Alabama is a multiple-front, read-technique defensive team. Our scheme reflects an important element in our philosophy-keep the opponent confused. It is our feeling that giving the offense a variety of looks will confuse blocking assignments and void the advantage gained by the use of automatics. Our multiple fronts allow us to either match our strength with that of the opposition or to attack a weak spot.
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We can make necessary adjustments during a game more easily and without drastically altering the defensive plan. Just as an offense employs shifts and motion, our ability to move unpredictably from one front to another affords us the element of surprise. In this article I will discuss how we defend against the veer option from our three base fronts.
In defensing the veer option we take the following steps:
- cover each option strong and weak
- (a) dive (b) QB (c) pitch
- assign specific pursuit responsibilities
- (a) trail (b) cutback
- (3) establish sound pass defense
- (a) coverage (b) rush (c) containment
We feel it is important that players at each position understand their role in the overall scheme. We stress these points:
- The front five, ends (outside LB’s), tackles and NG must first read and whip the blocker, keeping him off our LB’s.
- Be disciplined. Take care of your option responsibility before hard pursuit to the ball.
- LB’s must be the headhunters . They must read and quickly react to flow, taking the proper angle to the football.
- Secondary personnel always play pass defense first but must give quick run support on recognition, especially if assigned an option responsibility.
The 52 front with inverted co leverage is our primary defense. Our ends play a 6 technique. They do not flip -flop and therefore must learn the assignments and techniques for both sides . When forcing the QB they employ a shuffle technique. It is important that they do not attack the QB unless he turns upfield. By forcing the QB to pitch without eliminating himself, the end, flow side LB, and secondary support man should all collapse the runner’s alley limiting him to a 3-yard or less gain.
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The tackles in the 52 play 4 techniques and do not flip flop. Our NG plays head up and is the hub of the defense. Our LB’s flip-flop, with Sam going strong side and Will to the weak side which we feel allows our personnel to best utilize their abilities. They both play head up-the guards 4 yards deep. A free flowing LB to the attack side is a feature of the 52. The inverted coverage gives us good three-deep coverage and outside run support to the flow side.
The second of our base fronts is the 52 Overshift. Our strong end plays a 9 technique while the weak end plays a stand-up 5 technique. The strong tackle plays a 5 technique while the weak tackle plays a 3 technique. Moving strong side, the NG will play a 1 technique. From the 52 alignment Sam moves to the in- side eye of the strong tackle. Will shades the inside eye of the weak guard. Our coverage is a man-zone combination featuring a predetermined rotation away from the formation.
The third of our base fronts is our 43 defense. This alignment gives us strength to the formation and puts our LB’s in better position to play pass defense. Our strong end plays a 9 technique while the weak end will play a 4 stack. Both tackles play 4 techniques and our NG play a . shade weak side over the center. Sam moves to a position straddling the TE’s inside foot. Will moves to the formation straddling the center’s foot. Our secondary plays a two-deep coverage.
The philosophy and defenses have presented have been successful because we have been fortunate enough to work with young men who believed in themselves as individuals and as a team and were willing to put into action the concepts we taught. Their alertness and positive attitude toward hard work enabled us to effectively do the continuous repetition of individual techniques and assignments necessary to make our plan work. I again wish to thank the Summer Manual Committee for the opportunity to share our ideas with you.
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Sylvester Croom most recently was the running backs coach for the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League. He also served as the head coach of Mississippi State University from 2004 to 2008, the first African-American to do so in Southeastern Conference history. Croom was named the SEC Coach of the Year in 2007. Croom retired from coaching in 2016.