I am just thrust into a 5-3 defense w/o any notice as of yesterday. To stop the sweep, reverse, and bootleg what does the LB do? I know they take the opposite gap of the DT and NT at C and A. Do they have to follow the ball? I have not seen many youth teams running it down peoples throats in the middle. I see a lot of sweeps, reverses, and bootlegs. How can they not be fooled and help contain?
Most youth teams that run a 5-3, run it as a 5-3 stack so the LB's don't get blocked as often. So you have an odd front T N T with the LB's behind them. Outside the DT's you have the DE's. The DE's are in a 2 pt. with outside leg back (to prevent hooking) and do nothing but contain the sweep (a clever coach will also use them to pick up backs in the flat). It's the DE's job to stop the sweep and bootleg with the outside LB and Corner and finally the safety helping out (along with the rest of the team in pursuit). The 2 corners have outside receiver and contain as well.
Then the teams mostly have a deep safety (a wasted position in youth football in my opinion). This guy's job is usually to find the deepest receiver and stay behind him and take good angles to prevent touchdowns on runs. Why do I say this is a wasted position? Because in order for this guy to be effective he has to be one of the fastest players on the field. Your fastest player is likely your best athlete or one of them. Using your best athlete simply to save touchdowns is a waste. If it's not one of your best players he likely isn't going to be able to run down and tackle the other team's best player in the open field.
Each of your 6 inside players is responsible for one or two gaps. You can choose which gaps for each player depending on your scheme. Most youth coaches won't do this and just have the kids read the block or the backfield and run to the football. This is also a mistake in my opinion. All of the LB's will have a primary gap or 2, but they should also be scraping to the football so they should be helping out on sweeps as well. This takes a lot of drilling and time to learn for kids.
With so many teams running spreads now, you have to have a system and scheme in place for when teams go 4 or 5 wides. Be sure you account for the QB if he is a runner.
The double tight full house backfield teams will do just that try to run it down your throat and sweep when you cheat. Against these teams make sure you don't leave your corners real wide covering no one and not being useful in the run game, you will get out manned on the off tackle play inside and outside the DE.