Ian Boyd’s got a good piece on running on one of the latest defensive wrinkles, the tite front. What’s that, you ask?
The premise is simple, by using a normal zero nose tackle and then DEs playing on the “inside eye” of the offensive tackles the defense can cancel out the A-gap and both B-gaps AND offer up resistance to the offense’s best athletes (the tackles) from getting downfield and picking off linebackers.
The design of the front allows the defense to play with five or even four defenders in the box which negates the ability of the offense to spread them out on the perimeter and beat them in space. It also lends itself easily to sub-packages as the D can match the offense’s inside receivers. If they play a TE or FB and a slot WR then the D can play an OLB and a nickel DB. If they play with two TEs the D can play with two OLBs, two slot WRs can draw a dime package.
You may find it of particular interest because Boyd cites Georgia twice in the article, once on defense…
Georgia reveled in the sub-package versatility the front afforded a year ago while leaving Roquan Smith in the middle of the field to run wild behind their very sturdy three-man fronts.
… and once on offense.
Finally, the tite front depends on those three down DL to really hold the point of attack. They have an advantage in that look over others, which you can see clearly from this two play series of the LSU Tigers trying to defend Georgia on the inside zone play the Dawgs run better than anyone.
Play one against an Under front:
The RG helps bump the nose inside for the center and then picks up the downhill LB and that’s it, the A-gap is left bare and Elijah Holyfield is running downhill for a first down. The double teams of inside zone are straightforward and have easy angles when DL align in the gaps like this.
On the next play LSU moved into the tite front.
You can see the strenghts and weaknesses of the front here all on display at the same time. The backside 4i DE gets doubled and driven off the ball, even though he’s scrapping like wild, the playside 4i DE is combo blocked and he fits his gap fine. The problem is the nose and the cost of doubling the backside 4i. The OLB is not well contained by the zone read and the front is ultimately successful at spilling the ball to the perimeter where the overhangs are running free to the ball.
You’d hope to just power it inside where the guards are uncovered but the zero nose and backside 4i are difficult to stop from shooting backside gaps if they aren’t doubled but doubling them ends up having the same effect as singling them, the ball is spilled outside to LBs.
You can see the potential trouble though for the front, if the Dawgs had a TE blocking the OLB and better matchups inside (particularly on the nose) then then this style of front runs into major trouble.
Read the whole thing. Basically, the eternal chess match between offensive and defensive coordinators plays on.