FF201: Day 2 - 3-3-5 Vs. Tight Formations

FF201: Day 2 - 3-3-5 Vs. Tight Formations

Submitted by Space Coyote on August 12th, 2010 at 4:32 AM

Football Fundamentals 201 - Intro to the 3-3-5 Defense

Day 2

A long, long time ago, when I lived in a Cleveland not so far away, I created a 3-3-5 Fundamentals diary because, well, I lived in Cleveland. Now I don’t, but I have come back from the dead and loving it, but don’t worry, because I’m much better than the Mel Brooks movie “Dracula: Dead and Loving It”. Anyway, a long time ago when I wrote that diary I was asked by Brian something along the lines of what I planned to do next. I told him, being keen on thinking more so than actually doing, that I planned on creating another diary about how to defend particular plays out of the 3-3-5.

Well, sorry, that kind of got put on the back burner. And I forgot to turn on the heat. And then forgot that I even put anything there. Then remembered, but then was too lazy so I decided to watch the first 4 seasons of Lost in about a one month time span. But now, NOW, I’m back, and I have a diary for you. And I plan on having a lot more diaries for you. And because six zero made a series with a cool game show theme I’m going to make a cool series with a less cool theme because damnit it’s about football and this is more than just a game or something like that. Anyway, this diary will go under my 3-3-5 Fundamentals mini-course. About three or four more diaries are planned to be added to this 3-3-5 mini-course. Soon you will be introduced to Football Fundamentals 101. I’ll explain at the end. As for now, this diary will discuss, as many requested, how to defend particular plays (more along the lines of formations) with the 3-3-5. The terminology is a little different, but most is the same. If you need a refresher on some of the basics make sure to check out the 3-3-5 Fundamentals diary. Ok, here we go.

E – End
N – Nose
T – Tackle
S – Strong Side Linebacker (Sam)
M – Middle Linebacker (Mike)
W – Weak Side Linebacker (Will)
$ – Spur
B – Bandit
C – Corner
F – Free Safety

Now what we are going to cover, in my opinion, will essentially be Michigan’s base coverages against these formations. Basically, this is when Gerg will do a lot of cool things with his hands, and the players, mesmerized by his hair, will just say “Ok, let’s just run base.” At least it works something like that I would only assume.

Today we will be covering what I call the heavy sets, in order: I-Formation; I-Formation Twins; I-Formation Twins Open; I-Formation Twins Over; I-Formation Flanker; Bone; Far Wing; Ace; and Ace Left.
For each formation we will look at: Run to Strength; Run to Weak; and Pass.

A Note on Diagrams:
Solid Arrows: Play goes there (Note: These are not necessarily blitzes, just the gap responsibility)
Dashed Line: Slow play in that direction (contain)
Red Circle: Deep Zone
Yellow Circle: Short Zone
Green Circle: Flats

I-Formation

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I-Formation Twins

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I-Formation Twins Open

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Now let's look how the 3-3-5 adapts to an unbalanced line:

I-Formation Twins Over

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And now let's see how it changes as formations get tighter:

I-Formation Flanker

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And tighter...

Wish Bone

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By now I think you’re starting to get the hang of it. Besides where the defense is aligned at the start of the snap, the responsibilities essentially always stay the same. Which is (Playside/Opposite Side):

E / T – C Gap / C Gap Crash
N – Opposite A Gap
W / S – B Gap / Contain
M – Playside A Gap
$ / B – D Gap / Contain

In fact, the nice part is that the defensive keys are extremely simplified as well:

E / T – Offensive Tackles
N – Ball
W / S – Near Back
M – Near Back
$ / B – Triangle (Tight End, near back, and ball. This means they must look through the tight end to the near back, while keeping an eye on the ball. In some defenses the linebackers have a triangle key through the guards to the ball.)
C / F – Quarterback

So, to look at the alignment for 3 more formations:
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This is the simplifying of the defense that T-Wolf and Gerg have been hinting at. The responsibilities are easier and the keys should be easier. The tricky part is recognizing the offensive formation and getting correctly aligned.

Even if Michigan goes to more of a 3-3-5 Strong look expect the same type of keys and responsibilities.

For my next part we will look at some spread type formations and how the 3-3-5 aligns to those. In the future we will also look a little at what is called a 3-3-5 Bear and some more of the “rules” that are to be followed, such as zone drops, boot rules, etc.

As for what else I hope to bring you soon is what I am calling Football Fundamentals 101. This will start off very fundamental and hopefully progress into being able to break down opponents film and or own film during the season. Before we can do that though we must start with the basics, and that’s what this “course” will be covering. That will be explained more to you when I post the first of FF 101 series.

PS. I'll work on formating a bit more when I get some time. Sorry, it's just really early right now. Other than formatting I would really like to help answer questions. If you have some, leave them. I'm really busy today so may not get to them right away, but there seem to be some other people that can help you around these here parts.

3-3-5 Fundamentals

3-3-5 Fundamentals

Submitted by Space Coyote on March 30th, 2010 at 10:56 AM

[Ed: Excellent diary that helps orient everyone to the 3-3-5.]

One of the greatest difficulties Michigan faces in the Big Ten is that there are a vast array of offenses deployed. You have the Wisconsin’s and Michigan State’s of the world still running two TE with a FB and slamming down your throats, and Northwestern and Purdue on the opposite end of the spectrum. Then you have all those teams in between, the single back look from Iowa, the mixed attack of Penn State, and the offense that periodically exists in Columbus and Champaign. Because it is unfeasible to switch defenses to match offenses in college football (see move to 3-3-5 against Purdue in 2008), it is important to find a base defense that can be implemented to at least some degree of success against these different teams. >

This means two things, one, you need some versatility in your players. Two, you need to put your players in the situation that helps them the most. I’m not going to say either way that the 3-3-5 is that, I just want to give a brief overview of the defense and then make a few points at the end.

First I’ll cover some basics.

This is the numbering system I’ll be using, where the dark circle with the X is the center:

Note, that for linebackers, the numbering system adds a zero to the end. For example, if a LB is lined up off the line, but stacked above a 4-tech DE, he would be playing a 40 technique. Pictured below is the base formation.

Defensive ends (DE) are in 4-techniques, or head on with the offensive tackle. Nose tackle (NT) is on the nose of the ball. Outside Linebackers (OLB) are in a 40-tech, while the middle linebacker (MLB/Mike) is in a 10-tech. The strong safeties (SS/Spur) are three yards off the line and three yards outside of the last man on the line. Corners (CB) are 5-9 yards off the line over the wide receivers, and the free safety (FS) is deep center. While this seems like a 2-gap system for the NT, it will be typical to apply some sort of slant to make it actually more of a 1-gap system.

Next you will see a basic coverage that will be run. This is a cover-3, zone under. Notice that there are no stunts or blitzes here. This is a very vanilla defense and would only be run in obvious pass downs most likely. Red is deep zones (in this case thirds), yellow indicates flats/seems, and green is underneath zones for hooks and curls (the MLB in this case covers the “hole”).

The next look is at a very simple outside linebacker blitz. This is still a cover-3, zone under. [Ed: continued after the jump, with lots more diagrams and some simple bullets on pros and cons.]