The free access throw to the X in 3x1 formations continues to be a staple in most offensive coordinators’ menu, particularly against two-high safety structures. So it becomes more of a challenge for DCs to find a way to both provide help on what is usually the best receiver on the field while keeping their two-high disguise for the quarterback. Defensive coordinator Ty Gower at prep powerhouse Norman North High School (OK) details the three coverage concepts he uses to defend the X in trips formations. Read the report.
By Ty Gower
Norman North High School (OK)
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At the 6A level in Oklahoma, it seems almost everyone has a big time FBS recruit playing the X. Due to this, it was imperative for us to find ways to combat our opponents who would get in 3x1 formations and isolate the X. At the same time, it was important not to live in the same coverage to the trips. For that reason, we found multiple ways to play trips. This kept the offense guessing by what coverage we were playing while keeping us sound to the X’s side.
The “Walk” Concept:
The “walk” call within our 3-4 has allowed us to play a variety of ¼ based coverages such as palms or a quarters to #1 and #2 receivers, and “solo” to the #3 receiver (Diagram 1). This makes it an easy change up to trips, but also giving us the ability to play 2 on 1 on the single receiver side (X). Although we might have taken away the X, it was still important that the offense didn’t get too comfortable seeing the same coverage to trips. For that reason, we employ a mixture of palms, cover 4, cover 8, and off man to that side.
What also made our “walk” call effective was the ability to play various palms coverages on #2 and #3 receivers. One of which being our “Thief” coverage (Diagram 2). In this diagram, we are playing a palms coverage on #2 & #3 with the SS and FS, while still maintaining a true six man box with “20” Linebackers. This worked well because we were not teaching a new concept to anyone except the SS, who becomes like the “Palms CB.” Because of our flow fit concept of the inside linebackers, we were gaining a “flow gap” player in the WLB. That said, we found gap scheme concepts to the weak side could cause us issues at times because our force player was slow on same side power/dart weak. Now it was our turn to find answers for having a fast force player, but still keeping the ideology of our defense and “Defending the X.”
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- How Coach Gower alleviated the issue of having an immediate force defender to the weak side of the formation while also bracketing the X receiver.
- How Coach Gower taught the weak side inside linebacker to trigger in the run game while helping on the X.
- The adjustment that Coach Gower made when offenses were finding and attacking the short edge of the defense.
- What bracket coverage concept Coach Gower used when offenses used FIB to put their best receiver in space.
- The adjustment that Coach Gower made when offenses were taking downfield shots to the X because of one on one coverage.
- Plus narrated and raw game cutups of all these coverage concepts.
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These coverage change ups are extremely important for various reasons. They allowed us to mix up our looks while staying gap sound and giving the stud at the X spot the attention he deserved. It was important for us as a staff to relate these coverages to something we already do. What made these change ups so easy, was the ability to really only coach a few guys a “new concept.” With the evolution of offenses today, it’s important that we as a defense evolve with them. Obviously, we can be in great position and have the perfect call, but there are also those times when you have to tip your cap to the guy for making a highlight reel play. However, it was vital that we gave our kids a chance and not let “that guy” beat us and these concepts gave us more than a chance.
Meet Coach Gower: Coach Gower began his coaching career at Henderson State University (D2-Arkansas) in 2011 coaching defensive backs. From there he moved to Broken Arrow High School (OK) in 2012 and 2013 as safeties coach. Currently, Coach Gower serves as the Defensive Coordinator/DB Coach at Norman North High School, which is coming off a 12-1 year with a district championship and a State Runner-Up finish.