IUP’s Third Down Nickel Package

n behalf of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, our head coach, Frank Cignetti, our defensive staff, Tom Rogish (Defensive Line), Chris Bache (Linebackers), Bernie McQuown (Defensive Ends), Wally Fleming (Student Assistant) and our players, it is a pleasure to be asked to contribute to the AFCA Summer Manual. Throughout the past two seasons, one of the strengths of our defense has been our third down efficiency. Our goal is to be 70 percent efficient on third down. We have surpassed that goal by stopping our opponents 72 percent in the past two years. The importance of this phase has been instrumental in our success as a defense. Philosophy We strongly believe that being both unpredictable and flexible are very important when game planing on a week to week basis. With the multiplicity of offenses, we must be able to “shift gears” in regard to stopping opponents on third down. In this article, we will show our overall plan on third and medium (3-6 yards), as well as third and long (7-10 yards) with our nickel defense. Front Multiplicity Our nickel package will be a basic 4-2 look with the ability to set our three-technique tackle wherever we feel necessary. The four calls we can make are; field, boundary, open, closed. This designates were our three-technique will align. • Our call side will have a three-technique tackle and an end in a five-technique (open) or a seven-technique closed. • Away from the call, we will be in a twotechnique (nose) with an end (5-7 technique). Both linebackers will align in 30s, which is on the outside shoulder of the guard.


Diagram 2: Boundary or Closed Nickel

Diagram 3: Field or Closed Nickel

Diagram 4: Boundary or Open Nickel

Paul Tortorella Defensive Coordinator Indiana University of Pennsylvania Indiana, Pa.

B. Man Under Coverage. C. Double Robber Coverage. D. Zone Pressure. E. Blitz Man. All of our coverages will start off in a two-deep alignment. Both corners and our nickel will align five to seven yards, depending on the call. Our safeties will line up at 12 yards. In this article, we will show our scheme versus two formations out of a one-back offense. The formations will be a three by one alignment with the tight end to the trips and a balanced two by two alignment. Zone Coverage We want to be able to play two types of zone coverage, especially on third and long. They are a balanced two-deep zone coverage and a three-deep zone. Our two-deep coverage will have the ability to be both “hard” or “soft,” depending on our opponent. If we are playing “soft,” our corner and safety will read the pattern of the No. 2 receiver. If we are playing “hard,” our corner and safety will read the release of the No. 1 receiver to give us a true half-field look. We believe the advantage of playing our

Diagram 1: Field or Open Nickel

Coverage Scheme After setting our front, we then decide to package our coverage plan into five areas. A. Zone Coverage.

• AFCA Summer Manual — 2000 •

two-deep from both a hard and soft concept gives us the ability to “pattern read” all combination routes to the “soft” side. In reality, our soft call puts us in what we call a “match up zone.”

coverage and we will be very aggressive versus your X receiver to the weak side. Man Under The next package we like to use is our two-man concept or our “double robber” scheme. With this call, we are putting our two linebackers on No. 3 strong and No. 2 weak and we are playing man coverage with our corners and nickel back with two deep safeties or a short safety (10-15 yards) and deep safety in the middle of the field. This package is a more aggressive coverage concept to take away the short controlled passing game. We will play our corners and nickel a majority of the time in press coverage.

Diagram 10: Closed Nickel/Zone Pressure

Diagram 5: Closed Nickel Cover 2

um/long or we would like to create an extra defender for the run game on third and medium. The blitz we will illustrate is a balanced “three-and-three blitz” to both the open and closed side of the formation.

In Diagram 5, if No. 2 receiver to the “soft” call goes to the flat, the corner will level and the safety will play over the top of No. 1. The nickel back will stay in curl unless a runningback or tight end cross his face. He will then take the first in flat receiver. If No. 2 receiver goes vertical, then safety takes No. 2 and corner will play No. 1 with outside leverage. The nickel’s rule is the same.

Diagram 11: Closed Nickel/Blitz Man

Diagram 8: Boundary Nickel 2 Man

Diagram 6: Field Nickel Cover 2

Diagram 9: Field Nickel Double Robber

Once again, we appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the AFCA Summer Manual. If we can ever be of any assistance, please contact us at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

In Diagram 6, the only difference is that it is a trips formation to the “soft” call, so the strong linebacker will get a “stress” call and will have to carry the tight end vertical. In both diagrams, the “hard” side is a true stationary two-deep coverage for the corner, weak linebacker and weak safety. Our three-deep coverage on third and medium or long is a weak roll coverage. This coverage should take away the weak side passing game and force longer throws to the field. Our philosophy with this scheme is we are not in a pattern read concept, so this is a much more conservative

Double-Dipping Affects July to July Contract Recommendation
Zone Pressure This phase of our third down defense has been very successful and is a package that we continue to build on from season to season. As is the case with all of our calls, “disguise” is a very important factor in our success. With this pressure, we will bring it to the strength of the formation and have three under, three-deep coverage. We also have the ability to call the pressure to your open or closed side of the formation as well as to the field or boundary. With this scheme, we are trying to pressure the quarterback and create a “hot” or sight adjust by the offense in a third and long situation. Blitz Man The last part of our nickel package is our six-man blitz with straight man coverage. With this package, we are looking for mismatches in protection on third and medi-

Coaches who are fortunate enough to have July to July contracts, or the equivalent, as recommended by the AFCA, should not abuse the privilege when moving from one job to another by accepting salaries from two institutions during the transition.

Diagram 7: Open Nickel Weak Roll

Be ethically responsible to your profession by notifying your former institution’s athletic director immediately when you are hired by another institution. Don’t jeopardize the contracts of many of your fellow coaches by being selfish.

• AFCA Summer Manual — 2000 •