Run Fits versus Two-Back Power
The power run game is not dead. As spread offenses proliferate through all divisions of football, the “Power” play is still a staple of many offenses. Defenses must be able to adapt to any formation without subbing players because of the tempo being thrown at them. This can cause a dilemma when a defense’s base scheme is a 4-2-5. When teams insert an “H”, or fullback, a defense does not have to spin to a single-high in order to gain an extra man in the box. Instead, use the natural structure of the 4-2-5/4-3 Hybrid to the defense’s advantage.
By setting the front to the “H” a defense can protect itself against any RPO by covering down the Sam to the 2-speed side (2 WRs). The 2i, or “G” reads the block back from the Center and can see the Guard crossing his face. The Nose climbs over any block back and replaces Mike’s fit. This simple movement forces an extra man in the middle and an unblocked defender in the “A” gap. Crossing the Nose can wrecking havoc on the Power schemes that want to hit the play downhill.
The Nose essentially becomes unblocked because the play side Guard is climbing to the Will. The Mike, reacting off the pulling Guard, works to the puller’s outside shoulder. Will inserts himself on the inside shoulder of the pulling Guard (climbing over top the climbing Guard). This creates a plus-1 in the run game. Both defensive ends hold the edges (the play side DE either spilling or boxing – discussed later), the boundary end pushing the hinging tackle back into the open “B” gap and closing the back door. The DS from his Sky position works into the box at an angle, first checking for the slant RPO, then inserting himself in the box; looking for cutback or reverse.
Pairing the front with a match scheme in the secondary allows the defense to gain an instant 8-man box by inserting the safeties in the outside gaps. The full cover down by the Sam eliminates any front side RPO. The boundary safety reads the QB for any RPO before attacking the ball. As any good defensive coach knows, creating a drastic cutback usually ends in victory for the defense. The rule of thumb for defending a Spread Power team is this:
- Pistol teams want to hit Power downhill much like if under the center (UTC). For this reason, it is in the best interest of the defense to spill the play. Most HS teams will double the 3 tech. and allow the Will to quickly scrape to the bouncing play.
- From the Gun, teams can easily log the Guard and the RB is already on a wider path than if the play was from Pistol or UTC. This path makes the play bounce relatively easily and can be an advantage to the offense. In this case, it may be safer to box with the DEs.
Here’s a look at the base spill fit:
In the image above, the DE is going to spill the “J” block by the “H,” while the Nose will cross face into the “A” gap. This challenges RB to make a quick decision – cutback to a hinged “B” or bounce it outside. The 3 tech. should be closing off the Guard if the offense isn’t utilizing a double on him. If they are doubling the 3 tech., he needs to hold his gap allowing the Will to scrape. The DS “hangs” in the curl for the backside slant/post and then inserts into the box for the cutback or reverse. The perceived open “B” gap to the boundary can easily be filled by the DS if the back is able to cut back, or by the DE compressing the away side Tackle. Most offenses are going to close that “B” gap naturally off the hinge block by the backside Tackle.
Spill – Nose Hold
The defense can choose to hold the Nose in the weakside “A” gap. Against teams that want to hit the Power downhill in the “A,” this may be a good adjustment, especially if they utilize the Pistol formations. The Nose and the 3 tech. act like a vice in both “A” gaps, closing the door in the middle of the formation. If the team is doubling the 3 tech., the Will must see the path of the RB. Most LB coaches teach their LBs to read the Guard through to the RB. In this case, the Will should see the Guard pull and get his eyes to the RB, feeling if the play side Guard is climbing to get him. The Nose “hold” combined with a spill technique by the play side DE should make the play spill to the scraping Mike and Will.
In the image above, the defense is boxing Power while crossing the face of the Center with the Nose. This can be a useful fit if the team has a propensity for bouncing Power. Essentially by boxing, the play side DE and crossing the Nose the RB is forced to do something that he is not taught to do, cut back to the weak side “A.” In that case, the DS is there to wrap him up (along with the Will rocking back).
Box – Nose Hold
Finally, here is a box fit with the Nose holding the weak side “A.” This particular fit forces the RB to follow the pulling Guard to the two LBs working with the pull. If the 3 tech. gets doubled, the Will should be there to insert into the strong side “A” (reading Guard to RB). This particular fit is best for teams that like to bounce Power. The holding Nose and the boxing play side DE force the RB into a box where the defense has numbers.
There are multiple ways to skin a cat, but it is important to understand what the offense is trying to do. This comes from a great breakdown. The point of any defense is to make the offense left-handed or react in a way that forces them to do something they don’t want to do. Whether spilling or boxing Power, there are advantages to both. As stated earlier, when defending a Spread Power team it is important to know how the backfield changes the path of the RB. In a Pistol offense, the Power is going to hit in the “A” gaps. Spilling and crossing the Nose will make that play either bounce or cut back drastically, giving the defense an advantage. The Gun backfield allows the play to easily bounce outside. Some Spread teams use the fact that many defenses like to spill Power to their advantage and actually encourage the RB to bounce; boxing may be the way to go.
Each technique shown has its own advantages and disadvantages. Understand what the opponent is doing and plan accordingly. 20p Power is a play that many offenses utilize to run RPOs from. It is possible to stay in a two-high shell to deter the use of RPOs. Allowing the Sam a full cover down will quickly eliminate the frontside RPO. To the backside, the CB can press the “X” WR to eliminate the hitch RPO, while staying two-high forces the QB to read the DS for the slant RPO.
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