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by DrB on Sep 21, 2009 2:10 PM EDT in Defensive Strategy
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When I went hunting for information about Gary Patterson's 4-2-5 scheme at TCU, I found almost nothing. Very little information is out there about it, but I did manage to find a partial download of their Cover 2 playbook scheme as well as Patterson's published article at a Nike Clinic about his defensive philosophy, along with help from Coach Huey's forums. Here I'll digest the important pieces to give a preview of what we will see against TCU next saturday. A 4-2-5 and a 4-4 scheme (Virginia Tech) are not terribly different in general. You will need quick SS types to play LB in a 4-4, or matchup on TEs and the like in a 5 DB secondary. What is different about what Patterson does is in how he teaches it. When I read these articles, I was surprised at what they do in installation. Most coordinators will tell you that your coverage works with your front 7's alignment, i.e., one can dictate the other. You dont do crazy things with your LBs in a normal 4-3 because they could be totally out of position to get into their zones or man-coverage on a pass play. But Patterson teaches them totally separately and believes the coverage is totally independent of the front aligntment.
Our fronts and coverages have nothing to do with each other. The front is called by the use of a wristband. We break down our first 6 or 7 opponents and put the fronts on the player's wristbands. We dont have to teach anything new to our players during the season. The team's may change, but the fronts do not. We do teach during the season, but we dont have to re-teach our fronts.
Patterson's then does one other thing other coordinators dont: he divides his secondary coverages into two calls called by the safeties to each side. In effect, his FS calls the coverage for one side, and the Weak Safety for the opposite side, dividing the offense down the middle. Most teams check off their coverage and make calls based on formations, but Patterson does not do this. In his words:
"We divide our packages into attack groups. The 4 DL & 2 LB’s are one segment of our defense. We align the front 6 and they go one direction. The coverage behind them is what we call a double-quarterback system. We play with 3 safeties on the field. We have a strong, weak and free safety. The free and weak safeties are going to control both halves of the field. They are the quarterbacks and they will make all the calls… …In our coverage scheme we are going to divide the formation at the center every snap. We play with 5 defensive backs in the secondary… …[If the passing strength is to the defensive left] the FS calls ‘read’ left. The FS is going to talk to the LCB, SS, and the read side LB. The weak safety aligns on the other side and talks to the right corner and right LB… …Starting in spring practice, the 1st Mon. we teach Cover 2 (Robber). On Tues. we teach our Blue coverage (quarters)….On Wed. we teach squats-&-halves coverage (Cover 5). After that we are done teaching our zone coverages… …We don’t worry about formations any more. When you divide the formation down the middle, to each side there are
Essentially their front will align either to the boundary/field (short/wide side) or a slight change based on whether a TE is on the OL. there are only 3 ways the offense can be aligned and still be sound. TCU is a Cover 2. or some kind of trips set that the defense will have to defend. That means we are playing Cover 2 (Robber) to the FS side and Cover 5 to the weak safety side. In blitzing. All we talk about is what the opponent is going to be doing and how we are going to adjust to it.only 3 formations the offense can give the secondary. so it looks like a 4-3. That is all they can give you. TCU will shift their LBs over to the strongside (called a slide) and slide the WS . …(When we blitz) the secondary doesn’t care what is going on with the front and LB’s. we never talk about lining up. …In the secondary we have 3 basic zone coverages. Coverages For the majority of the time. he can control both A-gaps. a twin set. Cover 5. and play Cover 2 Robber to the side of the passing strength. Against a Strong offset-I formation. Their DE’s align in a 6-tech (head-up on TE) if there is a TE and in a loose 5-tech if no TE (just outside the OTs shoulder). or Man defense. but with Cover 3 in zone-blitz situations. only their DTs. The Defensive Front Basically. In 3 days we teach our kids to line up in all 3 coverages against those formations…when we start talking about our game play. They will blitz with Cover 2 Robber behind it. for example. TCU is not a heavy zone-blitzing team. we don’t worry about formations…. which is 2 wideouts. including Clemson. But with the way he has simplified it. They do not flip-flop their DE's based on the formation or hash. This is similar to what Clemson put against Georgia Tech. a DT only has to memorize 6 words to accomplish a variety of maneuvers and stunts. they normally align their DT’s in a 3-tech to the strong side. and either a Shade or 1-tech weakside. The offense can give you a pro set. its not the usual zone blitz with Cover 3 behind it that most teams. which is a tight end and wideout. the FS knows the SS and WS are blitzing off the edge. because of their use of the twist and slide games (stunts essentially). We split the difference in those 3 coverages and it gives us 9 total coverages…We can also play cover 25. He has to talk to the 2 LB’s to get them into coverage… As far as blitzes go. The 1st digit in the number is the FS side and the 2nd digit is the weak side… The problem with a 4-2-5 has usually been inadequacy against the rush. tend to run because of the split coverage to each side. Unless the offense lines up in a 3-back wishbone or a no-back set. a small number of relatively simple calls can be combined into 157 distinct calls. An offense cannot run base man protection schemes against them. Unless we want the coverage to overplay something to one side. The advantage of playing your Nose Guard shaded off the Center's shoulder is that when he charges inwards. That tells them they have to cover everybody if there is a pass… …If there is a double smoke (an outside S blitz from both) being run. but for the most part are playing straight Man with a blitz. All they know is there is going to be a blitz and both LB’s are going to rush. What they tend to do against 2-back sets is slide a safety down into the box.
If #1 runs an in/out route. . Both defenders maintain high-low coverage throughout the receiver's route. If #2 runs vertical. What is Cover 2 Robber? To the 2 WR side. like BC does) so it might as well be man/man. Together with a cover 2 robber scheme to the other side. recall the coverage is called by the S to each side. curl. except that the first defender never peels off the receiver to defend the flat.down into the box at the last second. there will only be the WS and CB on the #1 receiver. The FS watches the backfield for play-action. The weak side would be a TE and Flanker. With 3 DBs playing on the strongside. the FS is meant to get under On the weak side. He'll be underneath the route most likely to "rob" it. Koenning. FS has #2 vertical. and the corners are in a read (called Blue technique) which means they will follow the #1 receiver vertical unless #2 releases outside before 8 yards deep. SS has #2 flat. In other playbooks I've read. The difference between robber and blue is who has flat. but not in TCU's. CB plays outside #1 but on top of route if #2 blocks. and once he reads pass his eyes immediately go to the #2 (slotman). the Robber coverage call is unaffected. They almost never play the whole field in Cover 5. the SS waits for #1 and is watching for a curl or post route by watching the guy's hips. TCU runs a matchup zone coverage like Clemson does now (not like V. On posts. curl and wheel responsibilities. Also. Despite the lack of another LB. Note that by "weak" I am talking about passing strength. SS stays with him. The Free and Weak safeties are playing 2 deep zone with 5 men playing zone underneath. If the hips sink. In this case the FS and WS will cover the #1 receiver. it would be difficult for the QB to read. Otherwise he goes with him on the post. In a sense this is also Cover 4 (quarters). and the combination will play what is called "squat and half" coverage or "bracket" coverage. who ran a spot drop. the SS and CB will matchup across the LOS with the FS playing deep-half. Cover Blue: Cover Blue is a cover 2 "Read". Cover 5: A true Cover 2 look with CBs in Cloud (they have run support). If #2 runs an out. not the Split-end side. rob #1. for example. The CB is not responsible for them. TCU still manages to have one of the best rush defenses in the country because of these presnap shifts. Cover 5 is a Cover 2 Man-under scheme. which are not as good at receiving as two true WRs to the strong side. only one side. Bracket coverage looks a little like a Cover-2 zone. Blue is 2 read but safety run support (SKY). where the FS and WS both have halves. he's going to break and stop (like a curl). they run the FS down and leave the SS underneath. Then the SS jumps the route. If #2 runs an out. Generally on a wheel route. Cover 2 Robber: CB has #1 deep and post. CB stops feet and WS gets over top of #1. the CB calls "in" or "out" and the SS must get under the route to "rob" them. If #2 to flat. This means the CB will come up to try to squat or sit on routes (bumping the WR at the LOS) with the WS playing deep coverage.
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