Welcome to Week 8 of TDG's Football Seminar. This week, we take a look at the 5-2 Monster formation.
Since the integration of the spread offense, defenses have had difficulty disguising soft spots in their formations. They are often forced to give them away through alignment. Two weeks ago, we looked at how Michigan State responded to this challenge by staying in Base. Another way to respond is to become more flexible.
This has been done in two primary ways. First, defenses have begun to recruit and develop hybrid players. That High School safety who was too big to play coverage at the next level? Now he's a linebacker who can blitz, cover tight ends, and stop the run. That linebacker who grew out of his body? He's now a Leo rusher.
Second, defenses have gone on the offensive. As Sun Tzu would have put it, "Force is the energy of concentrated action." In football, that means an overload blitz with stunts in the opposite direction.
The overload blitz with opposite stunts did not begin with the spread. As this seminar has consistently pointed out, new concepts are just old concepts with a wrinkle. Overload with stunts traces its root back to at least the 1950s and 60s. This blitz design was a key feature of the 5-2 Monster formation. In the Monster, the defense lined up with five down lineman and two linebackers. There was also a "Monster" defender who lined up to the strength of the offense. The nose guard lined up over the center.
In this formation, the defense had numbers to the strong side where offenses liked to run. As a result, offenses tried to run to the weak side, where they expected a numbers advantage. This was exactly what the defense wanted. As Sun Tzu said "Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance." While the 5-2 lined up to the strong side, the defensive line used angle stunts away from the Monster player. What was thought to be an unbalanced defense was in reality balanced.
In the modern game, the Monster has been adapated in several ways. First, the scheme of overloads and stunts has moved to attack passing situations. When the Monster reigned supreme, offenses did not throw the ball often. Today, the most popular pass protection is five lineman and a running back. To avoid wasting an offensive weapon, the running back usually dual reads the defense. To dual read means to first look at one potential blitzer, and read his motion. If the defender rushes the quarterback, the running back is responsible to block him. If he does not, and the running back has no other responsibilities, the running back runs a pass route.
One of the best ways to attack a dual reading running back is an overload with a stunt. Defenses can blitz multiple defenders and drop another defender into coverage. We talked a bit about this when we discussed fire zone blitzes. Here's an example
If the defense adds in a stunt, they attack a common pattern in spread offenses. On passing plays, they will overload the blockers. More important, if the offense calls a run, they will go directly into the overload. Most spread offenses prefer to send the running back away from the side he lines up on. The quarterback reads the backside. Blitzers read through the running back to the quarterback, so they can account for the quarterback. Therefore, if the quarterback pulls the ball, he should be hit by two blitzers.
Now let's say he gives the ball to the running back. Because of the angle stunts, the defense should be well positioned to stop the run. In the best case, this concept can create pressure with as few as four defenders! Behind the blitz, the defense can run either man or zone concepts. This keeps the defense unpredictable, but on the attack.
Reading For Next Week
Next week we will discuss Art Briles and the Baylor Offense.