What “D” Would I Play Today?

Woodruff High School

Woodruff High School

Defense, whether it’s playing it or coaching it has always been a passion of mine. Don’t get me wrong, when I was a kid I also loved carrying the football and running with it. But I loved playing defense. These days I don’t play any football, of course. I’m in my mid 60’s. I spent my last ten years coaching football as a defensive coordinator and I had much enjoyment and satisfaction from that experience. Now that I look back at my entire life, one particular story always comes to mind. I liked and respected my head coach in high school but as I look back I realize we weren’t very well coached. But it was the only program I knew so I had nothing to compare it to. Now I do.

We’re Gonna Play The 7 and Diamond

1966 and we’re getting dressed for a home sophomore game at Woodruff High School in Peoria, Il. We played on our practice field right next to our high school. Most of the grass was gone  by mid season so it was kind of a dust bowl. In addition to that it was surrounded by an old cinder track and it seemed that many of the cinders found their way on to our football field.  Our meeting room was right next to the locker room which was our wrestling room in the winter. I remember walking in with my buddies and sitting in front of the chalkboard waiting for our soph coach to come in. I can’t even remember what defense we played, in fact, I think it changed every week depending on our opponent. This week it certainly changed. Coach walks in, rubs his hands together and says, “Boys, we’re gonna play the 7 and diamond today.” OK, what the heck was that? We’ve got a game in an hour and we just got a new defense. At the time, I took it in stride – I didn’t know any better. Coach drew it up on the board and it looked like this: (see the diamond shape with the backer and DB’s?)

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I usually got some playing time at left corner so I just looked to see where I lined up. Looked simple enough. I’ll just keep an eye on the #1 receiver and then go play football. Teams in our conference didn’t throw much back then so I knew if the #1 receiver stayed in and blocked, I’d protect the edge. Coach seemed excited about this defense so I was too. Well, we got beat something like 40-6 but I had fun playing corner. I came up and got in on a lot of tackles in the middle and didn’t get beat outside. They just ran over us. Needless to say, we weren’t very good.

What would I play today?

One thing I can tell you, it would NOT be the 7 and diamond. In all of my years in coaching football I was exposed to the 4-4 and the 4-3 more than anything else so I’m kind of partial to an even defense, since that’s what I know. I also had some exposure to the 5-3 stack defense and I like it. Coached AGAINST a lot of 5-2’s and thought it was a solid defense. As a coordinator we ran the 4-4 and had so much success with it I would be hard pressed to not play it again. The spread offenses of today though have changed defenses. The 4-3 is still the 4-3 but it has added a few wrinkles. The 5-2 is basically the 3-4 defense now and is very popular at all levels. The 4-4 has become the 4-2-5 and the 5-3, which was not that common has essentially morphed into the 3-5-3 and is  experiencing a lot of success. As can be seen, defenses have added more DB’s and linebackers to combat the pass. So, to answer the question at the top of this paragraph, I would be playing either the 4-2 or the 4-3. Shown below is maybe the most common way to run the 4-3 defense. I like it a lot and would give it strong consideration.

 

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Westfield 4-3This is the 4-3 vs the I formation. We know, of course that most defenses today will be facing some variation of shotgun/spread type teams and for more information on how to defend against those offenses our top guy is Jake Gilbert at Westfield High School near Indianapolis. Coach Gilbert is a former defensive coordinator at Wabash College and shows how to bring a highly multiple defense to the high school level in his Shamrock 4-3 video series. In this 5 video series you can learn to install  the basic defense, organize blitz and stunt packages, and learn to defend with multiple coverages. This is a must have for all 4-3 coaches or those considering it.

 

Keep Learning

Most coaches come to realize that football coaching is like most things in life – you MUST keep learning. That’s why we all go to clinics, buy books, videos, and talk to other coaches. We here at Chiefpigskin are committed to providing all the info we can to help us all become better at what we do. Hey, tell me what you think on Twitter. @TheChiefpigskin.

Coach L. Albaugh – DBLITY

 Coach Albaugh coached high school football in Illinois for 28 years. During that time he coached at every level and on both sides of the ball. He was the offensive and defensive line coach for four undefeated teams and was a defensive coordinator in his last 11 years, twice reaching the semi finals of the Illinois state playoffs.
 

 

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