Defending Four Verticals in Youth Football 

Defending Four Verticals in Youth Football 

As the Spread Offense continues to move across the country and create an impact at all levels defensive coordinators are forced to stop it. In order to truly understand how to stop the Spread Offense you must understand that everything in the Spread stems from the Four Verticals passing concept. If you are able to effectively stop the Four Verticals with a one high safety you have the numbers advantage necessary to shut down the Spread.

Defending Four Verticals in Youth Football

In reality shutting down the Four Vertical concept is not overly difficult. The most effective way to defend the passing concept is to put two Safeties deep and have the Cornerbacks play a sag man coverage against the #1 receivers. The effect is a four wide net that the receivers can’t get past. The major issue with this is that you are putting at least 6 defenders deep and wide (assuming you cover the flats with two defenders) which leaves only 5 defenders to stop the run. The effect is that the offense can take advantage of your lack of numbers in the box and run the ball for long gains.

To stop the run the traditional answer is to roll down a Safety to cover the flats so that you can use another linebacker in the box. This gives you six defenders in the box which should be enough to stop the run if the offense splits four receivers out wide. The issue with rolling a defender down though is that now your Safety is forced to defend both receivers running up the seams which leaves the Quarterback an easy decision.

Related Content: 4 Vertical Passing Concept 

In order to effectively stop the Four Verticals concept, without sacrificing stopping the running game, the answer is to teach the Alley players to play through the number two vertical on their way to the flat. When these Alley defenders read pass they must get their eyes immediately to number two. If number two is running a vertical route they will stay with him and get their eyes out to number one. If the number one receiver is running vertical they can continue to stay with the vertical route from number two and force the Quarterback to make a perfect throw. If the number one receiver runs any in breaking route they will come off the number 2 receiver to defend it.

In the end offenses rely on a numbers game to attempt to stretch the defense out horizontally and vertically. When an offense is able to successfully stretch the defense horizontally and vertically the defense is in trouble. They have to find a way to constrict the offense and use their own rules and routes against them. By teaching the Alley player to wall and carry, a defense is able to do just that, and as a result win the numbers game.

Related Content: 4-4 Stack Defense in Youth Football 

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