USC Base Defensive Fronts

I am just starting a new collection of basic defensive fronts used by USC. Here are the three most common fronts you will see USC use during the course of a game. Keep in mind that defensive personnel groupings (4-3 or 3-4) as loosely tossed around by the media mean almost nothing to coaches who are looking for specifics. They want to know what gaps are the players lined up in. For example is the NT aligned strong or weak on the play. Is the DT playing a 3 technique spot strong or weak? To the field or to the boundary? Etc.

Basic USC Defensive Fronts

1. Over Front Example SL & EZ

Here is an “Over” front  out of 4-3 personnel. In this case it is pretty clear that the secondary is in Cover 1. In this case Ohio State is in a one back set with the QB under center and a TE Bunch formation to the wide side of the field. Here is a better viewing angle to see what is going on. By an Over front the 3 technique DT is to the strong or TE side of the formation and the NT is weak in a 1 technique alignment. One DE is in a wide five technique to the weak side and the other is solid or heads up on the opponent.

2. Under Front Example SL & EZ

Here is the same formation formation for Ohio State later in the game with the strength now into the boundary of the field. USC this time aligns in an Under Front with Cover 1 in the secondary. Here is a better viewing angle from the end zone angle. The DT is now in a 3 technique to the weak side along with a 5 technique. To the strong or TE side of the formation USC has a 1 technique a 5 technique player and a 9 technique player. Note that LB’s are the 5 technique and 9 technique players in this case. Clay Matthews was actually a hybrid DE/LB for USC in many situations due to his versatility.

3. Double Eagle Front Example SL & EZ

Here is the same basic offensive alignment by Ohio State again later in the game. The strength is again into the boundary on the play. Post snap this might have been some type of quarter quarter half coverage in the secondary but I was not certain. From behind this time you can see the NT is heads up on the center in a 0 technique alignment. There are two 3 technique players on the outside shoulders of the guards. The #10 LB Cushing is in a 5 technique alignment weak. SS Kevin Ellison is cheating down on a run blitz. To the strong side Clay Matthews is heads up on the end man line of scrimmage (EMLOS)

One formation by Ohio State and three different base defensive alignments by USC. Actually each of these plays was a one back power play by Ohio State. I don’t think they even tried to disguise it much out of this formation. As I recall they did not have a stellar fullback during the season this game was played and they tried a lot of 2 TE sets as a replacement.

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