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CaptureBy Joey Didier, Co-Defensive Coordinator, University of Saint Francis (IN)

Create nearly unlimited coverage possibilities with from a 3 high look that Coach Didier lays out in the following article.


By Joey Didier
Co-Defensive Coordinator
University of Saint Francis (IN)
Twitter: @coachjoeydidier

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CaptureWith the advancement of modern offenses and spread passing attacks, it becomes extremely important for a defense to give a QB and offensive coordinator multiple looks from the same alignment. With “check-with-me” cadences and audible systems, defenses need to be flexible and not be tied into a single coverage given a specific formation, down/distance, personnel group or vertical field position. In addition, with varying tempos and huddle systems an offense may employ, a defense must be prepared to be able to play consecutive downs within its sub-packages. For example, it is not guaranteed that a defensive coordinator can get his third and long Nickel sub-package off the field to play first and ten if the offense converts.

To show variations sounds simple at first. There are countless coverages, pressure schemes, and check systems a coach can call to attack with different looks. The tough task, however, is in creating a teachable system in which your players can effectively execute the techniques required to carry out these contrasting techniques. In a previous article, our defensive staff presented our Nickel cover 2 concept. This sub-package specifically designed to negate a vertical passing attack that has been extremely successful for us to utilize on longer conversion downs. This clinic report will show how our simplistic coverage variation to such a personnel group has taken that concept to the next level.

Cover 2 Recap

To get into our nickel sub-package, we insert our next best safety in for an inside linebacker. We try to keep a three high alignment at all times, as illustrated in Diagram 1 (shown against a 10 personnel 2x2 set).


Our base coverage in this sub package is our Tampa 2. Diagram 2 below shows our Tampa 2 coverage rules which are as follows:

  • Corners: Soft Flat read on #2
  • Safeties: Deep ½ Read on #2
  • OLB: Hook-Curl Drop
  • Mike: Low Hole Drop
  • Nickel: Carry #3 or Deep hole


In teaching coverage out of this personnel group, we keep all of our rules consistent to the rules we use in our base personnel. When we sub into this package, our Will linebacker leaves the field and is repaced by our Nickel safety. Without a Will, our Mike treats this sub-package as if the Will is on a pressure. The corners, field and boundary safeties play coverage exactly as if we are playing our base 3-4 cover 2. The only player that requires new teaching is the Nickel sub.

Our Head Coach Kevin Donley instructs the Nickel sub during game week. This allows the rest of our defensive staff to carry out normal roles and drill instruction throughout the week. In addition, this also infuses energy and focus to our defensive players during game week.

To see game cutups of the Tampa 2 coverage variation, click on the video below:


Game Film…

Join X&O Labs’ Insiders (an exclusive membership-based website) and get the full-length version of this clinic report. Here’s just a short list of what Coach Didier reveals in this powerful report…

  • Coach Didier’s quarter half coverage variation out of his three-high look, which negates weaknesses exposed in Cover Two.
  • Coach Didier’s Nickel Safety Roll Three coverage variation out of his three-high look, which prevents offenses from attacking the seam opposite the safety roll.
  • Coach Didier’s Nickel Corner Roll Three coverage variation out of his three-high look, which is used to defend boundary quick game routes and changes perimeter run support angles.
  • VIDEO: Watch game film on all these coverage concepts.

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 Meet Coach Didier: Joey Didier returns to USF for his sixth season as an assistant coach after playing for the Cougars through the 2004 season. Didier, the Cougars’ 2004 Silver Helmet Award winner, served as an assistant at Homestead High School from 2005-09, where he was a 2001 graduate. He was a 4-time letter-winner playing inside linebacker for the Cougars, played in two final fours and was the USF Champion of Character selection in 2004. He received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2005 and a Master of Business Administration in 2013. Didier is also a member of the football strength and conditioning staff and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Didier and his wife, Ashley, reside in Fort Wayne.



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