Regardless of the many different offenses you will face, knowing how to handle both pocket passers and mobile threats will go a long way in turning your defenses not only into good units, but into great units.
I want to give you a few tips that I have picked up over the years that have helped me turn my defenses into walls that China would be envious of.
Now I am all about scheming and finding that extra edge through outsmarting an offense, but make no mistake about it.
Talent is more important than scheme.
A good example of this is my Kent State dynasty from a year ago.
I had just enough talent on offense to shred defenses with my Air Raid Offense.
However, my defense was absolutely terrible the first two seasons because I had such little talent.
My defensive schemes were sound, but I didn’t have enough speed and strength to even slow down MAC teams.
So keep that in mind whenever you install any type of strategy.
Defending Pocket Passers
I love to defend teams with QBs that are statues.
They better pray that their protection holds up or their QB will be cruisin’ for a bruisin’.
There is only one technique that I use to get after pocket passers on a routine basis.
This technique is simply double-teaming their tackles.
This technique works best against 21 (2 backs, one TE) and 11 (1 back, 1 TE) personnel.
It’s also just as effective against a QB under center and in the Gun.
These types personnel are when the offense has one Tight End at the line in a 3-point stance.
Sometimes if the offense has a dynamic impact player at Tight End, they will move him around all over the field (which is awesome by the way).
As long as you see just one Tight End on the line, then technique will work.
Since I like to play a lot of various zone coverages, I like to use a 4-3 against both 21 an 11 personnel.
In the 4-3, my favorite plays to use are “Crash 2” and “Thunder 2”, shown above.
I use Crash 2 more since I don’t really need 2 OLBs going after the QB much but if you are feeling froggy and have a couple of studs at OLB, then use Thunder 2 some.
Other Zone plays with a blitzing LB will work as well so don’t you have to only use these plays.
There are only two steps you need to use this technique
- Slide your line away from the Tight End
- Control and move your blitzing LB beside the Defensive End to double-team the tackle
The offense is in 11 personnel so I simply slide my line away from the Tight End and move my blitzing LB to the same side.
Now I can double-team their Left Tackle #75.
#75 can not defend us both so either my Defensive End will come free or my LB will.
Here #75 decided to block my DE which leave my LB #58 wide open to destroy the QB.
Their HB #4 doesn’t stand a chance against my LB.
Sometimes the offense will flip the formation so if their TE is on the left side, simply flip your play and the other OLB will be your blitzer, then you use the same steps again.
As you can see, the offense flipped the formation, but I simply flipped my play, slid my line away from the TE and moved my blitzing LB beside my DE.
Even though it is obvious to the offense what your intentions are, it doesn’t matter.
Their QB better get the ball off quick or he is going to eat some grass.
What’s even more nasty is when these offenses use play action, if their protection is not there then their QB has no chance to survive the game.
Defending Dual Threat QBs
I like to defend mobile QBs a little differently than pocket passers.
I’ve discovered that there are two types of Dual Treat QBs: one who likes to run when there is even an ounce of pressure and the one who likes to stay in the pocket until the last second.
I like to get a feel of their QB in the first quarter to see how he likes to do things by using the above technique a time or two just to see how he reacts.
If he tries to tough it out in the pocket then I use my usual technique.
However, if he is Michael Vick and just loves to run around the field all day then I will use a different technique.
This technique involves only using zone plays with no blitzing: your basic Cover 2s, 3s, and Quarters Coverage.
This technique is all about keeping the QB in the pocket and making him beat you with his arm.
This technique only has two steps too:
- Slide you line to the Tight End so your linemen match up with an offensive linemen
- Control either and OLB or a Defensive End and simple play Zone coverage close to the line to “spy” the QB along with playing zone coverage
Of course it is nice if one of your linemen comes through to get the QB but these mobile QBs in NCAA 06 are great at identifying pressure and making big plays with their legs if you let them.
We simply want to occupy their entire line while playing soft coverage with our controlled DE or OLB to spy the QB
Yes there are plays in the game that have a spy built into them but that is all they do which is spying.
At least with this technique you are controlling a defender that can play coverage while still spying the QB at the same time.
Let’s pretend that in this situation QB Wolford (great name) is a dual threat QB that loves to leave the pocket whenever possible.
Notice that I am controlling the OLB and will both spy and play zone during the play.
After the ball is snapped, I hold steady in my zone, watching both WR #89 while keeping an eye on the the QB.
The QB decides to stay in the pocket and throw to #89 which is a big mistake since I am right there ready to pick it off and take it to the house.
Here I decide to control the right DE to both spy and to play coverage. Whatever the QB decides to do, my DE should be ready to react to the situation.
My linemen are occupying their line and I am waiting on the other side.
If one of my line can get pressure, great.
If not, their speedy but noodle-arm QB is going to have make plays with his arm, or run towards me!
I actually recommend against Mobile QBs that you control either a DE or a LB on the right side of the field since most QBs like to run to the right more than the left which in this case you will be ready for him when he comes your way.
Against 12 and 22 personnel, it will be hard to get after the QB because the TEs will be in the way, but most teams will running or using play action with those formations anyway do blitzing won’t be needed as much
Against 10 personnel, I like to use Nickel while using the same technique above but using plays that might have your Nickelback (your 3rd CB) blitzing or one of your two LBs blitzing as well.
I actually don’t blitz as hard against 10 personnel because the offense is spread out enough to where a WR will be open by the time you get to the QB, but make no mistake, I still like to blitz here from time to time.
That is why it helps to recruit great players who can make plays on their own so you can amplify these techniques.
While I haven’t experimented much with the 3-4 Defense, I believe these techniques will work as well.
The only difference is that some roles will be reversed and you won’t have to use as many formations to make it all work.
If I was a 3-4 guy, I would use the 3-4 at all times except maybe against 10 personnel unless my main 11 guys were really talented.
Against heavy option offenses, the QB is just another running back in their offense so blitzing isn’t really needed.
Hopefully these tips will make your defense a little better than before.
I’ve raised many an All-American both at LB and at DE using these techniques.
Using these strategies with big time players is an absolute blast and knocking QBs out of games never gets old.
If you have other strategies that you have used to defend QBs, put them in the comment section so we can discuss them.
There is always room to grow and learn in this game.