Alernative Alignments and Stunts From the Under Front

By Jerry Gordon

Play defense, not defenses.

Every great defense is based on sound defensive fundamentals taught by coaches and employed by players. If you are not seeing it on the field, you are not coaching it.

As most coaches would tell you, especially at the high school level, the philosophy of the defense is to stop the run first. Effectively stopping the run forces the offense to be more one-dimensional and thus more predictable.

As a coach decides what defense his team will use as its base, he must think about what advantages and disadvantages each defense inherently contains.

When playing the under front, consider these alternative alignments and stunts.

In an under G call, the nose aligns in a 2i technique instead of a shade technique of the nose. This varies the alignment of the nose and forces the center to come off the ball at a different angle of attack.

It is also useful if the guard is a weaker player than the center.

In an under I call, both the nose and the tackle align in a 2i technique. This call insures that the center will not depart the line of scrimmage.

It is also a useful call against teams that like to run a short trap and midline option. Many teams like to direct a midline option to the 3 technique.

In an under 33 call, both the nose and the tackle align in a 3 technique.

It is a useful call against teams that like to run a long trap and veer option. Many teams like to direct a veer option to a 1 technique.

It also is a good call against the pass as now there is less likelihood of a doubleteam on the nose.


In an under 22 call, both the nose and the tackle align in a 2 technique.

This defense can effectively slant or angle from this call.

Tag steps defined

In some instances, defensive linemen are called upon to stunt inside. It could be a called blitz, a line stunt or a slant or angle call.

When a defensive lineman stunts to his inside, it is called a tag step. A tag step is a six- to 10-inch lateral step into the next inside gap. The defensive lineman must remain low, keep a flat back and rip his outside arm across the face of the offensive lineman he is lined up against. The rip helps protect the defensive lineman from the attack of the offensive lineman.

His eyes should now read the V of the neck of the next adjacent offensive lineman. For instance, if the end were to take a tag step, he would read the neck of the guard. The reads for him would be the same as if he were lined up over the guard.

If the neck of the guard comes toward him, he squares his shoulders and become a B-gap player

If the neck of the guard goes away from him, he becomes a heel line trail player.

Jerry Gordon has coached with the Boston Breakers of the USFL; on the college level at Northeastern, UMass and Yale; and at the high school level at Sandwich (Mass.) and Potomac Falls (Va.).

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