Attacking 3×1 with Weakside Overload Pressure

We have seen a resurgence in the 3×1 formations this season in the teams on our schedule. Except for the three wing-t teams we faced all of our opponents had some type 3×1 formation in their offense. I love being fundamentally sound on defense but I love pressure just as much and I’am always looking for ways to send pressure versus what a offense does best.

Early in coaching years I use to like sending pressure from the the trips side to try and make the QB make a quick read. But I have grown fond of sending pressure from the weakside of 3×1 formations. If you read one my earlier posts about bringing pressure with cornerback blitz was my early stages of experimenting with weakside pressure to 3×1 formations.

This blitz I’m going to talk about this post is a simple overload 6 man blitz with Zero Coverage behind it. We are a 4-2-5 defense so in TCU terminology this blitz would be a “Dog Blitz” (DIAMGRAM #1).


3×1 is technically an unbalanced set it forces a defense to show its hand a little bit. So many offenses I face go 3×1 to see how you line up and then call what they think is the best play. So I really like this overload pressure because most teams I face run either half slide or full side protection (DIAGRAM #2)

full-slide half-slide

We use this as a chance to get a 2 on 1 on the RB in both pass protections.  In high school football most running backs are not good pass blockers yet so sometimes we get two free blitzers but at least one when we run it right. They key to this blitz is that pre snap we try our best to make it look similar to all our other coverage adjustments to 3×1 to not tip it off.  But sometimes we do show it depending on the down and distance and the situation in the game.

As you can see in (DIAGRAM #1) below
We are bringing four off one side of the center for the overload. We are bringing two off the edge on purpose the DE on the blitz side knows he is rushing now with what we call a “bully stunt” he will still rush C gap but stay on the tackle’s outside shoulder rush as tight as he can to try and shorten the edge for the Weak Safety blitzing off the edge. I also like this blitz versus the run as well for teams who like to run weak side in 3×1 formations.

Now like all things in football there are strengths and weaknesses and the biggest weakness here is that you run Cover 0 there is no MOF player so if you get beat its 6pts,

Also the MLB has the RB man to man which is a match up I dont mind because if the ball is on the hash its not much room for RB to have the ball in space versus our MLB who is pretty athletic, but we easily tag a “Peel” call with this blitz which then the Weak Safety blitzing will peel with the RB. We do that if we dont like the match up or if the ball is in middle of the field or we bringing blitz from the field instead of the boundary.

Lastly some runs to the 3×1 side can be tough to handle if you get caught in this blitz. Some run plays can hit fast and you lose two flow and pursuit players who are backside blitzing. With your secondary in Cover 0 that can make the run tougher to handle to the 3×1 side.

With proper game planning and knowing what your opponent does and situation that would be good to call this blitz this can be a great addition to your blitz package.  Here are some clips of this blitz in action below


Attacking Empty with 6 Man Pressure

Empty formation can be tough to defend  because you must defend literally sideline to sideline and you have 5 immediate vertical threats. That can be tough on your defense, especially when you don’t have to personnel to match 5 WR empty sets which is a common theme in high school. Empty formations also allows the offense the ability to spread the defense out and run the ball between the tackles and on the perimeter, as well. In addition, screen plays out of empty formations can be very troubling versus the empty set.
Over the years if you really work on it and practice it you can formation your defense. Based on offensive tendencies you can have a built in blitz checks so your the aggressor and not letting the offense dictate.

One way I like to attack empty is with the blitz I will talk about in this post. In TCU terminology this blitz is called “Bullets B”(Diagram #1) versus your typical empty slot formation.


It’s a simple plug blitz, but we like it versus only 5-man protection. In “Empty,” we typically like this versus non-athletic QB’s. It’s easy to disguise and someone will come free if we blitz with correct technique. We also should be able to force a quick throw out of the QB or get him flushed out the pocket. Any of these scenarios is fine with us, but this is high risk high reward because it is easy to see, no MOF safety in “Cover-0” which lets us know if someone gets beat vertical, there is no help and probably a TD.

An important component to this blitz is for our players to understand controlling their gap with no seams or cracks in our front. It’s important for your LB’s to know how to blitz. You don’t want them just running into the lineman and getting absorbed which can leave a seam. They need to know its important to control the inside half of their gap. Our DE’s in this blitz are the contain rushers. They must not make the mistake of getting off their rush lanes. Also, the defense doesn’t want to rush too far up field as a contain rushers because it opens up a scramble lane.

This is one simple way you can attack an offense who is using empty and here are some cut-ups of this blitz below.