Press coverage-the michigan way

Submitted by gsimmons85 on July 16th, 2008 at 10:39 PM

Like i illustarted on my blog a couple of months ago.  I have been employing shaffers coverages for few years.  i listened to him speak years ago when he was a secondary coach at illinois.  and when he was at western michigan iirc.   i have about 4 tapes from him as well. i was always impressed with his secondary technique kowledge. Almost every thing i have drawn up over on three and out, came from shafer.  He likes press coverage, its a little different press coverage then what you are use to though.  You wont see a lot of straight jam technique,  rather the press is an inside shade,  outside foot back, inviting the fade (michigan corners will know how to play the fade better than any other corners int he country) then on the snap of the ball, they execute what is called a shadow technique.  Shafer describes it as imagining that the sun is setting behind the offensive player, and the defender gives ground, with short shuffle steps, and tries to stay in the shadow as long as possible. Forcing the offensive player to make the first move, makes it harder to get a corner off balance with a missed jam.  After the offensive plaeyr has declared whether they are trying to release out or in, the defender will then cross over step, and jam with the opposite arm and foot.  then ride the offensive player.

This shadow technique is what you will see michigan running when playing man, but also when playing a lot of their zones (i broke down some of his main zones as well)

the other press you will see will be an outside shade, bump see squeeze technique,  where defender is on an outside shade, forcing an nside release.  they have about 2 seconds to press the reciever, then they open their hips to the qb and aqueeze their deep zone...   you will see this a lot when michigan runs their zone blitzes and any time that corners are pressig yet have deep zones.

 the other thing with shafer, is that since he has a rep for blitzing, his okie package is so good agaisnt the pass,  because he has 10 of the 11 players sugaring up to the los showing blitz.   once again,  check out some of the stuff i have here

I have a couple of other tapes of shafer, that im getting out of mothballs, about safety play that ill pass along too you. 

The most impressive thing about shafer is his focus on details,  from the correct position your elbow should be in when striking a blow (low elbow is a strong elbow, high elbow is a wet noodle) to the aiming point of your claw hand on a reciever when running in stage. 

Its actually very ironic that he got the michigan dc job. I really had no idea of his conection to RR, and thus never felt he was interested in michigan, or that he had the "pedigree" to be considerd.  The passion he coaches with is as simular to mine of any of the big name guys i know.  The first thing i thought about when i saw him running into the end zone to congradulate a defender for the pic 6 in the spring game, was last year during our first 7 on 7 of the spring in helments, when my olb got a pic 6 and i ran him down in the endzone,  head butted him, and knocked him down....    didnt realize i was bleeding so bad till i started getting light headed....     cant wait till august,  the only thing better then finally getting to watch a well coached michigan defense, is the excitment i feel when the lights go on friday night.

Im not a writer like brian or my friends over on the WLA, but i love to teach the game of football, and im thankfull for brian giving me a little bit of a forum to help teach the game to fellow wolverine fans.  Thats something i never thought i would have the opportunity to do.





July 17th, 2008 at 12:34 AM ^

You write just fine and I really enjoy reading your posts man. Educational stuff right here. It'll be nice to see Michigan forcing turnovers this year and even better to see the d tacking some points up too hopefully.

The Barking Sp…

July 17th, 2008 at 8:59 AM ^

Great stuff, and I know what you mean on the head butt. I've been watching Michigan's Defense by Futility for so many years giving up third and longs that I have developed a gigantic callous on my forehead from headbutting my children and the walls of my house. I've actually killed a couple of my kids by headbutting them, but I figure there are six billion people on the planet, so who cares? They won't miss a couple more.


July 17th, 2008 at 8:59 AM ^

very nice post. i'll be frequenting your blog now as well. why did RR pick shafer as the new DC? you mentioned they had some sort of pryor connection.


July 17th, 2008 at 9:17 AM ^

You magnificent bastard. Great stuff as usual from someone who really knows their shit. Now if you'd just get to that offensive line post...


July 17th, 2008 at 9:42 AM ^

Come on now, you know there is nothing on the offensive side of the football more beautiful than a group of dominant lineman mashing a defense into the ground and making those pretty boys in the backfield look good

chitownblue (not verified)

July 17th, 2008 at 10:24 AM ^

While I thoroughly love your profile pic, Gsimms, I was really expecting to see a bikini-clad lady across the hood.


July 17th, 2008 at 10:33 AM ^

G, Thanks for the insights - I will definitely make your blog a required read. Now, a couple of questions: 1) In your opinion, was our poor secondary play a matter of technique, scheme, personnel, or all of the above? 2) I was constantly amazed at our inability to cover the fade or other deep routes in key situations. I don't know how many times our defender seemed to have decent coverage but still give up big plays. Based on tv replays, if the defender would just turn his head around and look back toward the QB, he could knock it down or intercept it. Or, has our DB been burned so bad that he was running like hell just to catch up to the receiver and didn't have the time to turn around and find the ball? I hope these ramblings make sense - keep up the good work!


July 17th, 2008 at 11:00 AM ^

#1  im on record as being very crtical of michigan position coaches and technique teaching at michigan the last several years.  All positions secondary just shows up more becasue when they mess up its a touchdown.   In order of why i think the secondary has been average in order...   1) lack of proper speed and agility work in s and c program,  corners are not getting smoother and quicker 2) lack of emphasis on technique... michigan thought it had the best players in the world, therefore scheme becomes more important than repetition and execution 

I DO NOT THINK SCHEMATICLLY there were many problems, people wanted more press coverage, but  only the genetic freeks like woodson law, jackson were able to be good at press coverage without spending a whole lot of time teachign the proper techniques....   A lot of shafers defensive ideas are simular to english,  but lets see how different it is execution wise.....    imo, we will notice a big change


 second question....   defenders have to be able to look back for the ball, while running with the reciever, and feeling the reciever with his third eye, that is his play side hand.  Looking up through the blue sky for the ball, enables defenders to lean into the offensive player and not give up space...  not a whole lot of time was spent during michigan practices repping fade drills,   coaches expecfted the best plaeyrs inthe world to be able to do it themselves,  andc a lot of times,  confussion in the secondary leads to players be hesitant, and then playing catch up

Tim Waymen

July 17th, 2008 at 11:25 AM ^

"Shafer describes it as imagining that the sun is setting behind the offensive player, and the defender gives ground, with short shuffle steps, and tries to stay in the shadow as long as possible. Forcing the offensive player to make the first move, makes it harder to get a corner off balance with a missed jam." That's awesome. That makes sense to me. It also sounds extremely difficult, and it makes one appreciate the athleticism of skilled college and pro DBs. To be pedaling back and then have to suddenly step forward to get in between the receiver and the QB really requires agility and stamina. "After the offensive plaeyr has declared whether they are trying to release out or in, the defender will then cross over step, and jam with the opposite arm and foot." I know what jamming is, but what does it mean for the WR to release? Is it the direction of the way he cuts away i.e. does he cut toward the middle or sideline, and at what angle? Or is it (also) the way he gets out of a jam?


July 17th, 2008 at 2:29 PM ^

the release is the path the WR takes. He obviously can't run right throught the DB. So towards the sideline is an outside realease( streaks, fades). An inside release is going towards the middle (posts and seam routes i believe). GSimms, any way you know what type of release is for each route of a WR or does it change w/ each play. I know DB's force an inside release in a cover 2 to make it more difficult to exploit the soft spot in the zone up the sideline wide of the safety. Are there any other reasons for this? It's cool to find out some of these technical answers. Any info you have is great.


July 17th, 2008 at 3:47 PM ^

of the time a db can tell in the first 3 to 5 seconds what kind of route the reciever is running by reading his reciver cues first, and his qb ques second....

most of the time a wr is going to release to the path of least resistents to get to the top of his route.   for example an outside realease for an out, fade etc...   then of course angle of the qb's shoulders,  number of drops etc....

db's wan to be able to meet the reciever at the top of the route, not neccesarily ride him every path he takes....


July 18th, 2008 at 12:25 PM ^

to continue that thought....


as a corner, im reading my keys...  how hard did the reciever come out of the huddle,  where is he alligned,  (tight,  he is problaby wanteing room to go out-  wide,  he is trying to remove me from hte slant, run etc)    where are his eyes...  how wide are they...   pre snap reads like that...  then once the ball is snaped, and i am executing my technique...  i am reading his....   (high shoulders-high route   low shoulders-hort route)  where he is trying to realease, etc...  then my eyes are snapping to the qb to get my pass run read,   my 3 step, 5 step read etc.. then after those first 5 seconds i can prety much know what i am going to have to covering on the play....

bassed entrily of course on where my help is, what scheme we are running... and of course what kind of heat we are bringing...

One thing that shafers great fire zone bltizes and storm and monsoon blitzes, corners and safeties are being taught to trust their eyes and break....meaning do be  afradi of double moves,   look offs etc...  becasue qb's are not going to have time to check off etc.  so trust yoru intiall read and make a big play.   I think that also speaks as to why shafer sometimes gives up big plays, the pressure didnt force the ball out,  great qb scrambling etc.