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By Cherokee Valeria, Cornerbacks Coach, Eastern Washington University


Eastern Washington University is primarily a quarters coverage team that mixes cover three and zone pressures out of its 4-2-5 front. The Eagles’ quarters coverage system is more of a pattern match, not zone drop, coverage, which relates to routes based on the movement of receivers and the demeanor of the quarterback. Corners coach Cherokee Valeria details how his corners play their quarter man technique as it pertains to stance, start, primary and secondary keys as well as the technique progression he uses to train their eyes and feet post-snap. Read the report here.

By Cherokee Valeria
Cornerbacks Coach
Eastern Washington University
Twitter: @CoachCherokee


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easternwashEastern 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 team that mixes in Cover 3 and Zone Pressures out of a 4-2-5 front. In this clinic report, I will share our Quarter-Man Technique that is used when we are playing Cover 4 and we want the cornerback in an off technique. 

Theory of Cover 4:

When installing a new defensive call to our players, we will always break down the theory, strengths, and weaknesses of the coverage. This allows us the opportunity to explain why we will call a particular coverage at a particular time of a game.

XO Labs PPT Template1

For instance, we tell our players that Cover 4 is a pattern-read man concept that is accompanied by a four man rush. It is not your typical zone coverage, where defensive players are responsible for particular areas of the field. Instead, they are dropping and relating to route combinations that are ran by the offense.

We explain to the defense that there are three underneath match drop defenders, and four vertical attached players. At Eastern Washington, we primarily run this coverage out of our four man fronts and is used on normal down and distance situations.

Quarter-Man Technique

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Techniques:


  • Direct vision on the quarterbacks release from center provides quicker Run/Pass key
  • Easily disguised within our other off techniques
  • Natural cushion allows corners to run with a vertical release by the receiver


  • Cornerback’s off-alignment opens up the threat for offenses to attack the quick game to the flats. (The flats are a weakness in Cover 4)
  • Alignment causes a later reaction to a Push-Crack by the wide receiver
  • Takes cornerback out of the pattern match equation, therefore the safety or linebacker has to run with any slot receiver to the flats


  • Cornerback alignment is “7x1” meaning seven yards off number one receiver, one yard inside.
  • Alignment will be based off of a split rule adjustment
    • Ball in the Middle of the Field = 2 yards on top of the numbers
    • Ball on the Hash = The boundary corner will be at the top of numbers and the field corner will be ½ way between the numbers and the hash
  • Against any type of run towards us we are responsible for secondary support
  • Against any type of run away from us we will carry out our insurance responsibilities (Cutback – Reverse – Pylon)
  • Against any pass we will be responsible for identifying the release of #1 and playing man coverage

When do we play our Quarter-Man Technique?:

Our techniques are based off the position of the first eligible receiver on our side of the core formation. In most situations this will be on a detached wide receiver or an attached tight end.

Our Quarter-Man technique will be executed when we are aligning to a detached wide receiver. We have a completely separate technique that we call our clamp technique that we will use on an attached tight end.

Leverage on a Wide Receiver (Inside or Outside):

Our leverage within our alignment is based upon the wide receivers horizontal relationship to the core formation. We call this our ‘Split Rule Adjustment.’

For instance, if the ball is in the middle of the field and the detached wide receiver is positioned extraordinarily close to the core formation, we would adjust to more of an outside leverage. If the detached wide receiver was extended extremely wide from the core formation, then we would adjust to a heavier inside leverage. These adjustments are based off a simple split rule that is defined week to week depending on the normal splits of an opposing offense.

As the wideout aligns himself closer to the core formation, our one yard leverage starts to get tighter and tighter, until we shift our position into an outside leverage. That shift will happen on the line we define as the split rule of the week.

For instance, let’s say the ball is on the left hash, there for the core formation is built on that left hash. In this case we will have two separate split rules. One is for the defensive back to field and one for the defensive back to the boundary. Since the core formation is on the left hash, we will tell the boundary (Left) corner that his split rule is the top of the numbers. Once a receiver starts to align closer to the core formation then the top of the numbers then we can shift our leverage to align on his outside.

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  • The assignments he uses to teach his corners based on the following five categories: run to, run away, quick pass, drop back pass and PAP/boot.
  • The primary and secondary keys he uses to teach his corners their reads based on receiver demeanor and quarterback post-snap movement.
  • The technique progression he uses in three stages as it relates to QB three-step, QB five-step, QB run to and QB run away
  • The full technique tape that Coach Valeria uses to teach this system to his corners.

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As you can see, this is a nice change up that allows us to stay sound while getting a better look at the quarterback’s intentions. This, of course, requires lots of film study, but the rewards are clear. Hopefully this will be a nice changeup for you in your Quarters scheme.I want to thank our Head Coach, Beau Baldwin, and our defensive staff for allowing me the opportunity to share and X&O Labs for giving the forum for us to share and learn.


Meet Coach Valeria: Cherokee Valeria has 11 years of college coaching experience with nine years at the Division I - FCS level. He has mentored seven different All-Conference Cornerbacks and two All-Americans while at Eastern Washington. Three of his players went on to play at the professional level. While at EWU, his Cornerbacks have created 17 interceptions, 79 pass breakups and 9 forced fumbles. Valeria also currently serves as the recruiting coordinator for Eastern Washington University.



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