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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Mailbag Volume 3

Continuing with the mailbag theme, I'll go over a few of the emails I got over my vacation. I actually
have had a lot of questions about Saban's "Mable" adaptation to Cover 3 versus 3x1 formations (follow
the link for Brophy's original post). I'll start there.

Saban's Mable Adaptation to Cover 3
I don't get all the fuss over this coverage adaptation, because it's nothing really ground breaking here. I
think the major problem is folks wrapping their head around what Saban asks his linebackers (LB's) to do
in the coverage, but since there are several of my readers having trouble with this concept, I'm going to
break it down piece by piece for you and position by position.

Strong Corner
Typical Cover 3 corner, he will play by his normal divider rule and read rule as "old school" "Country
Cover 3" corners would do. You can do many things with him such as press and bail (giving the illusion
of Man Free), or align him deep splitting the number one and number two receivers. What matters here
is, this player is playing a traditional deep 1/3 technique.

Strong Safety (RV)
The Strong Safety (SS) will be the flat dropper and will drop off the number two receiver. If two is
outside he'll jump it. If two goes in, then he'll look to relate to the number one receiver. Again,
standard flat player stuff for Cover 3.

the two LB's that remain in the box versus trips sets (Mike and Will in the diagram above). as I've said a thousand times on here. the idea is to push the coverage where it's needed. the defense has a four-over-three advantage on the strong side (to the trips) and a three-on-two advantage weak. This is very important against 3x1 sets that put the RB offset to the trips. Weak Corner The weak corner will play man-to-man on the weak number one receiver. Inside LB's Now for the nuts and bolts of the coverage. The free safety (FS) will read from the number three to number two receiver and will favor number three. In the illustration below. where the offense has set the RB to the trips. These two LB's must relate off the running back (RB). you can play off man if you like. the defense will use the leverage and reaction of the Mike to gain a five-on-four advantage if the RB were to release strong. The LB that gets RB flow to him.Strong LB (by passing strength) The OLB to the pass strength will do the exact same thing as the SS. he's got to lock up on the back side in order to keep the weak quick game from killing your coverage. the "plus one" advantage. or to have. Basically look at the above and change the numbers. Free Safety Standard middle-of-the-field (MOF) safety. The LB will relate to the number two receiver once the "dust has settled". Again. If the RB releases weak. but reading the number three receiver. but if that's not your gig. then the Will LB would jump the RB. In the illustration above. Mike's read on the RB puts him on the weak side of the coverage initially . This is the post player. I prefer to press over here. Basically. will jump the back.

A better example to look at. Now the Mike reads put him on the strong side of the coverage The key in all of this is the reaction to the back. the RB releases strong. . and the Will is now reading to the number three receiver. or aligned on the midline of the formation. so the Mike will jump this route. The Will jumps the RB and the Mike now reads the release of the number three receiver. In the first example. as you can see the reads help the coverage relate to receiver distribution post-snap. is when the RB is neutral. the roles are simply reversed. Again. Now. if the RB releases weak.

but the FS has to split number two and number three if they both go vertical. allowing the FS time to get over the top of the route.The big kicker. To see how this looks I'll illustrate it from the above diagrams. . The idea here is that the LB will carry the receiver if he goes vertical in order to force the quarterback (QB) to throw the ball high. which basically means take number three vertical. mind you. this really isn't "man" because you have a FS playing centerfield. I think most folks have with the coverage is Saban's term "Three up is three". Now.

while the strong corner will split the two outside receivers in his third. One key is that the underneath coverage players such as the strong outside LB (OLB) can reroute these vertical routes as they get into their drops. and since "Three up is three" he will run with the "F" in the diagram above. . while the Will takes the first crosser.So here's how the coverage would handle four verticals with the back flaring to the strong side of the coverage. the FS has to split the two verticals in the MOF. The Mike can jump the flare. The coverage is still Cover 3.

and shuffle. then open on the snap. the Mike now plays number three vertical and the Will relates to the RB releasing weak. I went to basketball practice and learned basically what they were teaching their defenders and adapted it to what I wanted out of my cornerbacks. Shuffling I get a ton of questions on the shuffle technique played by my conerbacks and to be quite honest. Quarters adaptations have nobody "splitting" receivers or having to read two receivers. one-high defense. where the corner was already turned in at a 45 degree angle. Originally I started out aligned square. which is a glaring difference in the coverages. he's in this coverage to defend the trips side passing game. For the most part. The transition they get beat in the most is going from the pedal to opening their hips to run with deeper routes. I think one key mistake readers of Brophy's posts on Cover 3 made. the inside LB's are what help the coverage adapt to these types of concepts front 3x1 sets. I've been a two-high safety guy. I'll say one thing. Saban will admit. Quarters adaptations to 3x1 sets end up in man-to-man coverage against four verticals. I've just never had corners that were good at backpedaling and I have even heard wide receiver (WR) coaches comment on how to beat a defensive back (DB) that was backpedaling because of (insert reason here) so much so that I gave up on the technique altogether in 2007. Well. it's just that you really need to know what you're getting into before you commit to teaching it. if this is the case. My reasoning is simple. similar to Quarters. Hopefully this post has done just that. This is not to deter someone from using Mable. These two players. this is NOT the case. to which I felt my technique worked just fine. I moved to the angled in stance. If you are a base. that simple. What I did. it's in transition. why not take this out of the equation? So I did! Now. At the end of the day. this is still Cover 3 and has it's glaring weaknesses. NOT to defend four verticals. and even wrote and posted about was that this was a way to play Quarters from a one-high coverage. every since the 2007 season. I can't speak of how to use it when a corner has to align inside the number one receiver. so I've had the luxury of playing outside leverage with my corners. especially in high school football to ask a player to do that. because you do have some similation of an answer to four verticals. but this is NOT in any way shape or form. as though we were a squat corner. Now I have run into coaches that go above and beyond the "Saban way" and actually have their FS take the number two receiver vertical and let the ILB's handle number three vertical. most DB's. this is a good adaptation to the typical spot-drop approach. I feel silly when I answer on how I teach it and came to teach what I've adapted to using. That's a stretch. the technique is difficult if you're playing a coverage that requires dividers. Later. was learn how basketball defenders are taught! Yep. and the run. when beat. . Make no mistake.As you can see.

the ball should be in the air if it is three step or quick game. I have them. I've only used it for Quarters coverage. The key here is balance. then the DB will have trouble transitioning into the second phase of the technique which is the bail. . because in the three step quick game. Generally. in their minds count to three. and it works well. the corner is simply playing his deep quarter and not getting beat deep. the corner begins to shuffle. I cannot speak on how it adapts to other coverages. or where the corner is supposed to use some sort of divider rule. I teach to have vision on the number one receiver. then the corner will struggle transitioning and breaking on the shorter throws. but it works quite well with Quarters. I like the feet to remain at least shoulder width apart. From a balanced open stance. Again. because since the corner is already turned. It is literally common sense. If the head is too far back. The actual shuffle technique is just like that of a basketball defender. on to the technique. tilted in at a 45 degree angle. or towards the line of scrimmage (LOS). that ask the corner to transition forward. By this time. because if the head is too far forward. he can easily get all of his cleat surface into the turf. On short throws. so that weight can be transitioned easily. making transitioning forward quite easy. but you can easily have them read the QB for the three step drop if you like. I have them use a T-step technique. I like adapting to routes. with the head being directly in line with the body. on the snap.Anyhow. I'm not using this for man. The head position is important. so I want them seeing routes and understanding how what the number one receiver does ties into what the number two receiver will be doing. but to each their own. If the DB is asked to transition inside then he simply rolls forward inside toward the QB.

To be honest. facing the QB. again. so I was grasping at any straw I could to get the most out of my guys. then he can work sideways to relate to the route as necessary. but it is a skill that will need to be coached. the corner needs to get the hips opened and does so much like a pulling guard does when trapping. blowing the top off a few cool ones. if I'm the right corner. that if the DB ends up inside. The video below shows a pretty good example of the technique and who should be using it. If the receiver works inside of the DB. and opened inside. but explained quite simply it's going from running sideways to regular running. Once open. they T-step and drive on the route. If the DB has done his job. he's in great position to ride the receiver into the sideline. I have always taught this with a post leg. the technique varies by the type of cut the receiver is giving the DB. The drive leg. The corner will take his near arm to the receiver and rip it open (in drills I have them overemphasize this like they were pull starting a lawnmower)to get the hips open. I've gotten extremely technical with it for this post. but if we were sitting at the bar. the corner will roll over into a traditional run. then the DB will now transition into the bail technique. and drive leg. Very difficult to explain via text. post etc. This leg gains the most ground as the DB works into his deep zone. To transition into covering the deeper routes. and is there for balance only. On inside cutting routes (dig. I'd simply tell you he's running sideways.). I apologize for not having much on the technique. Those that know me closely. so we didn't spend too much time working on these routes. better known as the twelfth man. What I found out in . This leg doesn't gain much ground. but it was really a "necessity" item. and know where I've coached will easily tell you that I've coached in some "athlete poor" areas. he can easily roll into the route and regain inside leverage due to his depth and being over-the-top. This is nothing more than a crossover run technique. and has maintained his over-the-top relationship to the receiver. On routes that are out breaking. The idea here is.If the ball isn't thrown after the three count. I never saw many deep out cuts where I coached. is the leg closest to the LOS (my right leg in our example). The post leg is the leg that is farthest from the LOS as the DB is turned. it would be my left leg. In other words.

because you only shuffle for the quick game stuff. but if you honestly want to see the technique in action. See. I have a good friend that utilizes this concept. which is the crossover run. there's more to the technique than shuffling. The concept is similar to that of the Two Level Defense deep safety in that by depth. What's beautiful about the coverage adaptation is the fact that despite appearing "soft" it's really the best example of the defense forcing the offense into bad situations. Being a Cover Four/Cover Two guy. I've tried to break down the technique as simple as I can. it's stolen. my DB's are going to all put their heels on the line to gain and play the coverage called. you've got to transition in to some sort of run. because the only difference is that in one you shuffle. we read our respective key and react in the same way that we would if aligned normally. but here goes. the DB can see and react to anything that happens underneath of them easier than they can if they were closer to the LOS. the other you don't. Any route that is thrown underneath the DB's will be broke on and tackled. and you'll get everything you need to know about the shuffle. Again. Where this coverage is really great is when you face an offense that is taught to run option routes based . "Sticks" is a coverage adaptation for long yardage situations on third and fourth downs. Generally it's experimentation is that the DB could play closer to the LOS because he's already transitioned. go to your basketball practice and watch them teach defense. but it could be any zone coverage you want them to play. Sticks I had some questions about a coverage I called "Sticks". or bail technique as I mentioned above. and it's also a TCU coverage concept. On the snap. The technique also helps in teaching press bail coverage techniques as well. it's not really anything revolutionary. Like most of my stuff. After that. this allowed me to disguise my intentions. The idea here is that the defense is building a "wall" at the line to gain. we don't back up. When I tag a coverage with the term "Sticks".

With the defense playing so far off. Your defenders then rally and make the tackle. . better known as "OJW" on the Huey board. gave me a coverage they simply called "line". that's exactly what you.on both coverage and down and distance. Line and Sticks vary though in that there is no downhill rotation on the snap with Sticks. Line is of the same premise except he used it on all downs and on the snap rotated players to various areas after all his deep zone defenders had aligned in a straight line. the DC. Quarters and have used a Cover Three version of it as well. Defenders are taught not to drop and to defend the down markers. but still in a position to drop off and defend the pass if the need arises. Sticks is also a good goal line coverage when paired with Quarters because it puts the defense where they need to be to defend the run aggressively. An old friend. wants them to do. I use the coverage tag with Cover Two. the receivers are more than likely going to run something short. As a defensive coordinator (DC) you are forcing the offense right into the teeth of the defense in these down and distance situations. Well.

Man. TCU using their "Sticks" concept on 3rd & 10 vs. why not play zone anyhow) was utilized. The main difference is. or even to the line to gain if need be. Anyhow. The general rule here is seven to eight yards. than it is for them to go back. Keep the questions flowing. allow for too much space to be utilized by the offense and create some insane rub and pick advantages for the offense. The reason is. they are where they are needed already. but be patient with me. the MLB will align at his normal depth and is still a run first defender. Well. The depth you play them at allows them not to have to drop off into a zone if pass shows. as they already have their depth. West Virginia In the version I use. I fear. The OLB's can deepen their alignment from the normal five yards to seven to eight yards. In the case of using the Sticks tag. many zone coverages can be adapted to fit this concept. I know I'm a bit slow at getting to them. now all the OLB's need to be concerned with is the width necessary to get to their respective zone based on the coverage called. but they aren't just dropping immediately to their assignment. the Achilles heel to the entire coverage is your defense's ability to tackle in space and rally to the football. that's it for this edition of the mailbag. they will not pedal nor will they drop on the snap of the ball. unless using some sort of banjo concept (which makes it so much more like zone. The OLB's are thinking pass first when they hear the tag "Sticks". They still key their run/pass key (usually the OL) and will come up against the run. He will execute whatever his normal assignment is in the coverage called. would be too confusing. It is very much a Two Level Defense (2LD) concept in that it is easier for a defender to come up. remember this is just my side job! Duece Posted by Duece at 10:29 PM . I wouldn't recommend playing man out of this look. The secondary will all align with their heels on the line to gain. As you can see. still reading whatever their normal key would be if they were in their regular alignment.