Call out to MGoBlog Defensive Gurus for Explanantions

Submitted by Ziff72 on October 26th, 2009 at 11:01 AM

I ask a simple question. Why do cornerbacks line up 10yds off the line of scrimmage? It happens at all levels. Michigan giving up free yards to MSU and Penn St. has prompted the post, but other teams do it as well. I'm not trying to say I'm smarter than all these d coordinators, I'm looking for an honest explanation, because there must be one. I played corner thru high school and did scouting for another 10 we always lined head up other than prevent and certain situations. I've never really been around coaches that taught this technique. I'm not looking for bump and run every down, but if you line up initially 2 yards off the WR you have all your options open. You can bail, play zone, bump, trail, squat. Personally I don't think it really helps in preventing the deep ball either because the WR has a free release to gather speed while you are turning to run,(D. Warren looked ridiulous on the TD he gave up but it's hard to blame him he was in no mans land out there) unless you maintain that cushion which allows the easy 15yd pitch and catch comebacks Penn St was executing. So assuming some of the basic base defenses cover 2, cover 3, man 2,1 and 0. What are we trying to accomplish?? Nothing is more frustrating than watching a uncovered WR turn to the QB catch a ball and get a free 5-8 yards on 1st down. The defense cannot be designed to allow a minimum 5 yd gain if the QB can execute a 12yd pass to a wide open guy. Sharik?? Anybody else?? Please help it's driving me nuts.



October 26th, 2009 at 11:10 AM ^

So they don't get beaten deep, obviously. When your safety situation is as tenuous as Michigan's is, you can't afford to let wideouts behind your corners.

steve sharik

October 26th, 2009 at 11:33 AM ^ know this bothers me, too.

Hard corner: lined up 5 yards or closer to the LOS
Soft corner: lined up over 5 yards from the LOS
Press corner: lined up at the LOS

Advantages of a soft corner:
1) Easier to stay behind the WR and, thus, not give up the deep ball
2) On run, see the play quicker and can get into proper run "fit" (contain, alley, etc., where you fit in the defense) or pursuit angle

The thing I don't get is that when we play soft corner, we're still giving up the deep ball and we're horrendous at getting off stalk blocks. I wouldn't have a problem w/us playing soft corner if we actually executed, but we're not. I firmly believe that when we play cover 1 or cover 0, we should play bump; when we play cover 2, we play press; and when we play cover 3 or cover 4, we press and bail*.

The only time I'd like to see us play soft corner is when it's 3rd and long and we're not in man coverage. Keep the ball in front of us, tackle, and force a punt. Also, I'd only like us to play man when we send the house. If we're blitzing/rushing 5 or fewer against the pass, play zone behind it. I'd also like us to never bring a 6+ pressure on 3rd and long, b/c bringing the house with bump man makes us very vulnerable to screens.

*Bail Technique: the corner lines up in press, moves to an outside shade on the WR, and tries to time the snap with an opening of his hips outside and sprinting toward his deep zone, whether it be a deep third or deep quarter.


October 26th, 2009 at 11:45 AM ^

This is exactly how I was taught. I love the way you think about defense. So I guess your answer is...You respect the Mich coaches, but you are shaking your head as well?? If we were concerned about the long ball then why all the 7-8 man blitzes I don't care for either?? Play soft, play soft, blitz 8?? What are we trying to accomplish?? Are we a bend don't break or Buddy Ryan?? Thanks for the thoughts Steve I feel like a lot smarter all ready.

Also, I heard about all these zone blitz packages in the spring that I like more because they are a little safer. Why don't you think we've gone to that more?? Seems with how horrible our LB's have been in coverage it would be beneficial to send them and the safeties and let Warren Woolfolk Roh and the rest clean up and hope the confusion helps us.

What's your best thoughts on why they do this and why it's not working. Obviously you don't believe in it.
CB late in reacting??
CB lined up wrong??
LB's not getting underneath??
Are they actually conceding the 5yds??

steve sharik

October 26th, 2009 at 12:20 PM ^

At this point, only studs will be consistently successful. We have a brand new system, so it will take a while for anyone not NFL-bound to find success. Add to that our talent deficiency in the middle of the defense at the 2nd and 3rd levels, and you get what you get.

I'd be willing to be that Coach Robinson is making calls based on tendencies, as all coaches do. Well, when you have a new system, new techniques, and less-than stellar talent and the opposing team breaks tendencies and/or throws out new wrinkles, it's not going to go well.

If you want consistent defensive success, it just isn't going to happen this year. The reason I haven't done "Defensive Analysis: Insert Opponent Name Here" is b/c it takes several hours to break down the film, and I just don't have the time these days. Besides, who wants to break down what we've been seeing? It's frustrating, and these poor coaches have to watch this every day. It's not fun; I've been there, unfortunately. But, hey, these guys get paid a good living to coach through it, so it shouldn't be that frustrating, I guess.


October 26th, 2009 at 12:37 PM ^

"I don't think it matters much what GERG calls right now "

I am no defensive guru by any stretch (not even close)...but that statement seems to sum it up best for me. It just feels like for this year, we are sunk no matter what we do on defense, so GERG is just trying all sorts of different things and at the very least, trying not to be "predictable."

Unfortunately, next year worries me as well due to the losses of Grahm and Warren. Who will step up and be those studs that sharik is talking about?


October 26th, 2009 at 1:33 PM ^

If we only play soft corner on 3rd and long when we call zone wouldn't it help the offense convert easier? Not that they need any help converting 3rd and long on us!

If a defense did that throughout the season, as an offensive coordinator I would put out 4 wide on 3rd and long call 2 good zone routes (maybe a seam or a crossing route) and 2 good man routes. Then the QBs pre-snap read would be if there's soft corner look for the zone routes.

Basically, don't we sometimes want to play man with soft corners so that the offense doesn't always know what we're going to do?

steve sharik

October 26th, 2009 at 2:49 PM ^

Covers 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 all can be played w/a soft corner.

Cover 2: Corners responsible for the flat. Play at 10 yards and squat (don't backpedal). Referred to as a "kathy" technique by many coaches, including Saban and Stoops.

Cover 2 Invert: Corners and safeties switch responsibility, so corners responsible for deep half and safeties responsible for flat. Sometimes this is played only on one side, and also sometimes the OLBs take the flat and the safeties take the seam/curl read. This is used not only to disguise and/or give different coverage looks, but also to bring safeties down into the box against the run.

Cover 3: Corners responsible for deep outside 1/3. Play at 8 yards and backpedal, reading #2 to #1.

Cover 4: Almost exactly like cover 3, except responsible for deep outside 1/4. (There are more intricate differences, but those need not be delved into here.)

Cover 5: A two-deep, 3 robber coverage used by Va. Tech in its "G" defense. This defense and coverage was popularized by the nasty Washington Huskies of the late '80s to mid '90s. Corners are responsible for the deep half.

Cover 6: A.K.A. Quarter-Quarter-Half. It is cover 2 to one side and cover 4 to the other (2 + 4 = 6, hence cover 6). Cover 2 corner has flat, cover 4 corner has deep outside 1/4.

Cover 8: This is man-under, two-deep. Corners are responsible for #1 WR (i.e. the outside WR to their side). If offense has no WRs on a side, some teams play the corner on the TE, others will play "corners over" and put the corner coming over on the #2 WR (i.e. the next most outside receiver). Different coaches have different names for this other than cover 8.


October 26th, 2009 at 11:34 AM ^

I understand the back off we don't want to get beat deep, but my question is why line up for a freebie?? You could still line head up and not go bump and run and bail at the snap or move around like you might drive up. If GRob calls the defensive set in and assumes "well we're giving up a free 5-8 yards here if they go quick pass so hopefully they don't see it or can't execute it", I would be rather disappointed. Are the Db's not reacting quick enough?? LB's not getting out fast enough??. I'll take my chances with a fade down the sideline then concede that.


October 26th, 2009 at 6:42 PM ^

CBs playing over their man can't watch developments in the backfield. If they are downfield a bit they can keep an eye on things there and respond to a run. Otherwise they get blocked easily or are run off downfield.

We need our CBs in run support. This doesn't mean they need to be 10 yards off the line, but they can't be right up in the WR's grill either.

steve sharik

October 26th, 2009 at 3:08 PM ^

Also, there are two ways to play off-man. In fact, some coaches use both ways and call one of them off-man and the other loose-man.

Loose-man: What we've been playing. Corner is off 8-10 yards and purely mirrors the move of the WR. On the WRs initial release up the field, the corner will backpedal. On the WRs break, the corner will drive the reception point. I personally despise this coverage unless you have a run tendency on the offense of 85% or higher.

Off-man: Corners align at 8-10 yards but key the QB on the snap. If the QB does 3-step drop or less (quick WR screens such as bubble, rocket, jailbreak, tunnel, etc.), the corner will then match the eyes, front elbow, and front shoulder of the QB and drive the reception point. Once the QBs aim is determined, the corner will simultaneously attack downhill and refocus his eyes to the WR. If it is a double move, put the WR on his ass. Initially, if the QB goes into a deeper drop or gives a run look, eyes immediately go to the WR and the corner mirrors the WR. NFL guys were using this a ton about 5 years ago, but then there was a lot of max protection and double moves w/the QB giving a false initial aiming point and things got ugly. I like this way of playing off man when you can disguise it as zone and use it sparingly as a mix-up.

The reason Coach Robinson (and a lot of 4-3 guys) like man free w/loose-man as a base defense is b/c you get 8 in the box versus run and your LBs and non-deep safety can be 100% run players against non-spread formations. You play loose-man so that your corners and centerfield safety can see the play in front of them so if something breaks, they can see it, make a TD saving tackle and keep the offense out of the end zone. If you get teams like Iowa, Wisconsin, MSU, and Ohio State who want to line up with FBs and HBs on 1st/10, you can play base defense and say, "Okay, now they get 2nd/10."

4-3 guys love to do this, and at Milford our base defense was the Washington/Va. Tech G defense b/c that defense gives you NINE (not 8) in the box against run, is much stronger against quick throws, and is safer against deep balls. 4-3 guys then always say to me, "What if the offense spreads you out and likes to throw 4 verticals on you?" To which I say, "Sure, we don't like G in that scenario, but you're telling me 4-3 with man-free is good?"