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MQ is moving to SubStack

MatchQuarters Community,

MQ is moving to SubStack!

What does that mean?

  • The content on the site and access to articles at MatchQuarters.com will not change
  • New content will be released on MQ’s new Substack page
  • In order to gain access, you will need to sign-up
  • Previews of new articles will be posted
  • Template shop is still open!

The first question is always, “How much?

The subscription will be $5/mo or $50/yr

Included in this will be access to new content and the “Ask Coach A.” Community board.

Thank you for your support in the past five years.

Look forward to interactions with you guys in the future.

Make sure to sign-up today so you don’t miss out!

– Coach A. | #ArtofX

Defending Trips With Stump Coverage

MQ talks about the sister coverage to Stubbie/Special

Most people that are familiar with MatchQuarters know what my favorite Trips coverage is, Stress. A very close second is Stump. In the Cover 7 (Saban) vernacular, Stump is the sister coverage to Stubbie or what I refer to as Special. In Special, the CB is locked on the #1 WR in what is referred to as MEG coverage (Man Everywhere he Goes). If the #1 WR were to run all the way across the field, the CB would take off and trail him all the way across. This is what is referred to as man-match. The CB does not have a “no cover zone” or a ceiling in which the CB will “zone-off” if the WR doesn’t cross this point.

Special features a triangle coverage over the #2 and #3 WRs. This allows the defenders to play a 2-Read concept over those two WRs. The Nickel (Ni/Sam) and the Mike will wall the edges of the triangle with the field safety (FS) as the “cap” defender. Cap just means the Safety will take the deepest of the two routes. Versus a concept where #2 and #3 both go vertical, the Safety will take #3 up and back. This allows Mike to hang near the box as a zone player.

To read the rest of this article, subscribe below:

 

© 2020 MatchQuarters.com | Cody Alexander | All rights reserved.


Go deeper than just X’s and O’s. Have a philosophy.

MQ’s other books are available on Amazon and Kindle:

Cautious Aggression: Defending Modern Football

Hybrids: The Making of a Modern Defense

Match Quarters: A Modern Guidebook to Split-Field Coverages

As always, support the site by following me on Twitter (@The_Coach_A) and spreading the word to your coaching friends by liking and retweeting the articles you read (even sharing them via Facebook and LinkedIn).

Do not hesitate to contact me with questions through the site’s CONTACT page or through my DM on Twitter. I enjoy speaking with you guys (iron sharpens iron).

– Coach A. | #ArtofX

Tite Front Essentials

If you are going to run the Tite Front you need some tools in the box…

The Tite Front is here to stay. Starting in 2015 the trend to defend the Spread from a three-down front began to grow popularity. In the early 2010s, the 4-2-5 or 4-3 hybrid was all the rage mainly basing out of an Over Front. The issue with four-down fronts is that there is always a B-gap defender in conflict. At the turn of the decade, many Spread teams were still tinkering with the pure Air Raid that featured four wideouts. This gave birth to the Zone Read-Bubble which was made famous by Rich Rodriguez at West Virginia.

Realted Content: Defending the Zone Read

The B-gap bubble created issues (and still does) for four-down defenses. How do you defend the gap while still defending the pass. A defender can’t be in two places at once. Hence the term conflict. One way teams running a four-down closed the “B” was to use a HEAVY technique by the 5 technique to the Nose’s side. If the Tackle were to base out on the DE he would rip into the “B” gap. When the OT stepped down away from the DE he would shoot the heel line to take the Dive or spill any puller. This technique allowed the defense to be “fluid” in the B-gap and essentially eliminate it by reading the OT. The overhang to that side just needed to fit off the DE.

The explosion and creativity of Run-Pass Options (RPOs) took advantage of the rules by the defense. Since there is always a bubble in a four-down, offenses found clever ways to manipulate it. First, teams started running Pistol out of 10 pers. formations. This allowed the QB to check to the bubble’s side to manipulate the read. Second, teams began to “swipe” the Tackle (arc to next man) or run Zone Lock with the OT pass setting to create space for the RB and forcing the LB to fold. Finally, offenses started to “flop” the read away from the RB (below).

Continue reading…

© 2020 MatchQuarters.com | Cody Alexander | All rights reserved.

MQ Pressure Tape: Texas A&M vs Georgia (2019)

Sims & EYES pressures from the Bulldogs.

Georgia plays defense. I’m pretty sure everyone is on the same page with that statement. Since Head Coach Kirby Smart’s arrival in Athens, the Bulldog defense has been one of the top units in the country. Outside of Smart’s first year (2016), the Georgia defense has been in the top 10 in Defensive Efficiency every year. Within that four year span, Smart has led the Bulldogs to a 44-12 record, with five of those losses coming in ’16.

Georgia’s matchup with Texas A&M illustrates how the Bulldogs defend (and pressure) a Spread offense. A&M’s Head Coach, Jimbo Fisher, is one of the better offensive minds in the country and has produced numerous NFL QBs in his career. He is also part of the Saban tree and understands the Saban system. The battle of Smart and Fisher is a great look at two titans in the industry.

Georgia carries a plethora of pressures into every game, including Fire Zones (5-man), EYES or HOT blitzes (6-man), and of course Simulated Pressures (4-man). All of these combined give the offense a robust scheme to try and stop. Georgia’s scheme is built on manipulating the pass protection and layering the coverage in different ways to make the offense left-handed. MQ takes a look at the Bulldog’s package versus the Aggies.

To finish this article, subscribe below:

 

Find more of this series on MQ’s LINKS page.

 

© 2020 MatchQuarters.com | Cody Alexander | All rights reserved.


Go deeper than just X’s and O’s. Have a philosophy.

MQ’s books are available on Amazon and Kindle:

Cautious Aggression: Defending Modern Football

Hybrids: The Making of a Modern Defense

Match Quarters: A Modern Guidebook to Split-Field Coverages

Breaking Down Your Offensive Opponent

As always, support the site by following me on Twitter (@The_Coach_A) and spreading the word to your coaching friends by liking and retweeting the articles you read (even sharing them via Facebook and LinkedIn).

Do not hesitate to contact me with questions through the site’s CONTACT page or through my DM on Twitter. I enjoy speaking with you guys (iron sharpens iron).

– Coach A. | #ArtofX

3rd Down Study: Wisconsin vs Oregon (2020 Rose Bowl)

MQ reviews this years Rose Bowl and the top 3rd Down defense in the country.

Jim Leonhard, the Wisconsin Defensive Coordinator, has risen to one of the top defensive minds in the Big 10 in a short amount of time. This should come as no surprise though. Madison, WI is his home turf and Leonhard has received a first-class education in football. Leonhard started his college career as a walk-on DB for the Badgers and would leave as a legend, garnering back-to-back-to-back All-American honors (Yes, that’s a three-peat). Even though he had tremendous success as a Safety and punt returner in college, Leonhard went undrafted and was picked up by the Buffalo Bills were he played for three years.

Enter defensive guru Rex Ryan (son of 46 legend Buddy Ryan). In 2008 Ryan was the DC for the Baltimore Ravens and signed Leonhard away from Buffalo where he would start 13 of 16 games. Ryan would take him to New York (Jets) following the ’08 season where Ryan took the HC job. Leonhard would have three solid years as a starter in New York before he was let go following a knee injury. 2012-14 Leonard would sign year-long contracts and bounce around from Denver, back to Buffalo, and finally the Browns.

At the conclusion of his 10-year career, Leonhard went back to where it started in Wisconsin, asking Head Coach Pual Chryst to help with the defense. During 2015, Leonhard worked closely with current Baylor Head Coach and former LSU and Wisconsin DC, Dave Aranda. With the exit of Aranda to LSU in 2016, Leonhard joined as a DB coach under current Cal Head Coach Justin Wilcox. Leonhard would ascend to the DC position with the exit of Wilcox in 2017. The three years as DC have seen success under Leonhard, ending the 2017 season as the #5 team in Defensive Efficiency. Though there was a dip in 2018 (Wisconsin finished 8-5 and #35th in DEff), the Badgers were right back in the top 10 in DEff, finishing ninth in 2019.

Related Content: Lone Star Clinic Notes – Dave Aranda

With a defensive pedigree and a solid NFL career, Jim Leonhard is primed to be one of the top defensive minds going forward. Leonard’s professional mentor, Rex Ryan, is considered by many a great defensive mind along with his college mentors in Wilcox and Aranda (who just won a National Title). One area of interest is the Badgers’ ability to get off the field on 3rd Down. Wisconsin led the nation in 3rd Down Defense, only allowing 27% of 3rd Downs to be gained.

In this article, MQ will take a look at Wisconsin’s defense against Oregon’s offense highlighted by a traditional Spread offense and an NFL prospect at QB. Though Wisconsin would lose (by one point) to the Ducks, the Badgers held Oregon to 3-of-10 on 3rd Down. MQ takes a look at Leonhard’s philosophy on attacking the Ducks by highlighting five of those stops.


Personnel

Under Leonhard, the Badgers have been able to get off the field on 3rd Downs. As stated, in 2019 Wisconsin was tops in the land, holding opponents to 27% efficiency. 2018 was a down year overall for the Badgers, but in 2017 (under Wilcox), Leonhard’s first year as a full-time DB coach, the Badgers finished in at #5 in the nation on 3rd Down with 29% efficiency. The 2016 Aranda led Badgers to finish 4th at 27.9%. Needless to say, Leonhard has received a masterclass on stopping people on 3rd Down.

Similar to Aranda, Leonhard attacks offenses in a multitude of fronts, but not exotically like some other DCs. The Badgers opted to attack the Ducks from three main front structures: Jet (5s and 3s), Mug (ILBs in “A”), and Bear (Jet + Mike mugged on the center). Wisconsin runs a base 3-4 with two EDGE players as overhangs. EDGE is the “new” term for hybrid OLB/DEs. The boundary EDGE should be able to at least zone over the RB or cut the single WR. The field EDGE is a little more athletic but still tasked with being the primary force. This is similar to what Georgia is doing in their “Base” under Kirby Smart and other 3-4 hybrid DCs around the country.

To finish the article, subscribe below:

MQ Chess Match Ep. 9 – Packers vs 49ers (NFC CG)

In this episode of MQ Chess Match, Coach A. breaks down the NFC Championship game between the Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense versus the 49ers defense. Though Rodgers had a decent game on paper (31/39 330+ & 2/2), the ‘9ers were able to keep him relatively in check. Most understand the dominance of the 49ers’ front line, but the ability to manipulate coverage helped them in the game as well. Coach A. goes over each sack (3) and interception (2) thrown in the game.

For more clinics like this be sure to subscribe to MQ’s YouTube channel.



Don’t miss out on content like this! Subscribe to MQ’s new Substack

© 2020 MatchQuarters.com | Cody Alexander | All rights reserved.

MQ Chess Match Ep. 8 – Seattle vs LAR (Rams Sack Tape)

In this episode of MQ Chess Match, Coach A. takes a look at the second matchup in ’19 between the Seahawks and the Rams. In this particular game, the Rams were able to accumulate 5 sacks on the night. Coach A. goes through the sack tape and breaks down how each sack was created. Best practices in pressure fronts were definitely used by the Rams. It also helps to have a dominant presence in Aaron Donald.



For more clinics like this be sure to checkout MQ’s YouTube channel.


Make sure to subscribe to MQ’s Substack for the latest articles!

For more on passing down fronts, check out these articles:

 

© 2020 MatchQuarters.com | Cody Alexander | All rights reserved.


Go deeper than just X’s and O’s. Have a philosophy.

MQ’s books are available on Amazon and Kindle:

Cautious Aggression: Defending Modern Football

Hybrids: The Making of a Modern Defense

Match Quarters: A Modern Guidebook to Split-Field Coverages

Breaking Down Your Offensive Opponent

As always, support the site by following me on Twitter (@The_Coach_A) and spreading the word to your coaching friends by liking and retweeting the articles you read (even sharing them via Facebook and LinkedIn).

Do not hesitate to contact me with questions through the site’s CONTACT page or through my DM on Twitter. I enjoy speaking with you guys (iron sharpens iron).

– Coach A. | #ArtofX

MQ Pressure Tape: UCF vs Pitt (2019)

MQ breaks down one of Pitt’s game-planned Safety blitzes.

Pitt had a monster year on defense in 2019. Prior to this season, the Pitt defense had been relatively mediocre, sitting in the median of Defensive Efficiency. 2019 would see the Panthers tie for the first in sacks per game (SMU/3.92) and tied for seventh overall in tackles for loss (TFLs) per game with 7.9. Pitt would even finish in the top-25 in 3rd Down efficiency (23rd) at 33% efficiency. Until 2019, Pitt’s highwater mark for DEff had been 58th (2017).

2019’s defense was Narduzzi’s best since his arrival in Pittsburgh in 2015. Pitt would do all this with only one draft pick, CB Dane Jackson (7th Round), and four All-ACC 1st or 2nd Teamers. Beginning with his time in East Lansing, Narduzzi has been known for his unique pressure package that features a six-man rush and what is referred to as HOT or EYES coverage. This is a three-deep/two-under concept that has the two under players read the QB and “periph” the WRs they are matching. This gets the underneath players into the lanes.

There are multiple coverage variations to each pressure/blitz. Most people are familiar with Fire Coverage (3u/3d), but Narduzzi can also tag his pressures with SQUAT (Trap 2) or CAT (man). This allows him to change to presentation for the QB or play different coverages to match the routes he is getting. This article will focus on a Safety blitz used multiple times in Pitt’s game versus UCF. When Narduzzi likes a pressure he will run it until the offense stops it. This was no different versus the Golden Knights.

For access to the whole article, subscribe below.

MQ Chess Match Ep. 7 – Steelers vs Cardinals (Attacking 3rd Down)

In this episode of MQ Chess Match, Coach A. illustrates how a simple Overload Front can pay dividends when a defense has two great edge rushers. The Steelers 2019 defense was 3rd overall in DDVOA and had the #1 ranked DE in TJ Watt according to PFF. Though the Cards weren’ the most efficient offense in the NFL, they were fun to watch. Pittsburgh held Arizona to 4/11 on 3rd Down. This episode shows you how the Steelers used the Overload concept to attack the Cards’ pass-pro and the adjustment to a “drop-8” scheme later in the game and in the Red Zone (which was still effective!).



Don’t lose new access to new content by MQ. Subscribe below!

© 2020 MatchQuarters.com | Cody Alexander | All rights reserved.


Go deeper than just X’s and O’s. Have a philosophy.

MQ’s books are available on Amazon and Kindle:

Cautious Aggression: Defending Modern Football

Hybrids: The Making of a Modern Defense

Match Quarters: A Modern Guidebook to Split-Field Coverages

Breaking Down Your Offensive Opponent

As always, support the site by following me on Twitter (@The_Coach_A) and spreading the word to your coaching friends by liking and retweeting the articles you read (even sharing them via Facebook and LinkedIn).

Do not hesitate to contact me with questions through the site’s CONTACT page or through my DM on Twitter. I enjoy speaking with you guys (iron sharpens iron).

– Coach A. | #ArtofX

MQ Film Study: App. State vs UNC (2019)

I’m always interested in teams that can do more with less. Appalachian State has been one of those teams. Starting in 2014, the Mountaineers began playing in the FBS (D1). They had instant success going 7-5 and couldn’t play in a bowl due to NCAA eligibility rules. The following year (2015) would be even better. App. State would end the season with an 11 win season only losing to Clemson and eventual Sun Belt conference champion in Arkansas St. (9-4/8-0). 2015 would also see the defense reach the top 25 in Defensive Efficiency. Outside of ’17, the defense has held a spot in the top 25, even reaching #6 in ’18. Impressive for a team that six seasons ago was playing in the FCS (D-1AA).

Nate Woody (current Army DC) would lead the Mountaineers until 2017 when he left to be the DC at Georgia Tech with former Head Coach Paul Johnson. Defensive back coach, Bryan Brown (DC, Louisville) would step into his place and have instant success. The defense would see its best year since joining the FBS. Head Coach Scott Satterfield would leave after 2018 and take the Louisville job, Brown would also follow him. Then NC State OC Eli Drinkwitz and DC Ted Roof (also from NC State) would leave their posts in Raleigh and head west to Boone. Again the defense would dominant the Sun Belt and finish in the top 25 in DEff. “Drink” would parlay the success of ’19 into the Head Coaching job at Missouri. Roof would leave for the DC job at Vanderbilt.

Continue reading “MQ Film Study: App. State vs UNC (2019)”

MQ Chess Match Ep. 6 – Saints vs Bucs (2019)

In this episode of MQ Chess Match, Coach A. details a 5-man pressure used by the Buccaneers on early downs versus the Saints. Though the Bucs didn’t win the game (beat 34-17), this simple 5-man pressure illustrates how defenses can manipulate pass pro to get a free hitter. 5-man pressures, in particular, are great on early downs because they are usually gap sound. The Trap 2 coverage is also great on early downs where defense is not expecting shot plays.



For more videos & clinics like this, make sure to checkout MatchQuarters’ YouTube.

© 2020 MatchQuarters.com | Cody Alexander | All rights reserved.


Go deeper than just X’s and O’s. Have a philosophy.

MQ’s books are available on Amazon and Kindle:

Cautious Aggression: Defending Modern Football

Hybrids: The Making of a Modern Defense

Match Quarters: A Modern Guidebook to Split-Field Coverages

Breaking Down Your Offensive Opponent

As always, support the site by following me on Twitter (@The_Coach_A) and spreading the word to your coaching friends by liking and retweeting the articles you read (even sharing them via Facebook and LinkedIn).

Do not hesitate to contact me with questions through the site’s CONTACT page or through my DM on Twitter. I enjoy speaking with you guys (iron sharpens iron).

– Coach A. | #ArtofX

MQ Chess Match Ep. 5 – Kansas City vs Chicago (Tampa 2 Study – ’19)

In this episode of MQ Chess Match, Coach A. breaks down one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL versus one of the better defenses in the league. The Chiefs offense took the NFL by storm, scoring its way to a Super Bowl victory. The Bears finished the 2019 season in the top 10 in DVOA, meaning they were one of the more efficient defenses in the league. One scheme in particular showed up as a major scheme against the Chiefs, Tampa 2. Coach A. illustrates how the Bears used this scheme in an attempt to slow the Chiefs down.



For more clinics like this be sure to checkout MQ’s YouTube channel.

© 2020 MatchQuarters.com | Cody Alexander | All rights reserved.


Go deeper than just X’s and O’s. Have a philosophy.

MQ’s books are available on Amazon and Kindle:

Cautious Aggression: Defending Modern Football

Hybrids: The Making of a Modern Defense

Match Quarters: A Modern Guidebook to Split-Field Coverages

Breaking Down Your Offensive Opponent

As always, support the site by following me on Twitter (@The_Coach_A) and spreading the word to your coaching friends by liking and retweeting the articles you read (even sharing them via Facebook and LinkedIn).

Do not hesitate to contact me with questions through the site’s CONTACT page or through my DM on Twitter. I enjoy speaking with you guys (iron sharpens iron).

– Coach A. | #ArtofX

MQ Chess Match Ep. 4 – Dallas vs New England (’19)

In this episode of MQ Chess Match, Coach A. breaks down a top NFL matchup. The Cowboys were #2 in ODVOA in 2019. That means they were one of the most efficient offenses in the league in 2019. New England had a historic year on D and finished #1 in DDVOA. Coach breakdown several plays that detail the schematic matchups seen in the game.



For more clinics like this be sure to checkout MQ’s YouTube channel.

© 2020 MatchQuarters.com | Cody Alexander | All rights reserved.


Go deeper than just X’s and O’s. Have a philosophy.

MQ’s other books are available on Amazon and Kindle:

Cautious Aggression: Defending Modern Football

Hybrids: The Making of a Modern Defense

Match Quarters: A Modern Guidebook to Split-Field Coverages

As always, support the site by following me on Twitter (@The_Coach_A) and spreading the word to your coaching friends by liking and retweeting the articles you read (even sharing them via Facebook and LinkedIn).

Do not hesitate to contact me with questions through the site’s CONTACT page or through my DM on Twitter. I enjoy speaking with you guys (iron sharpens iron).

– Coach A. | #ArtofX

MQ Pressure Tape: Virginia vs Notre Dame (2019)

Virginia’s Head Coach, Bronco Mendenhall brought his attacking defensive style with him to Charlottesville after his long stint at BYU. Though the Cavaliers are not in the upper echelon of defense, the defensive staff at Virginia has found ways to cause havoc for opposing QBs. The program as a whole has been slowly rising their standard of play with 2019 being a high watermark accumulating nine wins. The most wins since 2007.

Defensively, the Cavs are not the most efficient defense in the country (#71 in DEff), but they made it count in “havoc stats” (3rd Down, TFLs, & Turnovers). The Cavs didn’t accumulate many turnovers (18/t-64th), but they were in the top 2t in TFLs (#22/7.1 a game) and Sacks (#9/3.29 a game). Their 3rd Down percentage was in the top third as well, with opponents only gaining a 1st Down on 36% of their attempts. Finally, the Cavs were 23rd in Busted Drives, which is the percentage of opponent offensive drives that earn zero or negative yards.

MQ will take a look at Virginia’s matchup with Notre Dame. The Irish were a top-25 offense in OEff (#25), winning 11 games, and only losing to Michigan and Georgia. Virginia would lose the battle but accumulated five TFLs and four sacks against a program that is known for offensive line play.


Pressure Tape

This particular pressure is a favorite among those attacking the middle of the line with a Bear Front. The Cavs align in a four-down Bear. They get to this from a typical four-down Jet Front (5s/3s) used by most four-down teams to attack pass-pro on 3rd Down. Mike shades the center to the RB’s side making it a five-man front. This type of alignment forces man blocking across the front. The RB will be in charge of the Will LB. This places a static blocker on a rusher coming from depth.

Continue reading “MQ Pressure Tape: Virginia vs Notre Dame (2019)”

Chess Match Ep. 3 – Titans vs Ravens (Div. Round ’19)

In this episode of MQ Chess Match, Coach A. takes a look at how the Tennessee Titans defended the prolific Lamar Jackson. Coach breaks down three main topics found in the game: man coverage, fitting Slice Read, & Inverted Tampa. Each topic is broken down in several clips. For more clinics like this be sure to subscribe and checkout MQ’s YouTube channel.



© 2020 MatchQuarters.com | Cody Alexander | All rights reserved.


Go deeper than just X’s and O’s. Have a philosophy.

MQ’s books are available on Amazon and Kindle:

Cautious Aggression: Defending Modern Football

Hybrids: The Making of a Modern Defense

Match Quarters: A Modern Guidebook to Split-Field Coverages

Breaking Down Your Offensive Opponent

As always, support the site by following me on Twitter (@The_Coach_A) and spreading the word to your coaching friends by liking and retweeting the articles you read (even sharing them via Facebook and LinkedIn).

Do not hesitate to contact me with questions through the site’s CONTACT page or through my DM on Twitter. I enjoy speaking with you guys (iron sharpens iron).

– Coach A. | #ArtofX

Chess Match Ep. 2 – New England vs Los Angeles (N) [SB ’19]

In this episode of MQ Chess Match, Coach A. takes a look at the now-famous defense used to stop the high-powered LA offense. This 6-1 scheme killed the Rams’ ability to attack the perimeter, essentially killing their wide zone scheme and play-action. Coach details the nuances in the scheme and the techniques used in the secondary to eliminate LA’s offensive prowess.

For more clinics like this be sure to checkout MQ’s YouTube channel.



© 2020 MatchQuarters.com | Cody Alexander | All rights reserved.


Go deeper than just X’s and O’s. Have a philosophy.

MQ’s other books are available on Amazon and Kindle:

Cautious Aggression: Defending Modern Football

Hybrids: The Making of a Modern Defense

Match Quarters: A Modern Guidebook to Split-Field Coverages

As always, support the site by following me on Twitter (@The_Coach_A) and spreading the word to your coaching friends by liking and retweeting the articles you read (even sharing them via Facebook and LinkedIn).

Do not hesitate to contact me with questions through the site’s CONTACT page or through my DM on Twitter. I enjoy speaking with you guys (iron sharpens iron).

– Coach A. | #ArtofX

The Cyclone Pressure Package

MQ takes its annual look at the Cyclones’ defense.

By now everyone is familiar with the structure of Iowa State’s 3-3-3 or Broken Stack defense. In fact, most of the Big 12 has begun to use this defensive structure as it’s base look. Clemson’s own Brent Venables and staff even traveled to the Ames, IA to discuss how to run the defense with Cyclone Defensive Coordinator, Jon Heacock. Venables wanted to see how a defense that is built to stop the constant onslaught of high-powered offenses could hold the top spot in run defense in the Big 12. Clemson used the defense early in 2019 when they took on Texas A&M and would turn to it to help secure a victory in this year’s College Football Playoff victory over Ohio State.

Related: MQ Pressure Tape – Clemson D vs Ohio State O

What started as a shot in the dark for a struggling defense has begun an epoch change in college football’s defense of the Spread. The Odd Dime, or 3-3-3 (my friend Ian Boyd would prefer “Fly-Over D“), has taken over many of the Spread heavy conferences in college football. Turn on the TV any Saturday and you will see some kind of Odd Dime package being ran. Auburn and Georgia experimented with their own versions of a three-down “Dime” package to take on the vaunted LSU Tigers’ offense.

Related: Auburn’s 3-1-7 vs LSU’s historic O

Over the past several seasons, the Cyclones have evolved the scheme to fit their unique personnel and needs within the Big 12. The 2019 season could be seen as a down year, especially after 2018 which saw them finish the season winning seven-of-eight and barely losing to a 12th ranked Washington State team. ’19 would see the Cyclones finish 7-6 and 1-4 versus offenses in the top 60 in Offensive Efficiency. In DEff, the Cyclones finished #43 and were in the top 25 in DOA, defensive performance against their schedule strength, and 7th in DFD, which refelts the number of offensive possessions that earn a TD or at least a first down. Overall, the Cyclones defense was on par with how it has been doing the past several years and continues to be one of the better units in the league.

One topic of discussion that seems to be of interest to many coaches is the Cyclones’ unique pressure package that can be used to suffocate the run game and confuse QBs. Though the Cyclones are not getting many turnovers (#115/13 total) or Sacks (#64th/28 total), they are racking up Tackles For Loss in the upper third of college football (#36/85 total). This is due to how the Cyclones fit the run and pressure the offense. With so many DBs on the field, Iowa State can give multiple presentations post-snap to help negate soft spots behind their pressures.


Burn (3u/3d)

In the Cyclone language, Burn Coverage is their Fire Zone or three-under/three-deep coverage behind five-man pressure. From a three-high structure, the two seam and one hole player (rat) can come from almost anywhere. In may cases, the hole player is the Star or middle safety (MS). If an apex or overhang player is gone from one side, that safety will play the “Hot 2” technique or Seam. In the case the apex player is staying in coverage as the Hot 2 away from the pressure, the hash Safety will work to the middle third.

The CBs in Burn coverage are playing Press Bail playing what is referred to as a “Hot Third.” With eyes keying the WR to the QB, the CBs are playing zone trying to stay on top of any vertical but breaking off if the QB brings them down. If the CB has two WRs and both go vertical, the CB will play a mid-point technique playing deep-as-the-deepest. This is typical Fire Zone CB coverage.

Where Iowa State is unique is in pre-snap alignment. The ability to shift the secondary players and bring any defender outside the field CB, the Cyclones can give “exotic” post-snap presentations without playing exotic or unsafe coverages. With two Safeties on the hash, it is easy to defend seams because they are already aligned on their marker. It is also easy for them to gain access to the middle third. The Middle Safety is already aligned on top of #3 and can quickly close off the hole. Layering the coverage is critical to the Cyclones’ success and can play with the QB’s eyes post-snap. Below is a look at a Cyclone Burn pressure.

In this particular pressure, the Cyclones are sending two off the edge to the RB. This is the reverse of “America’s Fire Zone” with the first blitzer taking the heel-line and the second scaping for contain. The Sam LB will take the contain rush and try to get into the QB’s window or take the outside shoulder of the RB. By placing a 5 technique to the rush side, there is a D-lineman crossing the face of the tackle. The Mike, or first ILB, will read the OT and fit accordingly off his backside.

The Cyclones are playing Burn Coverage behind this pressure. The hash Safety drops down on #2 (Hot 2) with eyes to the QB. Baylor runs a “Swap” screen (WR screen to #2) and the Safety quickly triggers to take the screen. The MS (Star) sits on top of #3 while the other hash Safety (not seen in the clip) works to the middle third. With the Safety reading the eyes of the QB, he is too quick for the #1 WR and easily makes the tackle for no gain.

The front presentation is Iowa State’s Invert Front. This puts the Cyclones in their four-down package with two 5s, two 3s, and a mugged Mike (really the Sam) on the Center. The Will is aligned right behind the Mike. The pressure works the exact same way, except the personnel and presentation are a little different. The RB is in a static blocking position with the Will hammering down from depth. Simple inertia will push the RB back. Though the blitz is initially picked up, the RB can’t handle the LB’s rush and the Bears’ QB is sacked. The base pressure (Alamo) is detailed below.

01 Alamo Burn

Outside of coverage structure, the Cyclones give different front presentations to aid in the manipulation of pass pro. Below, the Cyclones run there Double “A” Mug Front and run the same pressure as above. Though the pressure doesn’t hit home, the QB feels the pressure in his face and releases the ball quickly. With EYES coverage, the hash Safety cuts the #1 WR’s slant and almost picks the ball.

The Cyclones have three versions of this pressure, two sims and the Burn pressure shown above. In the two sims, the Cyclones can either drop out the edge rushers or the mugged ‘backers. In the sim pressure where the edge players drop out, they run what they call Duece, which is a reduction Trap 2 concept. In Duece, the field CB is playing MEG (Man Everywhere he Goes) on #1, and the hash Safety will trap the slot WR with the MS playing deep 1/2. Again, the luxury of having five DBs. In the sim where the two ‘backers drop out, the Cyclones run a Trap 2 coverage with the CBs playing hard on the #1 WRs while the MS inserts into the field seam. The hash Safeties play Deep 1/2 and Will playing the weak seam and Mike playing the middle hole.

Related: 2019 Baylor’s Pressure Package (3-3-3)


Blaze (4u/2d – Trap 2)

Blaze Coverage is the Trap 2 concept ran behind some of the Cyclones pressures. Both CBs will play anything out by the #2 WR and if there is a single-WR, the CB will cut towards the box (below). This type of coverage is usually ran when a DB is in the blitz path. For instance, if the Cyclones were to bring a CB, the secondary would roll to that side creating a Trap 2 pressure. In the clip below, the MS is in the pressure making both hash Safeties the Deep 1/2 players.

The pressure below shows the boundary hash Safety inserting from depth with the Will LB. The CB to the boundary plays hard on #1 while the MS works to the Deep 1/2 taking the vertical by #2. The Mike will open to #3 and work vertically for any crossed. The pressure moves the QB off his mark and he throws a bad pass into double coverage. The field Safety almost gets the pick.

Playing a Trap 2 coverage, especially on base downs can pay off against a team that throws RPOs or perimeter screens. The same pressure as above is shown (Flash). The CB is playing hard on #1 and sees the QB throw the ball. The result is a TFL and a 3rd and extremely long.

With three-Safeties, the Cyclones can use them in pressures without messing with the coverage. In many cases, the coverage looks similar to the zone schemes they run on base downs. The addition of non-traditional rushers from depth is something that many teams facing the Spread are starting to move to. The O-line now has to account for players lined up at depth. This can bring havoc to O-lines that aren’t used to seeing players form depth or aren’t that great at pass pro.


Hot (2u/3d)

Hot or EYES pressures are great ways to send more numbers than the offense can handle. Instead of dropping a defender away from the pressure, Hot blitzes keep him in the fit to add a number. The two seam or “hot” players relate to the nearest man and read the “eyes” of the QB (also why it is referred to as EYES). This type of scheme places defenders in the “hot” or check-down window of the QB. Once the pressure hits, the QB is going to look for is “rush” throw or check-down. If done right, the seam player can get hands on the ball creating a turnover or force the QB to hang on to the ball, letting the rush hit home. One thing that can give these pressures difficulty is cruise or crossing routes (below).

With Iowa using a Slide-Insert pass pro where the O-line slides to one side, the tackle away from the slide locks on the DE, and the TE inserts in the gap, the Cyclones attack the blocker in the backfield (below). This type of pressure puts players on either side of a blocking back making him wrong no matter what his choice is. In the blitz below, the Cyclones load the “B” gap away from the slide. The TE can’t handle that many players and the LB comes free. The LB from the other side attacks the guard and wastes him by attacking the “A” gap.

Related: MQ’s primer on HOT pressures


Unlike Baylor that played mostly Cover 1/3 with their hash Safeties, the Cyclones have a wide variety of coverages to go with their pressure package. The ability to drop, roll, and trap from any one of the five DBs lends to the variety for Iowa State. Coverage wise, things don’t change except for the way the coverages play post-snap. This is why the scheme is so successful when done right. There is no predictability and any one of the DBs (outside the field CB) can work into the box or drop deep. Whether it is a traditional Fire Zone (Burn) or Trap 2 (Blaze) the Cyclones have a multitude of ways to attack a Spread offense. Finally, the timely use of Hot pressures can have a devastating effect on a Spread offense that is used to timing and freedom in the pocket.

For more 3-High resources go to MQ’s LINKS page & scroll down to the 3-High section.

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© 2020 MatchQuarters.com | Cody Alexander | All rights reserved.


Go deeper than just X’s and O’s. Have a philosophy.

MQ’s books are available on Amazon and Kindle:

Cautious Aggression: Defending Modern Football

Hybrids: The Making of a Modern Defense

Match Quarters: A Modern Guidebook to Split-Field Coverages

Breaking Down Your Offensive Opponent

As always, support the site by following me on Twitter (@The_Coach_A) and spreading the word to your coaching friends by liking and retweeting the articles you read (even sharing them via Facebook and LinkedIn).

Do not hesitate to contact me with questions through the site’s CONTACT page or through my DM on Twitter. I enjoy speaking with you guys (iron sharpens iron).

– Coach A. | #ArtofX

MQ Chess Match Ep. 1 – 49ers vs Vikings (Divisional Round)

In the pilot episode of MQ Chess Match, Coach A. takes a look at how Minnesota matched up with San Fransisco’s potent offense. Examples of three plays are detailed.

For more clinics like this be sure to checkout MQ’s YouTube channel.



© 2020 MatchQuarters.com | Cody Alexander | All rights reserved.


Go deeper than just X’s and O’s. Have a philosophy.

MQ’s other books are available on Amazon and Kindle:

Cautious Aggression: Defending Modern Football

Hybrids: The Making of a Modern Defense

Match Quarters: A Modern Guidebook to Split-Field Coverages

As always, support the site by following me on Twitter (@The_Coach_A) and spreading the word to your coaching friends by liking and retweeting the articles you read (even sharing them via Facebook and LinkedIn).

Do not hesitate to contact me with questions through the site’s CONTACT page or through my DM on Twitter. I enjoy speaking with you guys (iron sharpens iron).

– Coach A. | #ArtofX

Breaking Down Your Offensive Opponent

The 4th book from Coach Alexander.

Get the latest book by Coach Alexander. If you’ve ever used any ideas from his series of breakdown articles, this book compiles everything into one place and beefs up the content. Includes diagrams, names, and a process that streamlines the opponent breakdown system for you and/or your staff.


The purpose of this book is to give defensive staffs a manual designed to streamline the weekend and opponent break down process. Today, there are services that will even break down things for you. I believe that the analytics should stay in house. The moment you outsource your break down you lose control of the process. By keeping everything in house, you can create an organic view of the offense you are trying to attack. This process also develops your staff into “experts” in their own “fields.” For a DC or HC, this can be invaluable. I want this book to be something a DC or HC can buy for their staff and give to each member as a way to get everyone on the same page, and speaking the same language.

Get the book today!!! (Click HERE)

 

© 2020 MatchQuarters.com | Cody Alexander | All rights reserved.


Go deeper than just X’s and O’s. Have a philosophy.

MQ’s other books are available on Amazon and Kindle:

Cautious Aggression: Defending Modern Football

Hybrids: The Making of a Modern Defense

Match Quarters: A Modern Guidebook to Split-Field Coverages

As always, support the site by following me on Twitter (@The_Coach_A) and spreading the word to your coaching friends by liking and retweeting the articles you read (even sharing them via Facebook and LinkedIn).

Do not hesitate to contact me with questions through the site’s CONTACT page or through my DM on Twitter. I enjoy speaking with you guys (iron sharpens iron).

– Coach A. | #ArtofX

MQ Quick Hits Ep. 23: Cheat Steps – High Safety Play in Single-High Coverage

A clinic on defending RPOs from a single-high strucutre.

In this episode of Quick Hits, Coach A. details to teach your centerfield safety in single-high coverage to combat RPOs. Coach discusses two different variations of the technique from aggressive to a more passive approach. This technique can be played on early downs to help your overhangs with in-breaking RPOs (Slants/Overs/Crossers).

For more clinics like this be sure to checkout MQ’s YouTube channel and MatchQuarters.com.

 

 

© 2020 MatchQuarters.com | Cody Alexander | All rights reserved.


Go deeper than just X’s and O’s. Have a philosophy.

MQ’s books are available on Amazon and Kindle:

Cautious Aggression: Defending Modern Football

Hybrids: The Making of a Modern Defense

Match Quarters: A Modern Guidebook to Split-Field Coverages

As always, support the site by following me on Twitter (@The_Coach_A) and spreading the word to your coaching friends by liking and retweeting the articles you read (even sharing them via Facebook and LinkedIn).

Do not hesitate to contact me with questions through the site’s CONTACT page or through my DM on Twitter. I enjoy speaking with you guys (iron sharpens iron).

– Coach A. | #ArtofX