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for the 2003 AFCA Summer Manual. I would like to thank my current staff, Damon Bradford (linebackers) and Dewayne Alexander (defensive line), and past staff Eric Roark (SMU) and Chris Jones (Montreal-CFL), as well as all the restricted earning coaches for all of their hard work, dedication and great times we’ve shared through my four year tenure as defensive coordinator at Tennessee Tech. Last and most important, I would like to thank my two predecessors, Mike Hennigan (head coach) and Mike Smith (defense coordinator, Jacksonville Jaguars), for their vast knowledge and guidance as I took over a defensive system that has evolved through the last 17 years from their hands to mine. Pass Defense Philosophy Our philosophy of pass defense begins with applying pressure on the passer. Most of the time, your best pass defense is a good pass rush. At the same time, we also want to be able to jam and disrupt the timing of receivers with their patterns as they release down field. Communication is also important to be effective in pass coverage where it is the responsibility of everyone in our 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 of man to man and zone coverages in pass situations. We try to have a zone coverage to compliment every man coverage concept we have. If our defensive backs execute the coverages properly, vary their secondary alignments, and use effective disguises, we can create uncertainty and problems for opposing quarterbacks and receivers. This uncertainty can create doubt in the opposing players’ minds as to the type of coverage to expect, which in turn, may reduce the number of pass patterns that a quarterback and receivers have confidence in using. No where is the concept of Team Defense more evident than in pass defense. With the coordination of applying pressure on the passer by our line and tight coverage by our secondary will produce interceptions, sacks, and the ability to control our opponent. End Run Force End Run Force is one of the most important concepts of defense where the
11 defensive personnel fit to support the run. Being sound both against the run and pass in each coverage is important; therefore, we put a major emphasis on where we fit as a defensive unit. Diagram 1 below shows our defensive base alignment.
Diagram 1: Base Alignment
Zoning Out Offenses: Te nn es s ee Tech Zone Coverage
The secondary, linebackers and defensive ends have the responsibility of stopping (forcing) the end run and playing the run-pass. The primary “force” defender can either be the free safety, rover, corner, linebacker or defensive end depending on the front and coverage called. There are four key elements of defending the end run: 1. Force. 2. Alley (Cutback). 3. Secondary Support/Play Pass. 4. Pursuit. Force The player that is responsible for outside leverage vs an end run. The “force” player meets the play forcing the play to cutback to the inside or causing the ball carrier bounce so he is vulnerable to pursuit. It is very important that the “force” player must constrict or squeeze the width of the running lane; therefore, minimizing the area between himself and the next inside defender (the alley player). Alley The player responsible for the middle position between the force and the pursuit. The “alley” player must control the alley area by defeating the blocker and staying in an inside-out relationship on the ball. Secondary Support The player responsible for secondary outside leverage if the “force” player loses outside leverage. In addition, the “secondary support” player is also responsible for playing the toss pass. If a receiver releases down field, the “secondary support” player must play pass until the ball crosses the line of scrimmage. This player must also replace the force player vs. the crack block.
Pursuit The other eight players not responsible for the other three elements of End Run Force. All pursuit players must maintain an inside-out relationship on the ball carrier and have the awareness of other defenders’ pursuit angles. Our basic rule in pursuing to the football is to close to the near shoulder of the ball carrier while not following your own colored jersey. Each defense we call will have one of the 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 (Bronco Support) demonstrate how our defensive backs and linebackers support the end run. Zone Coverage (Base)
Diagram 2: Sky Support
Diagram 3: Cloud Support
Diagram 4: Bronco Support
which we align in a four spoke secondary with the philosophy of dropping seven defenders in coverage. The free safety (strongside) primarily works with the Sam linebacker, Mike linebacker, and corner. Our rover (weakside) works with the Will linebacker and corner to the weak side. The corner’s base alignments are at seven yards and head up. The free safety and rover align at a depth of 10-12 yards deep (depending on coverage) and are given a landmark of aligning two yards inside or outside the hash depending on ball placement and formation. Our base coverage is simply called “zone.” In Zone, each safety has the option of making one of three calls; Sky, Sink, or Funnel. In order to make the proper call, the safeties are given rules in which they use to control their side of the formation. The safety’s call to each side will depend on the number of receivers to their side, the receiver(s) alignment, or the receiver(s) splits. In numbering offensive personnel, we count from outside in to the ball. The following rules are given to our safeties to use in Zone: 1. Sky call given on the strong side by free safety when the No. 2 receiver is in the “C” area (tight end position) and there is a normal split of No. 1 receiver. Sky call is given by rover on weak side when there is a normal split of No. 1 receiver. 2. Sink call given by free and rover when there are two receivers outside “C” area. 3. Funnel call given by the free safety and rover if the No. 1 receiver takes a short split or motions to a tight split for releasing purposes or for blocking purposes. In each coverage Sky, Sink and Funnel, the coverage name not only tells the secondary and linebackers their pass responsibility but also dictates the run support scheme to each side. Even though there are strengths and weaknesses of each coverage, we feel the coverage called based off these rules give our players the best coverage to be most successful both against the run and pass based off offensive alignments and formations. Sky Coverage Sky Coverage is a quarters-based coverage where the primary support of the run is handled by the safety (Sky support). The corners in Sky are pass defenders first and have the role of secondary support versus the run. Sky is a run-based coverage which aggressively allows your safeties to get involved in the running game. When our safeties support the run in Sky, it enables
us to involve nine players against the run. Sky pass drops can be seen in Diagram 5 on both the strong side and weak side.
Diagram 5: Sky Coverage
Corner Progression: Sky Alignment: Seven yards deep and head-up. Footwork: Back peddle to inside-post position. Reads/Keys: Ball to No. 1. Assignment: Man-to-man concept on all deep routes (take off, post, post- corner) of No. 1. Intermediate routes of No. 1 (curl, dig, crossers) corner becomes halves player. Free/Rover Progression: Sky Alignment: Ten yards deep; two yards flexibility off hash. Footwork: Flat-foot shuffle. Reads/Keys: Ball to No. 2. Assignment: Free safety on strong side. Read No. 2. Vertical release play No. 2. Flat release No. 2, play curl to post. Drag release of No. 2, route recognition. Rover on weak side. Read No. 2. vertical release play No. 2. No vertical release, curl/flat drop relating off No. 2. Linebacker Drops: Sky Sam: Curl/flat drop. Mike: Hook/stretch to curl (all three receivers outside). Will: Hook/curl drop. Sink Coverage Sink coverage is a coordinated coverage ran against a two wide receiver set. This type of read coverage can turn into either true quarters or a Cover 2 concept based off the release of the No. 2 receiver. The primary support 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 both the run and pass. The safety and corner’s responsibility versus the pass can change with the release of the No. 2 receiver. Diagram 6 demonstrates Sink pass drops
Zone coverage is the backbone of our defensive coverage package. Our base zone coverage is a very flexible package in
on the strong side with release patterns of No. 2 and Sky pass drops on the weak side.
Diagram 6: Sink Coverage
coverage. Linebacker Drops: Sink (St. Side) Sam: Curl/No. 3 flat. Mike: Hook/stretch to curl (all 3 receivers outside). Will: Hook-Curl/No. 3 flat, unless other coverage called. Funnel Coverage Funnel is a true Cover 2 coverage where the corner squats the No. 1 receiver playing the flat and the safety is a true half-field defender. In our Zone coverage package, Funnel is called when there is a short split of the No. 1 receiver for releasing or blocking purposes. The primary support against the run in Funnel is handled by the corner (Cloud support). In Diagram 7, Funnel pass drops are illustrated on each side of the formation.
head-up. Footwork: Work up to five yards; mirror No. 1. Reads/Keys: Ball to No. 1. Assignment: Collision No. 1, play the flat. Safety Progression: Funnel Alignment: Twelve yards deep; two yards flexibility off hash. Footwork: Controlled back peddle to throttle. Reads/Keys: Ball to No. 1. Assignment: Halves; eye control No. 1 to No. 2. Linebacker Drops: Funnel Sam: Curl Mike: Hook Will: Hook/Curl unless other coverage called. In closing, Zone coverage gives us the built-in flexibility to run multiple coverages to one side of a formation based off of offensive sets and splits. Because of various offensive personnel and formations, we feel that the options of Sky, Sink, and Funnel in Zone put our players in the best coverage to be successful both against the run and the pass. Again, I would like to thank the AFCAfor this great opportunity to share these ideas and that our doors at Tennessee Tech are always open to you. Best of luck in 2003.
Corner Progression: Sink Alignment: Seven yards deep and head-up. Footwork: Lateral Shuffle. Reads/Keys: Ball to No. 2. Assignment: Read No. 2 for technique. Vertical release of No. 2, play No. 1 like quarters. Flat release of No. 2, settle with depth like Cover 2. Safety Progression: Sink Alignment: Twelve yards deep; two yards flexibility off hash. Footwork: Controlled back peddle to throttle. Reads/Keys: Ball to No. 2. Assignment: Read No. 2 for technique. Vertical release of No. 2, play No. 2. Flat release of No. 2, overlap No. 1 like halves
Diagram 7: Funnel Coverage
Corner Progression: Funnel Alignment: Seven yards deep and
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