Saban installs all versions of three-deep zone (buzz, sky, cloud, etc) all at the same time. Citing his work with Bill Belichick, Al Groh, Jim Bates, Rick Venturi, and Woody Widenhofer, he explains the simplicity of Cover 3 concepts;
"Its three-deep zone, guys.
However we put the parts in it makes no difference.
Here's the positions and here's what you relate to."
What he's referring to is the variations of who is the force (flat) defender in the coverage. This could be the corner (cloud), the safety (sky), or the backer (buzz).
With a 4 man front, you will end up with 4 underneath defenders
- curl to flat
- hook to curl
The bottom line how the defenders relate to pattern distribution and who is controlling the two deep vertical seams in Cover 3. He will take corners, safeties, and linebackers and teaches them how to control the seams (protecting the seams in C3 is vital to the success of the coverage as 4 verticals is the only pass that can hurt you) as the curl-to-flat player relating to the #1 receiver pattern (who ends up being the first receiver outside once the receivers run their routes).
Saban's philosophy states that there are really only 3 types of passes that can be run with the vertical seam being run #2 (double-seams / Smash / and Seam + Out or 'pole'). The strong safety should drop into the seam at 10 yards, which intersects a vertical stem of #2.
"If a guy has to run around you, you have rerouted him without touching him. Just don't let him into the seam!"
Saban teaches and stress three important concepts to his defenders
- drop to area / reroute receivers (deflect receivers from finding the weak spots of the coverage)
- match pattern distribution
- break on the ball
The corner leverage in Cover 3 was covered in the first installment. The Free Safety (middle of the field) technique Saban stresses is keeping the shoulders square to the line of scrimmage while back pedalling and attacking the ball.
The worst thing a safety can do is roll his shoulders and commit to a side, thereby opening the cut-back and/or over pursuing to the perimeter. He likens it to playing running back, that a safety should attack the point of attack in much the same way, keeping the shoulders square and balanced into the fit.
LSU playbook starting from page 159.
In the following more recent clips, note the alignment, leverage, and support of everything discussed thus far regarding his methodology;
Next up, Cover 1 with "rat in the hole", however, as Saban says.....
Before you teach Cover 1, you should teach your kids to play to match the pattern.