Chalk Talk: “The Okie” Defense

Maranatha DC Henry Rodriguez

By Maranatha DC Henry Rodriguez

Getting it done with speed…

The Okie is a designed “attacking” defense whose purpose is to bring as much pressure, disrupt timing, force hurried throws, out man the offensive line and bring confusion to the offensive line’s blocking schemes on every snap.

The schemes we use against our opponents on Friday nights are all based from viewing 2-3 game films of every possible offensive formation an opponent will come out in. Once we determine what their “base” offensive set, look is, we will design our “box” to line up against it; making sure to be balanced on both the strong and weak sides of the formation.

The Okie is a gap responsible defense (not a gap control defense) where every player in the “box” is required to take ownership of a single gap in whatever front/stunt is called. Whether we face traditional two back sets or spread teams, we will always outnumber the OL by one or more defensive players.

The Okie is built primarily on speed and quickness. Our objective is to have our T N T (defensive tackles & nose tackle) & Mike linebacker own the A&B gaps forcing everything to the outside where our DE’s (Kobras) and LB’s (Will & Sam) will be waiting to make the majority of the tackles.

Because we are not always blessed with 6-foot d-linemen, we rely heavily on stunts that allow our undersized interior linemen to use their explosiveness and quickness to get heel depth of the OL. We want to force the offensive linemen to turn their hips to engage us, thus taking them out of their natural run or pass block techniques.

The goal is to use our speed causing occupation of the LOS (line of scrimmage) forcing offensive linemen to “chase” blocks instead of simply being able to roll down hill, easily getting to our second level and washing us out. We preach to our defensive linemen, “They can’t block what they can’t reach or get their hands on”. Since we are usually undersized on the LOS, we never want to get into any “hand combat” situations with the OL because hesitation from our front five will usually result in second level disruption and positive yardage for the offense.

With 7-8 players always dedicated to the box, this obviously puts a huge demand on our secondary which puts us primarily in some form of man coverage. With our ability to bring pressure from different angles this gives our secondary a greater sense of comfort knowing and trusting that the ball be coming out quickly and with them playing a form of “press” coverage they are sure to be in good position to defend the quick short pass.

We want our secondary players to solely concentrate on playing the pass first. If we do our job up front, there should be no need for us to rely on our secondary to make any tackles, unless of course the box fails and allows a back to sneak through. As with any defensive failure, if our secondary chooses to “peek” inside and not trust our rush, we will usually get beat by a receiver throwing us a double move or a QB rolling out, scrambling and launching a deep ball downfield to a wide open receiver.

Obviously with an aggressive style of defense always pinning its ears back and looking to get after it, there are so called areas of weakness in the defense the OC’s will try to exploit. Knowing this, once we have a firm grasp of our opponents base offense, we spend a good amount of time going over the types of plays that we feel our opponent’s OC will try to take advantage of or run against us to slow down our charge.

At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, in order for us to celebrate a victory we know as the defense we are one third of three parts that is needed on Friday nights to be totally prepared, committed and determined to come out and simply “Defend the points our Offense scores.”

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