When you look at that exchange film and find out you’ll be defending a running quarterback this week, it gives you the chills. The best athlete on the field is going to have the ball in his hands on every single snap.
But don’t worry. There is hope. Check out this week’s JDFB Quick Clinic for a few simple tips to prepare your defense for that tough assignment. You can listen to the episode using the player at the bottom of this post or wherever podcasts are available.
Game Planning for Defending a Running Quarterback
There’s a few big mistakes coaches make when preparing to defend athletic QBs. We’re focusing on shutting down a quarterback that is a primary runner here. This is NOT about defending the extremely dangerous Dual Threat Quarterback. That’s a whole different discussion.
The first step to defending a running quarterback is making sure you’re really seeing what you think you are seeing. Is that play really a Zone Read? Or is it a designed QB keep? While they may look the same, the blocking scheme completely changes what you’ll be working on with your Defensive End all week.
Figure out what the plays are really designed to do. Is the QB creating on his own? Or are these carefully constructed blocking schemes to feature his athleticism? Is he reading it? Was that a play action or a keep all the way?
Diagram a few of the top plays out. This is a huge help for really understanding what an offense is trying to do. And how sophisticated the system is. I’ve included a download for a blank play sheet below – just enter your email address and it will be sent straight to your inbox.
Run Fits and Option Responsibility
The next critical piece is your run fits. High School running plays pretty much fall into two categories. Zone blocking schemes or gap blocking schemes.
So that running quarterback doesn’t really change too much. You’re still going to see one of the two. Maybe with an extra blocker, since the Quarterback is carrying the ball. But the concepts remain the same.
Are your run fits in order? If you don’t know the answer, you need to learn the Umbrella Principle for perfect run fits. Learning the Umbrella Principle and teaching it to your players also takes care of your option fits.
Build the Package for Defending a Running QB
You know what they do. You know your defense can stop them. Now you just need a few tricks up your sleeve to seal the deal.
If you have a good defensive football system, that shouldn’t be a problem. You can easily make adaptations by pulling levers to give your defense an edge. Alignment adjustments and assignment adjustments are going to be the keys here.
Just listen to this episode of the JDFB Quick Clinic to find out a couple of simple adjustments any defense can make when you’re defending a running quarterback!