3-3 Stack With Split Field Coverages

3-3 Stack With 5 DBS

Today we are going to look at using the 3-3 Stack or 30 Stack Defense with Split Field Coverages behind it.  The 3-3 Stack is still very popular in High School and Junior High Football, while it is being used in college and the NFL primarily as a 3rd Down pass rush defense.  Some schools choose to use it VS. spread offenses but there are very few teams in college basing out of it anymore.  The 3-3 Stack allows you to use smaller players that are more athletic because they are constantly moving.  The 2 Way Go really disrupts blocking schemes in Junior High and High School and the ability to bring multiple second level defenders causes confusion for offenses.  Generally speaking there will be 2 Defensive Ends over the offensive tackles and a Nose over the Center.  There will usually be 3 Linebackers stacked directly behind these defensive lineman.  The fact that the defensive lineman are head up and the backers are stacked behind them gives the opportunity for tons of movement and gap exchanges.  This can be a way to equalize bigger more physical offenses with smaller players, or to get more speed on the field.

One of the issues with the 3-3 Stack is the fact that there are 2 BIG bubbles on each side of the center that offenses can exploit with Gap Schemes in the run game.  The premise will be to remove one of these bubbles by slanting or moving the front and bringing at least 1 LB with it.  You will usually be moving into an under or over front.  You can maximize your speed on the field with this concept, but keep in mind you can move out of plays as well as you can move into them.  I want to look at playing Split Field Coverages behind the 3-3 Stack which really maximizes your speed on defense.  Now we can have the ability to move and play 2 High structures which is how we base on defense.

I feel like that quote describes a lot of the Stack teams I see in High School.  To move just for the sake of moving on defense can be problematic.  Yes the Stack lends itself to a ton of great movements, but you need to have a disciplined approach to those movements so you can attack an offense while protecting your defense.  Your movements should be calculated with your coverages behind it.  I think this is part of the reason you see so many 1 High structures behind the Stack Defense.  It seems like the 1 High guys feel like they can move anywhere and be sound behind it.  While that may be true, I do not think that is the best way to attack the offense.  By using 2 High Structures you can defend spread offenses a little better in my opinion, but you must also teach a little more to your players.  You will have more coverage options vs 2x2 and 3x1 sets, but your movements and coverages must match each other.  This will give us the ability to defend sets based on the picture in front of us which is the premise of our Split Field Coverages.  When you narrow it down you can only see Pro Sets, Twins Sets, and Trips Sets on your Read side, and single receiver or 2 receiver sets on your Away side.  If you can coordinate your movements with the coverages you want to play to each look you can build a really productive package.  Your 3 Stack LBS will become "Hybrid" players that will need to learn more than 1 role in a coverage.  That may not make a lot of people comfortable, but if you are used to playing split field coverages then you are used to teaching this way.  In addition an offense can trade or motion you into some things you can't control so cross training linebackers and safeties is in your best interest anyway.

At the end of the day I think the 3-3 Stack can create a lot of issues for an offense.  Getting the offense to over think and play slow while your players are attacking full speed will lead to great results.  Depending on your staff and the knowledge of your players you can keep this package as simple as you want, or add more to it to make it extremely diverse.  I have always hated preparing for 3-3 teams on offense and with proper planning and coaching I think the 3-3 can be a very effective every down defense at the High School, Junior High, and Pop Warner levels.  Maximizing team speed while creating movement with multiple second level defenders that can rush or drop is a very intriguing concept.  I think about using the 3-3 Stack more and more each year as long as I can fit it into what we already teach.


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