Current FCS #2 Ranked Eastern Washington University's Cornerbacks coach Cherokee Valeria sat down with us to explain how he ties his players footwork to their eyes and uses two methods to do so- Squat and Cathy. Valeria details both of his Cover Two techniques- including the drills he uses to teach them- against various releases they will see during the course of the season.
By Cherokee Valeria
Eastern Washington University
Editor’s Note: Coach Valeria is entering his third year as cornerbacks coach at Eastern Washington University. In all, he has 9 years of college coaching experience with seven of those years coming at the Division I - FCS level and two at DII level. During that time, he has mentored six All-Conference Cornerbacks and two All-Americans. He has also served as Assistant Recruiting Coordinator and as Director of Football Operations during his career. Both starting corners won All Big Sky Conference honors both years he has been at EWU.
Eastern Washington University prides itself on being a defensive football team, often finding itself in the thick of the FCS playoffs each season. The Eagles are primarily a Quarters coverage team that mixes in Cover 2 and Zone Pressuresout of a 4-3 Front. Eastern Washington’s Cornerbacks coach Cherokee Valeria sat down with XandOLabs.com Mike Kuchar to talk about the two ways in which he teaches his Corners to play Cover Two- a “Kathy” technique and a “Squat” technique. According to Valeria, he uses those techniques based on what type of Cover Two you’re going to be playing. “If we play true five underneath and two over the top we will play a Soft Technique which we call Kathy,” said Valeria. “If we’re going to be playing four underneath with a middle hole run through defender(similar to Tampa 2?), we will play a hard technique which we call Squat.”
Coach Valeria explains what the difference is between his Soft and Hard Techniques: “When we say we are going to play a Soft Technique, we mean that the technique will be executed with little to no planned physical contact. When we say we are going to play a Hard Technique, we are telling the Cornerbacks that we are going to physically attack the Wide Receiver with this Technique. It’s the same idea behind playing Hard and Soft bump coverage.”
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Techniques
Kathy Technique Strengths:
- Easy eye progression, with Run/Pass keys coming directly from the Quarterbacks release from Center. This allows a quicker run fit by the Cornerback on bubbles, screens, and run action to him.
- Allows Cornerbacks to sink quicker with vertical routes, particularly against four verticals).
Kathy Technique Weaknesses:
- No physical re-routes; wide receivers may get clean releases.
- Weakness: Angle Walk pushes Corner further away from the quick slant.
Squat Technique Strengths:
- Physically disrupting the release of the Wide Receiver and in turn the timing of an offensive pass play.
- Staying “on cliff” (without backing up) allows the Cornerback to insert himself faster against the quick pass game.
Squat Technique Weaknesses:
- Often late on outside run actions and bubbles.
- Harder to defend the hole shot between the Corner and the Cover 2 Safety.
To see game cut-ups of the Squat Technique, click on the link below:
Before we address the specific techniques behind both coverages, Valeria teaches his players to key the QB for four specific reads post-snap:
- 3-step read- QB takes three-step drop from Under Center, or one step drop from shotgun alignments.
- 5-step read- QB takes five-step drop from Under Center, or three step drop from shotgun alignments.
- Run action towardsthe Corner.
- Run actionawayfrom Corner.
The Corners responses are predicated on these three reactions. All of these reads have corresponding techniques that will be address in this report. We will begin with Kathy Technique.
Identifying and Responding to Releases:
Coach Valeria teaches his Corners to read their primary keyand react to four specific receiver releases: a must fade, a radical inside stem, a China concept and a juke release.
What You're Missing:
Join XandOLabs.com exclusive Insiders program and gain full access to the entire clinic article including:
- Kathy Technique alignments, primary and secondary keys, technique progression and run action to and away from Corner.
- Squat Technique alignments, primary and secondary keys, technique progression and run action to and away from Corner.
- How Coach Valeria teaches his Corners to respond to the following releases: must fades, radical stems, china releases, juke releases and stalk blocks.
- Plus Coach Valeria’s entire drill video on both of these Cornerback techniques and corresponding game film.
These are the two main techniques we teach to our Corners when playing Cover Two. By continually repping and mastering these two techniques, you can get your Corners prepared to successfully defend any route variant they see during the course of a season.