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Defending the triple option: by adjusting your 3-4 defense.

At UW-Platteville we run a 3-4 defense and use our speed to compete in a conference in which we are often out-sized.

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Since our opponents like to run the option against us, we have been forced to look for some kind of adjustment that would enable us to defend these teams without making any drastic changes or deviating from our "alignment sound" football principles.

We didn't want to take chances blitzing and stunting because we knew that the offense would mash us if they caught us out of position. We also knew that no matter how good we were defensively, the opposing offenses were going to rack up yardage on the ground.

(Unless you're a defensive monster, the offense is always going to pickup their three, four, or five yards and a cloud of dust.)

Our answer to all of this has been a simple adjustment in philosophy: Limit production on first down and keep the offense in third-and-long situations. In short, keep things pretty vanilla and play assignment-sound football.

As you can see in the diagrams, we utilize a stack adjustment that gives us a 5-3 look on defense.

Diag. 1 shows our base defense, while Diags. 2A and 2B show the adjustments that enable us to play eight in the box and stay tough against the pass.

We align our defensive tackles in a 5 technique vs the offensive tackles and put our nose in a zero on the center. This alignment allows us to play games with our front people and still remain assignment sound, as shown in Diags. 3,4, and 5.

Our defensive line's main objective is to tackle the fullback in the dive and keep the offensive linemen from getting to our linebackers.

Our linebackers set up five yards deep with their outside leg splitting the crotch of the 5 technique. They can play B-Gap and the fullback on dive, or scrape and play the QB on pitch.

Our outside linebackers use a head-up technique on the tight end (or Ghost 8 if there is no tight end.) From this alignment, the linebacker can play the QB or pitch.

Our biggest line adjustment has been in the strong safety's alignment. We moved him into the box to give us eight men in there at all times. He sets up seven yards deep directly behind the nose, which allows him to scrape inside out on most plays.

The deeper alignment also keeps him from running into the linebackers while scraping. His responsibilities are dive-to-QB-to pitch.

Our corners have to stay sharp during the game. Because of the nature of the offense, we play a lot of man coverage with our corners, enabling them to lock up with their opponents.

The corners have rules for their alignment. For example, if the ball is in the middle of the field and the #1 wide receiver is aligned on or past the numbers, the C to that side must align 1-2 yards inside the receiver and 7 yards deep.

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From our scouting reports, we assume whenever the offense aligns its receivers in this fashion, it is not planning to throw the ball. It's a hard call to make, but the corners can use the sideline as an extra defender.

The defense also has an advantage in the blocking. It does not give the wide receivers a good angle on the corners. The corners can thus provide run support once they decide the play is going to be a run.

Our free safety plays deep middle. His job is to get depth and play the ball. His responsibility is always to play the pass (Diag.6).

By Nathan N. Cochran, Defensive Line Coach UW-Platteville (Wisconsin)
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Title Annotation:FOOTBALL
Author:Cochran, Nathan N.
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2005
Words:632
Previous Article:A bellyful of answers for your winged T.
Next Article:From D-Line to D.C.
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