Wednesday, December 26, 2012

4-2-5 vs the Flexbone - Secondary Play

This is my first post on the 4-2-5 and I will detail my plan for defending the Option.  I will not do an entire series breaking down each position like my guest writers and I did with the 4-3.  The front 4 are still obeying BDSD (Block-Down-Step-Down) rules like with the 4-3 and the two Inside LBs will be very similar to the 4-3 Mike LB in terms of Open and Closed Window reads.  I will instead focus solely on the Secondary Play, specifically how the Safeties adjust vs. the motion of the Flexbone offense.  Duece also has a great post here on the 4-2-5 vs the Flexbone both from a 2 Hi look and a 1 Hi look that you need to read.

The motion of the Flexbone Offense makes it difficult to defend, however, the 4-2-5 has three Safeties that can easily adjust vs. the motion of the two Slot Backs.  Before I go any further, it is important to make sure you are allotting sufficient Group Time in practice for your Safeties vs. all of the possible motions, especially Counter motion.  And of course, you cannot expect your players to be able to defend the Flexbone the week of the game, but Spring practice is where this teaching process of defending the Option needs to begin, and these skills need to be refreshed periodically throughout the season.

The $ and WS will key and mirror the Slot Back to their side, and there are 5 different looks that they will see.

1.  No Motion
2.  Motion Away
3.  Motion to You - Slot Arcs                               
4.  Motion to You - Slot Releases Vertical
5.  Motion to You - Slot Folds

1.  No Motion

The base call is Cover Brown, which is a Man-Free coverage with the FS as the Deep Middle player—pretty basic stuff.  Whether they line up in Double Slot, Slot Trips, or whatever, the $ and WS will cover their Slot man-to-man and the two CBs are man vs. the two WRs.  This can be vs. a Drop-Back Pass or a Sprint-Out Pass.

2.  Motion Away

If the $ / WS sees his Slot motion away, he will run to the MOF (Middle of the Field).  He will help erase any mistakes by the FS and provide help defending the Post route to the opposite side of the field as you will see in the cut-ups. He will key the opposite Slot as he is runs back to the MOF for any type of Counter coming back to his side.  Note: you can also have the $ / WS stay home on the backside of the motion instead of running to the MOF and the frontside reads would still stay the same.

3.  Motion to You - Slot Arcs

Slot Arcs - Run
Vs. Slot motion to you, if the Slot Arc blocks, the $ / WS will want to push the Slot back vertical as he is running sideways.  The $ / WS is the Force / Pitch player.  This will often be vs. Rocket, which can get to the perimeter quickly.  The 4-2-5 allows for great leverage by the $ and WS to surround the run game and Force the ball back inside.  The other play that Flexbone teams like to run with the Slot Arc blocking is the Counter Option.  The $ / WS will see their Slot motion away and then return back and Arc block to their side.  The $ / WS needs to make sure he does not run too far to the MOF, or he will be out of position to defend the Pitch. 

Slot Arcs - Play-Action Pass
The $ / WS will be man vs. the Slot if he should Arc and then run the Wheel route.

4.  Motion to You - Slot Vertical

Slot Vertical - Run - Block Inside or Load FS
If the Slot releases vertical, he can blocks a DE or LB inside, or he can Load Block the FS.  The $ / WS then becomes the outside 1/2 of QB to Pitch player.  The cut-ups show the $ / WS slow-playing the QB to give the FS time to get to the Pitch.  Your FS has to be a very good tackler who can run in order to adequately defend the Flexbone. 

Some people have the $ / WS always stay outside and be the Pitch player, but having them read it this way allows you to better defend the QB run and causes him to have to pitch the ball to the third option, which is to the defense's advantage.

Slot Vertical - Play-Action Pass
Vs. motion, Cover Brown (Man-Free) becomes Robber (TCU Cover 2), and the FS will obey his Robber rules.  If #2 comes vertical, he has him.  If #2 is not vertical, he will rob Curl to Post of #1.  The $ is a Flat player if his Slot releases vertical with motion to him. 

5.  Slot Folds

If the Slot Folds inside of the OT, the play will be Midline Lead.  The Flexbone offense is able to insert both Slot Backs on this play to create two additional run gaps that the defense must be able to account for.  The $ / WS and FS will account for those two additional gaps in the 4-2-5 defense.  Rutgers got gashed by this play a couple of times at first vs. Army in 2009 before they started fitting it up correctly.

Corner Play

It is important that the Corners understand that although they are Man vs. their WR, they will need to Crack Replace and help defend the run vs. a good Flexbone team.  The cut-ups show some good examples of how Corners are to Crack Replace and how to shed the block of their WR and make a tackle when the ball crosses the LOS on a run to them.

Here are the cut-ups:

4-2-5 vs the Flexbone - Safety Play from Barry Hoover on Vimeo.

Merry Christmas and a blessed 2013 to everyone!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How Georgia Lost the SEC Championship - RB Pass Pro

You either win with fundamentals or you get beat with fundamentals.  Georgia was reminded of this bitter lesson in the 2012 SEC Championship Game that saw them battle toe to toe with defending national champion Alabama.  They valiantly drove down the field in the last minute, only to see the clock run out because of a tipped pass in an awful and surreal ending for the stunned Bulldogs, who expected to be able to see Aaron Murray throw two plays into the end zone with the ball at the 8-yard line and 15 seconds left (Chris Brown at Smart Football analyzes the clock logistics of the play here).  The tipped pass by Alabama LB, C.J. Mosley, was seen as horrible luck, but really the play was preventable with proper fundamentals from the RB position.

Most young RBs have trouble getting on the field because of pass protection—not understanding the scheme of what to do and not being to execute it correctly.  The game of football depends on the execution of all 11 players and a freshman RB made a poor play at the worst possible moment for the Bulldogs (one of many plays from the game that Georgia would like to change, not to pin the entire loss on one player).  I will analyze the play by using the RB Pass Pro fundamentals that I got from a clinic talk by Tony Ball, the RB Coach (from 2006-2009) and now, WR Coach at Georgia, so you will get coached up with the same coaching points this player will be hearing as he watches this film with his coaches.

Here's the film, courtesy of CBS Sports and the SEC Network:

Fundamentals of RB Pass Protection

1.  Scan the Defense. 
Check.  The RB scanned the defense and knew who to block.

2.  Step with Inside Foot First. 
Check.  The RB stepped first with his inside foot to get inside leverage and to get his body turned correctly. 

3.  Close Space Quickly. 
Big mistake here.  Both the RB and the LB started off 5 yards from the LOS (line of scrimmage), so theoretically they should meet halfway—at or near the LOS.  Instead of expanding the pocket to give room for the QB to throw, the pocket is condensed.

4.  Punch. 
Even with the mistake of the RB not closing the space quickly, he can still do his job and block his man if he punches him at all.  Instead, the defender takes off at the 11-yard line and continues in the air relatively unimpeded and tips the ball at the 13-yard line.

5.  Expand the Pocket. 
After the punch, the RB should continue to force the defender outside to expand the pocket.  The RB "opens up the gate" and lets the pass rusher get upfield vertically instead of widening him.  On a drop-back pass that takes longer to develop, the RB would need to keep his feet working to widen the rusher and expand the pocket.

A critical error was that the RB did not take the protection into account on how he attacked his defender.  The Fade-Flat combination on this pass play is designed to be used with quick protection.  The Georgia Offensive Line did a terrific job of firing out and stopping the Alabama Defensive Line at the LOS.  The Left Tackle cut block the Defensive End, making him a non-factor in the play as well.  All that was left was the RB's block on the blitzing LB to give Georgia QB Aaron Murray's pass a chance to reach its intended target in a play that will torture the Bulldogs for what could have been.