How the Stack Concept Works Remember the line of scrimmage is made up of eight gaps and the stack concept basically acts like a GAP 8 defense in that we are going to penetrate all eight of those gaps. The method we use to penetrate them will vary from play to play based on the stack call on each side and because we are using stacked backers the way in which we penetrate is actually a wave or layered effect so the offensive line will have a very hard time simply down blocking the entire front and washing the defenders away from the play. Basically the center, guard, tackle, and end will never know which three defenders they are going to face on the interior and which gap they will hit.
Front 6 OLB: more athletic players of your F6 players. The better football player & athlete he is the more you can do with him. He should be a pretty good leader (stacks), and he should have decent quickness and aggressiveness. The better he is in zone and man coverage and the better he is at tackling the more you can do with him. DT: the more athletic of the two defensive linemen. Can be two types, small aggressive penetrators that are hard to block or big boys that can fill a gap and penetrate with power. In either case they must be able to compress the LOS. DG: the least athletic F6 player but follow the guidelines for tackles. Special note: if you have an elite defensive linemen dont be afraid to move him from DT to DG and even from stack to another to keep the offense guessing. Special Adjustment Player: – NT (Nose Tackle): elite defensive player that can either penetrate aggressively and quickly or fill a gap with power or BULL/2Gap and fill space on the LOS. – MO (second MIKE): Same as the MIKE backer and often a ROVER type player becomes part of BACK 5.
How the Stacks Work The outside backers will make a stack call which will tell the other two members of the stack where to go and what to do. Each defensive linemen has one rule while in the stack when the ball is snapped they must penetrate into the backfield through their gap as fast as possible; penetrate past the heels and compress the LOS, and locate the ball. OLB has a bit more freedom due to their athletic ability. They penetrate past the LOS and attack the near hip of the QB. This allows us to put immediate pressure on the ball from one gap while the remaining defenders in the stack compress the LOS to the ball. The outside backers are free to make any basic call and you should encourage them to change up and vary the calls as much as possible. What you will find is as the outside backers and the defensive linemen take owner ship of the stack that the outside backers will make calls that will get them in the backfield as quickly as possible as they will hit the gap that is the most available to them to get to the ball. Because the stunting and blitzing is layered, meaning defenders are attacking the LOS at various moments in time, it ensures that a runner cannot simply bypass the first level of our defense because they have to pass the layered pressure coming through the interior gaps (A,B,C). Defensive linemen stay square and close on the ball if the ball goes past them they must retrace to their gap in the same path they travelled. This ensures that we reduce cut back lanes on the interior. If a offensive linemen vacates (pulls) the defensive linemen follows his rule he penetrates and locates the ball. If the ball flows with the vacating linemen he squeezes down on the hip of the offensive linemen as he goes to the ball square.
Basic Calls SPLIT GAP BASE CALL (GOAL LINE/OPEN END) IN OUT BASE CALL
Basic Calls These four basic calls can be made by the OLBs at any time. My rule to them is put yourself in the best position to make a play on the ball. Find the weak leak in the line and hammer that call home while keeping them on offense on their toes. IN – The OLB will call IN and it will tell both the DG and DT to slant to the inside gaps (A and B) while the OLB stunts into the C gap. OUT – The OLB will call OUT and it will tell both the SG and DT to slant to the outside gaps (B and C) while the OLB stunts into the A gap. SPLIT – The OLB will call SPLIT and it will tell DG slant into the inside gap (A) and the DT to take the outside gap (C) while the OLB stunts into B gap. NOTE: These three calls allow the OLB to hit all three gaps on his side of the ball. GAP – This is a short yardage and/or instant pressure call when we need to get all three defenders into the backfield immediately. This is especially useful in short yardage and goal line situations. The DG will slide into the A gap, the DT will slide into the B gap, and the OLB will slide into the C gap. This is also an automatic when the OLB sees an open side (no tight end) on his side. This allows him to put immediate pressure on the A, B, and C gaps and place pressure on the backfield. Remember the OLB is attacking the near hip of the QB so it allows us the flood the backfield.
Stack = Pressure This is a pressure concept that allows us to attack with eight defenders putting players in every gap and closing down the backfield from the D gap as our force defender hunts the ball from the outside in. When we call stack we want to attack; we want those six stack defenders getting behind the LOS as quickly as possible, locating the ball, and killing the ball behind the LOS or spilling the ball into the hunters. We want our defensives ends hunting the ball from outside in and either stopping the ball in the backfield or spilling it deep behind the LOS towards the boundary.
Stack Defensive Line Technique use a 3 – point stance that is aggressive. By aggressive I mean that you need to use a toe – heel (or slightly deeper) staggered stance with the dominant hand down and around 18 to 24 inches from the up field foot. The offhand needs to be in a power position as if ready to sprint; cocked above and behind the near hip. Exploding off the ball is essential and the first step is key; it needs to be an aggressive power step into the gap. It is alright to teach the down hand on the slant side as well and often is an advantage if you can teach them to get into a stance using both hands. This is not the same as an offensive line stance.
Stack Penetration Technique The way they will penetrate into the gap is the defensive linemen will put their eyes on the hands or feet of the blocker in front of them. When their key moves their hands/feet they will get off the ball by exploding into their gap (BGO – Ball Get Off). The OLB will key the hand/feet of the nearest blocker to the gap he is penetrating; he must not stare but keep his head pointed straight. In either case the defensive linemen will all explode through the near hip of their gap assignment. See the table below for aiming points.
Stack Penetration Aiming Points Outside BackerDefensive TackleDefensive Guard IN Aims off the defensive tackles outside hip at the snap and attacks the C gap. IN Keys the hand of the blocker over and penetrates to the near hip of the blocker on inside of the B gap. IN Keys the hand of the blocker over and penetrates to the near hip of the blocker on the inside of the A gap. OUT Aims off the defensive guards inside hip at the snap and attack the A gap. OUT Keys the hand of the blocker over and penetrates to the near hip of the blocker on the outside of the C gap. OUT Keys the hand of the blocker over and penetrates to the near hip of the blocker on the outside of the B gap. Aims off the defensive tackles inside hip at the snap and attacks the B gap. Keys the hand of the blocker over and penetrates to the near hip of the blocker on the outside of the C gap. Keys the hand of the blocker over and penetrates to the near hip of the blocker on the inside of the A gap. GAP Aligns in the C gap in a three point stance. Keys the hand of the blocker on the inside of the C gap and penetrates off the inside hip of the blocker inside of the gap. GAP Aligns in the B gap. Keys the hand of the blocker inside of the B gap and penetrates off the inside hip of the inside blocker. GAP Aligns in the A gap. Keys the hand of the blocker inside of the A gap and penetrates off the inside hip of the inside blocker.
Engagement/Shed Technique All the stack players must get off the ball quickly on the first movement they see (whether that is the ball or the hand/foot of any of the near blockers). This is called BGO (BALL GET OFF). Secondly they must stay low and pierce the LOS. As they attack the near hip (aiming point) they must use the near arm and rip under and through the blocker if he attempts to block him. He must not get tangled up with any blocker as his job is to penetrate behind the heels of the blocker and then locate the ball and flow to it. Go-Rip-Flow should be their three step progression. The key is to get into the gap and then penetrate behind the heels of the line and then locate the ball in that exact order. The RIP technique can be a speed rip or rip & club (wrist, elbow, shoulder). The key is it has to be violent and explosive and allow the defender to create separation quickly. Part of our DEFENSIVE SHED FIT at the beginning of practice.
Be Aware! Aggressiveness is good but being overly aggressive is not good. Penetrate past the heels of the offensive line. Locate the ball. Move to the ball as square to the LOS as possible. If the ball carrier goes vertical and moves past you retrace your steps to your gap then pursue.
Thoughts On Stack Personnel If you have extra talent or you feel you have a very talented and/or gifted OLB or even defensive linemen dont hesitate to put them in the stack. Although I feel that having your superior talent in the hourglass (BACK 5) is essential to stopping the big plays you can improve the pressure you place on the offense by placing natural talent in those positions and letting them pin their ears back and get after the ball. Good talent in the stacks will also improve your force on the edges from your ends as well and increase the likelihood of a turnover in the pass triangle from the increased pass rush pressure.
Age Level and Calls STACK is the base of this defense. It is the simplest and most aggressive call we can install in this defense. It allows our players to be aggressive attackers to the ball. RED is a variation of this that turn our OLBs into reading defenders. It requires the OLBs to be trained in perimeter and alley concepts as well as pass coverage. SPREAD puts additional technical pressure on our OLB as they now have to cover in perimeter space. It is the same as RED but the OLB is now checking PASS to RUN. QUARTERS puts even more technical pressure on our OLB as they now have to cover in vertical space. ZULU is a SPREAD variation of STACK that puts the OLB back in pressure but it requires the OLB to be athletic and fast enough to close that ground on the ball quickly. PRESS is a pure hard corner coverage technique that requires the OLB to cover a defender in man and be able to stay with him vertically and laterally in open space. Eight and younger I would stick with STACK and use BEAR call MPP linemen. RED call only if the OLBs are good football players (RED or RED BEAR). Over the age of eight it is based on the ability of the team and the offenses you face. RED and STACK are both viable calls you can install. Over the age of ten all calls become viable based on need.
Front Six Advanced Calls These are advanced calls for the front six and they give us some nice variations that allow us to give a few different looks and twist in attacking offensive lines. BEAR is really a simplification of our interior line that allows us to look like GAM team as it places the guards and tackles in the A and B gaps and bear crawl them through while the OLBs align in the C gaps and blitz but we can call RED BEAR and have the OLBs read as well. Nice call for younger age teams or inexperienced (MPP) players. The BULL uses the LAUNCH IN LAP technique with all four defensive line men attacking the guards and tackles while the OLBs align in the C gap and blitz. It is basically a TWO GAP technique that aggressively displaces the blocker into the backfield. We can also call RED BULL to have the OLBs read. This is a great call for offensive lines that are basically sitting on their gaps trying to cover up their gaps expecting stunting and blitzing off our stacks. If offensive lines are area blocking and not coming off aggressively this is a great call because it gets the defensive linemen into the blockers and drives them off the line of scrimmage as they read flow. TWISTER (IN call with a line stunt) and TORNADO (OUT call with a line stunt) are nice adjustments to teach if you have some athletic linemen that can move laterally quickly and then get up field with some discontent in their heart. These could both be with the OLB reading calling them RED TWISTER and RED TORNADO. TIGER is a stunt between the two defensive guards while the defensive tackles attack the B gaps and the OLBs can either blitz the C gaps or READ (RED TIGER).
GAP CALLS This is a blend of the GAP (GAP IN) and the basic calls so that you can move the OLB into any of the three gaps. IN + GAP = GAP IN OUT + GAP = GAP OUT SPLIT + GAP = GAP SPLIT OLB has the same hunting landmark: near hip of the QB.
Bear Call The BEAR call allows you to use less than athletic linemen and fill space so it is really an adjustment to adapt to slower linemen. The defensive line align in the gaps with the defensive guards aligning in the A gaps and the defensive tackles in the B gaps while the OLBs align in the C gap and blitz into the backfield. The bear crawlers must explode into the gaps and crawl past the heels of the blockers. As soon as they do they must get their heads up and locate the ball immediately and get up and get to the ball. BearRed Bear
Bull Call The defensive linemen get into a four point power rush stance and they literally spring into the lap of the blocker and drive him back into the backfield as they locate the ball. If executed correctly they are playing a two gap technique in a very aggressive manner. It is essentially a flat out explosive bull rush. It is a great change up against offensive lines that are sitting on the line of scrimmage trying to locate which guy to block. The BULL call also will allow the OLB to come free in the C gap if the TE fans out to take the DE and does not block the OLB or on the open side. BullRed Bull
Bull Rush Technique Four Point Stance – aggressive lean. Explode into the chest plate of the blocker and power punch into the arm pits and drive the blocker back. Head up, locate ball, pound feet, drive blocker back. Locate ball, pull/push away blocker, square up, go to ball.
Twister Call Twister is an inside blitz to the A gap while the defensive guard drops their outside foot and crosses over the inside foot as the body stays square to the line of scrimmage. The defensive tackle will aim for the outside hip of the next blocker inside (guard) and attack through the gap just as if he was slanting into the B gap. As soon as the defensive tackle penetrates the defensive guard will cross the face of the defensive tackles blocker (tackle) and penetrate past the blockers outside hip. The defensive guard must stay flat and literally scrape the defensive tackle as he goes by so that he can get into the smallest space possible on the outside hip of the offensive tackle. The OLB must attack the inside hip of the offensive guards and go through it. If the OG fans out to follow the defensive guard or blocks into the B gap to pick up the DT he leaves the A gap open and OLB will be behind the LOS quickly especially if the center is focused on the opposite stack. TwisterTornado
Tornado Call Tornado is the exact opposite to Twister. The OLB will blitz into the C gap aiming for the outside hip of the offensive tackle. The defensive guard will aim for the inside hip of the offensive tackle and slant into the B gap. The defensive tackle will drop his inside foot and cross over step with his outside and scrape the defensive guard as he goes into the B gap. As soon as the DG goes vertical and he crosses the defensive guards butt the defensive tackle will go vertical and attack the inside hip of the offensive tackle and get into the C gap. This is a great call against offensive guards that are chasing the defensive guard into the B gap as well as a nice call for when the offensive tackle is stepping down inside to cover the B gap as the stunt will lure him inside so the OLB can get into the C gap easily. TwisterTornado
Red Twister/Tornado Call The addition of RED the OLBs dont blitz into their designed gaps instead they fake the blitz and read. This is a nice complimentary call to Twister and Tornado and very easy to install if you already have the RED call installed. It is great way of adding additional pressure on the inside and the DE is providing sufficient pressure on the edge so the OLB can read and respond to a good backfield attack. Red Twister Red Tornado
Dog Call Dog call tells the DG to slant inside and the DT to drop back into zone coverage (LB zone drop). Bull Dog tells the DG to use a BULL technique and the DT to drop into zone coverage (LB zone drop). This is a call we use in conjunction with our STACK, SPREAD, QUARTERS, and ZULU calls.
Basic Training for the Front Six Stack Drills: – Stance – Alignment – Recognition and Calls – Technique
Stance Drill #1 (Stance) Why: To teach the basic stances and foundations of the defensive line and outside backers. How: Coach will align them on a basic seven cones (tires) set up with the center cone being the center. Teach the two point balanced linebacker stance and the proper depth (3 to 4 yards). Teach the defensive linemen how to get into a proper 3-point and 4-point stance. Then teach them how the OLB is in charge of the stack and he makes the calls either vocally or physically (taps). Have them get into and out of their stances and check them to makes sure they are correct. Make sure the OLB depth is correct as well. C
Stance Drill #2 (Alignment) Why: To teach the proper alignment on offensive fronts (five, six, seven, eight man fronts) and how to quickly align on balanced and unbalanced (3:3, 2:4, 1:5, 0:6). Review and cover the shift call for the above (shift, double shift, triple shift) that the mike backer can make to align the interior front. Cover the open OT and how the outside backer automatically makes the GAP (unless RED). How: Coach will align them on various fronts with a snapper cone. Align them on a basic seven man front, six man front (GAP CALL is made on open side (no TE side), five man front (gap call made on both sides). Then have them align on an eight man front (MIKE calls shift to strong side). Then have them align on a nine man front (stay balanced). Next Step is review unbalanced sets out of a 7 man front (explain 3:3, 2:4 (shift), 1:5 (double shift), 0:6 (triple shift). Explain that an eight man front that is unbalanced simply add 1 shift to the above. NOTE: The MIKE makes a shift call it means to slide over by ONE MAN. Double shift means TWO MEN. Triple shift means THREE MEN. QUAD SHIFT means FOUR MEN (I have never had to use this but you never know when you have to adjust to a crazy formation. C
Stance Drill #3 (Recognition and Calls) Why: To teach our basic call and later on our advance call packages. Stress BGO (ball get off) How: Coach will take two stack teams have them quickly align, get into a proper stance, and prepare for ball/blocker movement. Once the coach quickly checks for both proper alignment and stance he will move up to the LOS and use either a foot or a ball for movement. The backers will be given a basic call (IN, then OUT, then SPLIT, then GAP) and on the movement queue they will fire off and execute that call. Once the players pass the blockers heels they will come to a full stop and the coach will check to make sure each defender is in the right gap. He should also check that they fire off on the very first movement and attack the right aiming points. The coach should teach each call separately then combine calls one at a time; see table below. Coaches need to stress that every player should get skinny and low into the gaps when they penetrate. Note: use various alignments to get the stacks used to aligning on different fronts. Note: you can use the next set of stacks with shields so that they have to perform BGO/Go-Rip-Flow Basic: IN/OUT/SPILT/GAP (use RED/explain) Advanced: BEAR, BULL, TORNADO, TWISTER, TIGER C
Stance Drill #4 (Technique) Why: To teach the specific techniques for the defensive line and OLB while stacking. Stack Penetration technique and Shed/Engagement technique. How: Coach will take two stack teams have them quickly align, get into a proper stance, and prepare for ball/blocker movement. One coach quickly checks for both proper alignment and stance he will move up to the LOS and use either a foot or a ball for movement. The backers will make their calls quickly. Coach will give a movement queue and as he does will then point to a bag that is standing (being held by a player) and the defenders will locate that bag and get to it and touch or tackle the bag (touch it to get every player moving to the ball), tackle to get them to locate, move, and make a tackle (gang tackle). Remind them to keep their belt buckle pointed into the backfield and move laterally as they close on the ball. The key is teaching BALL GET OFF (BGO) and PENETRATE PAST THE LINES HEELS AND LOCATE THE BALL Note: use various alignments to get the stacks used to aligning on different fronts. Note: place the bags at various depths to the LOS to get the defenders used to locating the ball as soon as they get past the heels of the blockers. Note: Reinforce that their job is to locate and kill the ball in the backfield and deny it access to the A, B, and C gaps. They must ignore blockers and find the ball. Their job is to penetrate and locate the ball. C
Get Off Drill Why: To teach our player to BGO (ball get off), penetrate behind the heels, locate the ball. Get to it square. How: Coach Holding a ball will simulate a snap and move ball. Defenders move on the movement of the ball. They explode off the line and into their assigned gap. Defensive line must locate the ball and flow to it square. OLBs must penetrate and attack the near hip of the QB (coach). Coach will move a few steps left, right, or towards the LOS. All defenders must flow to the coach and double tap him. Notes: check stance, alignment, BGO technique, and LOCATE technique. C
Pass Rush Why: To teach our player to convert to a pass rush to get to the passer. How: Coach Holding a ball will simulate a snap and move ball. Defenders move on the movement of the ball. They explode off the line and into their assigned gap as if to pass rush. Defensive line must locate the ball and flow to it square. OLBs must penetrate and attack the near hip of the QB (coach). Coach will drop 3 or 5 step and the stacks will convert to a pass rush and get to the passer. If the QB is prepared to throw and the defenders have not gotten to the passer they get their hands up and jump the ball when it leaves his hand. Notes: make sure the DL stay in their paths and stay square on the passer. Mix up the calls. Notes: Make sure that every defender maintains proper leverage on the passer. Once they see pass and confirm there is no dander of DRAW – no RB near the QB get vertical to the passer ASAP. C
Retrace Path Why: To teach our player to retrace their path when they penetrate to deep on a DRAW/DELAY/QB RUN OFF BROKEN PLAY. How: Coach Holding a ball will simulate a snap and move ball. Defenders move on the movement of the ball. They explode off the line and into their assigned gap as if to pass rush. Defensive line must locate the ball and flow to it square. OLBs must penetrate and attack the near hip of the QB (coach). Coach will move a few steps left, right, or towards the LOS. All defenders must flow to the coach and double tap him. Notes: check stance, alignment, BGO technique, and LOCATE technique. C
Bull Rush Technique Why: To teach our defensive linemen how to bull drive a blocker and flow to the ball. How: using a dummy, a blocker with a shield, an cone, and a ball carrier. 1): The DL will get in a four point stance and the blocker will be in a two point o-line stance holding a shield. When the OLINE steps forward the DL will fire off and explode directly into the blocker driving his palms into the arms pits. The purpose is to drive the blocker back as far as possible. The DL must launch violently into the blocker and when contact is made he gets his feet on the ground with a wide base and power drives the blocker back. The purpose of this drill is to master the explode portion and get the DL used to launching his body into the blocker. 2): Same as above except we put a cone five yards back from the blocker. Now the DL will drive the blocker back past the cone. The purpose of this portion is to get the DL to get his feet down and drive the already off balance blocker back. 3): We add a ball carrier five yards back and on blocker first move the ball carrier walks to the left or right and the DL must push-pull the blocker away and flow to the ball carrier and wrap him up. C 1 Explode C 3 Push - Pull C 2 Drive
Push/Pull Contest Why: to teach the DL how to execute a push/pull in a competitive arena How: Two defenders will grasp each others arm pits and on GO both DL men will attempt to push/pull their opponent on to the ground. First defender to put their opponent on the ground wins. You can have several pairs going at a time as long as you have one coach managing each pair. C 1 C 2 C 3
Fill the Pull Why: To teach our player to properly react and move on a pull block that happens in front of them. How: Coach Holding a ball will simulate a snap and move ball. Defenders move on the movement of the ball. They explode off the line and into their assigned gap. The rule is if you slant behind a puller to penetrate pass the heels, get square, expect a kick out on the opposite side, flow with the pull, find the ball. If the defender slants in front of the pull he must hold his ground as he penetrates, locate the ball, and flow to it as he keeps square. Notes: Stack OLB makes a call and they execute on first movement from coach or OLINE. Notes: It is important they get off the ball (BGO) and immediately respond to the pull after they penetrate. C
Split the Double Why: to teach our defensive linemen how to split a double team and penetrate beyond their heels or drop the double team at the LOS if they get contact. The OLB must realize that he is free man and must get through his gap and locate the near hip of the QB. How: Coach will signal a IN/OUT/SPLIT and on his snap count the TE/T will double team the DT and the OG/CTR will double team the DG. They must BGO and attempt to get behind the heels of the oline, square their shoulder, and locate the ball. If they get caught by the double team they must latch on to the near arm pit (cloth under arm pit) or lock both blockers tricep in (arm lock) into your chest and drive one knee down as they pull down on both arm pits/arms and drive the double team into the ground at the LOS creating a barrier. They must do this as soon as they realize they will not penetrate past the heels. The OLB must quickly get into his gap before the OLINE can come off their block and make a play and get to the coach. Notes: you can use advanced calls as well in this drill as you move on into the season. CC C