How to Attack the 5-3 Defense

5-3 Defense Attack ZonesI know many of you run the 5-3 defense, almost 29% of coaches that took my defense poll on the Youth Defense page run the 5-3 defense.  Since many of the youth offenses will run against a 5-3 defense in their youth football league, I thought I would look at how to attack the 5-3 defense.

I personally love running the off-tackle play against the 5-3 defense from an I formation leading with the FB on the OLB and TB trailing cutting off the block.  My play side TE or Slot blocks EMOL and everyone else block GOD.  This play works really good when you Nasty split the TE and widen the OTs splits too.

All the books say Gut plays also work well against the 5-3 defense because the middle of the defense is weak between the guards.  A FB inside trap play might work well or just a tough up the gut FB run.  You can also run an ISO on the MLB.

As far as the passing game.  The flats are weak.  Quick Slants and TE quick passes will work well.

If the DE an OLB crash and bite on inside dives then run sweeps.  If the DE is boxing wide, then run an ISO on the OLB.

Like I have written earlier.  Every defense has a weakness.  They key to good defensive play is to mix it up so the offense can’t figure your defense out.

Play for Fun and Winning is Funner.

Coach Parker
Ft Worth, Texas



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  1. We ran a no blitz 5-3 all last year and I noticed a few things. The off tackle play will kill you with out a good tackle, end and LB on that side. The key to running a 5-3 is 4 positions. You have to have a super fast safety just in case, you need a stud bull NT that can take on and beat triple teams consistently, and you need 2 fast, athletic DEs that understand containment. If you have that and a passable linebacker corps, you will be in good shape with a 5-3. But you HAVE to watch and train for that off tackle, it’s a killer.

  2. hello im also from the great city of fort worth .. ive lost only 4 games in two years but three to the same team. i was running the pistol with 7&8 u and this team puts 5 some time 6 in the box .. and they also have alot of speed,coming up the middle and outside .. so where going into the play offs and i have put in the power i do you think thats a good plan are what would you do if you was coaching?

    1. Without seeing their defense I can’t really give a good answer to the change. You do want to attack the defenses weaknesses, so find those and put in plays that attack the weaknesses. The power i offense is good if you are big and can power the ball. Offense really comes down to blocking. Make sure you have a hat on their best defenders.

      Also beating a better team is usually a defensive plan. Stop their 3 to 5 best offensive plays and make them go deep in their play book to beat you. If they don’t score you will usually win.

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