Post-AFCA Grab Bag

The Convention, this week’s FAQ, & tips for installing Quarters.

AFCA Convention ::

The AFCA Convention is always a great time. For me, it is a time that I get to see old friends, meet some new, and just hang out with like-minded people. Football has always been an important part of my life. The Convention is awesome because it allows me to give back to my dad who has been a selfless coach his whole adult life. There’s nothing more special than showing my dad around, talking football with him all day and letting him meet people he otherwise would never meet (for instance RC Slocum). Many go to look for new opportunities to move up, but keep in mind, if you consistently chase the cheese could become blind to a great opportunity. This profession is built on relationships. As you walk the halls of the Convention you will see every type of coach, but don’t be the guy looking through the person you are talking to so you can get to a “more important” person. When I was ending my GA experience at Baylor, Coach Bennett reminded me, “The people we meet going up are the same as we meet going down.” Treat everyone with respect, because you never know when they may help you out. For most of us, we all start as GAs or interns (It took me a whole calendar year, and some luck, to get paid at Baylor!).

The Convention makes everyone equal as well. There is no other place in this sport where the head coach at a Power 5 school will rub shoulders with a brand new high school coach, but that is the beauty of the Convention. It is a truly special place where football coaches can come and be around like minded men. If you have never been it is truly an awesome experience. I would encourage any young coach to go and just walk around, sit in some sessions, and learn something new. It is important that coaches stick together. The age-old saying “iron sharpens iron” is true, and for this profession to continue to flourish in a society that devalues the sport we must raise each other up. [FYI – Next year’s session is in Charlotte, NC] 

Three FAQs of the Week ::

  1. Right/Left Ends or Field/Boundary Ends – Tempo is the new norm in football. It is important to build in schemes that counteract offenses that like to go fast. I prefer to Right-and-Left my defensive ends. This helps them line up and limits their movement. They know as soon as the whistle blows where to go and how to line up. The only linemen that I would switch are the 3 technique (Tackle) and the Nose because they don’t have to move very far. I only have them shift positions if the offense is not tempo-ing, otherwise, I can move the front post snap with movement
  2. If my base is 4-Read how do I call 2-Read (or can I even play it)? – I’ve been asked this a few times over the past month. You can always force a call if you know you are going to get something from the offense. This can be done by signaling in your 2-Read call. That signals to the safeties that if they can (formation willing) run 2-Read coverage. Running a split-field scheme give you the luxury of being multiple on either side. If a team comes out in 11p Pro Twin (2×2) and I’ve given my 2-Read call, the safety to the TE knows that his formational check comes first and checks to 4-Read (better versus run) and the safety to the two-speed side checks to 2-Read. I run 4-Read as a base, but you have to be able to change it. Find a way to integrate a 2-Read check into your coverage scheme to match what the offense is trying to do.
  3. What are your rules for Power (Box vs Bounce)? – When playing spread teams that run most of their offense out of gun I like to box Power. The running back from gun can easily adjust to the crashing DE and keep on a clearer path. Plus, if a team knows you are going to crash the DE they can easily log the Guard and make it like a Buck Sweep. From the Pistiol or “I,” I like to crash the DE and make the Power bounce because the RB now has to drastically change his path (downhill attacking the “A” gap). Football is about angles. Make the offense left-handed or do something they don’t want too.

Installing a Quarters Scheme ::

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about installing quarters. Below are some simplifications to better understand the concept.

  1. It’s as easy as 1,2,3. – If you can count to 3 you can play (or install) quarters coverage. The CBs are always responsible for the #1 WR, the safeties and the OLBs relate to #2, and the Mike always has #3. This is why Quarters is easy to learn and teach. The pattern matching part of the scheme sounds tedious and hard to teach, but it comes down to numbers. As long as the CBs and safeties take care of the verticals, the LBs can play underneath. The term push just means in order to come off your man you must be “pushed” off by someone else. When teams run swtich routes and high-low concepts, the receivers can be exchanged. One of the best ways I have been taught to teach it is – match, carry, and deliver. You match your man, you carry him and deliver him to the next man until pushed off by a crossing WR.99-1-2-3
  2. Allows you to simplify. – One gap. One fit. The hardest position to learn is safety because he has to make the OLB’s fit right. The safeties also have to make the call in the secondary and adjust to each formation. They technically are not box players, but many quarters coaches count them in the box.
  3. It’s like man, with some help. – The secondary is essentially in man coverage until their WR deviates from their vertical push. Even in Two-Read, the safety will not come off #2 if you runs a vertical. Running man is one of the simplest things to do on a football field. As long as you teach the rules for pattern matching (and establish the intermediate player), the coverage piece is easy.
  4. Adjust to everything. – Staying two-high allows the defense to adjust to any formation thrown at it. There is no indecision about spinning to one side or the other. You line up and play. Like I stated earlier its as easy as 1,2,3.
  5. Understand how your play your Sam/Ni will affect how teams attack you. – This is a little bit more complicated for a brief overview. To understand cover downs click HERE.

Authors Note

I’m going to transition into posting every Friday morning for the weekly Friday Morning Tempo (#FMT). I have a few projects on the horizon that I want to give my full attention too (plus there is over 50 articles to date – plenty of content to keep you busy). I have really enjoyed interacting with all the coaches that support the site. When I started writing this last July I never thought it would get the response that it has. There are so many doors that have been opened just from this little site. Thank you, all that are religious viewers of the page (and consistently spread the word or retweet my articles). My mission in building this site was to create a resource for defensive coaches. There is less of a premium put on defense these days, and I don’t like that. The goal and mission statement of this page will never change: Be a premier site for defensive theory and solely focus on the Art of “X.” Please continue to spread the word about the site (follow me on Twitter as I post several of my articles daily – link below) and as always thank you for the tremendous support.


Coach A.

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Author: MatchQuarters


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