The popular defensive guru and former Baylor graduate assistant shows you some simple ways to make game-breaking discoveries in your tendency data using the new Hudl Beta.

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The use of a hit chart for a defense can allow a coaching staff to quickly decide how to align to a certain formation based on how the offense uses it. If a staff has the capacity, someone can use the data entered into Hudl to create visual images of how teams align, and the plays ran (below). 

Most people are visual learners, so it makes sense to create visuals for both coaches and players.

As more offenses across the country transition to a two-back, Y-off base, the backfields have just as much tendency data as the actual formation. By labeling the backfield separate from the formation, you can use the data in Hudl Beta to quickly create tendency charts for the various two-back alignments. From there, you can then look at wide receiver placement (Where is player “X”?) and alignment (Is the No. 2  on the ball?) to create passing or play-action/RPO tendencies.

When I sit down to break down an offense, I create a chart from Hudl Beta exactly like the one above. In this example, the offense we were facing had four main backfield alignments and would periodically place the No. 2 receiver on the ball. By selecting the backfield tag from the Beta choices I could quickly move into a more detailed breakdown. That’s something a data print-out just can’t do. 

The first thing I look for is the back placement, and then I draw the formation. From there, I look at the top overall play and the run/pass percentage. If there is a tendency, I write the No. 1 play on top of the formation. 

Below, we will analyze the STK (Stack Strong) backfield alignment. In this backfield, the offense had an overwhelming tendency to run Duo, so I placed the concept’s name on top of the formation. I use this data to then illustrate to my defenders what to expect.

Going further, I took a look at their passing concepts from this formation. As you can see in the picture above, I started an “alert,” or something for the players to be cognizant of when the offense aligns in this formation. Many offenses use a “stacked” backfield to help block the perimeter in a sprint-out, and this offense was no different. Below the note, I placed the top three route combinations, so we could practice those during the week.

As with most modern offenses, the play-action/RPO game was in heavy use from this look. In this particular alignment, the offense used the stacked backfield to run RPOs off the “Duo” run action. I took note of the top route combinations using the Beta tags we had built into our breakdowns (below).

The final step in the process was to look at tendencies when the No. 2 receiver was on the ball. Data that was found is written in green. Underneath the “TX” (Twix – formation tag) label I wrote out what to expect. Slot Fade was run four times along with the “Mills” or “Double Post” concept. 

Lastly, I noted that it was 50/50 RPO or a deep shot (pass over 20 yards). Knowing this information helps the defenders—especially the secondary —know what to expect. If No. 2 is on the ball, I need to watch his departure, so I know if this is an RPO (usually an intermediate and in-breaking route) or deep shot (slot fade).

This is just one example of how Beta can quickly allow you to look up pertinent information. The key is to create specific data points that you need. Obviously, the example I used was a larger scale hit chart, but you can create pin-point notes according to what your position group needs. 

For instance, I use Beta to quickly look up where all the deep shots are located, what down and distance they occur on, and who is the primary target. This information is vital to my defensive backs. 

Once I’ve created a hit chart in my journal, I then take a look at the passing data. Using the target data, I can look at where the passes are going. For this particular team, 65 percent of their passes came on the front side of the formation – and of those passes, 45 percent came to the slot (No. 2). This is important information to have when looking at building a defensive game plan, and something that directly correlates to the players. 

From there I look at the shot tape. Where are the passes going? What routes are being run? What side are they being thrown to?

The final data point I look at is down and distance. This offense basically had one formation with four different backfield types. Using Beta, I selected each unique backfield type and selected the down. Using that data, I wrote notes for myself to relay to the coaches and players. 

One major tendency that came from this was when the tailback was set to the two-receiver side, but the tight end was weak (“WK”), the offense called an RPO 94 percent of the time. This glaring tendency allows you to build checks for certain formations and helps you build a practice plan.

In red ink, I wrote down passing tendencies that needed to be discussed, and relayed to my players. All this was done with only a couple of clicks.

Hudl Beta allows a defensive coach to quickly cut the fat from all the data that is created in a breakdown. Whether you are a secondary coach looking for passing tendencies, or the defensive coordinator looking to build your defensive game plan, using Beta cuts a lot of time off your meetings. 

To be clear, a defensive staff needs to create a specific set of data points that they are trying to look at, and define what a tendency is. To me, anything over 75 percent is a tendency, and I try to use simple data points that tell me exactly what the offense is.

Alexander, author of five books, held court at Blitz ‘21 as part of a defensive roundtable.  Be sure to follow his X&O’s deep dives on his Twitter account as well as his popular Match Quarters newsletter for even more food for thought. To see his entire breakdown process, check out his CoachTube series that shows you how to approach an opponent breakdown.

Ready to dig into these features with your own video and data?

Log in to try Hudl Beta