Podcast Review: Learn how to defeat the Tite front

By Zach Dunn | Posted 6/24/2019

Experiences with the Tite Front

Coach Drinkall started seeing the tite front about four or five seasons ago. One of the most important things to know when attacking it is understanding how it got to where it is and how it has evolved.

RELATED CONTENT: [Podcast] All In On Offense – Defeating the Tite Front with Matt Drinkall, Army Offensive Assistant

It is eerily similar to the “Bear” front of the 1980s that Buddy Ryan utilized.

What has happened is the inverse of what happened in the 1980s. The Bear front/46 defense stuff that Buddy Ryan started doing in the ‘80s was implanted to stop two-back offenses. This forced teams to go to the single-back offense to move the ball schematically against it.

What has happened with the tite front is the inverse of that. It manifested to stop single-back teams. Now you’re seeing teams attach a second back or tight end to have success against it.

Understanding what caused it to start and understanding what it’s trying to do is the most important part of attacking it.

Keys to the Tite Front

The RPOs forced this thing to start. Offenses are using RPOs in two different ways.

  1. Tagged/Built-in perimeter screens that are an extension of your outside run game that are dictated pre-snap
  2. The other kind of RPOs post-snap reads that are downfield reads isolating certain players


Because of offenses that now do at least one of the things above – and many that do both – it became important for defense to defend all of it.

Most people are single-back and in the gun. If you think about the 1980s and being a two-back team, being a single-back team today is the equivalent.

Everyone on the defensive side of the ball is drawing up their day one install against the single-back and spread formations now instead of the “old-school” 21 personnel.

So those DEs kicked into the B-gaps to protect the inside backers and now they’re all teaching the fall back technique with the linebackers where the defensive line can move with the offensive line and the linebackers will make them right.

A lot of this has made running the ball from a single-back formation nearly impossible.

The biggest thing is understanding why the defense was invented and involved to stop the single-back run game.

You must avoid playing into the strength of the defense schematically. They spend all of their time stopping the gun single-back run game.

Starting Point for Attacking the Tite Front

Drinkall goes into the game plans against two ways.

  1. Game Plan
  2. In-Game adjustments


In the run game I want to live in two run families. I don’t want to have to add new plays.

  1. Gap Game
  2. Inside Zone


If you can attack with a three-family series from the gap game, you are going to get a lot of mileage out of it.

The three plays are power, counter and counter trey.

The caveat is you only run these three plays to a three-man surface. Meaning a guard, a tackle and an extra body. That might be a heavy tackle, or it could be a tight end.

By doing this you build in a frontside combo of the third and second man. They will work that DE all the way back to the backside linebacker.

Play-Side Double

With the three schemes, you end up with the same block between the tackle and extra body next to him.

Your frontside guard blocks down on the nose, with the frontside tackle and extra body next to him all blocking down and back. This leaves the frontside inside linebacker and outside linebacker unblocked.

Back Blocks

Those two are left for your kick out block and your puller.

Leave 2

If you do it like that, you get unparalleled angles on the frontside double teams as they are working on negative angles all the way back to the backside.

Now you can run power, counter and counter trey all the exact same way.





Counter Trey

Counter Trey

As a play caller, this allows you to window dress the play however you want with motions, shifts, tackle over, etc.

Coach Drinkall is a big believer in carrying volume in one of two ways:

  1. Pre-Snap
  2. Post-Snap


If you don’t carry any volume, you are really easy to defend.

If you carry a bunch of volume post and pre-snap, then you are not fundamentally great in any way.

If you want to live and die in one or two formations, then your volume has to come post-snap where you are carrying quite a bit of plays and play families.

Drinkall prefers his volume on the front end. He wants the defense thinking a lot and preparing for shifts and motions but ends up running the same handful of plays.

When it comes to the inside zone game, you must be able to run it two ways.

I’m going to talk again about a three-man surface.

If you use the five offensive line plus the extra body, you have a three-man surface on one side.

There are two ways to run inside zone. There are six guys on offense and seven guys on defense.

You must account for their seventh guy somehow.

The two ways to run inside zone against the tite front:

  1. To the three-man surface


If that’s the case, you want all of your calls built off of the center blocking the nose. The guards block the two inside linebackers, the tackles block the defensive ends and the three-man surface extra body has the outside linebacker, which means you have to control the opposite outside linebacker. You can control him with a RPO by formation by detaching No. 2 or No. 3, or you can control him by scheme by adding a second back or tight end.

Doing this screws up all of the defenses run fits. All of the double teams and the climbs to the second level are a way more vertical push.

The center is going to block the “0” nose by himself.

Center Sets the Point


Most coaches don’t like that idea, but that doesn’t matter because the nose is the run key for the running back.

The running back is chasing the play-side leg of the center and reading that nose. The nose can get his butt kicked, but he just has to lock on so the back can make his cut off of him.

This makes life harder on the inside linebackers who are trying to figure out where the ball is going to flow.

Now the other way to run the inside zone is the exact opposite:

  1. You run away from the three-man surface


Now if you do that, you are short a man.

The center is now going to work to the call-side inside linebacker. The call-side guard and tackle have the defensive end and outside linebacker.

Your center is really working with the backside guard to handle the nose up to the inside linebacker to the call side.

The tackle and extra body are handling the backside defensive end and backside inside linebacker.

2-Man Inside Zone

This leaves the backside outside linebacker unblocked.

You can control him in one of three ways:

  1. RPO
  2. Detach a receiver to hold the guy
  3. Add somebody in the box to block him


At this point in the blocking scheme the offensive line is really working forward.

You have to coach up your running back to really push the heel line of the offensive line to get the linebackers to gap-out frontside because this play is going to hit backside.

The only other thing that Coach Drinkall likes against the tite front is “dart.” It’s really good from the boundary.

Ball Carrier Aiming Point

In all of the gap game, the ball is always going to hit in the normal track frontside because you get so much movement on that 4i to the backside linebacker.

In gap schemes, the ball is almost always going to hit over the call-side guard’s original alignment.

With the inside zone game, if they are working it to the three-man surface, then it can hit from call side B-gap to the backside B-gap.

When you are working inside zone to the two-man surface, that ball is going to hit from the front side A-gap to the backside C-gap.

Coaching Points vs. Tite

Coach Drinkall mentions that you have to teach your linemen to never value speed over leverage.

With the guards being uncovered, they want to climb and get to the second level as fast as they can.

The biggest coaching point for the guys that are covered – the center and both tackles – is you have to move your feet but not go anywhere.

Drinkall doesn’t want his linemen gaining ground vertical up the field immediately. Coach wants them to move their feet, let the defensive linemen dictate the movement, then lock and use the defender’s momentum against them.

For the linemen that are uncovered – the guards – they do not want to be climbing and making contact too soon. If the back is 8 yards behind them when they lock on to the linebacker, they are not going to be able to block them by the time the ball carrier gets to them.

The guards need to slow down so they are making contact when the ball carrier is on their heels and truly puts the linebacker in a conflict.


Coach prefers dart from the hash to the field.

The call-side tackle is man on the defensive end. This is better because most teams are boundary pressure teams so that defensive end is going to expand making that block easier on the call-side tackle.

The call-side guard and center are on a vertical double from the nose to the backside linebacker.

The call-side guard has to realize that there is going to be lateral flow in the backfield, so the linebackers are going to flow completely different than a downhill A- or B-gap track play.

The backside guard is going back and blocking the 4i defensive end.

The backside tackle is pulling up and around for the frontside inside linebacker.


A coaching point for the tackle on the pull is if he is moving to his right, he wants to make contact with his right shoulder.

The tackle is only concerned with the quarterback run. This means as he pulls up in the hole, he will keep his nose at 12 o’clock. They will never move to 1 or 2 o’clock to make a block. If that linebacker goes screaming out of the box to play the fly sweep, then he will look to safety level for the next guy to block.



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