Thursday, November 5, 2009

UF: Orange / Tan Coverage

One of the true enjoyments of the game of football is tracing the lineage of what you see on the field. If you're an avid reader of Chris Brown's addictive football blog, smartfootball, you'll note Brown's wonderfully analytical and respectful approach to the game. Throughout his coverage of NFL, NCAA, coaches, players, and concepts, he pays respect to current personalities as well as providing perspective of how it fits within the historical context of the game.

In that same spirit, we can appreciate the current trends of the game after first understanding how and why it came into being. After the in-depth look at pattern-matching from a MOFC coverage (last month's Saban-series as well as the observations of the Va Tech Robber), we can better gauge the pulse of bleeding-edge defenses of today. A classic case of this evolution can be witnessed in Charlie Strong's Florida Gator defenses.

In this first installment, you should be able to note the trend of 1-high coverage with pattern-matched zone defenders underneath (of Saban's pattern-reading C3). To fully grasp the simplicity and flexibility of their fire zone package, understanding their Orange and Tan pattern-matching coverages becomes a prerequisite.

In the clips below, their Orange (weak rotation) and Tan (strong rotation) coverage package is exactly this. Presenting a 2-high coverage shell at the snap, Florida screws down their Strong Safety down into the box late and rolls their Free Safety to rob the (once open) middle of the field. This man-zone matchup with the box defenders is what tilts the ‘chalk’ in the defense’s favor. This aggressive style of pattern matching combines the best of both worlds, as it is aggressive zone (playing the ball) and tight man (not letting any receiving threat run free).

This main exception of "natural selection" in football, this tweaking of existing schemes, is thriving in today's game. The one knock on MOFC (middle of the field closed) Cover 3 (zone) is that you typically waste some of your best athletes (corners) by just playing deep third. When you are Florida, recruiting the best talent in the nation (and probably dominating the best recruiting state for specialists), wasting a corner in zone, just doesn't sound like good economics. The one knock on true Cover 1 (man) defense, is that you can be out-leveraged in the run game when backs displace themselves from the formation. In Orange/Tan, Florida locks up the receiving threats with both corners and adapts the front underneath.

This accomplishes a few things;
  1. Matches up your best athletes (corners) against the offense's best athletes (receivers) and ensures that the defense is never caught in an unfavorable matchup with these playmakers.
  2. Ensures your run-support is sound and keeps your underneath defenders in a +1 advantage (loads the box to defend the middle of the field).
  3. Eliminates the middle-of-the-field (inside-out) from the offense with a deep robbing safety.
  4. Presents a diametrically different presnap look to the offense, disguising the defense's true intentions (going from MOFO - middle of the field open to MOFC - middle of the field closed)

As you watch the videos above, try to break-down each play by observing in this sequence;
  1. Strong Safety rolls down for sky support (force)
  2. Strong Safety matches #2 weak, WLB flows to second back out (#3) weak, and the MLB becomes the "rat"
  3. or MLB matches #2 (weak) Will matches #3 (weak), and the Strong Safety becomes the "rat"
  4. When the "rat" isn't threatened backside, he peels to robot the crosser.
Sound familiar?
Just like the Cover 3 pattern match discussed earlier, the box / underneath defenders relate themselves to the 2-3 receiving threats as they develop from the snap
With cross flow from the TE, the MLB jumps the #2 disbursement, the WLB robs the the #3, and the backside Strong Safety looks to cut the Y shallow as the "rat in the hole".

With this new adaptation of C1 & C3 pattern-match concepts, we'll further explore how Florida (and every other defense in America) utilizes these very same skill sets to evolve into fire-zone 5-man pressures to further stress offenses.
For more information on how these coverages adapt to non-pro formations, click here.

Stay tuned for the next three posts detailing their simple fire zone blitz packages;


Unknown said...

brophy do you know why florida has their free safety so deep? I remember reggie nelson playing extremely deep. Is this a scheme that relies heavily on front four pressure?

brophy said...

Does it rely on front four pressure? I doubt it, but they get it because they are Florida and have phenomenal athletes. Actually, "this scheme" is not much different than what any other NCAA team does (Iowa, in particular, for years would do this). The fact that they are in an adjustable 8-man front is what is going to stress an offense out.

As for the deep safety - good question. Maybe we should hat tip the 2-level defense advocate, Ted Seay, for this concept. Gregg Williams was notorious for doing this with Sean Taylor and now does it with Darren Sharper (in New Orleans). It provides greater range for the FS to play more aggressive and disguise some of what they are doing.

coachweav88 said...

Brophy, in your bottom diagram, If Sam has #2 responsibility, after the TE crosses, why doesn't he jump F out of the backfield (new #2) Mike on the H (#3)and Will Jump the TE crossing with help from the backside safety (because there is no #2 to his side). I don't understand what Sam does now that the TE has crossed. Does he rush now?

Thanks in advance.

Maikaione said...

Forgive my ignorance, but who has force? Is it the ends or are the backer/down safety responsible for determining run or pass first and then responding appropriately?