Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stopping the Power Running Offense with the 4-2-5 Part II: Double Tight I

In this part, I will look at run fits and alignments versus Double Tight I formations. These are not hard fast rules and techniques. These are not always ideal given the talent or distribution of your players. This is just a base to work from that works the majority of the years. If you want more detail on basic alignment, look at this post.


The call is TITE-2 SKY. The front can set the strength either way, the ideal situation is to have it set towards the WR side. However, you can't always count on that; motion will have jumping and shifting all over the place. The read side is normal, nothing has changed. The FS, SS, Corner, and front align like they versus regular pro-I. The away-side is where things change. The WS shifts to a tighter alignment (anywhere from 1x1 to 5x5; it really depends on the player) angled in 45 degrees. He is the force player. The corner is aligned 4-6 yards behind the DE. Finally the nose shifts to an inside shade on the guard versus the TE. (You could put the corner in force alignment and stack the WS behind the DE, all you would need to tag is TITE-2 Cloud)

The big change here is the play of the corner. The corner is pass conscious but as soon as he gets his read he is into the run fit. If you don't like your corners playing like this, you could personnel another backer/safety into the game or just run cloud on the back side.

The corner has a flat foot read of the TE. If pass shows he has him up and in. If he is out the WS will play him and the corner will gain depth. On run he is a fill player. He works inside out on runs to, and plays the cutback on runs way. You can't let the TE worry the corner too much, you need him active into the run fit. He is essentially a player that has linebacker type run fits, with corner coverage responsibilities. Again, find which player is best at this role.

You really have to get the corner confidence in this technique. You don't want the offense running the ball right at you, with the corner over a nub TE running backwards worried about a TE beating him on deep ball. However, if its third and long and the offense is still in double tight I, then the corner should know that he is not needed in the run fit as much, and can play more pass conscious


Isolation plays create an EXTRA GAP. To remain sound versus this play, the Defense will need to either have a player 2-gap or involve a secondary player in the run fit. This is where the corner playing cutback comes into the picture. When defending the ISO an important thing to consider is how the backers leverage the fullback. Brophy wrote an article about Bo Pelini's defense, and specifically the lever/spill/lever concept. This is one way to treat run fits. I have become a believer in the linebacker making good contact head up to across, and letting the other backer and cutback player, fill where needed. Carl Pelini mentioned the concept at clinic. He explained that offenses were getting better at scheming run-fits. To combat this his linebackers needed to change up the way they hit and leveraged fullbacks and other pullers.

In the diagram the Sam hits the fullback as close to LOS as possible. (If the backer cannot physically handle the fullback then cut him) The Mike will then fill off the Sam, and the corner will work to cutback. The FS will work downhill and fill off the linebacker. Finally the SS and WS will fold and play reverse to late pursuit. The FS and corner need to be aggressive about filling in the run. If the backers and D-line cannot stop the play themselves they should at least force the back to make a cut or two laterally, or cutback in the corner. Either way you want the FS/corner making a play on the back as close to the LOS as possible. If you allow the RB to get out of the hole and into open area at all, you corner/FS is stuck in an open field tackle situation. You are lucky to win those 70% of the time. Getting a tackle made close to the LOS is a higher percentage play.

A Side Note

Do you play the secondary this aggressively every play? No. You don't even do it every 1st down situation. You should do it a good amount of the time, but you need to mix in some more conservative pass coverages to keep the offense from play-passing you to death. In this particular call, the secondary should be alert to the game-plan, and that they need to be aggressive run players.


These fits apply to the counter GT and power plays. When planning for these types of plays, I try to simply them down into a concept for my players. So for simplicity I call these kick-seal plays. The PSDE will spill the ball (wrong arm the puller); he does not need to go to the ground just work inside the kick man. If this is done correctly the back will have to bounce the play a gap wider. Hopefully, the spill will deter the sealer and allow the backer to scrape off of the spilled kick player free to make the play. If the sealer works around the spill then the backer will need to fit up on him. The Mike needs to attack the sealer close to spill and rip across him. This action will turn the lineman's body and cloud the running lane for the back. The back will have to change direction to try to cut up in the small hole between the kicker and sealer or continue to bounce at an angle that's vulnerable to pursuit. The backs vision is clouded by having the backer rip across and turn the corner on the seal man.

The corner will work off the back. If he bounces or takes the inside route the corner needs to fly in there and fill. The back-side backer needs to avoid the double team on the nose. In circumstances like this I like this backer to work behind the double team and make the play in the backfield. (If the double team pushes the nose lateral, then the best thing for the Sam to do is work over the top.) Many times kick-seal scheme are stopped by the back side linebacker running through. Its hard for the offense to account for him. Ask O-line coaches that run the counter about it, they will tell you that the back side backer is the biggest problem for them.

On the backside of the D, the SS works to play reverse to late pursuit, and the FS will work and look for any cutback.


The linemen can't get reached or put on the ground. The tackle, nose and BSDE need to work laterally down the line. The SS sets the edge at a good leverage angle and forces the back to cutback or bounce outside at an angle vulnerable to pursuit.

The play of the PSDE on the TE is key. If the O-line works a full zone like the picture above he needs to push vertical on the TE and stay square on him. He works in this position until he sees the O-tackle release inside. When this happens he can become a c-gap player again. If the tackle keeps working with the TE on him, he needs to slowly work to the D-gap and let the backer worry about the back cutting back inside. The Sam has to be similarly alert to a full zone. He needs to work to a position behind the DE. if he sees the DE work inside to the C, he works around him and the TE and fills.

The FS fills the alley inside out. If the defense executes these assignments there should be nowhere for the back to go. Two players should be hitting the hole unblocked. If the TE happens to work down and block the Sam, then the DE will be free to make play along with the FS.


Again there are different ways to do things, these are the way I like to play the power running game. It part III I will look at defending unbalanced and 3-back running formations. If any of you reading want me to look at some other formations and plays leave a comment and I will try to fit it in.


  1. Nice work coach..the one thing I would add is you should practice your corners w/ your Free's to practice run fits from the first week of practice..if you wait for the week you are seeing 22pp it will be too late...another note: even if you are a corners over guy...the offense can still scheme you to get a corner in the box

  2. We do this but we play corner force and let the safety get dirty on the inside. Works because the safeties already have to learn how to fit when we play 2 read. Consolidates techniques.

  3. Good work. I was wondering what your Sam linebacker's key is? Because if he keys the fullback, it would be awfully difficult to make the play on the counter. If he was keying the guard, it would, of course, be much easier. I am intrigued by the run through. Do you have any video that you could post via YouTube here? I am looking forward to your three-back post. I hope you include the wishbone double iso. Now the offense has created two more inside gaps to defend. Very tough schematically to match up your run fits. Along the same lines is the crossbuck: fake to fullback opposite and then the iso with the two halfbacks. If the linebackers key the fullback, they can't fill very well. This is something we really struggle to defend. In Illinois both our small class state champs ran this wishbone scheme and nobody could stop it.

  4. I try to key backs if the kids can handle it. If we a play a good pull team we will read guards. The wishbone double-Iso is a tuff play. If the backs are giving us a lot of split flow, then we will cross key. For Example, if the fullback goes away from the Sam, he will shuffle that way and read the far back.

    As far as the run-through I am trying to get some video put up on youtube, its a process for me right now. If you watched the Rose Bowl at all, TCU did it a lot. #43 had a few tackle behind the LOS that were on run-throughs

  5. So here's my question. In the TCU Rose Bowl game vs. Wisconsin, on Wisconsin's first drive near midfield their tight end blocked down on the DE and the FB kicked out the WS/SS player. TCU survived the play because their FS beat the block of the backside TE who was pulling for the seal. I totally buy into the DE wrong arming kick-out blocks, but I don't like the fact that the 4-2-5 uses those safeties as force players because if the playside TE can get that down block on the DE, they can kick out the safeties. Comments?

  6. I was wondering if you could do a post on defending trips in the spread formation. On the CB reads and coverages? What different levels the CBs play at (2-8 yards)? How to bring pressure and disguise it?

  7. It doesn't looks so complicated but It is quite impressive how well It works and I hope that we can train this for the next per head service community amateur games.

  8. Know that the safety when there is a TE is not the force player. In my system He becomes a contain player. When he gets the down he plays it like DE and wrong shoulders it to the Corner whose over the top and now the force player.

  9. Safety force in 4-2-5 is beautiful and the leverage they have gives offenses problems. DE should be reading the OT and ripping thru C-Gap but if he does get washed down that $ should already be aligned cocked in on the LOS. Once he reads his key and see handoff he's going to dot the kickout block and try to restrict the lane.

  10. Is there a part 3 to this scheme that covers defending 32 personnel?

  11. where is the unbalanced you talk about in the next part?

  12. Very nice post.really I apperciate your blog.Thanks for sharing.keep sharing more blogs.


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