Press coverage is a tool that has many great benefits for the defense. From taking away easy throws, to challenging receivers, to altering route releases, press coverage can make things hard on the offense. See how Coach Caserta coaches these concepts here...
By Grant Caserta
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Press coverage is a tool that has many great benefits for the defense. From taking away easy throws, to challenging receivers, to altering route releases, press coverage can make things hard on the offense. With a few basic coaching points, corners can be equipped with the techniques and confidence to be successful at the line of scrimmage.
Stance and Key
There are two main items we focus on to help us achieve a proper stance: feet and eyes.
When teaching corners a stance for press coverage we always start with the feet. The first thing we look for is balanced weight distribution in the feet. We want equal weight on each foot, and equal weight on the ball and heel of the foot. This posture allows us to move quickly in reaction to the receiver in any direction.
We want the corner’s feet to be around shoulder width apart, or slightly wider than shoulder width. Each individual body type may be comfortable in a slightly different stance. Longer legged corners may feel more comfortable with a wider stance, while shorter corners may feel better with a narrower stance. I am a strong believer in the idea that an uncomfortable player will likely be a non-efficient player, movement-wise. The only requirement we have for a corner’s stance is that he must be balanced and stable after taking his first step. We want the corner’s first step to put him in an athletic position that allows him to respond to the receiver quickly. We do not want the first step to overextend the corner’s base so he cannot react to a counter move by the receiver. We also do not want the first step to be too short, where the receiver cannot be cut off on his initial release.
Just like defending a ball handler in basketball, we want to focus our eyes on the midsection of the receiver. It is very easy to be fooled by head/shoulder fakes and arm movement. By keying the midsection, we give the corner the best chance of responding correctly to the true release of the receiver. It is the onus of the receiver to get around the corner; therefore, the more patience the corner can show initially, the better shot he has of forcing the receiver to declare where he is going. This can be best accomplished by keeping the eyes keyed on the midsection of the receiver - ignoring head fakes and other superficial attempts to get the corner’s hips opened up too early.
Two keys to winning at the Line of Scrimmage
We teach two key elements to the start of press coverage technique.
- Working on 45-degree angles to cut off the receiver and
- Protecting the “cylinder” by striking the receiver. These help us to disrupt timing of routes, prevent free releases and stay in the proper position to defend.
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- The coaching points and drill work that Coach Caserta uses to eliminate his corners “opening up the gate.
- The “Stab and Recoil” drill progression that Coach Caserta uses to deter receivers from the line of scrimmage in press coverage.
- The three reactions Coach Caserta teaches his DB’s to use once a receiver enters his cylinder in the following three ways: immediately to the outside, immediately to the inside or down the field vertically.
- Plus: Film of all these drills
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The final part of the equation is reading the hip down the field and reading the hands once the ball is in the air. These techniques are articles in their own right. However, we believe that success in press coverage is most heavily influenced by winning at the line of scrimmage. Starting with a good stance and proper eye placement, and by working good release angles and protecting their cylinder, corners can approach the line of scrimmage with confidence on every play.
Meet Coach Caserta: Grant Caserta completed his third season as the Husson defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach in 2017. Husson’s defense remained one of the preeminent units in the ECFC and the country in 2015. The Eagles led the conference in total defense (226.1 ypg), rushing defense (60.4 ypg), scoring defense (17.6 ppg), turnovers gained (29), first downs defense (122), 3rd down conversion pct. defense (0.223), team passing efficiency defense (93.84), 4th down conversion pct. defense (0.231) and fumbles recovered (16). Husson ranked second nationally in total defense, rushing defense, first downs defense and 3rd down conversion pct. defense, while producing top ten finishes in team passing efficiency defense (10th), 4th down conversion pct. defense (4th) and fumbles recovered (6th).
Caseta’s defense set single-season school records for assisted tackles (326), tackles for loss (85.0), yards from tackles for loss (333), fewest rushing yards allowed (604), lowest average yards per rush (1.73), fewest rushing yards per game, total defense, and total defense per play (3.64). Caseta guided seven players to All-ECFC selections in 2015, Matt Pellerin, Luke Washburn, Ellis Throckmorton, Marquis Jimenez, Alonzo Connor, Ian Palmer, and including senior linebacker Bryant Wade, who was the third straight Eagle Player to named ECFC Defensive Player of the Year. Wade was also named a Finalist for the Cliff Harris Award for the top small college Defensive Player of the Year.