Empowering Coaches Step-By-Step

Protecting the Short Edge of the Unbalanced Line

A coach recently e-mailed me with a concern about defenders coming hard off the short edge of the unbalanced line.

There are three basic ways to handle this issue:

1) Cadence
2) Adjustments
3) Playcalling

Numerous teams have tried this tactic against our unbalanced line and failed.

First of all if your tailback is being caught from behind by a backside defender, he is either extremely slow or he is not running very fast. In 6 years I’ve only once had a tailback who was legitimately slow enough to be caught by a backside defender. Run the “chase” drill listed here in the tips section to get your tailback to run all out. Make sure he is not rounding out his runs, he needs to run right to the point of attack, no rounding the run off or dancing allowed. Make sure your tailback is lined up just 2 yards from the center and the snaps are not being snapped too slow, the snaps do not need to be bullets, but they aren’t lobs either.

Some defenders will start jumping your snap count and will anticipate your going on the word “go”. Simply go to a “no play” or running a wedge play on first sound. This will make the defender realize he will be off-sides or late if he always goes on “go”. Put some indecision in his mind, that will slow him down.

Use the adjustments on page 189 of the book, one “cross”, “wrong” or “G” adjustment will level this crashing defender almost blindly and he will think twice about coming hard the next play. You can do like many Single Wing teams do and use a “nasty split” by your left end to widen the defender to that side, the split could be anywhere from 1 foot to 2 yards. Your left end then would probably use his crab block to seal any inside defender from the play.

Playcalling is something that should stop this tactic immediately. If the defender is coming hard to the inside and shallow, it would be very easy to run outside of him. A mouse 47 sweep, spinner 47 sweep or mouse pass would be a home run play in this case. If you were still concerned about this defender you could run the 47 out of “double” and seal him in with the Wingback to his side, although in my opinion his path would take him right out of the play. You could probably run right past him on the 31 trap as well.

This tactic, even with the defenses fastest player coming off the edge has never worked at all. The scheme has helped our cause in most cases taking him out of the play completely on strong side runs and weakside sweeps.

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