‘CRUSH!’ — Expanding the Tilt-Nose Defensive Concept
Derived from the Steel Curtain defense of the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, the idea of tilting an inside lineman at a 45-degree angle into the A-gap between the center and guard has led to the Stunt 4–3 defense made popular by George Perles (one of Chuck Noll’s defensive assistants during those Super Bowl years), and has also been installed into various other defensive schemes.
Running a high school defense, I am no different than my opposition on the offense. Offensive coordinators love to throw as many formations and different looks as they can in an attempt to confuse my defensive players. I like to return the favor. My initial installation of of the Tilt-Nose was simple: our Nose Tackle would shift from a 0-Tech to the 45-degree look at mid-cadence by the quarterback. It was to create indecision by the center or guard with blocking rules, or set up a twist stunt between my Mike linebacker and the Nose. Plainly, it was something to add for offensive coaches to see on video.
A few weeks after installing this defensive wrinkle, I receive video of our next opponent and it included a minor surprise. The opponent’s coaching staff had installed the Double Wing offense and taking away the wedge and toss plays gave us the best chance of winning. (Double Wing coaches, please don’t bombard me with ‘last man with the dry erase marker’ counter responses. I am simplifying the scenario immensely.) I wasn’t as fortunate as many coaches running the 33-Stack defense. We were a Divsion-5 school in Ohio and my three down linemen were, being very kind, on the light side of the DL spectrum. So I created a scheme I call Cougar. Cougar has the two inside linemen in the 45-degree angle — Double Tilt-Nose. I have also used this formation as a change-up for short-yardage/goal line situations.
Expanding Cougar to Crush!
The above diagram shows the base Crush formation. This is a simple adjustment which utilizes the eleven defenders on the field for my 33-Stack/4–2–5 multiple defense scheme. Our ‘Y-Call’ has our Archer (strong Spur), Strong (strong end), Nose (strong tackle) and Mike backer on the declared strong side. In the diagram we have declared the strong side to the field. Our Lance (weak Spur), End, Tackle and Will backer align opposite.
Archer/Lance — Inside shoulder on outside shoulder of TE. At the snap, jam the TE with inside arm/shoulder, leave outside shoulder free. If running back flares to their side, must break off into coverage.
End/Tackle/Nose/Strong — Align at 45-degree angle with inside shoulder at the ‘i’ Tech (Strong/End at 4i, e.g.) of opposing player. The aim-point for the ‘tilts’ are the outside hips of the offensive lineman to the inside.
Will/Mike — Heels at 5-yards depth. Inside shoulders aligned with down lineman’s outside shoulder. Have ‘B’ gap responsibility or scrape to flow.
Corners/Free Safety — Man coverage.
You will notice the video contains a couple of five-man front examples as well. This was opponent-specific. I have found this to be extremely helpful as a change-up as well as compensating for a lack of high school talent. It works even better with a better range of talent.