Discover how this Texas HS powerhouse program is teaching their safeties to indenty and attack snap indicators in order to disrupt offensive timing and create big plays.
By Adam Harvey
Cibolo Steele High School (TX)
How many times have you heard, "I'd hate to be a defensive coach with all the dynamic offenses out there"? To say it's a challenge would be an accurate statement, but it would be wrong to say it is impossible. We have found that the teams who do the best job containing and stopping these offenses teams must be sound and simply get each player to buy in to his assignment. That is why our staff at Steele High School believes that the two most important components to defensive success are being aligned correctly and knowing and executing your assignment. If the players can execute those components, then the coaches can focus on the details of the scheme as a whole (ensuring that coverages match fronts, controlling gaps or wrinkling with blitzes and stunts). We ultimately play under the rule of controlling gaps and zones so we are not out-flanked trying to match man for man.
Great offenses are all about rhythm, especially the up-tempo schemes. Over the years, we have found that one of the best ways to get these offenses out of their rhythm is to make them second guess what they see pre-snap. That is why we believe wholeheartedly in the power of disguising our coverages. In order to make this happen, our team focuses on understanding the opponents snap indicators and presenting a consistent picture to the quarterback.
We teach our players that the longer you are able to hold a look and lie to the QB’s eyes, the better off you will be. Once our players buy it to the concept, they begin to look for ways to hold their look.
Matching Coverages to Fronts/Blitzes
Matching coverage to fronts is another concept we have found to be crucial to stopping any offense and it must be connected to your disguises. As mentioned earlier, when blitzing, if our secondary (especially the safeties) understand which linebacker we are sending, the stronger we are and the more we are apt to make plays. For example, if we are blitzing one of our OLBs (see Diagram 4), we usually will scroll one safety to the side of the blitzing LB to play the hook to curl and play cover three behind it. This allows zone drops to be executed and if we are able to get to the QB, force the ball to be released prematurely, we are going to be in good position while staying in our familiar zone coverage with few exceptions.
On occasion we will play man-free if we like the personnel match-ups or when we just need to mix it up just to keep the keep the QB guessing. Winning the chess match usually will cause problems for a young QB trying to make the perfect decisions play-after-play. We are okay with the “bend, but don’t break” concept if we can eventually force the offense into a mistake. We might spend the majority of a drive in cover two with minimal changes while picking up tendencies of the QB. If we are playing a “check offense with me” scheme, we will have an automatic blitz and coverage check per possession to also continue mixing up our looks.
Game Film: Narrated Video on Pre-Snap Movements
Insiders members, please login now (click here to login) and get the full-length version of Coach Harvey’s clinic report. You’ll see Coach Harvey’s narrated game film featuring the most common pre-snap movements. Plus, you’ll also get the full-length version of this report, which includes:
- The most common pre-snap indicators that Coach Harvey sees and the protocol he uses to teaches his players to disguise their coverage.
- The on-field communication process he uses to make sure his disguise holds against up-tempo offenses.
- The coaching points for all second and third level defenders behind his Cover Two to Cover Three shift.
- The coaching points for all second and third level defenders behind his Cover Two to Cover Four shift.
- The coaching points for all second and third level defenders behind is Cover Two to Man Coverage shift.
- VIDEO: Watch narrated game film on these pre-snap movements.
Not an Insiders member? Get instant access to the full-length version of Coach Harvey’s clinic report when you join X&O Labs’ exclusive membership website, Insiders. Plus, you’ll get all of X&O Labs’ research, videos and drills. Get your Insiders membership here.
Any successful defense will have to be great with their alignments and assignments. Being sound and teaching your players to understand why you are scheming certain ways will bring solid results in the end. We have found that we can give our base look and show different looks once the ball is snapped to throw a wrinkle towards offenses of all types. That also takes away too many changes so our players remain in position to play as fast as possible. I would like to thank X&O Labs for the opportunity to share a few of the things that have allowed us to have success in our defensive schemes over the years.
Meet Coach Harvey: Coach Adam Harvey just completed his second year as safeties coach at Cibolo Steele HS, a suburb of San Antonio, TX. In the two seasons he has been on staff, the Knights have gone 25-4 with births in the state quarterfinals in 2013 and state semifinals this past season. This past season, Coach Harvey's safeties were in on 151 tackles and contributed six interceptions for one of the top defenses in Texas.