USA FOOTBALL COACHING SCHOOL BY JAKE GILBERT WESTFIELD HS LINEBACKERS

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1 USA FOOTBALL COACHING SCHOOL BY JAKE GILBERT WESTFIELD HS LINEBACKERS Playing linebacker is the most challenging job anyone on this team will encounter. It is an honor to play LB here. You are involved in every aspect of the game as a linebacker. You must have excellent coordination with the secondary in stopping the pass. You will also be asked to put pressure on the QB in our blitz package. You are expected to play sideline-to-sideline as a linebacker. You are expected to be the most physical and most punishing player on the field. You also will be expected to know the assignment of not only your position, but the entire defense. You must be a leader of the defense and must be able to move a player who is out of position. These assignments will require you to be the best conditioned, most observant, most studious, most disciplined, and most mentally tough player on our defense. As a linebacker, you should be the best tackler on our squad. You should also have a relentless attitude in getting to the ball on every play. Your thorough knowledge of the defense and your ability to play and lead our defense will determine the success or failure we will have as a team. HOW GOOD DO YOU WANT TO BE? The six most important traits that we are looking for in a LB are: 1) Plays Hard and Fast relentless, aggressive, decisive 2) Gets to the Football runs well and gets off of blocks 3) Disciplined performs his assignment every play and never busts 4) Good Tackler sure tackler, stops ball carriers in their tracks 5) Good Pass Defender makes plays in the passing game 6) Good Blitzer brings it on the blitz and can rush the passer 5 STAGES OF A PLAY 1. ALIGNMENT a. Each defensive call features a suggested alignment based on the front, stunt, and coverage called. The bottom line is that you must align in a way that gives you the best chance to do your job. Your horizontal alignment is based on the call. You will have the open gap in front of you, but you may plus or minus your alignment based on the offensive formation (ex: offset back) or the defensive call (ex: safety rolling down to here position beside you). Your vertical alignment should be 5 yards on a normal down and distance, 4 yards on short yardage (macho call), and 6 yards on a long down and distance (deep call). We will shorten our vertical alignment in goal line situations (never be deeper than 1 yard in end zone) or if the LB is in a 9 technique. b. Stance. The stance is critical because it is the starting point of executing your assignment. We want to be comfortable so that there is no wasted movement and we can play fast. i. LB off the LOS - 2pt. stance. Weight on balls of feet. Good bend in knee and hips. Feet almost shoulders width apart with feet slightly pigeontoed. Pads down, chin up, hands and arms relaxed, never on knees. Heels slightly off the ground. Be comfortable, ready to play.

2 ii. 9 technique - Square with inside foot slightly forward. Your inside foot should be slightly outside the TE s outside foot. Assume same 2 pt. stance iii. Blitz stance - Inside foot up with most of weight on inside foot, curl your toes to prevent false steps. c. Pre-snap read. Look at the splits of the O-line. Close splits could be a zone play. Deep splits could mean a pull. Light hand pressure or low butts could mean pull or pass. Every snap should consist of communication of stances and splits (Red/Pink calls). Film study should enable you to pick up on tendencies of the opponent you will be lining up against. Things you MUST recognize: Down and distance, Formations and Tendencies, Splits, Depth, and Stance of OL. 2. INITIAL KEY a. The LB on the LOS keys the TE to the pulling linemen to the flow of the backs. b. LB s off the LOS will key the near back to the flowside linemen. c. There will be times that our game plan requires us to change who we read. Sometimes we will read guards. Sometimes we will read a running quarterback. d. When blitzing, key ball movement to the inside hip of the gap you are blitzing. 3. READ a. The backs will give us our first key and the line will confirm run/pass. Never false step. Take a perfect 1 st step. Attack DOWNHILL once you read your keys. Be slow to go, fast once you know. Yell out pull or pass if you get that read from your second key. Defeat the block or react to pass. FLOW KEYS: Outside Fast = Scrape Outside Slow = Shuffle to Vertical = Fill Away Fast = Over the top scrape, leverage the RB Away Slow = Shuffle to Stack, 1.5 yds Behind b. If you are playing a 9 technique, punch the targets and read the near shoulder of the TE. Squeeze all drive blocks. Defeat the reach block by gaining a 2 x 2 alignment. Vs. pass get to your landmark or cover your assignment. Vs. a down read or zone away, pick up the backs for your second key. If flow is to you, spill all blockers. If flow is away, be slow to leave and slow as you leave. Keep your hand on the hip of the TE and play the cutback from the LOS to depth. 4. PURSUE a. All out, maximum effort to the ball. Get a piece of EVERY TACKLE. Cause a fumble or be there to recover it. Cause and interception or catch a tipped ball. Only good things will happen when hustling to the ball. 5. PRODUCE a. It s not good enough to get lined up correctly and hold your gap or cover your assignment. That is what average players do. You must produce-tackles, turnovers, big hits, etc. b. After your gap/responsibility is secured, we must be able to rely on you to make plays. Make plays that come to you, and contribute on plays away from you.

3 LINEBACKER DRILLS 1. MOVEMENT DRILLS a. Bags Using the step-over bags, we will master a variety of patterns to improve our quickness and footwork. b. Shuffle Breaks Shuffle laterally and break down hill immediately on the coach s cue without taking a false step. c. Lateral Run Run laterally to the sideling while keeping your chest square to the LOS. d. Run-Shuffle-Run Facing a ball carrier, maintain cutback position 1 ½ yards behind him. When he runs, lateral run. When he shuffles, you shuffle. e. 3 Line Drills Facing the coach, three lines of LB s will work movements such as backpedal and linear hip openers based on the Coach s signals. f. Change of Direction Drills The coach will point in a variety of directions, emphasizing staying low, changing direction quickly, and avoiding false steps. 2. READ DRILLS a. Read Steps LB s take perfect first steps based on a key by the RB. b. 9 Tech. Reads Sam LB s read the TE from a 9 technique and react to down, reach, drive, zone, and pass reads. c. Flow Reads Following perfect read steps, LB s will attack their gaps while executing their run fits. Inside flow = inside gap. Outside flow = outside gap. Run through the first gap you can to make the play. We will use the following flow reads with two backs.

4 Split Full Flow - Tight Full Flow - Off Tackle Full Flow - Wide Counter Flow d. Gun Reads Reading the QB as a runner, we will read near back to far back to playside guard. These reads will be essential to stop the zone read play. e. Walkaway Reads Sam and Will LB s will practice reads from a Walkaway technique. High hat = Pass. Low Hat = Run. f. Clear/Cloudy Two LB s pair up with two DL to practice gap exchanging. The LB will read his keys and react accordingly. If the near back is to the LB, he will attack his gap. As he fills, the LB will feel for a down block by the OL on his side. If the OL blocks down and the DL closes, the LB will have a cloudy read and scrape tight to the outside. If the OL blocks out or reach blocks, the LB will have a clear read and will fill in his gap.

5 3. PASS RUSH DRILLS a. Moves LB s will work rip, swim, chop, spin, and bull pass rush moves. b. 1 on 1 When possible, LB s will rush live against OL and RB s. c. Gauntlet LB s will work moves on blockers lined up in a straight line. 4. BLITZ DRILL a. Blitz Technique Practicing defeating blocks as we blitz, we will work on blitzing from every technique. We will practice pre & post snap blitz reads. 5. BLOCK PROTECTION a. Cut Drill Working laterally, the LB will use proper technique to defeat cut blocks by a line of OL lunging out from their knees. b. Perimiter Cut A scraping LB will stay square to the LOS and defeat a cut block by a perimeter blocker. c. High-Low One LB works against three OL. As the LB works laterally, the OL can attempt to cut him or base block him. The LB will use the proper technique and defeat either block. d. Butt and Press Using the near foot and near shoulder, we will longstride into a blocker without braking to practice the butt and press technique. We will work downhill and lateral from one blocker to the next. e. Sled Using hands and powerful hips to strike, we will work on 6 point explosion, 2 point explosion, and defeating blocks against the 5 man sled. f. 3 on 1 Three blockers line up next to each other facing one LB. The LB will attack each blocker individually as if taking on an iso and will reset between reps. We will use a forearm shiver to T him up. 6. PASS COVERAGE DRILLS a. Drop Drill The LB drops to his landmark and levels when the QB levels. Two receivers will be flanked on either side of the LB, five yards away. The QB will throw to one of the receivers. The LB must read, react, and make the play. b. Drop Reactions LB s will drop to their landmarks in Cov. 2 or Cov. 3 and the QB will simulate 3 step, 5 step, sprint, boot, and play action. The defense must react accordingly. c. 7 & 9 Reactions LB s will read their keys and react to the routes by #2 and #3. The QB will simulate 3 step and 5 step. d. Man to Man LB s will work outside man (Cov. 1) or inside man (Cov. 0) techniques against RB s and TE s. We will work all 3 on 2 and 2 on 1 concepts.

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