Consider helping MosleyTheCat keep the web hosting hamsters fed and happy. Please Donate.

Author Topic: split 4-4 weak against midline?  (Read 6208 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline coachnick

  • Silver
  • Posts: 1921
  • Total likes: 17
  • offense dw defense gambler
  • Coaching: High School
  • Offense: Multiple
split 4-4 weak against midline?
« on: November 27, 2012, 07:02:23 PM »
I was just reading on another forum a slight critique of the split 4-4 vs mid line....here it is and I would liek to get some responses:

1. A gap or off tackle to the TE side. The split 4 only truly has a numbers advantage to the weakside and banks on the notion that few OCs have the willpower to keep calling the same 1 or 2 plays to attack A gap for modest gains all night.

2. Midline is a real pain and one of the reasons that so many teams have gone away from the Split 4, IMO. For option, what worked for us when I played in a Split 4 was Cov 2 to the field with the flat defender on pitch. We'd mix up what we did with the DE to change up the QB's read--he was assigned to qb in base, but we'd "crash" him onto dive or "fire" him onto pitch. This meant we'd put an ILB on QB or an OLB on pitch, respectively. It was simple.

Offline Dusty Ol Fart

  • Platinum
  • Posts: 7445
  • Total likes: 837
  • Coaching: 12 & Under
  • Defense: 6-3
  • Offense: Pistol
  • Title: Retired
Re: split 4-4 weak against midline?
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2012, 08:13:14 PM »
Not really sure I agree with this assessment.   I dont see this D as weak against anything between the tackle positions. 
Not MPP... ONE TASK!  Teach them!  :)

Offline JrTitan

  • Moderator
  • Silver
  • Posts: 1295
  • Total likes: 82
  • Coaching: Middle School
  • Defense: 4-4 Split
  • Offense: I Formation
  • Title: Coordinator
Re: split 4-4 weak against midline?
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2012, 09:16:06 PM »
I used to be an "assignment" guy vs. the option, until I got hammered by an option coach who had an answer to anything we did schematically.  We have been most successful against option teams when we played the blocking scheme by using good technique and our base assignments.  Play first threat.

Vs. midline teams, we adjust the DTs to 2 techniques.    Most teams that run midline will not try to run it to anything other than a 3 tech.  They can and do, but it's not as successful and typically can't beat you with it.  They will move on to something else.  Spill everything.  Don't allow the PSG to veer release - wash him down and tackle the FB.  ILB reads closed window in A gap and fills hard to B gap.  Play inverted cover 2 (higher levels would/could use robber coverage) to get FS down in the box - usually unblocked.   Make them execute. 
"They call it coaching but it is teaching...You do not just tell them...you show them the reasons"

"You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important."

“…you have no bad habits to break...We either coach it or are allowing allowing it to happen.”

Offline ZACH

  • Administrator
  • Diamond
  • Posts: 10292
  • Total likes: 889
  • Coaching: 12 & Under
  • Defense: 10-1
  • Offense: One Back
  • Title: Head Coach
Re: split 4-4 weak against midline?
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2012, 11:22:53 PM »
Tilted 3 techs would help this...no?
"Some athletes have division 1 dreams and jv work ethic" - random

Offline coachnick

  • Silver
  • Posts: 1921
  • Total likes: 17
  • offense dw defense gambler
  • Coaching: High School
  • Offense: Multiple
Re: split 4-4 weak against midline?
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2012, 11:40:37 AM »
I used to be an "assignment" guy vs. the option, until I got hammered by an option coach who had an answer to anything we did schematically.  We have been most successful against option teams when we played the blocking scheme by using good technique and our base assignments.  Play first threat.

Vs. midline teams, we adjust the DTs to 2 techniques.    Most teams that run midline will not try to run it to anything other than a 3 tech.  They can and do, but it's not as successful and typically can't beat you with it.  They will move on to something else.  Spill everything.  Don't allow the PSG to veer release - wash him down and tackle the FB.  ILB reads closed window in A gap and fills hard to B gap.  Play inverted cover 2 (higher levels would/could use robber coverage) to get FS down in the box - usually unblocked.   Make them execute.

I got ya~~~

Offline JrTitan

  • Moderator
  • Silver
  • Posts: 1295
  • Total likes: 82
  • Coaching: Middle School
  • Defense: 4-4 Split
  • Offense: I Formation
  • Title: Coordinator
Re: split 4-4 weak against midline?
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2012, 03:18:36 PM »
As far as the other comment in the critique

Quote
1. A gap or off tackle to the TE side. The split 4 only truly has a numbers advantage to the weakside and banks on the notion that few OCs have the willpower to keep calling the same 1 or 2 plays to attack A gap for modest gains all night.

I'll qualify this since I don't know the context in which this critique was give, but I disagree with the above:
  • The defense has shaded defenders in both the B and C gaps.  The 7 tech is a beach to root out on any off-tackle play.  I hate seeing 7 techniques and tryring to run power or counter to that gap
  • Unless the offense can base block the 3 tech, the ILB is a free hitter on the TE side - B, C and D gaps
  • There is an A gap bubble to the TE side, but it is easliy defended if you coach the correct technique
  • It's an even front so its easliy adjusted to match up numbers with the offense

Quote
2. Midline is a real pain and one of the reasons that so many teams have gone away from the Split 4, IMO. For option, what worked for us when I played in a Split 4 was Cov 2 to the field with the flat defender on pitch. We'd mix up what we did with the DE to change up the QB's read--he was assigned to qb in base, but we'd "crash" him onto dive or "fire" him onto pitch. This meant we'd put an ILB on QB or an OLB on pitch, respectively. It was simple.

There has not been anything really new in football since the forward pass.  The Split 4-4 was at one point considered the national defense in the time of Ara Parseghian (1960s-1970s).  Hell, I played in the system in college in the early 1980s.  As more teams went to the triple option,  defenses adjusted to Okie fronts and the Split 4-4 went away because 4-4 coaches insisted on trying to defend it with "assignment" football.  Too easy for the option coach to scheme against "assignment" football since they knew exactly how the defense would defend it.  As option football fell out of favor for more wide open pass oriented offenses, the 4-4 (4-2-5) came back into vogue.  Offenses have adjusted and are incorporating more option into their wide open offenses. 4-4 coaches have had to change the way they defend the option in this current cycle.  Defend the blocking scheme using your base assignments and techniques (i.e., exchange gaps and assignments based on how they are tryng to block the front), spill everything, play first threat.   
"They call it coaching but it is teaching...You do not just tell them...you show them the reasons"

"You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important."

“…you have no bad habits to break...We either coach it or are allowing allowing it to happen.”

Offline blockandtackle

  • Bronze
  • Posts: 767
  • Total likes: 459
  • Coaching: High School
  • Defense: Other
  • Offense: Other
  • Title: Assistant
Re: split 4-4 weak against midline?
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2012, 02:27:22 PM »
As far as the other comment in the critique

I'll qualify this since I don't know the context in which this critique was give, but I disagree with the above:
  • The defense has shaded defenders in both the B and C gaps.  The 7 tech is a beach to root out on any off-tackle play.  I hate seeing 7 techniques and tryring to run power or counter to that gap
  • Unless the offense can base block the 3 tech, the ILB is a free hitter on the TE side - B, C and D gaps
  • There is an A gap bubble to the TE side, but it is easliy defended if you coach the correct technique
  • It's an even front so its easliy adjusted to match up numbers with the offense

I was the original poster on the other board he's referring to.  My background with the Split 4 came as a player in the late 90s at the varsity level and I've also studied the defense extensively since getting into coaching.  I like the defense, but I don't think it's invulnerable and after getting ran over by wedges, traps, and triple option by offenses who were content with 3-5 yards a play, I feel it does have some areas that are vulnerable, just like any defense.

The questions I was responding to were:

"1. In your experience, where have teams game planned to attack you the most in a non- option attack?"

The A gaps are a soft spot in the defense if you're matched up with a patient team who's ok with running iso, counters, and wedge there.  That's a big bubble and most OCs will want to go after it.  Offensively, we used to run QB sneak as an automatic check vs. Split 4 fronts and averaged about 5 ypc doing it.

We would also see a lot of teams trying to attack off tackle to the strongside.  This wasn't nearly as soft as the A gaps, but Veer and twins-over sets did give us trouble, as well as the Wing-T down play and G Blocking schemes.  Teams who could do that well would just grind us down little by little.  We played a good Split Back Veer team and they wore us out with just Inside and Outside Veer to the strongside.

Spilling kickouts and playing Block Down, Step Down along the DL would have probably helped us on the strongside, but we played our DEs by old-school 50 contain rules.  I advised the OP on the other board to use a 7 tech and spill by the rules you seem to be advocating.  That makes it much stouter vs. handoffs to the strongside, but it's still not a great numbers situation vs. option.

"2. Option is difficult - especially Midline. Any one find a solution to that they really like?"

We struggled a lot vs. Midline.  Midline is meant to attack both A gap and the 3 tech, so the Split 4 gives it to them by alignment.  I simply told the OP what we did have some success with and what's worked for me since coaching other defenses.

I'm interested in this idea of defending the blocking scheme, rather than playing assignment.  It sounds intriguing, but I'm also a little skeptical.  "Exchanging gaps and assignments based on how they're trying to block" sounds like a lot of variables for a lot of kids to process in a very short amount of time vs. a good triple option team, while "playing first threat" seems like it could also be a bit of a gamble when two or three defenders identify "first threat" as the same guy when the offense already has a numbers advantage in blocking at the second level.

How would this idea work on grass?

Offline JrTitan

  • Moderator
  • Silver
  • Posts: 1295
  • Total likes: 82
  • Coaching: Middle School
  • Defense: 4-4 Split
  • Offense: I Formation
  • Title: Coordinator
Re: split 4-4 weak against midline?
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2012, 10:28:10 PM »
I was the original poster on the other board he's referring to.  My background with the Split 4 came as a player in the late 90s at the varsity level and I've also studied the defense extensively since getting into coaching.  I like the defense, but I don't think it's invulnerable and after getting ran over by wedges, traps, and triple option by offenses who were content with 3-5 yards a play, I feel it does have some areas that are vulnerable, just like any defense.

I agree with you that all defenses have vulnerable spots.  My point is that if you know what those are you can coach techniques to minimize the exposure.

"1. In your experience, where have teams game planned to attack you the most in a non- option attack?"

The A gaps are a soft spot in the defense if you're matched up with a patient team who's ok with running iso, counters, and wedge there.  That's a big bubble and most OCs will want to go after it.  Offensively, we used to run QB sneak as an automatic check vs. Split 4 fronts and averaged about 5 ypc doing it.

We would also see a lot of teams trying to attack off tackle to the strongside.  This wasn't nearly as soft as the A gaps, but Veer and twins-over sets did give us trouble, as well as the Wing-T down play and G Blocking schemes.  Teams who could do that well would just grind us down little by little.  We played a good Split Back Veer team and they wore us out with just Inside and Outside Veer to the strongside.

Spilling kickouts and playing Block Down, Step Down along the DL would have probably helped us on the strongside, but we played our DEs by old-school 50 contain rules.  I advised the OP on the other board to use a 7 tech and spill by the rules you seem to be advocating.  That makes it much stouter vs. handoffs to the strongside, but it's still not a great numbers situation vs. option.

The key to controlling the trap is making sure the tackles control the guards.  We also align in a G front unless we got double tights.  If we stayed in double 3s, we had to cheat the ILBs up to 3 to 4 yards vs 5 yds in the base.  The 3 technique can't allow the PSG to release inside.  We had them ride/ step down and look up to the pulling guard.  The backside 1 tech needs to get on the hip of the pulling BSG and the backside LB needs to fill.  The tackles and backside LB do most of the work vs the trap.

Other adjustments vs teams that like to trap and wedge (we don't see a lot of wedge) is to use "fingertip" alignment with the tackles which usually results in the tackles being 2/2i controlling the A gap and tilting the tackles ("pinch" technique)

We have not had a problem with G/down schemes because we just don't let the TE block down.  Fairly successful defending the bucksweep.

"2. Option is difficult - especially Midline. Any one find a solution to that they really like?"

We struggled a lot vs. Midline.  Midline is meant to attack both A gap and the 3 tech, so the Split 4 gives it to them by alignment.  I simply told the OP what we did have some success with and what's worked for me since coaching other defenses.

I'm interested in this idea of defending the blocking scheme, rather than playing assignment.  It sounds intriguing, but I'm also a little skeptical.  "Exchanging gaps and assignments based on how they're trying to block" sounds like a lot of variables for a lot of kids to process in a very short amount of time vs. a good triple option team, while "playing first threat" seems like it could also be a bit of a gamble when two or three defenders identify "first threat" as the same guy when the offense already has a numbers advantage in blocking at the second level.

How would this idea work on grass?

This is what  we have adjusted to for option:
  • A and B gap players have dive
  • C gap players have QB
  • Flat defender has pitch. No flat defender, EMLOS (D gap player) has pitch
  • Alley defender has QB to pitch

Because we teach our LBs to play over closed windows and to run thru open ones and we teach stepping down on veer releases, those assignments can change after the snap.  As an example, we saw a lot of inside veer to the weak side 5 tech.  Traditionally, the DE has been told to attack the QB.  Two things kept happening:  the offense would load block the DE or we could not consistently stay off the dive.  As a result, we had 3 guys on the dive or our QB player was blocked.  QB had field days.  Now we have the 5 tech play the block of the tackle.  The PST blocks down, he rides him down and looks up the FB (first threat) since he is now the B gap player.  Playside LB takes his read step to the B gap, reads it as closed and plays over the top.  He is now the C gap player and plays QB (first threat).  By playing their base rules, they have exchanged gaps and responsibilities.

The FS needs to be in the alley playing QB to pitch to even out the numbers vs. the option.  That was a hard lesson too.

Worked fine on grass.  It's exactly how an under front plays the option. We actually based out of an under front this year due to change in our varsity defense.
"They call it coaching but it is teaching...You do not just tell them...you show them the reasons"

"You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important."

“…you have no bad habits to break...We either coach it or are allowing allowing it to happen.”

Offline Dusty Ol Fart

  • Platinum
  • Posts: 7445
  • Total likes: 837
  • Coaching: 12 & Under
  • Defense: 6-3
  • Offense: Pistol
  • Title: Retired
Re: split 4-4 weak against midline?
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2012, 07:57:57 AM »
Coach Arnold:

I would submit to you that any defense is weak against a patient offense once they discover a "weakness".  The key term is patience. I submit that most folks at the youth level are not systematic. They look for the Home Run each and every play.  On the flip side a patient offense has to put up points too.  Cant have stalled drives I know this from experience.  My squads have owned entire games possession wise, yardage wise, but lost 8-7 because all that patience did not produce points.   ;)   
Not MPP... ONE TASK!  Teach them!  :)

Offline blockandtackle

  • Bronze
  • Posts: 767
  • Total likes: 459
  • Coaching: High School
  • Defense: Other
  • Offense: Other
  • Title: Assistant
Re: split 4-4 weak against midline?
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2012, 01:53:08 PM »
Coach Arnold:

I would submit to you that any defense is weak against a patient offense once they discover a "weakness".  The key term is patience. I submit that most folks at the youth level are not systematic. They look for the Home Run each and every play.  On the flip side a patient offense has to put up points too.  Cant have stalled drives I know this from experience.  My squads have owned entire games possession wise, yardage wise, but lost 8-7 because all that patience did not produce points.   ;)

No argument there at all.  When I was coaching youth ball, the first HC I worked with didn't even put a pass or option in the playbook despite having our best athlete at QB.  A lot of the others just made a living on "fast kid right" and "fast kid left" with nothing to attack up the middle.  Heck, I'm on varsity now and a lot of teams we face aren't systematic in their approach, so any sound defense that forces the offense to be patient and do stuff they don't want to do is a good defense in my book.  I'm just saying... those are the weaknesses of the Split 4 front IMO.

I like most of the adjustments that JrTitan is advocating here.  We used to do those, too.

For me, the Split 4-4 is the name of a specific that uses dual 3 techs and a pair of ILBs lined up in A gap.  When you start adjusting out of that to G fronts, Wide Tackle 6s, Unders, etc. it's still a 4-4, but not a "Split 4" at that moment.  The new alignment is going to have its own weak points.  If you sit in the Split DT alignment, a smart team will try to hit you in A gap.  That doesn't mean it'll work, just that they'll *try*, which is what the OP had asked on the other board.

BTW, it's nice to find this forum.  I'm a varsity coach, but there's some good stuff here!  Nice to meet everybody!

Offline blockandtackle

  • Bronze
  • Posts: 767
  • Total likes: 459
  • Coaching: High School
  • Defense: Other
  • Offense: Other
  • Title: Assistant
Re: split 4-4 weak against midline?
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2012, 02:01:41 PM »
JrTitan, we agree on a lot here, so it's nice talking ball with you.

This is what  we have adjusted to for option:
  • A and B gap players have dive
  • C gap players have QB
  • Flat defender has pitch. No flat defender, EMLOS (D gap player) has pitch
  • Alley defender has QB to pitch

Because we teach our LBs to play over closed windows and to run thru open ones and we teach stepping down on veer releases, those assignments can change after the snap.  As an example, we saw a lot of inside veer to the weak side 5 tech.  Traditionally, the DE has been told to attack the QB.  Two things kept happening:  the offense would load block the DE or we could not consistently stay off the dive.  As a result, we had 3 guys on the dive or our QB player was blocked.  QB had field days.  Now we have the 5 tech play the block of the tackle.  The PST blocks down, he rides him down and looks up the FB (first threat) since he is now the B gap player.  Playside LB takes his read step to the B gap, reads it as closed and plays over the top.  He is now the C gap player and plays QB (first threat).  By playing their base rules, they have exchanged gaps and responsibilities.

The FS needs to be in the alley playing QB to pitch to even out the numbers vs. the option.  That was a hard lesson too.

Worked fine on grass.  It's exactly how an under front plays the option. We actually based out of an under front this year due to change in our varsity defense.

What about teams who run inside and outside veer?  This is solid vs. inside veer, but it seems like outside veer could give it problems and we struggled in that when I played in the system against a good Split Back Veer team and we do see some outside veer from the gun.

Offline JrTitan

  • Moderator
  • Silver
  • Posts: 1295
  • Total likes: 82
  • Coaching: Middle School
  • Defense: 4-4 Split
  • Offense: I Formation
  • Title: Coordinator
Re: split 4-4 weak against midline?
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2012, 02:23:13 PM »
JrTitan, we agree on a lot here, so it's nice talking ball with you.

What about teams who run inside and outside veer?  This is solid vs. inside veer, but it seems like outside veer could give it problems and we struggled in that when I played in the system against a good Split Back Veer team and we do see some outside veer from the gun.

Welcome coach - glad you are here.  Hope you visit and post often.  We can benefit from your experience.

Same concept on OSV but admittedly harder read.  We typically see OSV only to the TE side which means the offense has to decide whether to block the 7 tech or option him.  If the TE blocks the OLB he is the flat player and needs to work outside to the pitch when he reads option. The 9 tech defensive end, steps down with the TE block and takes QB (he is the C gap player) when re reads option.  If the TE blocks out on the 9 or releases to the safety, the OLB reacts back inside and has QB (he is the C gap player) and the 9 tech plays the pitch - that's the tougher read.

What differentiates the Split 4-4 from any other 40/60 front defense for me is not the alignment of the LB/DT group but the alignment and assignment of the OLB/DE group particularly the strong side.  Strong side OLB in 7 tech and the DEs playing in air like old school 50 style ends playing contain is unique and presents challenges to most youth schemes.
"They call it coaching but it is teaching...You do not just tell them...you show them the reasons"

"You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important."

“…you have no bad habits to break...We either coach it or are allowing allowing it to happen.”

Offline seeindouble

  • Silver
  • Posts: 2144
  • Total likes: 0
  • Coaching: 12 & Under
  • Defense: 5-3
  • Offense: Undecided
Re: split 4-4 weak against midline?
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2012, 06:38:12 PM »

What differentiates the Split 4-4 from any other 40/60 front defense for me is not the alignment of the LB/DT group but the alignment and assignment of the OLB/DE group particularly the strong side. 

Yes, that's what draws me to this defense.
Love the open, and closed side looks that it presents to an offense.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2012, 07:19:34 PM by seeindouble »

Offline Dusty Ol Fart

  • Platinum
  • Posts: 7445
  • Total likes: 837
  • Coaching: 12 & Under
  • Defense: 6-3
  • Offense: Pistol
  • Title: Retired
Re: split 4-4 weak against midline?
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2012, 09:32:31 PM »
Yes, that's what draws me to this defense.
Love the open, and closed side looks that it presents to an offense.

Thats one reason I decided to use Jr's material this past season.  I cant say for sure that it was 100% scheme but we didnt drop off a lick compared to our 6-3 seasons.  I will admit that I was blessed to have several kids with good speed and athleticism.  Speed Kills!!   ;)
Not MPP... ONE TASK!  Teach them!  :)

Offline coachnick

  • Silver
  • Posts: 1921
  • Total likes: 17
  • offense dw defense gambler
  • Coaching: High School
  • Offense: Multiple
Re: split 4-4 weak against midline?
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2012, 07:50:52 PM »
SEE THAT JR i PROMOTE YOU!!!