Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Treat Goal-Line Defense as a Special Team

A good friend of mine, Coach Hoover, asked me to expound a little on an axiom I included in my last posting. (By the way, Coach H has a terrific post breaking down Manny Diaz on his website...check it out at www.coachhoover.blogspot.com/ ) I am going to share some info on our Goal-Line philosophy, as well as my thought process considering it a Special Team.

      We consider Goal-Line defense a special team for a few different reasons. First, no one is off-limits to this unit personnel-wise. If I need the starting TB at a corner and I need the starting QB coming off of the edge, then I get them. Most of our normal defensive package is based on speed, quickness, & multiplicity, but we are different in Goal-Line.  By making our Goal-Line unit a completely separate group, I can add the size that we would sometimes like to get in there in short yardage and I can add other athletes whose skill sets fit what we want to accomplish. Second, we can create a separate mindset specifically for that unit. We really push being great on the Goal-Line as being a key to our program. We attach a great deal of pride to getting on this unit, and players on both sides of the ball want to play on this unit. And lastly, if we are in Goal-Line, it usually means that things have not gone so great defensively. By running a separate unit onto the field (even if 7 or 8 of the players are on 1st Defense anyway), it creates a little bit of a "fresh start" mentality and gives us a confidence boost.
    We want to be extremely simple in Goal-Line for two reasons. One, we are subbing in players who may not be on defense fulltime and who may not be expecting to enter the game at that moment. If we have a turnover inside our own 10 and I need to call Goal Line D unexpectedly, our scheme is simple enough that the players know what to do even if they are surprised. The other reason we are simple is to build confidence. If we are simple, then the players always know exactly where to line up. If they know exactly where they should be, then they play faster and more confidently.
        Our scheme is a mix of several things the coaching staff has encountered, but a large base of the scheme comes from Bellevue High School in Washington. They are the team that broke De La Salle's winning streak. These are the positions and what we look for to fill them:
  • Two NOSEGUARDS - Quickness is a top priority. Wrestlers, RBs, Strong Safeties.......

  • Two ENDs - Preferably our two best DL.....size & strength needs to be a little more of a factor here

  • Two EDGEs - The two best athletes on the team. Option QB, point guard on BB team, Change of direction ability is huge. Speed is important, size is not

  • Two LBs - the best two LBs, at least one must be able to cover man to man

  • Three DBs - must be able to lock up Man for at least 2 seconds
                 We call our Goal-Line package GORILLA (as in 800lb Gorilla). Since we went to this package three seasons ago, we have made 15 successful stands in 28 opportunities. These are our alignments in GORILLA:

  • Both NGs align in a 2i technique. They are penetrating A gap at the snap. If the ball is inside the 3 yd line or closer, there is a danger of a QB sneak.So inside the 3, the NGs align in shades on the Center (almost touching each other) and drive the Center backward at the snap. (Diagram 1 & 2)

  • Both DEs use the fornation to tell them how to align. If there is a TE to the DE's side, we line up in a 4i alignment and use a Ricochet technique (Ricochet = attack out into the down block then bounce back inside and find work. If there is no down block, then Penetrate!) If there is no TE, then the DE moves to a tilted 5 technique outside the OT. At the snap, the tilted 5 tech attcks off of the hip of the OT. If the OT blocks down, the 5 tech should come right off his butt, almost flat down the line. (Diagram 3)

  • The EDGE players align on the line if scrimmage 2 yds outside the OT or the TE. Their aiming point is the hip oif the deepest / nearest back. At the snap, they are coming full speed, setting a hard edge. They will keep outside arm & leg free, and they have a Pitch/Peel Rule. Pitch/Peel says that nothing can cross their face. If the RB flares, the EDGE peels and covers him. If the RB releases underneath the EDGE, the LB has him. (Diagram 4)

  • Both LBs align in 40 techniques, head-up on the OT. Vs pass, they have Man to Man on the RB to their side. Against 1 RB formations, one LB must displace & cover a WR. Vs Run, they have no gap and are free to the football. (Diagram 5)

  • The three remaining DBs are in press man coverage with an inside alignment. If the receiver is attached to the formation (TE), then the DB aligns with an inside shade on the line of scrimmage (C gap). Our reason for this is as follows: If it is a run play & the DB is off, then the TE will block the LB and the DB will have a one on one tackle. If the DB is on the line, the TE is forced to block him & the unblocked one on one player becomes our LB, who is usually stronger & a better tackler. (Diagram 6)

  • Diagrams 7-10 show how our GORILLA package lines up against various sets. One thing that you may notice is an apparent bubble in B gap when our DE takes a tilted 5 alignment. The key to this is the DE must come flat down the line. If the OT releases on the LB, which he often will, the DE comes screaming untouched into the backfield, staying flat so that nothing hits underneath him. The EDGE must also come hard and set the force without creating a seam betweel the DE & himself. Because of this, when the DE & EDGE line up vs no TE, it will look like they are too close. Their feet should be right next to each other.





Our kids learn all the rules in camp and the set never changes during the season. Because of this our young men play this package with great speed & confidence.

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