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.