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Tennessee Tech Zone Coverage

Tennessee Tech Zone Coverage

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Published by: mwuw on Dec 22, 2010
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n behalf of Tennessee Tech Universityand our head coach, Mike Hennigan, itis a great honor to present this article forthe
2003 AFCASummer Manual 
. I wouldlike to thank my current staff, DamonBradford (linebackers) and DewayneAlexander (defensive line), and past staffEric Roark (SMU) and Chris Jones(Montreal-CFL), as well as all the restrictedearning coaches for all of their hard work,dedication and great times we’ve sharedthrough my four year tenure as defensivecoordinator at Tennessee Tech. Last andmost important, I would like to thank mytwo predecessors, Mike Hennigan (headcoach) and Mike Smith (defense coordina-tor, Jacksonville Jaguars), for their vastknowledge and guidance as I took over adefensive system that has evolved throughthe last 17 years from their hands to mine.
Pass Defense Philosophy
Our philosophy of pass defense beginswith applying pressure on the passer. Mostof the time, your best pass defense is agood pass rush. At the same time, we alsowant to be able to jam and disrupt the tim-ing of receivers with their patterns as theyrelease down field. Communication is alsoimportant to be effective in pass coveragewhere it is the responsibility of everyone inour secondary to communicate by talking(ex: “ball” calls, splits, motion adjustments)or through the use of hand signals.Our basic theory is to mix a variety ofman to man and zone coverages in pass sit-uations. We try to have a zone coverage tocompliment every man coverage conceptwe have. If our defensive backs execute thecoverages properly, vary their secondaryalignments, and use effective disguises, wecan create uncertainty and problems foropposing quarterbacks and receivers.This uncertainty can create doubt in theopposing players’minds as to the type ofcoverage to expect, which in turn, mayreduce the number of pass patterns that aquarterback and receivers have confidencein using. No where is the concept of TeamDefense more evident than in passdefense. With the coordination of applyingpressure on the passer by our line and tightcoverage by our secondary will produceinterceptions, sacks, and the ability to con-trol our opponent.
End Run Force
End Run Force is one of the mostimportant concepts of defense where the11 defensive personnel fit to support therun. Being sound both against the run andpass in each coverage is important; there-fore, we put a major emphasis on wherewe fit as a defensive unit. Diagram 1 belowshows our defensive base alignment.The secondary, linebackers and defen-sive ends have the responsibility of stop-ping (forcing) the end run and playing therun-pass. The primary “force” defender caneither be the free safety, rover, corner, line-backer or defensive end depending on thefront and coverage called. There are fourkey elements of defending the end run:
Alley (Cutback).
Secondary Support/Play Pass.
The player that is responsible for out-side leverage vs an end run. The “force”player meets the play forcing the play tocutback to the inside or causing the ballcarrier bounce so he is vulnerable to pur-suit. It is very important that the “force”player must constrict or squeeze the widthof the running lane; therefore, minimizingthe area between himself and the nextinside defender (the alley player).
The player responsible for the middleposition between the force and the pursuit.The “alley” player must control the alleyarea by defeating the blocker and stayingin an inside-out relationship on the ball.
Secondary Support
The player responsible for secondaryoutside leverage if the “force” player losesoutside leverage. In addition, the “sec-ondary support” player is also responsiblefor playing the toss pass. If a receiverreleases down field, the “secondary sup-port” player must play pass until the ballcrosses the line of scrimmage. This playermust also replace the force player vs. thecrack block.
Zoning OutOffenses:TennesseeTech ZoneCoverage
Diagram 1: Base Alignment
The other eight players not responsiblefor the other three elements of End RunForce. All pursuit players must maintain aninside-out relationship on the ball carrierand have the awareness of other defend-ers’pursuit angles. Our basic rule in pursu-ing to the football is to close to the nearshoulder of the ball carrier while not follow-ing your own colored jersey.Each defense we call will have one ofthe four End Run Force schemes:
1. Sky Support:
Free safety or rover is“force” player.
2. Cloud Support:
Corner is the “force”player.
3. Bronco Support:
Linebacker is the“force” player.
4. Easy Support:
End is the “force” player.Diagram 2 (Sky Support), Diagram 3(Cloud Support) and Diagram 4 (BroncoSupport) demonstrate how our defensivebacks and linebackers support the end run.
Zone Coverage (Base)
Zone coverage is the backbone of ourdefensive coverage package. Our basezone coverage is a very flexible package inwhich we align in a four spoke secondarywith the philosophy of dropping sevendefenders in coverage. The free safety(strongside) primarily works with the Samlinebacker, Mike linebacker, and corner. Our rover (weakside) works with the Will line-backer and corner to the weak side. The cor-ner’s base alignments are at seven yardsand head up. The free safety and rover alignat a depth of 10-12 yards deep (dependingon coverage) and are given a landmark ofaligning two yards inside or outside the hashdepending on ball placement and formation.Our base coverage is simply called“zone.” In Zone, each safety has the option ofmaking one of three calls; Sky, Sink, orFunnel. In order to make the proper call, thesafeties are given rules in which they use tocontrol their side of the formation. The safe-ty’s call to each side will depend on the num-ber of receivers to their side, the receiver(s)alignment, or the receiver(s) splits. In num-bering offensive personnel, we count fromoutside in to the ball.The following rules are given to oursafeties to use in Zone:
Sky call given on the strong side byfree safety when the No. 2 receiver is in the“C” area (tight end position) and there is anormal split of No. 1 receiver. Sky call isgiven by rover on weak side when there isa normal split of No. 1 receiver.
Sink call given by free and rover whenthere are two receivers outside “C” area.
Funnel call given by the free safetyand rover if the No. 1 receiver takes a shortsplit or motions to a tight split for releasingpurposes or for blocking purposes.In each coverage Sky, Sink and Funnel,the coverage name not only tells the sec-ondary and linebackers their pass responsibil-ity but also dictates the run support scheme toeach side. Even though there are strengthsand weaknesses of each coverage, we feelthe coverage called based off these rules giveour players the best coverage to be most suc-cessful both against the run and pass basedoff offensive alignments and formations.
Sky Coverage
Sky Coverage is a quarters-based cov-erage where the primary support of the runis handled by the safety (Sky support). Thecorners in Sky are pass defenders first andhave the role of secondary support versusthe run. Sky is a run-based coverage whichaggressively allows your safeties to getinvolved in the running game. When oursafeties support the run in Sky, it enablesus to involve nine players against the run.Sky pass drops can be seen in Diagram 5on both the strong side and weak side.
Corner Progression: SkyAlignment:
Seven yards deep andhead-up.
Back peddle to inside-postposition.
Ball to No. 1.
Man-to-man concept on alldeep routes (take off, post, post- corner) ofNo. 1. Intermediate routes of No. 1 (curl, dig,crossers) corner becomes halves player.
Free/Rover Progression: SkyAlignment:
Ten yards deep; two yardsflexibility off hash.
Flat-foot shuffle.
Ball to No. 2.
As sig n me n t :
Free safety on strongside. Read No. 2. Vertical release play No.2. Flat release No. 2, play curl to post. Dragrelease of No. 2, route recognition.Rover on weak side. Read No. 2. verti-cal release play No. 2. No vertical release,curl/flat drop relating off No. 2.
Linebacker Drops: SkySam:
Curl/flat drop.
Hook/stretch to curl (all threereceivers outside).
Hook/curl drop.
Sink Coverage
Sink coverage is a coordinated coverageran against a two wide receiver set. This typeof read coverage can turn into either truequarters or a Cover 2 concept based off therelease of the No. 2 receiver. The primarysupport of the run is handled by the corner(Cloud support), but is a wide force concept.With a three over two look on the outside,Sink offers a safe and sound answer to boththe run and pass. The safety and corner’sresponsibility versus the pass can changewith the release of the No. 2 receiver.Diagram 6 demonstrates Sink pass drops
Diagram 2: Sky SupportDiagram 3: Cloud SupportDiagram 4: Bronco SupportDiagram 5: Sky Coverage

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