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Gap Schemes vs. Tight Fronts, Play Action Shots and Misdirection


This past weekend really ramped up in college football as the country moves towards having all the major conferences back on the field.  It’s great to see the SEC back in full swing.  A few concepts are trending already, and those are applicable at every level.  

Defensively, the Tight front can be seen in almost every game and has proven to be successful against inside zone teams.  Ole Miss and DJ Durkin leaned on it to try to stop Alabama’s high powered offense.  Notably many of the big plays were a gap scheme (power, counter, and pin and pull) with linemen blocking down on those 4i’s that give zone concepts trouble.  Several of Bama’s big runs were gap scheme variations with a kick out and a wrap through.  There’s definitely a lesson to be learned there in how to defeat the Tight front.

Bama Pin Pull

Misdirection created by sweep motion is another big trend in 2020.  Having a sweeper running with speed at the snap of the ball to threaten the flanks slows both the squeeze of edge defenders as well as the safeties getting down inside quickly to the run fit.

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Play Action Passes created some of the biggest plays across both college football and the NFL.  In an era dominated by RPO concepts, the play action pass is making a huge comeback.  The RPO is nice to attack with a quicker hitting pass off a defender, but the play action done right can severely stress the secondary and open up the field for huge chunks of yardage.

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The thing I love about Coach Tube is the depth of the resources available to be able to make adjustments to your offense or defense even in-season.

As mentioned, the Tight front has really been helping defenses shutdown the run while allowing for defenders to take away the pass because it’s designed to spill runners to your athletes outside. It allows for less in the box which can help keep second level defenders out of conflict.

Add Odd Fronts to Your Even Scheme

Most odd front teams have it, but you can do things right now to make some of these front adjustments to your even front scheme.  Jeff Dittman, DC at RPI, made that change in season last year and it paid dividends.  He explains it in this course. Three Down Change Ups to Your Four Down Front

Tight Front to Defend Gap Schemes

Baylor Head Coach Dave Aranda, wasn’t shy about using the tight front when he was at LSU and was well aware that gaps schemes could be used as mentioned to give his defense a problem.  One of the games brightest defensive minds, he has the answers and he shared those in his course Defending the Spread Offense. He covers his adjustments to stopping the pin and pull (buck sweep) and counter.

Gap Schemes 

Gap schemes, especially Counter, allow an offense to attack multiple fronts and that’s what Reedley College head coach/offensive coordinator Eric Marty does in his offense.  Using his TE as the second puller, Marty covers the details of the play vs. every front in this course. 

Pin and Pull,  or Buck Sweep as many coaches refer to it is another way to attack multiple fronts including the Tight Front.  Central Michigan Offensive Line Coach Mike Cummings loves the pin and pull.  He explains the two basic rules of the down blocker (pin blocks) and the pullers, shares drills as well as illustrates with game film. 

Play Action to Get Big Gains

Big chunks of yardage and touchdowns are the benefits of a good Play Action Passing Game. Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator at DePauw University Brett Deitz has a high powered offense which utilizes play action as a way to get the ball down field and beat specific coverages.  He includes ideas on how they beat those coverages as well as what he likes in certain areas of the field like the Red Zone. He covers the details in his course Maximizing Play Action in a Balanced Offense.

Misdirection to Open Up Running Lanes

Misdirection can become a part of any type of offense by incorporating Fly Sweep (aka Jet), and who better to learn it from than Mark Speckman, the Godfather of the Fly Sweep offense and running backs coach at UC-Davis.  Details are the key to making it work either under center and the gun and no one knows it better than Coach Speckman.   

Lamar Jackson - Dual Threat

Lastly, I can’t leave without mentioning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson and the Ravens continued offensive dominance built off of his abilities.  Former NFL offensive line coach Paul Alexander explains how the Ravens use their PISTOL formation featuring their DUAL THREAT QB and how their creative formations and innovative schemes led to their success. He covers the philosophy, strategy to outnumber, outflank, and eliminate safety force as well as their run game variations like power, duo, zone, and QB options. Get it here: Ravens Pistol Run Game.

Here’s a short video explaining the philosophy from Coach Alexander

I promise you, these resources provide a ton of value in each of those areas.  The only way to get better as a coach is to become a student of the game, and right now Coach Tube resources are second to none.

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