Patterson is doing with that call, so I never totally ruled it out.


Ahhh, my favorite, the dog blitz!  A dog blitz is simply a smoke blitz with half a bullets blitz to the same side.  Now, Boston Dog Strong, seemed a little too wordy to me, so what we did was label our dog blitzes as Slash, and Mash.  Slash was the Sam and safety, and Mash was Mike and safety.  So the call would be 13 Chicago Slash.  This put the front in a 13 call, and sent the Sam into the C gap, with a Smoke coming outside.  Very good blitz vs. option teams, or against half slide protection.  Basically TCU's dog blitzes is their version of the old NCAA blitz out of the Over/Under front.

Chicago Slash

We did not run Mob very much, except for down inside the red zone.  Mob is double Smokes and Bullets.  Again, we would call the front the gap and the blitz.  So we would call 22 Boston Mob and it would put our inside linemen in 2 techniques slanting to the A gap, both inside linebackers would hit the B gaps, and we'd have Smokes coming from the outside.  Now this blitz has to be run with a coverage TCU calls "0 Cop".  We did do this, and for all the man-to-man zone blitzers out there, this is so much easier than teaching a DE how to zone drop.  Just tell him to man up on the TE if he runs a route.  This worked very well, and our DE's loved it! 

Mob Away

In a nut shell, that's what we did to modify TCU's blitz scheme to fit us and our situation.  Nothing revolution, just something to share.  Once I get this whole blogging thing down, I will try to add some videos and diagrams.  Feel free to chew me a new one if this post isn't up to standards!