Youth Football Coaches…Don’t Defend Grass

By FirstDown PlayBook on May 3, 2021

“Coach, why don’t you give us more youth formations with extended receivers?” FirstDown PlayBook gets that question a lot.

When you look at it on paper, it’s a valid question, however when you look at it on the field, it is not. We just don’t think your 9 year old quarterback is going to be able to do all the things you may want them to.

There is a reason why a lot of the successful youth offenses have everyone packed into a phone booth. It’s because those offensive coaches know that eventually they will run into a defensive coach who is going to partially or totally ignore their wideouts.

Here’s the deal though. Many youth football coaches continue to get these “spread” formations because they allow it to happen. There’s an old saying in football that says “don’t defend grass”. If you are defending receivers that the quarterback can’t get the ball to… then you are defending grass.

If a youth offense comes out in a formation with two wideouts we would recommend finding out if there is any real threat. Here are three quick ways to do this:

Get Your Free Safety Involved

Get your Free Safety up in the line of scrimmage and involve them as an extra defender or as a blitzer. See if that quarterback can win throwing the ball outside.

This overloaded front will give you one more rusher than they can block. This will also give you one more defender vs the run which is really what they want to do anyway. Play your corners at a depth that fits your personnel matchup.

Make Your Corners Unblockable

Align your corners well inside of the wideouts so there is no way they can possibly be blocked on the perimeter. This will effectively give you two more defenders in the run game and the corners can rally to the pass. Our guess is the offense brings those receivers back in tight before it’s over.

Did They Just Blitz Their Corner?

Blitz one of the corners off of the edge and gain an extra defender this way. The Free Safety can roll over to cover the wideout late. The QB must get the ball off before the unblocked corner (he will be unblocked) gets home to the QB.

So the next time a youth offensive coach comes out and spreads the field with his ten year old quarterback, do yourself a favor and don’t line up like you are “supposed to”. Line up to take away the run game and make them prove to you they can throw the ball.

FirstDown PlayBook is the only Digital Football PlayBook that gives you access to over thirty five thousand football plays, schemes and technique help. All plays are designed by coaches and players with NFL experience. FirstDown PlayBook is also the Official Playbook of NAIA Football and NAIA Women’s Flag Football.