cs icon 70



Michael Donnelly, Cornerback Coach, Michigan Tech University (MI)

Bunch formations put particular stresses on a defense. See how Michigan Tech adapts their defense to attack these formations. Find out here...


Michael Donnelly
Cornerback Coach
Michigan Tech University (MI)
Twitter: @M_Donnelly21



Insiders Members: Login here to access the full-length version of this report. 




Bunch formations are becoming a popular tool by offenses to muddy the reads for defensive backs in coverage or create a mesh by alignment for man to man coverage. Teams are lining up (or motioning) to stack formations which helps create a free release or rub route for the WR in the back of the stack. Dealing with a trips bunch formation puts an extreme amount of pressure on the DB’s eyes. The secondary must recognize where the bunch is located and what to expect out of the different alignments through film study. Not only will teams use trips bunch formations to pass the ball, but it also can create gap integrity issues in the run game pending distance from the end man on the LOS.   

Tight Bunch Formations



For running purposes, the tight bunch gives the offense the ability to try and gain an edge (block down the point man on DE) or slice/pull #3 to create an extra hat play side.

 This clip is more to show how an offense can use the alignment of the bunch to run a gap scheme play away from the bunch, but still utilizing the bunch.  We are treating this bunch different than the variations I will get into so the way we are playing this is not important.  It is important to recognize if your DE can be affected by the bunch so he must recognize the type of block he has to defeat or be alerted from the backend. 

Classifying tight bunch and wide bunch formations determines whether or not the defensive end needs to be aware of a possible blocking scheme attacking him from the bunch. For us, that means that the point of the bunch is aligned in close proximity to block the DE. This is decided on sight and the feel of the DE or the awareness of the backend through tendencies of the opposition. Generally, whether the bunch is tight or wide does not affect the way our defense will treat the bunch. The DE should be aware that this is in the opposing team’s package and will recognize if his alignment or block destruction needs to be changed. The communication will come from the LB if he sees something in a different way and chooses to line up the DE accordingly.   


Before anything happens, I always make sure the DBs are aware of the landmarks of four verts out of the bunch. The landmarks do not change to spread the field evenly but the path differentiates with the alignment of the bunch. One way we play bunch trips is to play a version of cover 3 with a double team on the backside #1 WR.

Continue to the full-length version of this report…

Join X&O Labs’ Insiders, an exclusive membership-based website, and you’ll get instant access to the full-length version of this report—including access to everything X&O Labs has ever published. Plus, if you join today, you’ll also receive up to 4 FREE books mailed directly to your home or office. Here’s just a small sample of what you’ll find in the full-length version of this report:

  • How Coach Donnelly is able to get bracket coverage on top receivers in tight bunch formations.
  • How Coach Donnelly is able to defend concepts such as four verticals in wide bunch formations.
  • Plus game film on defending both wide and tight bunch formations.

Join the Insiders today and get your FREE book(s)!

Get Started Here!


This report gives a brief explanation of two ways we play bunch formations at Michigan Tech. These variations can also be used for regular trips sets, as well. The main point of defending bunch sets is harping eye discipline with the secondary because they are going to separate and try to muddy up the reads. For the deep players, they must know where their vertical is coming from and where it is going to end up at (landmarks) if four verts is run. Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope to talk ball with you in the future.

Meet Coach Donnelly: Michael Donnelly’s football career started as a player at Hamilton H.S. in Chandler (AZ) where he was a part of three state championship teams. Donnelly then went to Colorado Mesa University where he played corner for two years and served as a student assisted (DBs) for two years. Donnelly has recently served as a graduate assistant at Michigan Tech University for three seasons coaching the corners.



Insiders Members Login Here To Access Full Length Reports and Videos