Wednesday, December 29, 2010

pimp, yo

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Not that I care.....

Not that I care in the least, and I really do like Tim Tebow (even as a quarterback), but given the heavy-handed approach of the NFL and its regulations, I wonder if we will see a fine issued soon?

NFL and NCAA rules forbid players from marking their uniforms…

… The rule covers the helmet, jersey, pants, shoes, tape, wristbands, and headbands. No writing on any part of the body. Before each game uniform reps — former NFL players — prowl the sidelines looking for violators. When the teams go back into the locker room before the game starts, they are given a list of players who are in violation of the rule.

If they come out for the kickoff without removing the writing, they will be fined. According to Johnny Rembert, the uniform rep in Jacksonville and a 10-year NFL veteran, fines start at $5,000.

I'm not a believer, so I should preface this with the fact that I am happy Tebow and Colt McCoy are excelling at the quarterback position this season.  Both bring an exciting dynamic to the game, and both have real strong convictions in their faiths.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Off Season Project

My "off season project" is near complete. I have essentially burned my physical video library of DVDs to a 1.5 Terabyte external hard drive as a backup against scratches or loss.

It may seem like a lot of unnecessary work, but searching, organizing, and keeping up with over 453 NCAA/NFL game film DVDs (plus a few hundred clinic discs) can be tedious and subject to error. I had no real feasible method other than to store the discs on large disc spindles, which began taking up more and more physical space. It was herding cats to find a disc (even after having grouped spindles by categories), then to go through the process of creating a copy was worse.

Now, once I receive a disc, I just pop it in the drive, rip the ISO image to my portable hard drive and store it away as a master disc.

It also makes providing copies for other coaches that much easier, too. I just pull from the ISO image catalog, pop in a blank disc, and burn....done. This way, the bookshelf full of DVDs, the entire collection is available on a paperback-sized drive, available to take with me anywhere and burn (dvd-ready discs) anywhere with a DVD-RW drive.

I have toyed with the notion of ripping the complete video files entirely as .avi / mpegs and store on a HD to viewed via a media sharing network, but it is completely limited to the DLNA/LAN where it is set up and not as practical as just throwing in the original DVD.
1. Open DVD Decrypter
2. Select MODE (ISO) > Read (the DVD you have in the drive)
3. Choose where you what the disc image written to ......
4. Hit the Graphic at the bottom.................done

To burn, just do the opposite (Write > source [local storage] to destination [DVD] ).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

you get what you pay for

Thanks to *Coach Hoover for the heads up on this (and saving my ass)....Yahoo Video is removing all of its existing content in March.

On December 15, 2010 the functionality to upload a video to Yahoo! Video was removed and a download utility, available through March 14, 2011, was added to users’ video profiles to allow retrieval of content. The user-generated content will be removed from Yahoo! Video on March 15, 2011. We apologize if this causes you any inconvenience.

Thanks, dickwads. Now my Yahoo account will only be valid for the annual fantasy football pastings.

So, my attempt at avoiding the issues I had with GoogleVideo (2006-2008) randomly pulling any game film I posted (not broadcast footage) have hit a brick wall. I am reluctantly migrating all my 500 some Yahoo videos into my Youtube account to conform to the Google monolith.

Change is good, I suppose, and this was something I was actually planning on doing anyway to make the content more accessible for mobile users. This affords me an opportunity to experiment with creating higher resolution game clips for viewing online. Oh well, you get what you pay for (both free...........for now). Also, likely unrelated, I'm itching for an opportunity to use my Captivate's TV-out function to record practice footage (in 720p) and connect it to a big screen with component cables after practice to go over coaching points (beats lugging around a camcorder).

*be on the look out for a moster project Coach Hoover is putting together in the coming weeks

another great blog worth checking out that just took off this past fall is

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Battle of the Boards (Auburn / Oregon)

As we all anticipate what should be an exciting match up between two explosive offenses in Auburn and Oregon for the National Championship, we may be able to glean some useful lessons from both these teams. Both represent fast-paced no-huddle offenses that are borrowing on basic concepts and adapting them as the lastest offensive innovation. Ironic or fittingly, I suppose, that we covered both teams offenses earlier in the Fall (Oregon / Auburn), but what stands out to most people about each is not their plays or scheme so much, as their method of In this post, we will provide some insight into how one of these teams facilitates this tempo via sideline signal boards.

While it has garnered quite a bit of attention (and favor) with the BooYah Sports Network by featuring their self-heralded icons during Oregon games, Auburn's similar practice has been rather subdued. Both essentially share the system of communication, along with other offenses (Oklahoma State).

It may appear as complex chaos, the methodology is quite simple. You have a base offense and concepts that you run, all you are doing is eliminating the unnecessary huddle and parsing the relevant pieces of information needed on a given play. The no-huddle concept has been around for a while, but recently it has undergone more efficient tweaking, accentuating the irrelevance of the huddle. If you've ever spent anytime coaching offense, you'll know just how tedious and frustrating it can be dicking around "coaching" the huddle procedure ('YOU go go, no,'re supposed to face that way!").

To better explain this process, I've included examples of how this information would be coded and signaled to flesh out how it actually works. Lets explore what needs to be delivered to the players....

Play direction
Play Type

This is common information usually shared in the huddle, before anything is presented to the defense. What the no-huddle is doing is presenting a formation, allowing the defense to match it, then call an offensive play based on this information and/or change it (if necessary). All this can be accomplished outside the confines gathering the players together; just line up, get the play, and execute it.

How information is being communicated (the huddle is a waste of resources)

As the offense nears the spot, they will assume the same formation as the last play (though nothing really changes for the offensive line, quarterback, and fullback on most every play). The formation will be signaled (usually by a sideline player) as soon as the previous play ends along with any pre-snap movement until that formation is achieved. Next, the play type will be given to the players. The quarterback will begin the cadence, repeating the playside/series code, and snap the ball. Once the play ends, the next begins and the process repeats.

This necessitates an offense to develop its own language, with multiple terms (and signals) to deliver the same information, so the code cannot be easily ‘cracked’. This is achieved by concept association and by allowing the position units to devise the terms they want to use (ownership of association).

Sideline Communication
The sideline usually features up to four different signalers consisting quarterbacks, receivers, graduate assistants, assistant coaches, and coordinators. These players will be signaling something every down, though not every signaler will be ‘live’ (will be signaling bogus dummy calls). The common method is broken down as follows;

Play Caller: coordinator / coordinator assistant
Signaler: position coach (runs, play action, screens)
Color: player (black or blue = right / white or gold = left / red = play change/check)
Signal Board: GA (passes)

All these individuals will present their signals to the on-field players until the ball is snapped to ensure that no player did not receive the information. So once a play ends, the 'next play' begins with the entire offense setting up on the spot of the ball, looking to their sideline for new information.

The real key to the team of signalers is the Color designator. Colors will determine if the signaler is hot (or the board is hot) as well as reinforce what the playside will be.

Black, White, Green, Pink, Brown – Signaler is Hot
Blue, Gold, Red – Board is Hot

So by this example, after a formation is given and the sideline player signaling “Black” (right is playside / signaler is hot) the players on the field will look to the signaler for the play. If the color signaler is delivering “Blue”, they can understand that the playside is right and the board is hot (i.e. pass routes) and disregard the signaler.

To better explain this process, I've included examples of how this information would be coded and signaled to flesh out how it actually works. Let’s explore what needs to be delivered to the players....

As you can see by the charts above, the no-huddle concept of signaling can deliver this information quickly through association and will generally only affect the 5 specialists on offense.

Next, the play type (run, play action, screen, or pass) can be delivered. The key is to group the play type by genus or series.

“If the reference is X, I will know that the play is going to be ‘this type’, now all I need to know is which one”

In our examples we can classify the play types as;
Runs are represented by NFL teams (or mascot)
Passes are represented by College teams (or mascot)
Play action passes will be represented by the run action signal with a (color) tag
Screens are based off locations (city or state)

We saw this earlier (and it is quite common) during the write-up on Louisiana Tech’s first few practices last spring as well as Bo Pelini’s base defense concepts, where commonly used categories represent different types of plays.

Take these examples for instance;
I=draws the association of “I for IZ” that is commonly tied to the NFL team, Indianapolis Colts, so any horse reference would be able to convey a zone run.

P=draws the association of “P for Power” (i.e. NFL team with a ‘P’ is the Patriots), so all you would have to do is deliver an iconic symbol of what people would associate a ‘patriot’ with.

During this entire process, the quarterback can eyeball the sideline while ‘translating’ audibly to the line and backs…. “Blue, Blue….Cowboy! Cowboy!” (right counter) without the defense really having any idea of what is going on. Alternatively, the very next play could be called “Black, Blue….Dallas! Dallas!”, and still be running the same play.

With passing plays, it is the same process, but this is where the boards come in. If the board is 'hot', the bogus play type will be called out and let the offensive line know it is not run-action, so they will need to listen for the protection. The fullback will then call out a play-specific protection on every down (much like the TFS system will have the back make a 'roger' / 'louie' call each play).

When the board is ‘hot’ the quadrants will represent primary and secondary receiver routes based on the route tree used. So, you could have your passing concepts represented by both associations (NCAA teams/mascots deliver a passing concept) as well as number representations (“20” / “97”). See below for a standard chart for passing concepts and marry them up with the included passing tree.

If you are calling a smash concept, you could just call "Razorback" (Arkansas) or the "20" (or "90"). The "2" in this call would represent the initial read side (right) and the "0" indicates primary receiver running the hitch.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Quarterbacks: More Than Just Throwers

interesting piece in today's WSJ regarding how to judge quarterback efficiency and play on more than just throwing alone

"That would take in the ability to move a team down the field," he said. "That would take in running ability." His argument, it turned out, foreshadowed a more intuitive formula devised by David Berri, a sports economist at the University of Southern Utah and the co-author of the book "The Wages of Wins."

Dr. Berri's system, which he called QB Score, analyzed data to determine which aspects of a game contributed most to a team's scoring or surrendering points. It places greater value on all the yards a quarterback gains (regardless of how he gains them) and on turnovers (including fumbles). A quarterback's rushing totals aren't a huge factor, Dr. Berri said, but they're taken into greater account.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Auburn Gap Runs: Hand Sweep

The "Hand Sweep" is nothing more than the old Wing-T “bucksweep”.

For the Hand Sweep, motion is optional, but used to hold the backside defender with fake reverse action.

The H-back blocks the same as power option, and looks to log the DE. With Hand Sweep, the H-back is more man-conscious, looking to kickout the DE if he takes an outside-upfield path. The H-back can be replaced by a tight end with no change (reach block) in assignment.

Split End – who is the bigger, physical wide receiver (Y) cracks first backer in the box.
Playside Tackle maintains his power B-gap track
Backside Tackle will hinge, like he does in power and counter.
Center blocks back, like he does in power and counter.
Playside Guard – will pull to block the support defender. If the defense is in man coverage (the Y receiver’s defender chases him inside), the guard will look to log the first backer to clear. If the defense is in zone (the support player just sitting in the flat), the guard will kick the defender outside.
Backside Guard - the backside guard will skip pull to pick up the backside linebacker scraping over the top. If this backer tries to run-through the open playside A-gap, the guard will pick him up. If the backside backer shoots the backside B gap, the guard will not pull and just pickup the linebacker.

One of the better methods of defending Wing-T is by matching numbers with a reduction (Under) front, making it difficult to get enough blockers at point of attack. To accommodate for this front, as the playside tackle would have a terrible angle to account for an A-gap defender, the playside guard will make an “IN” call. This communicates that he is staying “in” (not pulling) and adhering to his A-gap track. This now reverts back to how power is blocked, with the exception that the backside guard will now be pulling for playside defensive support player.

Auburn Gap Runs: Counter

Once you’ve taught the power, you’ve also taught the counter (to the playside). All the rules remain the same; PST works a B-gap track, PSG works an A-gap track, Center works backside, and BST hinges.

The only thing that changes with counter is the backside guard and H-back. The guard will change his pulling footwork to accommodate the trap technique on the end. He will exit on a 45 degree angle, rather than the 90 degree open-hip technique used on power option. Since the guard is kicking out the end, the H-back will exchange roles (with power) and seal the first backer inside the box.

The same principles used with power apply with counter. If the DE wrong-arms the kickout, the guard can log, leaving the H-back to loop outside and bounce the run.

After a heavy diet of power (overload of numbers at the point of attack), the homerun threat of counter action can stretch defenses to a breaking point. To help with this horizontal stretch, the slot (#2) running orbit motion will adhere to a simple set of rules. If the ball carrier is aligned in split backs (away from where the orbit motion is coming from), the slot (in motion) will continue on an (power) reverse track to the counter action. If the ball carrier is stacked (pistol), the motion man will reverse out and run an option course with the quarterback. This simple rule helps stress defenses who will game plan against counter/power, by spinning a safety down with the motion. By introducing the reverse path, the playside safety is widened, creating a larger seam for the ball carrier to run through.

One interesting thing to note regarding Malzahn’s approach to offense, is that with this system, they don’t tell the backs where to line up.  The backs will align based on the play called (not the formation).  A basic formation, such as “Twins Right” will be called (“Twins Right, 91 Counter”), but the H-back and Fullback will align based on the play (i.e. counter = split-backs).

Another wrinkle can be added to run the exact same play out of 1-back; QB Counter.  Nothing changes for guys upfront.  Since QB counter is usually run out of 1-back, the play-fake speed sweep helps open the run. 

Auburn Gap Runs: Power

Malzahn’s offense is premised on a 2-back run and play-action team that will keep constant pressure on a defense and defensive coaches by;
  1. Running the offense at a 2 minute pace the entire game (physically and mentally wear them down)
  2. Balanced attack
  3. Heavy misdirection in the run and passing game
  4. Stretch the field vertically and horizontally
  5. Throw the book at defenses with specials, fire alarms, and various personnel packages. Plan to go into each game with 7-8 trick plays
  6. Present the option in 3 different ways (zone read, speed option, power g option)

While the 2010 Auburn offense appears to be achieving success through this aggressive ethos, it is the run game utilizing Newton, Dyer, McCalebb, and Fannin that remains at the forefront.
After covering the zone-read with bubble last year and with the Cam Newton destroying defensive fronts this season, it may be time to cover Auburn's gap run schemes (Power, Counter, Hand Sweep). What is interesting about this "spread" is how much nothing has really changed over the years. This series is nothing more than Wing-T from the gun, and you'll find more and more spread teams complimenting their zone runs with these concepts (La Tech, for one).

Gus Malzahn gained notoriety as a high school coach in Arkansas throwing the ball and attacking through tempo and extreme spread sets (see ninja). While joining forces with Rich Rodriguez protege, Herb Hand, the appreciation of the 2-back power run game was realized and perfected. In this post, we'll take a look at how Auburn's inside/outside zone is complimented by gap blocking via "Power", in its many forms.


The tenets of Auburn’s run game are simple; they want to appear multiple by changing formations, ball carriers, and backfield action, while keeping scheme and technique simple for the offensive line. By reducing the workload and specifity for the offensive line, it allows them to operate efficiently at a high-tempo.

One of the first plays Malzahn installs is Power. The play is rather simple and for the offensive line, the footwork and technique can remain consistent with their zone skill sets. The vital elements of this off-tackle play revolve around the playside tackle, the H-back, and the backside guard.

The H-back looks to make his first step to the midline of the defensive end (or EMOL), who he will kick/dig out of the C gap. He obviously wants to leverage this player quickly by striking the chest and pin the inside shoulder of the defender. This player doesn’t always align in the backfield. Malzahn will often bring a slot receiver or tight end into the formation late with motion.

The playside tackle will step down hard inside and follow a B-gap track. He is looking to work his track to the 2nd inside linebacker in the box. If it is an (base) odd front, the tackle will work toward the backside inside linebacker. If it is a stacked front, he will work to the MLB. If confronted with a 3 technique playside (defensive linemen in B gap), the tackle will look to make this DT an A gap player, washing him into the playside guard’s track (thereby creating a double-team). This method allows the tackle to have a better angle attacking the backside linebacker.

The backside guard on power will skip (or shuffle) pull by first taking a quick retreat step with his backside foot, then horizontally extend his playside foot (some would even teach the skip pull by placing the backside foot behind the playside foot for a quicker release), allowing him to keep his shoulders square to the LOS and prevent him from opening his hips away. The guard is looking to pull through B-gap (right off the hip of the playside guard), so this will be a short path, and work to the first linebacker inside the box.

As mentioned, the playside guard will step down and work an A-gap track and wash any shade head-up to shade of the center. The center will always block back on a nose / backside shade / backside 3 tech, aiming high to ensure the defender does not cross his face.

The backside tackle will hinge, by stepping hard inside to prevent backside B-gap penetration, retreat, and look to just get a hand on the shoulder of the backside end.

The running back will align 7 yards deep (just like he would in zone), with his inside foot on the outside foot of the playside guard. After meshing with the quarterback, he will hug the double team, right off the hip of the playside guard, attacking B-gap.

The slot receiver (or #2) will orbit (“Utah”) motion and get even with tailback. On the snap, he will reverse field and establish a pitch relationship with QB. Often times, this orbit motion will be extended across the formation to control the backside safety.

An effective way for defenses to combat power-heavy offenses (as I write about here in 2005) is to overload their overload, bringing strong side pressure into C gap ala a "MARS" stunt or "NCAA (fire zone) blitz".  This usually has an end long-sticking into B-gap and a linebacker blitzing into C-gap (or visa versa).  When anticipating outside pressure or a end crashing inside, the PST has the ability to make a "MOMO" call, which essentially means, "(I have a) Man On and a Man Outside".  This alerts the entire offensive line to slow down on their releases and allow the line to stunt, so they can pickup the exchanges.  With a "MOMO" call, it will alert everyone to be man-concious on their blocks; the PST will delay his track release, waiting on the end to crash into B-gap (where he will wash him inside).  That alert helps the H-back recognize that the end will not be on the edge once the ball is snapped, and won't be the defender needing to be kicked out.  The center will delay his backside block on the shade, anticipating the playside defensive tackle to cross his face, and likewise, wash him on his gap-track.


When you have an exceptional runner at quarterback (like Cam Newton) Power can be run with him as the ball carrier and/or a running back can be substituted as the ‘quarterback’ (ala Wildcat). The QB power is usually complimented with perimeter stressors like speed sweep / reverse.



While great anywhere on the field, the Power Option is Auburn’s go-to play in the red zone. It is becomes the fail safe answer to fundamentally sound defenses that look to spill the load block (H-back) with the wrong-arm. Since it becomes near impossible to kick out a C-gap defender who is cutting inside a blocker, with Power Option this defender will be logged (pinned inside) and the area of attack will be moved to the perimeter. The H-back will log the end and the backside guard will work around the log and pick up the scraping MLB (first backer in the box).

The only nuance of Power Option for the line (everything remains exactly the same), is the technique used by the backside guard. Because the H-back will not be kicking out the end, the guard will have a longer path to work to the backers. To account for this, Malzahn will have the guard use the ‘old-school’ shoulder throw with playside foot pivot as the first step. Opening the hips of the guard for this extended pull track (outside C gap) helps neutralize any penetration and gets the linemen to the destination faster.

The split end will attack the slot receiver’s (who is becoming the pitch man) cover defender and the pitch key will be the flat defender. This is a fantastic play inside the 10 yard line, as most defenses will be in some sort of man coverage.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Nick Saban: The Process

Passing along a great link provided by Trevor McIntyre, detailing elements of Saban's program manual and how it influences players at Alabama.
Blueprint of a Champion Article

Though Saban isn't the only coach to use such intense indoctrination methods to build a positive-peer culture, this is an insightful look at how to lay a detailed foundation of expectations, behaviors, motivation, and mental processing to build a consistent product. Some of the insights regarding player expectations outlined in the article can be heard here and also through the 2010 ESPN "All-Access" special.

Some choice excerpts from the article;

“It's almost like you're being brainwashed into, 'This is how you play the game, how it has to be,'” [Colin] Peek said. “Those stories, those messages, and how that relates to us are reiterated by the coaches. It's a motivational tool to bring it home to us.”

“In short, perceived self-efficacy is concerned not with the number of skills that you have but with what you believe you can do with what you have under a variety of circumstances,” Bandura wrote in his 1997 book, “Self-Efficacy, the Exercise of Control.”

“Discipline, commitment and effort and toughness - that's the four fingers,” (Scott) Cochran said. “The thumb is pride. “So when you put the four fingers up, that's what it's all about. It means fourth quarter, but there's a lot more.”

The manual is obviously not just the sole creation of Saban, but a collaboration from his entire staff, selling a united message. Even at the high school level, there are many valuable tenets to essential program building to be garnered from this lesson ( framing competition, staging strength & conditioning, positive mental imagery, leading with purpose, etc).

Additional Links:
Dr. Kevin Elko
Albert Bandura
Self-regulation of Motivation and Action through Goal Systems

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bo Pelini: Spinner Update

The Blackshirts have returned!

After dismantling an explosive Missouri offense this weekend, Bo and Carl Pelini are resurrecting the Nebraska defense of old.

As discussed previously, the dime pressure "Spinner" package was used to perfection to disguise and attack the rhythm of the Pinkel offense.

A good article with a few choice interviews, "emptying the notebook" alludes to the effect of this scheme.

The Huskers used their normal personnel up front but worked out of a three-man front, taking defensive end Cameron Meredith out of a three-point stance and using him as a stand-up outside linebacker. Along the line, the Huskers spread out their linemen, putting bigger bodies along the edges.

“They lined up their D-tackles on our tackles,” Missouri center Tim Barnes said. “Having those guys out there, I know it’s different for our tackles, having that much extra weight. I know they’re used to faster, quicker guys.”
“We worked that three-man front all spring and all fall, just for this game,” defensive coordinator Carl Pelini told reporters after the game. “Our guys were ready to execute it.”

Also, noting catch-man pressures (from consistent pre-snap coverage shells) as the trend many defenses will look to as an answer to "the spread" offensive game. Nebraska HAS been playing a ton of Cover 1 this year, which was a trademark of former DC, Charlie McBride.

“They played a couple different coverages, but for the most part if was all man-on-man,” receiver T.J. Moe said. “Once you hit 5 yards down the field, no matter what the coverage was, it was you against him. We didn’t do a good enough job getting open today.”

On a few occasions, they dropped a safety down to play Cover 3, but primarily were in Cover 5 (2 deep man-match under) allowing the underneath defenders to aggressively attack the receivers with help behind them.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ninja Attack

If you caught it Tuesday night, good for you..... but Tony Franklin busted out the old "Ninja" formation from the Kentucky air raid days (and used quite a bit by Mike Leach at Texas Tech). Though Leach credits Amherst College as running it in the early 80's, it didin't really catch on until being popularized in the early 90's by Florida (under Spurrier) and Evangel Christian Academy.

The formation is used much like the "swinging gate" series; to force defenses to waste precious time preparing for such an untraditional look. This unconventional approach can force defenders to process new information, hestitate, and have the offense easily exploiting any mental error.
Typically, the alignment has the widest receivers just inside the numbers with the tackle just inside of them. The slot receiver to either side will apex behind these two players. Everything else is handled just like regular Ace formation, nothing changes from the usual offense (save the split of the tackle).
The plays typically run out of Ninja are:
  • 42/52 flash screens to the slot receiver
  • Shovel pass or QB run
  • Verticals (with F angle)
The less, the better. The less time spent "coaching" in Ninja, the more efficient it will be for the offense as it will be used as a game planning gimmick.
On the second play of their second series against Boise State, Franklin used a trips version of Ninja, to zone flash and let QB Ross Jenkins exploit the opening in the middle of the defense to gain a quick 7 yards (making it managable 3rd and 3).
Though they never went back to it, it wasn't necessary; Franklin's frantic attack against the Boise defense through tempo, formations, and personnel allowed LTU to fend off (keep off balance) the contending National Champions.
* A great interview of Franlkin after this game (his thoughts on Boise, Oregon, and Auburn) is available at
**Be sure to check out Coach Hoover's post on Curl/Flat at
and Hoover's interview (as well as Ken Wilmesherr coaching points on zone running) at CompuSports Radio

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fundamentals: Strength & Conditioning

No scheme or strategy will impact your program and team (next fall) than this "play" below, the clean.

Building core strength and explosive transfer of power (through ground-based movements) is the single-most important process in program building.

At a previous program, we brought in Palmer Chiropractic instructor and former Olympic Team coach, Dave Juehring, to properly train our athletes (and clinic our staff). It was probably one of the best things we ever did and allowed us to see dramatic athletic improvements in our players.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

La Tech (Update)

Just an update and example of Louisiana Tech under Sonny Dykes and Tony Franklin.
Though struggling early in the season, they are getting in a rhythm with conference play and shouldn't be too terrible versus THE Boise State in their primetime Tuesday night (26 Oct) appearance on "The Deuce".

Running the 'Wild Dawg' out of various personnel sets, Franklin has done a nice job of late keeping the offensive momentum moving and defenses guessing, allowing QB Ross Jenkins some breathing room to run the offense.

For a review of the (simple) spring install, be sure to check out these older posts

Here is a sample drive last week.....

Friday, October 15, 2010

Oregon Offense (resource)

I don't have a dog in this hunt, but I've got to back Chris at Smart Football for his review of Gregg Easterbrook's article...

The genius of Easterbrook dropping knowledge on the Sports Dawg

plus, I'm not one to miss a dog-pile salute to Boo-Yah "sports writers".

Here are install vids from 2007 - 2009 reviewing the Oregon "Blur" Offense (lol) for your review....

Friday, October 8, 2010

Nick Saban: Split Safety Coverage (Cover 7)

Last year, we covered Nick Saban’s 1-high defensive principles, so its only fitting we review his 2-high concepts now. The bulk of understanding Saban’s philosophy resolves around digesting his vocabulary. This ‘vocabulary’ provides a comprehensive communication method for technique or concept that remains universal though his different sets.

With the propensity of 1-back attacks, and as illustrated with the 3-deep coverage series, a defense has to have a competent answer to the threat of 4-receiver vertical stretch (2x2 or 3x1 formations). This is why we see most every defense basing out of a 2-high coverage shell. This provides a comfort zone for defenses to match 2x2 formations and will illustrate why the 3-4 becomes a choice to achieve this balance (can adjust to two detached receivers to a side while keeping a 2-high coverage shell).

nothing wrong with being 2-deep
The easiest way to immerse yourself in his 2-high concepts is to start with Saban’s do-everything Cover 7. Cover 7 is man-to-man match quarters; 4-on-3 strongside / 3-on-2 weakside. At its most basic application, it is just a standard quarters defense. Each side will match according to the split of the formation and game plan. Because it can be adjusted in so many ways, the consistent 2-high shell can give a myriad of looks but remain constant before the snap.


To help digest this, its best to think of this in terms similar to the TCU coverage concept (with the exception of MOFO safeties). Away from the passing strength, you will have one receiver split, and at the most, two. This is referred to as the ‘triangle’ side, for the 3-on-2 apex the defense has (safety, corner, backer against a receiver and back). Typically, the dominant receiver will align as the passing strength (X).

With Cover 7, he can easily be accounted for in a few ways;
  • aggressive man-to-man with corner (“MEG”) or
  • double-coverage bracket between the corner and safety (“CONE”)
A “MEG” (technique) call will be made that declares the corner will man up with the #1 receiver wherever he goes (#1 will be matched by the corner).

A “CONE” call will double the single receiver much like how traditional quarters is played to the single-receiver side (if X is shallow, corner gains depth to his ¼ and safety constricts his deep middle ¼ ).

This leaves the #2 receiver or back-out as the only threat to be matched by the safety and backer (Will). The Will matches the fourth receiver (X,Y,Z are accounted for – so whoever becomes the 2nd receiver away from strength) or the 1st crosser (coming from the passing strength).

If second receiver aligns (outside the box) the Will adjusts and walks out to split the difference. Typically, if a second receiver shows to the ‘triangle side’, any “MEG” call would be adjusted to “MOD”, which simply has the corner playing off-man on the first receiver.

The “MOD” call declares that the corner will not take #1 on anything under 5 yards and will be anticipating some kind of 2-man China/Hi-Low concept from these two receivers (Will would now match #1 receiver short / corner would now match #2 receiver high). These adjustments can be called / declared by the safety, but more often used per game plan.


Believe it or not, that was actually the ‘hard part’. Quarters into the passing strength is actually quite simple, as it really is just standard quarters rules. With two receivers to the passing strength, you have the vertical stem of #2 being controlled by the deep safety, and any vertical by #1 being handled by the corner (unless in “MEG”). The SLB / Nickel will take the first receiver to the flat, the Mike will match the final #3. This should sound extremely similar to how pattern match coverage is introduced and used in 3-deep zone and fire-zone pressures.

The “MEG” / “MOD” adjustment is available to use on this side, as well. Why would you use this? Why wouldn’t you just hang back in standard quarters? Because the common weakness of quarters in the perimeter distance for the OLB to respond to. By modifying how the #1 receiver is played, you can remain in the same coverage with a minor tweak on the (standard) routes that will be used to attack quarters coverage (underneath). With a corner locking down the #1 receiver, it will become a 2-on-1 match between the OLB and deep safety.

A ton of examples of Cover 7 (with and with out meg/double meg)

Vs 3x1
Cover 7 can adjust to all formations, but what happens when faced with trips, as is common with most ‘spread’ or 1-back formations? The answer is, “ZEKE”, which is just a banjo matchup for the linebackers. We’ve seen this before with the Rip/Liz post on 3x1. It is essentially saying the outside linebacker takes the first out route, the inside linebacker will take the second out route.
The inside linebacker will take the first inside route, the outside linebacker will take the second inside route.
Away from trips, “MEG” will be played against any single receiver The Will matches man-to-man on any back release as the 4th receiver releases.

  • If the #4 receiver aligns as a slot (now a 2-man receiver threat is present), the “MEG” is off and adjusted to “MOD” technique by the corner.

  • If the #4 receiver flow strong (to the trips), then they will be playing ‘3 Buzz Mable’, which is just man-match banjo with the safety dropping into the hook area (and Will expanding as force player). This rule also applies to 2-back flow (both backs release to the strong side) action.

  • This post has been in the works for a while, but possibly more apropos after the Arkansas game where there was considerable controversy of ‘blown assignments’ regarding the Razorback’s first score. On paper, it actually wasn’t an impossible matchup; 2x2 matched with an even Cover 7 coverage, the field corner is man-to-man in MEG. It really became a 3 receiver flood, so the Will would've matched first outside (F), Mike would cut the crosser (Y) and with #2 shallow and away, the Sam would've dropped into the dig.

    With having given a basic overview of Saban’s quarters coverage, it will provide context in which to gain understanding in how he handles slot formations (where the real tweaks in the scheme come from). I hope to be able to provide an addendum to this by going over Saban’s Cover 2 package, as well as other slot adjustments from 2-high.

    Possibly, in the future we will explore his other coverages, but in the meantime, here are how he defines other zone coverages….

    Cover 4 - is a 5 under / 2 deep (corner & free safety) against slot formations.
    Cover 2 – is 2 deep (free and strong safety) 5 underneath
    Cover 6 – is 3 deep 4 underneath with a weakside rotation
    Cover 8 – is quarter halves matched (strong side plays quarters / weak side plays cover 2)
    *cover 5 (man under 2 deep)
    *leach – 4 under 2 deep where the star (nickel) is man-to-man on the slot receiver

    Slot coverage variations:
    Fist(c3)/Cover 4/slot (c1)/cora(c2)/switch(c2 corner over)/R (robber to 2 open)/thumbs(C3)/iowa (3on2bracket)

    Source Material
    1996 Michigan State / 2001 LSU Playbook located here