Defensive Game Planning – Weekly Workflow

During the season the work of our defensive staff revolves around two main goals.

  1. Developing a game plan specific to the offense of our opponent that week
  2. Implementing the game plan.

The implementation involved two pieces.

  1. Assembling the tools that we would be using in our upcoming game (The Ready List and the Call Sheet)
  2. Teaching and practicing this Game Plan with our athletes.

This work schedule was organized for use with a full staff – 5 coaches, but the same process could be used with just one or two people doing the work.  I have used essentially this same process with only two coaches completing the assigned work.  The attached schedule is also set up for a college football workweek, with the contest being played on Saturday.  It could also be adjusted, with everything being moved up one day, for a Friday contest.

You can download an Excel version of this chart by clicking on this link : Defensive Weekly Work Schedule, or clicking the picture below.

Weekly Schedule

The accompanying chart breaks down daily

  • What the main emphasis is
  • What we would be working on as an entire defensive staff
  • The scouting report information that would be disseminated.
  • What we would be covering in our individual position group meetings
  • What the practice emphasis is.

It is important to note that everything is “synced” … what the daily emphasis is and what we talked about and distributed information about during meetings, was what we worked on in practice that day.

Saturday – Game Day


On Sunday our staff graded our previous game video, (see Film Grading Tool) broke down the game that our opponents played the previous day, and began studying our opponents by watching most of the games that they had played.  On Sunday, our defensive line coaches began dissecting the blocking schemes of their top run plays, and our DB coach and LB coach (me) did the same with their pass game. On Sunday, we did not meet or practice with our players


On Monday we wanted to be prepared to talk to our athletes about our opponents personnel, their schemes, and any adjustments that we anticipated making out of our base 4-3 package.  Our Monday defensive staff meeting was focused on beginning the “Ready List by determining our best fronts against their top 5 run plays (more on this process later in the week). In our defensive team meeting, we would talk about our goals from the previous game and introduced our upcoming opponent.  We would hand out the week’s outlook on our opponent, their personnel profile, and the formation analysis. We also would give out our position specific film review sheets that we asked our players to complete as they watched video during the week.  Monday’s practice was typically fairly light, with emphasis on improving specific position group problem areas (based on Film Grading Tool) and introducing the upcoming opponents top 5 run/ pass schemes.  Normally this was done in a walk through tempo.


Our defensive staff meeting on Tuesday would be focused on completing the Ready List by adding first and second level stunts to the fronts we were anticipating using against their top 5 run/ pass plays.  In the meeting with our players, we would distribute the sheets and watch film detailing what our opponent’s tendencies were on choice downs (1st down and 2nd down) and also 3rd and Short situations.  These sheets diagramed the plays they ran in those situations, with the blocking schemes we were anticipating.  It also gave the frequency of each play, and any other tendencies we had for those plays (strong/ weak – wide/ short, etc) Tuesday’s practice (and script) would be dedicated to these situations as well.  Hudl makes it very easy to view film and set a script (and export it to Excel, with scout cards) for these situations to use during our practice team time.  I will detail this process later this week.  You can download an Excel file of a Tuesday practice script by clicking on this link : Sample Tuesday Practice Script, or clicking on the picture below.



By Wednesday, our Ready List was completed, and as coordinator, I would begin work on the actual Play Grid and Call Sheet (more on this later in the week).  In our meeting with the players, we would distribute the sheets and watch film detailing what our opponent’s tendencies were on 3rd and medium (4-7 yard to go) 3rd and long (8-10 yards to go) and all XL situations (over 10 yards to go).  We also would work against their goal line offense.  Wednesday’s practice (and script) would be dedicated to these situations as well.  You can download the Excel version of the sample Wednesday script by clicking on this link : Sample Wednesday Script, or clicking on the picture below.

script sample


By Thursday the Play Grid and Call Sheet would be completed.  We also would have what calls would be included on the wrist band for that week, and those would be distributed to the players.  Meeting time with our players would focus on reviewing front and stunt combinations that made it to our call sheet and talking about (with hand outs and video) any “gadget” plays that our opponent ran.  Thursday’s practice would be a review of all Down and Distance situations, including any gadget plays that we had seen.  We also would practice a 2-minute situation, often against our own offense.


In Friday’s meeting with our position groups, we would hand out our position group reminders, and administer our position group tests.  Friday’s practice would include a review of all Down and Distance/ Field Zone situations, and also a “Blitz on Barrels” going through all of the calls (on air vs barrels) that made it to the wrist band for that week – normally 20 calls, but that number could be increased depending on the type of wrist band you use.  We also went through a team script reviewing all special situations.

Tomorrow I will describe our film breakdown process and the division of labor.

As always, questions and comments are welcomed.

Jeff Floyd –