Monday, April 25, 2011

2 Read/Blue Coverage-Vs. Trips

3's a crowd...ok, maybe not always!

Trips formations can present a headache for defenses, whether it be trips open or closed, 3 receiver's to a side has long been a "rough patch" for many defensive coordinators (DC's).  This is especially true of pattern reading Quarters or 2 Read/Blue coverage schemes, as these schemes are based on only 2 receiver's to a side.  What do you do when the offense has now added a third receiver to that side?  That's what this post is about.  I'm going to go through some of things I've done, and other things I would do if I were a DC headed into next season.  I'll start with the simplest first, and move on to the more complex.  So strap in, grab your favorite adult beverage, and let's get going!

Roll- 1/4, 1/4, 1/2
I don't call this coverage "Roll", it has always been Cover 8 for me, however TCU calls it Roll, so I will use their terminology.  Roll is very simply put, 1/4, 1/4, 1/2.  It can be used against trips open or closed.  The read side of the defense is in 1/4's zone coverage, while the away side of the defense is a deep 1/2's coverage with a "squat" corner.  TCU still uses pattern reading rules for their 1/4, 1/4, 1/2, however I do not.  Here are my rules for my version of Cover 8:

Roll-Read Side
  • Corner- Deep outside 1/4, DGBD (Don't Get Beat Deep).
  • Free Safety- Deep inside 1/4, DGBD.
  • Strong Safety- Flat

Roll-Away Side
  • Corner- Flat.
  • Weak Safety- Deep 1/2.

Roll Coverage (1/4, 1/4, 1/2)

There you go!  Very simple, and easy to install.  I'm big on disguise, so my secondary looks just like it would in Blue coverage, even if we are playing Roll.  This is a very simple and easy adjustment to trips, however it does have its drawbacks.  To me, 1/4, 1/4, 1/2 is just another way of playing cover 3, and I'm not fond of Cover 3 (as most of you know).  Though simple, I wouldn't want to live in this adjustment as flood route concepts can easily exploit the read side, and the away side is typical cover 2, with it's weaknesses as well.  Roll is the easiest trips coverage I know, yet it's the one I would least prefer to use.

Solo is a good answer to trips, especially trey sets.  Solo frees up the read side of the coverage to be able to play Blue coverage to the 1 and 2 receiver's and still has an answer for when the #3 receiver in trips decides to go vertical.  The rules for solo are as follows:

Solo-Read Side
  • Corner- Blue reads of 2, swing deep of 2.
  • Free safety- Blue reads of 2, all of 2 vertical.
  • Strong safety- Curl/Flat; swing deep of 3.
Solo- Away Side
  • Corner- Man #1.
  • Weak Safety- Deep 1/2, long wall of 3, all of 3 vertical.
*Blue reads were discussed in an early post.  Go here to see what they are if you haven't already.


Solo does have some glaring weaknesses though.  Most offensive teams try and put their best wide receiver (WR) to the single receiver side, thereby putting your corner 1-on-1 with him.  This may not affect you, but in a lot of cases it can be trouble.  Also, against standard trips sets, the weak safety (WS) has a long way to go to wall #3 or play him vertical.  The WS is also the force player to the away side, and this can lead to some openings in coverage, or lack of solid run support to the away side.  A majority of the time, the away side is set to the boundary, so being late to run support is not a major issue, however in the middle of the field (MOF) it can really hurt a defense.  Solo works very good when the #3 receiver is a tight end (TE) or a very tightly aligned slot receiver.  This keeps the WS from having so much distance to cover.

Weak Safety Responsibility in Solo Coverage

Solo, in my opinion, is very simple to teach.  One of the major coaching points, for me, is disguise, so the away side corner will stem late to an inside position on #1, and the WS will slide from 2 yards outside the end man on the line of scrimmage (EMOL) to in the away side B gap.  This keeps the opposing quarterback from getting a read on exactly what coverage you are using to defend their trips formation.

There are two versions of TCU's coverage they call "Special".  I will discuss TCU's version, and a version I got from bigduke6 (thanks buddy) on the Huey board.  Both are very effective trips and trips closed solutions.  If I were coaching, Special would be my base coverage for how I defended trips formations.  The rules for Special are as follows:

Special-Read Side
  • Corner- Man #1.
  • Free Safety- Blue reads of 3, all of 3 vertical.
  • Strong Safety- Blue reads of 3, swing deep of 3.
Special-Away Side
  • Corner- Play the call (sky/cloud)
  • Weak Safety- Play the call (sky/cloud)
I tag my Special coverages either Special "Sky" (safety force) or Special "Cloud" (corner force).  If it's trips open, I'd prefer to be in Special Cloud, where the corner is the flat/swing deep of 2 player and the safety is the deep 1/2, all of 1 vertical player.  Trips closed, to me, is a better situation for Special Sky, as I can invert my WS (who is used to coming up and forcing) and use him as the flat/swing deep of 2/force player to the nub side, thereby leaving the corner as the deep 1/2, all of #1 vertical player.  Either way is good, and there is not right or wrong way to do it.

My version of Special Sky vs. Trips closed

The major weakness in Special, to me, is the fact I now have to teach my strong safety (SS) the corner's Blue reads.  I don't particularly care for this, as in high school, many of us have limited time with our players and need to squeeze every ounce of productivity out of them we can.  So, I'll show you the rules introduced to me by bigduke6 on the Huey board.

Special (Duke)-Read Side
  • Corner- Blue reads of 2, swing deep of 2.
  • Free safety- Blue reads of 2, all of 2 vertical.
  • Strong safety- man #3.
Special (Duke)- Away Side
  • Corner- Play the call (sky/cloud).
  • Weak Safety- Play the call (sky/cloud).

Special Cloud

Special Sky
 I honestly feel this is an easier way to teach the coverage.  The SS gets to stay in a low, inverted, alignment, and play man coverage (which he should be able to do).  The FS and the corner to the read side, are still simply playing Blue coverage.  Now nobody needs to change anything.  Where this becomes a problem is against trey sets or where a team employs a tight slot as the #3 receiver.  The SS does not have leverage on #3 in these sets.  This is why Solo is a good adjustment, when #3 is closely aligned to the formation.

Did someone say Solo?

At the very minimum, I think a DC should use both Solo and Special in his arsenal.  These coverages go hand-in-hand, and have the ability to make opposing offensive coaches pull their hair out attempting to figure out what coverage you are in.  By utilizing these coverages it allows your defense to stay in a pattern reading coverage, by eliminating the threat of the additional receiver to the read side. 

One more note, when the formation is set to the sideline (FSL), then I recommend automatically checking to cover 3.  How you do it is your choice, I again, am one for disguise, so I want my defense to look like a 2 high defense, and presnap I have my WS roll down and play the away side curl to flat zone.  All the other DB's play standard cover 3.  The idea here is that what can an offense really do into the boundary to hurt you with trips?  Not much to be honest.  This check is a very simple one, and gives your FS a means to put the defense into a solid coverage based on what he's seeing the offense align in.  It also allows you to triple team the single receiver side, with a deep MOF safety, a deep 1/3 corner, and an underneath player in your SS.  To each their own, but this was another idea shared to me from bigduke6 on the Huey board, and it keeps things very concise and simple.

Formation to the Sideline (FSL)

I hope these are helping, and please, keep commenting and emailing me letting me know what you need.  As these requests come in I will try and write about as much as I can on what you are asking in timely manner.  Again, bear with me, I know for many spring football is right around the corner.