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Founder and Owner of the Flexbone Association. Since 2007 we have provided the tools necessary for teams to succeed running the Flexbone Association System. Over the last ten years over 200 teams have been instructed by the Flexbone Association. I've consulted with teams and or run camps everywhere from Belfair, WA to Key West, FL. The Flexbone Association strives daily to help coaches succeed with this time tested offense, I have been a football coach for 16 seasons, currently at Harrison High School in Kennesaw, GA I played at St. Mary's Springs High School in Fond du Lac, WI under legendary head coach Bob Hyland. I've been fortunate to be part of five state championship teams (1997,1998,2002,2011,2012). In 2011-2012 St. Mary's Springs led the state of Wisconsin in scoring and set consecutive school records for points scored, Psalm 27

How to Attack the 4-3 Under Defense Part One

A common defense played either at the high school or college level is the 4-3 Under defense (as diagrammed below)

4-3 Under


The first thought you must have when game planning any defense is how are they doing to defend triple option? Who will we be reading when we run our plays in either direction? Your second thought process should be: by them aligning in this fashion what are they giving up? Third, in order to run triple option, will aligning in a different formation help us do so? Game planning against this defense, gives you the head coach or offensive coordinator the chance to examine this defense fully, then develop a game plan to beat it.

Teams who utilize this 4-3 Under type of look on defense will more than likely give you the 1-5-9 look to the field and the 3-5 look to the boundary. What they are trying to do in theory is to outnumber you to the field to try to get you to run everything into the boundary where you will have a numbers advantage. Any play that occurs in the middle of the field will likely force them to play the numbers to what they perceive as your strong side. 

When looking at this defense from a Flexbone Association Academy perspective, you will notice you can run triple option to both sides. Ideally against any defense you want to run this to the 1-5 side if you can, although this particular defense does present some problems in doing so, namely the defense technically has you outnumbered by using the shaded defender to that side. Below is the diagram of how the count system would look against this defense.

Triple Option Count  to 1-5-9 Side v. 4-3 Under


The blocking rules against this look are as follows. 

QB – Read #1, Pitch Off #2

B – Aim at Inside Leg of PSG. Run Through LOS and Read the Action Key

PSA – Block #3

PSWR – Deep Defender

BSA – Tail Motion / Pitch Relationship

BSWR – Cut Off

PST –  Veer for PSLB

PSG – Ace

C – Scoop / Ace

BSG – Scoop

BST –  Scoop

In theory you can still run triple to the 1-5-9 side of this defense, but they will have you outnumbered if they play this defense well. As soon as they are able to get the ILB on that side to escape the OT’s veer release they will have you outnumbered on the perimeter. They will have three to play all phases of your option.  As soon as this occurs you have to look to get into a different formation to be able to run triple to that side. Yes you can run it to the 3-5 side which will be a topic of a future article on this topic. None the less, this offense is based on the Triple Option and the first thing we want to be able to do is run triple option against any defensive front. The first thing we and you should look to do when confronted with this defense is to run your plays out of Heavy (tackle over). If you run triple out of Heavy, you can assure yourself that you can run triple to the 1-5-9 side because the ILB will be blocked no matter where he goes. Once he is secured in the box and being blocked, you can be confident to once again run Triple Option to this defense. (See Below)

Triple Option Out of Heavy to the 1-5-9 Side v. 4-3 Under


Future articles in this series will show you what plays you can run back to the 3-5 side, what some common adjustments from the defense could be to your Heavy look and what choices you are presented with at that point. The defense cannot fully prepare for the full arsenal of the Flexbone Association Academy Offense. Your job as the head coach and or offensive coordinator is to fully prepare your team to unleash the full arsenal of the offense. We were presented with an extremely tough opponent on Friday. We went three and out twice to start the game and found ourselves down 14-0. We kept prodding the defense until we found our weakness. We were able to come away with a 41-38 double overtime victory over a very athletic team. Your challenge is to assure yourself and your staff you are ready to handle anything the defense throws at you in the fall. Contact me for more details on how the Flexbone Association can help your program.

Photo: Mark Dolejs-US PRESSWIRE

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  1. How to Attack the 4-3 Under Defense Part Two | Flexbone Association - December 13, 2013

    […] The previous installment in this series covered how to run triple option to the 1-5-9 side. The most feasible way to do so, is to get into Heavy to assure yourself that you can block the PSLB. If you cannot block him, the defense can outnumber you on the perimeter and shut down Triple Option. This is assuming you need to utilize the Ace-Technique on the 1-Technique. If the Ace isn’t required to block him, then you can loop release your playside tackle, level two to level three.  […]

  2. How to Handle Dominant Interior Defenders | Flexbone Association - October 8, 2013

    […] Notre Dame was not showing some reduced fronts on the shot side and a 1-5-9 look on the wide side; similar to what I wrote about yesterday. Navy ran Midline and Midline Triple and quickly scored on just five plays. Navy took a 21-10 lead […]

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