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AFM Magazine

The Situation

by: AFM Editorial Staff
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You’re on defense near your goal line. While you’ve contained the run, your opponent now has a first down at your four-yard line. They are in a spread offense with a flanker on one side and a split end on the other. Your opponent decides to pitch to the tailback and sweep right end. How do you defend them from scoring? What defense do you use to stop their attack?

Ron Beaucham, Head Coach, Heritage School, Newnan (GA)

AFM subscriber since November, 2005

The defense I would use is the goal line 33 Pinch cover O.
Keys: Man coverage on the receivers.
Corners: Should be aligned at a 45 degree angle near the LOS facing the receiver and mirroring him on his inside hip. Jam any inside route staying a half step on his hip.
Free Safety: Align on the actual GL in the middle of the formation and key the TB. In that way you become an unblocked defender on the ISO, powers, sweep, etc.
Sam & Rover: Align on #2, If he is a TE, you will align head up on him. Mirror him with your hands and quick feet working outside using hands on reach block keeping him off your feet. Break on the ball at the highest point as if you were rebounding a basketball.
Mike and Will LB’s: Align in a 30 technique and key the FB.
Tackles: align in tight 3 technique keying the ball and exploding into this alignment as the offensive tackle to the playside will have gap rule responsibility.
Defensive End’s: To the TE side, if Sam makes a switch call, mirror him for containment on sweeps, ISO’s from outside in, and deep trail on play if a reverse or bootleg. The weak DE reads the OT and comes hard and tight on down block for FB and pulling guards.
Coaching point: Trap the ball drill daily with contain, alley and cutbacks. Scrape through any open holes, green grass, or daylight.

Kevin Loney, Defensive Coordinator, Bethany College (WV)
AFM subscriber since April, 2006

At Bethany College we are a multiple 4-3 defense. However when we get into this situation, we revert back to an 8-man front. As you can see in the diagram, we align in a 4-4 look, and try to make teams run between the tackles. Our OLB’s are the Force Players and will look to turn all run plays back into the ILB’s. Our Backside End is a hard bender who will chase down any cutback behind the LOS. The play side ILB is a spiller on any pull, and our FS will run the alley as an unblocked defender.

William Cleaver, Head Coach, Gaylord high School (MI)
AFM subscriber since December, 2004

There are three factors that would play a roll in determining the defense we would call in this goal line situation. First, the tendencies for this situation gathered in the scouting report on the opponent would influence our play call. Second, the offensive personnel being used in the game would influence the call. Third, the call would be influenced by how our defensive personnel match up versus their offensive personnel in key positions.

Our base front would be a four man front with a defensive end aligned to the weak side in an outside shade of the offensive tackle. The nose guard would align in a shade to the weak side on the center. The tackle would align in an outside shade of the offensive guard to the strong side. The defensive end to the strong side will align in an outside shade of the offensive tackle to that side. Both defensive ends would stem to a head up alignment on the offensive tackles prior to the snap. The defensive end to the strong side would spy the back by midlining the offensive tackle drawing his block. This should help to get the strong safety unblocked into the backfield. The defensive end to the weak side would then shoot the inside B gap (the gap inside the offensive tackle) at the snap of the ball.

LINEBACKERS: The inside linebackers align over the guards at about 4 yards depth. The inside linebacker on the weak side would creep out to an alignment 4 yards outside the offensive tackle on the line of scrimmage and would blitz off the edge at the snap of the ball. He should keep his eyes on the ball. The inside linebacker to the strong side would have the running back man to man on pass. He would key the one back and should get fast flow on the pitch by the QB to the RB. The outside linebacker on the weak side would walk up into press man coverage over the #2 receiver in an inside position denying any inside breaking routes.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Our cornerbacks would walk up in press man coverage over the #1 receiver (the outside most WR to his side) in an inside position denying any inside breaking routes. The free safety would walk up in press man coverage over the #2 receiver to the strong side in an inside position denying any inside breaking route. The strong safety initially aligns over the #2 receiver strong side at a normal 4 yard depth. He then creeps his way up to the line of scrimmage about 4 yards from the offensive tackle to his side. He will time his blitz on the snap of the ball by keying the football as he creeps up to the line of scrimmage. He is responsible to take away the perimeter run his side by not being blocked by the offensive tackle. His angle of blitz should be very difficult to block using the offensive tackle to that side.

CONCLUSION: We want to put a great deal of pressure on the opponent’s offense down here in hopes of creating a turnover or miscue by the offense. This miscue might be enough to give our defense a goal line stop or even create enough momentum for us to stop them on the next couple of downs.


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