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By Erik Speakman, Defensive Coordinator, Opelika High School (AL)

At Alabama prep powerhouse Opelika High School, Defensive Coordinator Erik Speakman is starting to see more perimeter run game to the away side of his split field coverage concepts, which stresses his away backer and weak safety in the 4-2-5. By incorporating trap coverage, he is able to get quick run support from the boundary corner while the cloud check protects runs to the trips side. Both of these coverages allow an unblocked defender to the ball. In his clinic report, Coach Speakman details both these coverage concepts. Read the report...


By Erik Speakman
Defensive Coordinator
Opelika High School (AL)
Twitter: @erik_speakman


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In this report I am going to discuss two coverage concepts that we use against trips sets. In short, we like to use a “trap” coverage away from trips and “cloud” coverage to the trips side.  We are starting to see more perimeter run game to our away side, which really puts stress on our away backer and our weak safety. By running trap to that side, we can get quick run support from our corner (usually the boundary corner). Cloud is a check we use if we are facing an offense that incorporates RPOs and runs to the trips side. We are constantly trying to find a way to get an unblocked defender to the ball and we feel both of these coverages help achieve this goal.

We are a split field coverage team, so we are always trying to give the opposing QB/OC different looks to our away side. Our away side is side with our weak safety, away backer and one of the corners and our call side involves our strong safety, free safety and the other corner. The WS and AB are always tied together and are usually aligned to the boundary unless the formation takes them to the field. The FS and SS are together and line up based on the passing strength. 


Trap has become our way of running a version of an old school Cover 2. It also helps us with our “cowboy”(corner blitz) because they end up looking very similar. Trap also gives us an opposite coverage to our “sky” coverage with the WS rolling down. We teach the WS and Corner that trap and sky are essentially the same coverage with the two players exchanging responsibilities.

Cloud is a trips check that helps us when we are facing an offense that has a perimeter run game to the field/trips side and uses bubbles or stand screens off of a zone/power look (RPO). Cloud is going to involve the FS, SS and field corner unless the offense aligns trips to the boundary. If trips is aligned to the boundary, the BC will now have to play cloud.

The way these two coverages are tied together is the techniques and rules for our corners. We play with a boundary and a field corner, but we also cross train each corner so that they can play either side in case of injury or if they can’t get lined up in time. Corners for us must know how to play to the away side and the call side.

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  • The assignments for the corner, weak safety and away backer in Trap coverage, including responsibilities vs. run and pass.
  • The assignments for the corner, free safety and strong safety in Cloud coverage, including responsibilities vs. run and pass.
  • The adjustments Coach Speakman will use against motion to trips and quads (4x1) formations.
  • Plus game film of this concept.

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Trap is a great way to get quick run support without having to spin safeties. It helps us when we run our corner blitz from the boundary. The two look very similar to the offense. If we get a “fast 2” to the away side, we check the coverage to a read concept or man. If we have a very good corner to that side, we can play trap to a doubles look.

Cloud gives our defense perimeter run support and also helps take away some of the RPOs we are seeing almost on a weekly basis. Cloud coverage allows us to change the pitch responsibility to give offense a different look. We also use Cloud vs Quads in certain situations.

These coverages are both great answers for the trips formations that we see because they slow the eyes of both the OC and the QB. These looks can keep them guessing and force them into bad plays. Thanks to X&O Labs for letting me share this concepts.

Meet Coach Speakman: Erik Speakman has 21 years of experience and just completed his 17th season at Opelika High School. He has been the Defensive Coordinator for the last 6 years and has coached the safeties for 13 of the 17 years at Opelika. During the past 6 years, Coach Speakman with Speakman as DC, Opelika has won 58 games while giving up an average of 15 points per game and pitching 11 shutouts. Opelika finished the 2016 season 13-2, as the 6A runner-up. This was Opelika’s 2nd appearance in the 6A State Championship game, the other coming in a loss to Hoover in the 2012 game.



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